Leadership Team

For 15 years, the Government Business Executive Forum remains an exclusive, powerful executive membership organization focused on developing substantive, lasting business relationships between government and industry leaders. Led by an experienced management team with notable accomplishments across public and private sectors, the prestigious GBEF program is unmatched in its ability to build important communication channels between those who make a difference in technology as applied to vital government missions.

Donald Upson

Donald Upson

Founder and Co-Chair Government Business Executive Forum, Co-Chair CES Government 2020

Specializing on technology applications to improve government, Don Upson has been a visible and recognized leader in government and business for more than three decades. Today he chairs the Government Business Executive Forum and its flagship conference, CES Government. Together, these constitute the most exclusive and prestigious programs of the government technology and management sectors: www.gbeforum.com and www.cesgovernment.com.

Chrissie Coon

Chrissie Coon

President Upson Technology Group, Co-Chair CES Government 2020

Chrissie Coon is President of Upson Technology Group and Co-Chair of the Government Business Executive Forum and CES Government 2020. Chrissie is recognized nationally for her public relations and marketing skills, especially as applied to public safety technology, is a former senior marketing professional for the Nation’s largest emergency communications network – FirstNet – and is a 15-year veteran of the North Las Vegas Police Department.

Charlie Armstrong

Charlie Armstrong

Co-Chair GBEF 2019

Charlie departed CBP in 2016 after 8 years as their Assistant Commissioner (AC) and CIO of the Office of Information and Technology (OIT). Charlie’s 32 years of leadership and technology experience began in IT operations and management with the Department of Navy, followed by a career with the U.S. Customs Service and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). He has a reputation for delivery and reducing spending with an extensive technology portfolio.

Charlie is an alumni from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems

Mary Shae Sutherland

Mary Shae Sutherland

Events Director

Mary-Shea Sutherland serves as the Director of Events for the Upson Technology Group. She brings more than 30 years of successful management, meeting, event planning and design experience. Her focus with UTG is on the Government Business Executive Forum and CES Government.

Her career has included work in both Federal and State government, including serving on the personal staff of Chairman Tom Bliley, and Governors Jim Gilmore, George Allen, and Bob McDonnell. She has managed events for the White House, the National Governors Association and served as Director of Member Relations for the Republican National Committee where she was responsible for the annual Summer and Winter meetings.

Most recently she was Director of Events for Benedetti and Farris, LLC where she developed and managed events for a variety of clients. Highlights include the Richmond premiere of Warner Bros. Gods and Generals, the annual Leaders in Technology Dinner (2005 – 2018) for the Consumer Technology Association, the Federal E-Commerce Commission events across the country, several Virginia Inaugural Balls and a multitude of events for political organizations, corporations and charitable organizations.

Ms. Sutherland is a graduate of the University of Richmond. She is married to Steven Boyd who serves as the Promotions Manager for the Department of Conservation and Recreation for the Commonwealth of Virginia.