ALEXANDRIA NEWSMAKERS/Deborah Diaz – ‘A woman who means business’


She’s a businesswoman turned innovator for the federal government and one of a core group that created the Department of Homeland Security.

But Deborah Diaz is a mom, family woman and community and world activist too.

Diaz currently serves as deputy chief information officer for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, where she has helped streamline and upgrade the office’s information technology.

Last month, she was honored by the Washington Business Journal in the fourth annual “Women Who Mean Business” awards program.

The 50-year-old Diaz has lived for the past 20 years in Alexandria, where she and her husband, Jose, have raised three daughters. She has served across the country and around the world with a myriad of governmental agencies, ranging from the State Department to the World Trade Organization.

But away from the office, she’s spent time in the trenches combatting HIV/AIDS and helping rebuild devastated New Orleans as a volunteer after Hurricane Katrina. She has also made time to serve as a Girl Scout leader and to volunteer with youth sports programs in her own community.

“Deborah Diaz is a dedicated professional who has made incredible contributions to the Patent Office, the federal government and the IT community. She’s a committed volunteer and mentor to colleagues both inside and outside the Patent Office,” said Jon Dudas, undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the Patent and Trademark Office. “She is truly a woman who means business, one of our outstanding female leaders, and a person who supports her community.”

Among Diaz’s proudest career moments was her participation as part of a 40-member group responsible for implementing the Department of Homeland Security and serving as department’s chief information officer for science and technology.

But she’s equally committed to volunteer projects, including environmental cleanup in South Africa, rebuilding houses in Nicaragua and supporting the fight against multiple sclerosis. “Traveling around the world has exposed me to the extent to which one individual can make a difference,” Diaz said. “Rather than simply giving money, I like to be personally involved and give of my time.”

Diaz credits her children with influencing her interest in community affairs. When one of her daughters walked in a fundraiser for the fight against MS, Diaz plunged in and has since become a member of the board of the National Sclerosis Society. “I thought, if she can participate, so can I,” Diaz said.

Currently, Diaz is working to transform patent and trademark office electronic commerce systems. She is involved in a number of initiatives that seek to streamline government procedures by upgrading electronic patent and trademark submission and filing systems.

Prior to joining the patent and trademark office, Diaz developed and implemented $1 billion worth of programs and information technology infrastructure at the Department of Homeland Security as part of the fight against terrorism.

Working with the president’s management council, she provided executive leadership to create the government’s first electronic government-wide citizen portal and shepherded many e-government initiatives from concept to delivery.

As an international consultant and federal official for the World Bank, State Department, World Trade Organization, NATO, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, she managed interagency initiatives for international business development, as well as environmental technology joint ventures and institutional, regulatory and business reform.

Diaz is known within and without the government for her humanitarian trips abroad. Last March, she accompanied a group of high school volunteers to work in an HIV/AIDS clinic and conducted environmental cleanup in Cape Town, South Africa. She has also led volunteer teams rebuilding houses in both Nicaragua and New Orleans.

Diaz’s community activities including working with youth basketball and lacrosse teams. Most recently, she has become a volunteer with the Women’s Center of Vienna, a counseling and resource center.