Born to Help: How Kuma’s Jenn Behrens Brings Her Experience in Social Work to Benefit Privacy & Security Clients
When Jenn Behrens was just 2 years old, her dad predicted that she would grow up to be a social worker because of her natural desire and ability to help others. “He always said he knew I was going to take care of people,” she says.
He was right: Jenn went on to major in psychology in college and earned a master’s degree in social work — plus a PhD in public policy and administration. She spent more than a decade in direct-service social work like helping foster-care children and families before moving on to program management and oversight.
During her PhD work at Virginia Commonwealth University, Jenn was appointed to the Virginia Institutional Review Board, a group under the Virginia Department of Health that helps protect the privacy and rights of subjects involved in public health research. This transition — from social work to privacy — was “a natural crosswalk,” says Jenn, who has been with Kuma since 2016 and currently serves as Partner and Executive Vice President of Privacy & Security.
“My heart and passion has always been protecting people. In social services, I was helping to protect people, and in privacy and security, we’re helping people protect their data and ultimately themselves,” she says.
Jenn Helps Kuma Develop ‘True Partnerships’ with Privacy and Security Clients
Jenn’s niche is in privacy, security, and identity management. Her colleagues affectionately refer to her as “Alphabet” because of the litany of acronyms she’s earned after her name. In addition to receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and the aforementioned MSW and PhD from VCU, Jenn holds CIPP/G, CIPP/US, and CIPM credentials, and she is recognized by IAPP as a Fellow of Information Privacy (FIP).
Jenn served as the IDESG Plenary Chair (formerly Privacy Committee Chair) and was an IAPP Publications Advisory Board Member (formerly Women Leading Privacy Advisory Board Member). She serves on the Champions Board of the National Girls Collaborative Project as the cybersecurity and privacy expert. She has previously served on the HIMSS Patient Identity Integrity Workgroup and was a member of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence’s Privacy-Enhancing Technology Community of Interest.
At Kuma, Jenn focuses on supporting organizations in transition from compliance to commitment in privacy and security excellence. She has led privacy-engineering and risk-management efforts for multiple NIST cybersecurity pilots as well as in the commercial marketplace. She is currently engaged as the CISO and CPO for multiple major healthcare systems, oversees Kuma’s Privacy and Security teams, and has successfully led organizations through significant security and privacy incidents.
“My work at Kuma really allows me to become entrenched with our clients,” Jenn says. “It underscores how we are so much more than consultants — we are a true partner to the organizations that we serve. What I mean by that is, we’re not going to drop a report and just leave. We’re not going to nickel-and-dime anyone on hours. We understand that our clients’ needs ebb and flow, and we can be creative and flexible in adjusting our services to really provide comprehensive privacy and security throughout the entire organization.”
Privacy and Security Co-Exist Under the Same Roof — Literally
Jenn sees privacy and security as two halves of a whole, noting that Kuma provides protection in both arenas, and most of Kuma’s staff members are experts in both. “Technically,” she says, “you can have security without privacy, but you cannot have privacy without security.”
To unpack what she means by that, Jenn uses an analogy involving her prescient father:
“My dad built houses, so I grew up around new houses going up all the time,” she says. “One of the ways I explain the difference between privacy and security and how they relate is with a house. Think of security as the framing of the house, and think of privacy as the data that’s inside the house. So for security, there are the walls, windows, and roof of your house: You’ve got locks and alarms and cameras to monitor and control who comes in and out, and to alert you to any unusual activity. And for privacy, inside your house you have your artwork placed where you like it, and your bed in a certain position, and the TV and thermostat are programmed a certain way. If anyone wants to change anything in your house or stay in your house, they have to get your permission and follow your rules because it’s your stuff.”
In other words, you can have a house with walls and a roof with nothing inside — security without privacy. But you can’t have fine art and a fancy TV and a humming air conditioner without walls and a roof to protect them — privacy without security.
Kuma and its clients are fortunate to have a thoughtful, experienced, and empathetic privacy and security leader like Jenn on the team. To find out more about Kuma’s work in privacy and security, digital identity, vulnerability and threat intelligence, fraud verification, and other resources, visit kuma.pro.