Albany Law School is proud to recognize Neda Bolourian LL.M. ‘22 as its first International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Westin Scholar.
A first generation American of Iranian descent, Bolourian is a lawyer near Bethesda, Maryland and currently a contractor to the Department of Energy working on policy and privacy. She is pursuing her LL.M. in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy through the law school’s Online Graduate Programs.
“I have studied, and worked with various cybersecurity professionals over the years, and I realized that it was a field I was interested in. It soon blossomed into a serious interest and I wanted to find a program that combined my love of the law with cybersecurity,” she said about the Albany Law program that is one of five 100% online programs where students can study from anywhere in the world at their own pace in asynchronous courses.
“There are people [in my classes] who have 20, 30 years of cybersecurity under their belt, which is completely different from where I'm coming from. Some people are in different countries and having these in-depth discussions with my classmates has been very deeply enriching. I don't believe that I would've necessarily had the same experience in a classroom,” she said. “I've met a lot of people who are non-lawyers who are here learning the legal aspects of cybersecurity. It's really amazing to learn from them.”
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The program has been an ideal combination of cybersecurity and the law behind it, she said. But it’s an ever-evolving field and the coursework keeps up.
“They’re constantly updating,” she said of the work of the professors in the program. “I have gained valuable knowledge that I have been able to use in my everyday work to influence policy change as well as give recommendations to leadership on the convergence of privacy and cybersecurity law.”
With the growing need for well-qualified privacy and data protection professionals, the annual Westin Scholar Awards were created by the IAPP to support students who are identified as future leaders in the field of privacy and data protection.
As a participating Westin Scholar Award school, Albany Law selected Bolourian because, “Albany Law School is proud to have students like [her], who seek exceptional training, knowledge, and skills so they may enter this ever-important field and make a meaningful impact," said Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives Antony Haynes and Assistant Dean and Director of the Online Graduate Programs Tom Rosenberger.
Before her work at the Department of Energy, Bolourian was a political candidate (she ran for local office in 2014) and a contract administrator at the District of Columbia Retirement Board. Each experience has deepened her interest in cybersecurity.
“As a longtime advocate of privacy concerns, I have been increasingly aware of the importance of data privacy and cybersecurity as I delve more and more into how our personal information is managed by governmental entities, within social media, by large institutions, and within the framework of modern computing in general,” she said. “It became clear to me that privacy concerns were becoming more and more important in our quickly evolving cyber world and that a lot of regular consumers had absolutely no idea how their information was processed, used, and stored.”
Bolourian did her undergraduate work in philosophy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, received a master’s degree in international relations from St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, Texas, and earned her JD from the University of District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law where she did her clinic work in government accountability, immigration, and tax law. She joined the Albany Law School program in 2021. Outside of work, she is an avid rescue animal advocate and has four dogs of her own.
The Westin Scholar Awards pay homage to the late Dr. Alan Westin, a foundational voice in the field of privacy and data protection. Throughout his life, Westin researched and wrote about privacy, data protection, digital identity and the future of how societies will deal with issues at the intersection of law and technology.
“The industry of privacy is fast growing and constantly evolving. We’ve created this award as a way to put the privacy profession at the forefront of students’ minds as they explore potential career opportunities,” said J. Trevor Hughes, IAPP President and CEO. “Congratulations to Ms. Bolourian. We look forward to seeing the good work she will bring to the field of privacy.”
Overall, Bolourian will be awarded:
- $1,000 cash
- A copy of the book “Privacy and Freedom”, by Dr. Alan Westin
- 2 years of membership with the IAPP
- 3 complimentary exams for IAPP certifications (CIPP, CIPM, CIPT)
- Unlimited access to online training for recipient’s selected IAPP certification exams
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- Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
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- Human Resources: Law, Leadership, and Policy
- Government Affairs and Advocacy
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