2022 SIA Women in Biometrics Awards Profile: Diane Stephens

Diane Stephens accepting her award alongside SIA Women in Biometrics Awards presenters Benji Hutchinson and Cathy Tilton

2022 SIA Women in Biometrics Awards winner Diane Stephens is a biometrics standards coordinator at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Stephens, who has worked in biometrics close to 20 years, entered the field relatively unfamiliar with biometrics technology when she joined the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program team in 2003.

“At the time, I knew how to spell ‘biometrics,’ but that was about it! It was through the course of my time at DHS, through day-to-day involvement, that I learned about biometrics and identity systems – domestic and international – and the sources of identity data,” said Stephens.

In her earlier biometric years, Stephens worked on DHS’ US-VISIT Program and served as business owner of the DHS Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). Stephens also served as the business owner for DHS’ Arrival Departure Information System, the biographic sister system to IDENT that stored the arrivals and departures for foreign nationals entering and leaving the United States. Prior to leaving DHS, she performed as the chair of the National Information Exchange Model Biometrics Domain.

“Through the course of 14 years at DHS, working with the DHS IDENT program and the biographic Arrival Departure Information System, I guess you could say osmosis occurred, and I evolved into a biometric subject matter expert,” said Stephens. “Now, serving in my current role at NIST has been an incredible bonus following my time at DHS.”

After 14 years, Stephens joined NIST under the U.S. Department of Commerce, working in the Information Technology Laboratory, Information Access Division, in the Image Group. She is a biometrics standards coordinator and editor of the ANSI/NIST-ITL standard, also known as “Data Format for the Interchange of Fingerprints, Facial and Other Biometric Information.” Stephens also represents NIST and the U.S. in national and international standards committees promoting the use of and adherence to standards to maintain system compatibility and interoperability. She has been with NIST close to five years.

“Being part of and helping deploy the solution to address the Rice-Chertoff initiative from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, which transitioned DHS biometric submissions from a two-print (index fingers) to a ten-print biometric submission/repository, is one of my proudest accomplishments [in biometrics],” said Stephens. “This transition enabled interoperability between the DHS IDENT, U.S. Department of State ten-print visa applicant collections and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (now Next Generation Identification, or NGI).”

Stephens was honored, along with four other recipients of the 2022 SIA Women in Biometrics Awards, on May 24 during a special award ceremony at the SIA GovSummit, SIA’s annual public policy and government security conference.

“I would like express my appreciation and thank the Security Industry Association for providing an opportunity for women in the field of biometrics to be acknowledged during the SIA GovSummit,” she said, reflecting on accepting her award and the event.” The conference was very well attended and provided a lively venue for networking with industry colleagues and associates.”

The SIA Women in Biometrics Awards are generously supported by 2022 sponsors IDEMIA and Paravision and organizational and media partners AVISIAN, Biometric Update, FindBiometrics and SIA’s Identity and Biometric Technology Advisory Board and Women in Security Forum.