NAME: Karlin Younger

NSIN AFFILIATION: NSIN Defense Innovation Accelerator (Foundry) and Hacks Alum

AFFILIATION: Co-Founder, FireFlyht

STATE: Washington, DC

Q: What inspired you to explore the national security community? Do you have a connection to the Military/Government Service?

Service runs in my family for generations, as far back as the Civil War. I was a civil servant in the Federal government for five years working on public safety, and continue to pursue opportunities to serve my community and country.

Q: As a woman, how is the national security community different for you?

I think there’s a popular misconception that service only looks one way. Not only are there many ways to serve, but diversity — of both background and thought — strengthens the community. As a newcomer, non-veteran, and a woman, I often fight “imposter syndrome” and the feeling that I have nothing to contribute. But, I’ve had the privilege of encountering inclusive attitudes in the national security innovation ecosystem that have helped encourage me along the way.

Q: What legacy do you want to leave for the next generation of women professionals in the innovation ecosystem?

That you belong here just as much as everyone else. As an entrepreneur, set-backs and obstacles are a part of daily life, and moments of validation are few and far between. Strong, positive examples of success are powerful motivators, and it’s my hope to contribute to that growing legacy.

Q: Do you remember a moment when you saw a difference for women in the professional world? What do you remember? How did it impact your work?

Too many to count, unfortunately. I haven’t had a job where this difference wasn’t an issue since I started working at age 16. What I choose to take away from my most challenging professional moments is that I wasn’t always alone. When I had allies, both women and men, it was easier to lessen the mental impact and keep moving forward. Conversely, when colleagues and especially leadership refused to recognize even the existence of an issue, it was much harder to overcome.

Q: What books, podcasts, or thought leaders do you recommend when it comes to Women’s History Month and understanding the issues facing women in the workplace?

This might be cheating, but I loved the long-read article, “How Four Women Destroyed 1,200 Tons of Poison Gas — and Diffused a Crisis,” that recently came out in Rolling Stone magazine. It not only encapsulates some of the workplace issues I can relate to, but it’s a great example of the strength of intellectual and gender diversity to solve big problems in the national security space.