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PARK

SM

U N I V E R S I T Y

ALUMNIAD SPRING 2005

Omar Maden

MADEN: SECURITY & SUCCESS • SCHESCKE A LIFE SAVER • ORTIZ ON LEADERSHIP


securit Finding

in the U.S. by Rita Weighill, ’90

CUBAN-BORN OMAR MADEN’S JOURNEY TO THE UNITED STATES AT AGE 15 OPENED THE DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY

4 >> www.park.edu

K ATHARINE L AMBERT PHOTOGR APHY

AND SUCCESS.


y

Scientific scrutiny might not sustain the theory that Omar Maden,’74, inherited the entrepreneurial gene from his Cuban parents, but their influence throughout his life cannot be denied. His parents instilled in their only child strong ethical values and the importance of family. The traits serve him well as chief executive officer of Maden Technologies, a top-ranked security systems firm that lists among its clients the U.S. Army’s Department of Defense. The firm’s integration of information security solutions has touched more than two million people, and that number continues to increase as the worldwide need for security systems grows. Described by his employees as charismatic and, in the words of one, “a somewhat enigmatic energy force,” Maden was born in Cuba, a country comprising 44,200 square miles and a place as beautiful as it is dismal. His father, a self-made man, was Havana’s water bureau chief and demonstrated through example that hard work brings success. Maden’s mother was among a handful of business-minded women who in 1956 created and introduced a credit card program to Cuba. On Jan. 1, 1959, however, the flourishing island that Christopher Columbus called “the pearl of the Caribbean” was commandeered by Fidel Castro, who would transform it from Batista capitalism to Fidelist socialism, a form of government heavily influenced by Marxist-Leninist ideology.

Spring 2005 ‹‹

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In 1960, a rumor began to circulate that all Cuban

The military assisted with his third goal, to attend

children would be taken from their families to be raised

college. In 1972 he enrolled as a Degree Completion

and educated behind the Iron Curtain. When 1,000 Cuban

Program (DCP) student in the Army’s Bootstrap Program. “I

students were sent to study in Russia on Jan. 21, 1961, the

had applied to other universities,” he said, “but once I

rumor fueled itself into reality and forever changed

found out about Park’s environment — dynamite faculty

Maden’s fate.

and a school where the military was welcomed during the

The Madens along with 15,000 other Cuban families applied for visas to leave the country. Twice they were

Vietnam years — I looked through all my applications and chose Park.”

denied, but on a third attempt Maden received permission

Maden was 25 when he arrived on the Parkville

to leave Cuba at the age of 15, alone, as a sponsored student

campus, but he blended in quickly. He became like an

through Operation Peter Pan. The program, introduced

older brother to the 18-year-olds. “I got along with them

under the watch of President John Kennedy, granted any

fine and was not seen anymore as a DCP student. I was

Cuban child 6 to 18 entry into the United States.

active in the main campus life, which I enjoyed

After arriving in Miami, Maden stayed in a refugee

tremendously. It was a great experience, and I formed

camp before being sent to Portland, Ore., where he lived

many friendships.” He was active in campus life while

with Cuban foster families. “I wanted to go to Portland

pursuing a triple major in economics, political science and

because when I came from Cuba, I knew Castro would be

Spanish.

overthrown in six months,” he said with a smile. “I chose

He remembers three faculty members who helped

Portland because I wanted to see the entire United States

prepare him for business and for life — Dr. Jerzy

before I went back to Cuba and could brag to my family.”

Hauptmann, professor of political science; Elliott Brown,

Those six months turned into years. During that time

assistant professor of political science; and a young

Maden set three goals: graduate from high school,

professor of economics, John Jumara, whom Maden said

graduate from college, and save enough money to reunite

wore T-shirts to class and was noted for being tough on

his family. He graduated from high school, and four years

his students. Hauptmann retired in 2001 as director of the

after he had left Cuba, his parents arrived in Portland. But

Hauptmann School of Public Affairs. Jumara is an

nine months after their arrival and just as he was

associate professor of management.

researching college options, Maden was drafted into the Army.

“I was required to learn how to read The Wall Street Journal and to find out about stocks and other business

“My reaction to being drafted was mixed,” he said. “I

activities. I didn’t have much interest in those areas before

had just been reunited with my parents, and I worried

I went to Park, and the impact from those three professors

that my father, who was already 61, would have a difficult

had a tremendous influence on my life,” Maden said. “I

time finding employment. On the other hand, my parents

discovered that although I loved my military career, I

were extremely proud that I was called up, as I was. We

wasn’t destined to remain in the military. I knew that at

had a debt to this country and to this society, and the least

some point I wanted to explore entrepreneurship and my

I could do was serve in the military.”

own creativity.”

If Maden Technologies, which he founded in 1986,

After graduating from Park, Maden served 12 more

represents the entrepreneurial influence of his heritage, it

years before retiring from the military. It was then that he

also reflects the experiences acquired in a 20-year Army

combined his knowledge of technology with his academic

career. Maden rose to the rank of major, received a Purple

skills and launched Maden Technologies. “I compare this

Heart for an injury received when his helicopter was shot

company to ‘the little engine that could,’ ” he said. His

down, and was awarded numerous medals and decorations

stated leadership goals are to be accessible, positive and

that he recently showed to his 19-year-old daughter,

honest. “It’s a fast-growing company expected to reach

Remmie, for the first time. He also spent four years at the

$100 million in annual sales by 2007.”

