Powered by Talent: Cherissa Tamayori

Originally published November 30, 2021

Cherissa Tamayori is the Director of Acquisition and Senior Contracting Official for the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). She  manages DIU’s acquisition functions and leads a team of senior acquisition professionals leveraging the use of the Other Transaction Authority to accelerate the adoption of commercial technology within the DoD.

Prior to joining DIU, Cherissa served as a contracting officer in the Navy where she managed multi-billion dollar contract portfolios for various undersea systems programs. As a contract specialist, she negotiated and administered complex shipbuilding procurements including the refueling, overhaul, and modernization of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the design and construction of auxiliary ships and patrol boats. In addition to these roles, Cherissa has served in various contracting positions within the Navy.

Why were you interested in working at DIU?

The majority of my career has been in public service. I have always been interested in learning from commercial sector leaders--how these entities operate, what their interests are, how decisions are made -- so the DoD can be a better partner.  The diversity of experiences, from operational to commercial, within DIU allows us to learn from and collaborate with a wide range of technical experts, an opportunity that is rarely seen in government acquisition offices.

What is your favorite DIU experience?

DIU is a relatively young organization, and I have really enjoyed being a part of its growth story. I’m extremely proud of my team for championing the use of the Other Transaction Authority across the DoD and helping to drive DIU’s impact through the prototypes we’ve been able to contract over the last five years!

 What emerging commercial technologies are you most excited about?

Lately, I’m excited about DIU’s new Responsible Artificial Intelligence (RAI) guidance. AI is a powerful and ever-evolving tool; like any technology, however, it can result in unintended consequences if left unchecked. As a buyer of AI technology, the government needs to proactively address ethical concerns, and I believe the RAI report is going to help the program management and acquisition communities do just that!