Dr. Cara LaPointe is a Senior Fellow at the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University.
She is leading a cross-sector initiative on Blockchain for Social Good delving into the intersection of technology, policy, privacy and ethics in the implementation of blockchain technologies in support of vulnerable populations.
Originally from Bethesda, Maryland, Cara graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering and a minor in French. Following graduation, she started her career at the Navy Experimental Dive Unit where she conducted research and manned testing of a diver thermal protection system which she co-designed and which was later patented for use by deep-sea divers.
In October 1997, Cara matriculated at the University of Oxford where she studied international development focusing on economics and management regimes for common property resources. She conducted research on the historical evolution of marine resource management regimes on the island of Yadua, Fiji, and, in 1999, she earned a Master of Philosophy degree in Development Studies.
Upon returning to the United States, Cara attended the Surface Warfare Officer School before reporting for sea duty. She served as the Auxiliaries Engineering Officer and Navigator on USS BENFOLD (DDG 65) and USS HIGGINS (DDG 76) from 2000 – 2003, participating in the first DDG Sea Swap and deploying multiple times to the Arabian Gulf and Pacific Northwest.
In 2003, Cara became an Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) and attended the Naval Construction and Engineering program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2006, she earned a Naval Engineer degree and a Master of Science in Ocean Systems Management. She went on to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical and Oceanographic Engineering awarded jointly from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Her dissertation research was conducted at the Deep Submergence Lab in Woods Hole in the area of underwater robotics focusing on deep ocean autonomous underwater vehicle navigation and sensor fusion algorithms.
Cara served her first tour as an Engineering Duty Officer in the Surface Ship Design and Systems Engineering Group of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC working as a ship concept manager in the fields of ship design, unmanned vehicle integration, and naval force structure analysis. In 2011, Cara joined the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program Office, first as a Production Engineer and then as the Deputy Technical Director of the LCS shipbuilding program.
From 2013 – 2014, Cara served as a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady. During her time in the White House, she primarily worked on developing public-private partnerships in support of veterans and military families. In September 2014, Cara reported as the Deputy Program Manager of the Navy’s Electric Ships Office where she worked with organizations across the Navy in coordinating and facilitating the integration of high-energy systems with shipboard naval power and energy infrastructure. In July 2015, she was hand selected to be the Chief of Staff for the new office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems which was established to establish the Navy’s comprehensive vision and strategy for the development and integration of unmanned and autonomous systems. From October 2016 through May 2017, she served as the Interim Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships at the White House.
In addition to her professional activities, Cara is passionate about volunteering and public service, which has included, inter alia, engagement in student outreach efforts promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), participating in volunteer international development efforts, and mentoring.
She is Program Director for the French-American Foundation Cyber Security Program.
Cara lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband Matthew and their three children.