Pentagon, served as deputy director of the Tactical Air

Even with fast growth, the company’s organization

Control Systems/Tactical Air Defense Systems joint

chart has remained streamlined — chief executive officer,

interface task force and was a U.S. delegate to the NATO

chief financial officer, two vice presidents in charge of

Allied Data Systems Interoperability Agency in Brussels,

business,

Belgium.

development. “The infrastructure by design is fairly flat

6 >> www.park.edu

and

one

vice

president

for

business


and very responsive, and that is what I like,” Maden said. “It’s efficient, so that clients get lower cost and we can be responsive to our clients right away.” While Maden Technologies is a silent partner in numerous initiatives, its expertise touches society in many ways. In addition to its enormous presence with the Army and other defense systems, the company set up the wireless networks for the Department of Transportation,

the

port

management

systems for all vessels entering and leaving every port in the United States, and the systems for the Department of Education student loan program. It also manages the networks for the Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities systems. Information assurance, the primary service offered by Maden Technologies, “… is nothing more than the integration of a series of information security solutions, hardware and software based, using advanced computing and business process methodologies,” Maden explained. “The cornerstone of these methods and products is encrypted messaging techniques embedded into common access cards, most using secured ‘smart’ card applications with public key infrastructure and/or biometrics applied. These access

management

applications,

while

involving differing types of technology, are all integrated and ultimately applied across the enterprise to produce transparent and seamless messaging solutions.” In his spare time, Maden is an avid golfer and art aficionado. An impressive collection of artifacts graces his office complex and his homes in Washington, D.C., and Miami. His favorite piece is by African-American artist Jacob Lawrence, who employs an ascending ladder

and

common

images

seen

in

neighborhoods to reflect inspiration and aspiration. “If you analyze what it’s trying to tell you, it’s saying, ‘The sky is the limit,’ ” Maden said. “And that is exactly what I’m trying to portray in my business.”

Operation Peter Pan Operation Peter Pan may sound like a sequel to J.M. Barrie’s classic 1902 novel and play, but unlike its inspired namesake, where children never grow up, this story involves 14,000 Cuban children who had to grow up fast. Between 1960 and 1962, parents sent their children alone to the United States so they would not have to live under communism. The project bears the name of 15-year-old Pedro (Peter), the first Cuban child to arrive in October 1960. Peter became the symbol of the masses of children who followed. After the coup in 1959, dictator Fidel Castro’s early actions created a stressful environment as he systematically nationalized industry, began closing Catholic schools and churches, and introduced communist slogans in schools as a means to indoctrinate the children. Rumors circulated that all Cuban children from ages 6 to 18 would be taken from their families and raised and educated behind the Iron Curtain. Some historians say that the CIA fabricated those rumors and that the real reason for Operation Peter Pan was to bring young Cubans to the United States, leaving their parents behind to adamantly oppose the new government that threatened to take “patria potestad,” a Latin term meaning “power of a father” or “mother country,” from Cuban families. In other accounts, concerned people in Havana and Miami, Fla., coordinated messages over Radio Swan (later Radio Americas) into Cuba warning about the imminent family intervention. The rumor became reality in 1960 when 1,000 Cuban students, including Castro’s 12-year-old son, were sent to Russia to be educated. More than anything, that action confirmed the suspicions of many, and Operation Peter Pan became the alternative for their children. Some Cubans who had relocated to the United States welcomed the children of families and friends into their homes. But because of limited resources and the number of children, this could only be a short-term solution. The children who arrived under the sponsorship of Operation Peter Pan first lived in refugee centers in Miami supported by the Catholic Welfare Bureau’s Cuban Children’s Program. The program, led by Father (now Monsignor) Bryan O. Walsh, received funding from the State Department and corporations. From there, the children were placed with foster families or in orphanages across the country, and siblings often were separated. In an effort to reunite families, President Lyndon Johnson created the Freedom Flights program in 1965, where parents of Operation Peter Pan children received priority to enter the United States. More than 5,000 families were reunited in the first six months. The reunions were joyful, but not without the bittersweet challenges posed by the long separation. Communication was difficult when some younger children no longer spoke or understood Spanish. Some distraught parents discovered that their children did not remember them. The alumni of Operation Peter Pan present a remarkable case study of successful professionals. In those ranks are two Park University graduates, Omar Maden, ’74, and Felipe Bustillo III, ’74. Others include musician Willy Chirino and his wife, Lisette Alvarez, a well-recognized vocalist; Santiago Rodriquez, an international and classical pianist; and Mel Martinez, a secretary of housing and urban development under President George W. Bush and currently a U.S. senator from Florida.

Spring 2005 ‹‹

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Omar Maden, '74  

Omar Maden is the cover story of the Spring 2005 Alumniad.

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