news | 6 October 2023

Defense Innovation Unit Welcomes Two Senior Deputies to Continue Scaling Innovation Impact for the Department of Defense

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 6, 2023 - The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is excited to welcome two senior leaders to its team. These two Deputy Directors, both members of the Senior Executive Service, will enable the organization to expand and scale its impact throughout the Department of Defense (DoD) in support of the innovation imperatives central to the National Defense Strategy.

Aditi Kumar, DIU Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy, and National Security Partnerships.

Joining DIU in the role of Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy, and National Security Partnerships is Aditi Kumar. In this new role, Aditi will help drive DIU’s collaboration across the DoD, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and Service leadership. She will also lead teams focused on policy, international initiatives, interagency partnerships, and legislative affairs. 

Aditi joins DIU most recently from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, where she was Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary, and was responsible for many of the Department’s initiatives, including in support of Ukraine. She has an extensive background across government, education, and the private sector. Prior to DoD, Aditi was Executive Director at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, working directly on topics at the intersection of technology, national security, and economic policy. She holds an MBA and Masters of Public Policy from Harvard and a B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kirstin Riesbeck will serve as DIU’s Deputy Director of People, Finance, and Management. In this new role, Kirstin will lead the DIU operations team including managing talent, budgets, business strategy and portfolio management, and DIU’s critical acquisitions capability.

Kirstin Riesbeck, DIU’s Deputy Director of People, Finance, and Management.

Kirstin comes to DIU following an extensive federal career, most recently from DoD in the Office of the Comptroller, where she served as Director of Human Capital and Resource Management, and led the Department’s Financial Management community worldwide. Prior to the  DoD, she served at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). At DHS, she led the Transportation Security Administration’s Administrator’s Action Group, and served in policy positions within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Science and Technology Directorate. Kirstin also served seven years in multiple roles across the U.S. Coast Guard. She holds a J.D. with a concentration in National Security Law & Policy from George Mason University, an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, and a B.A. in Public Policy with a concentration in Science and Technology Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Adding Aditi and Kirstin to our leadership team is critical to DIU’s ability to deliver strategic impact to the nation,” said Doug Beck, Director of DIU and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense. “Their experience driving innovation at scale on a Department-wide level will be central to DIU 3.0. Attracting talent that combines fluency in both commercial technology and national security impact is critical to DIU’s mission, and I could not be more excited about the team we are continuing to build to scale these efforts for the nation.”

DIU is working towards its mandate to drive the adoption of innovative, dual-use commercial technologies across the Department. In the past four months, DIU has reached a number of foundational milestones outlined in its 3.0 strategic plan. These efforts include: partnering with the INDOPACOM Commander on his new Joint Mission Accelerator Directorate, which is aimed at accelerating capability against the most critical strategic and operational gaps, and where a DIU embed is Deputy Director and Chief Technology Officer; deploying a full-time senior embed to integrate innovation support for EUCOM; playing a leadership role for the newly-formed Deputy’s Innovation Steering Group (DISG), which is aimed at breaking down systemic barriers to innovation in the context of solving concrete operational problems in support of the national defense strategy; chairing the supporting Defense Innovation Working Group (DIWG) and its Replicator initiative, announced by the Deputy Secretary of Defense last month; launching five new Defense Innovation OnRamp Hubs in Arizona, Hawaii, Kansas, Ohio, and Washington; and opening the first two iDEX Challenges with our U.S. and Indian partners as an initial step in the critical collaboration with allies and partners. These milestones have been reached while DIU continues to deliver on critical technology solutions in support of the warfighter, working closely with both Combatant Commanders and the Services and with leading companies and investors across the commercial technology sector.

Internally, DIU has continued to build out its talent and leadership structure, appointing former National Security Innovation Network Managing Director, Cheryl Ingstad as DIU’s Deputy Director, Digital Platforms and Developer Ecosystem. Additional senior-level hires are planned in the coming months.

See "Our Team" for additional details on DIU staff and leadership. For opportunities to join DIU, visit our list of current job openings.