Bliss to lead UCCS cybersecurity programs

Headshot of Gretchen Bliss

Gretchen Bliss, a cybersecurity leader with more than 25 years of experience with defense agencies, contractors and educational institutions, will lead UCCS academic and research efforts as the director of cybersecurity programs. She started in her role April 1. 

“I am excited to become a member of the outstanding growing cybersecurity team at UCCS,” Bliss said. “I think its commitment to ‘raising the bar’ in cybersecurity education, community and industry partnership, and research will be a great example for the Colorado cybersecurity ecosystem as well as the nation taking an inclusive approach to meeting industry’s workforce demands in the future.”

Since 2015, Bliss was the cybersecurity director at Pikes Peak Community College where she developed and implemented its program and earned designation as a Center of Academic Excellence for a two-year institution. She defined cybersecurity competencies and position categorizations with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education and the National Security Agency to facilitate synchronization between education and industry. 

Bliss spent 11 years with the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, starting as a deputy senior intelligence analyst and eventually departed as deputy division chief of mission services. She coordinated large, cross-functional and multi-national teams to provide support across the organization and pioneered a comprehensive threat methodology used by the Department of Defensive for strategic decision making. 

Bliss worked two years as deputy director of the defensive forward element for the Defense Intelligence Agency during her time at NORAD, where she was tasked with integrating policy into operational practices and with delivering complex information for policymakers and senior executives. She also worked as a counter network operations and counter terrorist analyst for three years with the Science Applications International Corporation in Colorado Springs, and more than a decade as an intelligence operations analyst for the DIA in multiple locations across the country. 

“Colorado Springs is already a leader in cybersecurity efforts, and Gretchen’s talent and experience will allow UCCS to prepare the workforce that is needed to continue the city’s role in this critical national need,” said Provost Tom Christensen. “Her relationships with government and business will allow us to build and further adapt our programs and research areas to be flexible to the ongoing needs in the industry.” 

Bliss is an executive committee and board member for Leadership Pikes Peak, and a governing and advisory board member for the President’s Leadership Class at CU Boulder. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Russian language, history and literature from CU Boulder and her Master of Public Administration from UCCS. 

Rick White, a research professor in computer science, had served as interim director of cybersecurity programs since 2018.