The A.I. Elections Advisory Council

A community of leaders working to build social trust and election resilience.

The AI Elections Advisory Council is a constructive space for experts to share key insights across civil society, government, and industry throughout the US elections.

Aspen Digital

George C. Barnes

Cyber Practice President & Partner, Red Cell Partners

George C. Barnes's headshot

Mr. George C. Barnes is the President of Red Cell Partners’ Cyber Practice and a Partner at the firm. In this role, he oversees the pursuit of start-up company incubations focused on cybersecurity opportunities spanning commercial and government sectors. He ensures optimized market gap responsiveness of new incubations and guides Red Cell’s platform team support as young cybersecurity companies progress through their early-stage business life cycles. 

As a Red Cell Partner, Mr. Barnes applies his national security and cybersecurity domain expertise to Red Cell’s National Security and Healthcare Practice incubation activities and oversees the company’s overall cyber-related investment strategy.

Mr. Barnes engages in numerous national security- and cybersecurity-related activities:

  • Chairman, Board of Directors, National Cryptologic Foundation
  • Senior Fellow, McCrary Institute for Cyber & Critical Infrastructure Security, Auburn University
  • Member, Aspen Global Cybersecurity Group
  • Contributing Participant:
    • International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)
    • MIT International Conference on Cyber Norms
    •  Aspen Digital
    • CityForum, Ltd, UK
    • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Advisory Board Member, Peraton, Inc.

Mr. Barnes served as the Deputy Director and senior civilian leader of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) from April 2017 through September 2023. In this role, Mr. Barnes served as NSA’s chief operating officer, overseeing strategy, policy, and operations. As an agency deputy in the U.S. national security system, Mr. Barnes supported the U.S. defense and intelligence enterprise in national security strategy execution and the formulation of supporting policies. He positioned NSA as an integrated mission partner enabling U.S. decision advantage and security against foreign threats.

Over his 36-year career at the NSA, Mr. Barnes held numerous technical and organizational leadership roles spanning intelligence collection operations, intelligence target analysis, foreign liaison and industrial partnership management, workforce support, and global enterprise Governance.

U.S. Government Service Recognition Includes:

• Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal

• Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Medal

• National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal

• Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security Distinguished Service Medallion

• National Security Agency Distinguished Civilian Service Medal

• Central Intelligence Agency Seal Medal

• National Reconnaissance Office Medal of Distinguished Performance

• National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Medallion for Excellence

• National Intelligence Medal of Achievement

• Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award

• Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Awards (2)

Mr. Barnes received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1986. In 2020, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumni by the University of Maryland’s College of Electrical and Computer Engineering.