|Elonka Dunin is an author, cryptographer, game developer, and management consultant. She is a lifetime member of the International Game Developers Association, Chairperson Emerita and a founding member of the IGDA's Online Games SIG, and a co-Director of the Global Game Jam from 2011–2014. For over two decades she was General Manager and Executive Producer at Simutronics in St. Louis, Missouri, making award-winning multiplayer, social, casual, and mobile games such as GemStone, DragonRealms, CyberStrike, Tiny Heroes, and One Epic Knight. In 2014 she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to help build a new game studio, Black Gate Games, after which she moved on to the Family Education Network (Poptropica, Funbrain) to help them get their Agile development program up and running. In 2016 Elonka moved to Maryland, where as of 2020, she is a management consultant with Accenture | SolutionsIQ. As a certified SPC5 Agile Coach she helps other companies with their own Agile transformations, using games to teach team-building techniques.
Born in Los Angeles, Elonka studied Astronomy at UCLA, and then joined the United States Air Force. She was stationed at RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom, and Beale Air Force Base in California, where she worked on the SR-71 and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. Along with her other achievements, Elonka is a world-traveler who speaks several languages, and has visited over 100 countries around the world, and every continent including Antarctica.
Elonka's lifelong interest in cryptography became public in 2000 when she was awarded a prize for being the first person to crack the PhreakNIC Code, an up-until-Elonka unsolved puzzle created by the hacker group se2600. After the attacks of September 11th, Elonka helped out with the war on terrorism by teaching government agents about cryptography and what types of codes that Al Qaeda might have been using. In 2012 she was invited to be on the Board of Directors for the building of a new National Museum of Cryptology. From 2015 to 2018 she chaired the Nashville 2600 Organization, a Tennessee 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation.
Elonka is co-founder and co-leader of a group of cryptographers who are working hard to crack a code on the famous Kryptos sculpture at CIA Headquarters, and led the international team that cracked the related KGB Cyrillic Projector Cipher in 2003. She maintains a list of the World's most famous unsolved codes on her elonka.com site, and in 2006, published The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms. As of 2019, her elonka.com website has had over 5 million page views. Bestselling author Dan Brown honored Elonka by naming one of the characters in his Da Vinci Code sequel, The Lost Symbol, after her. "Nola Kaye" is an anagrammed form of "Elonka". She also authored two articles in Secrets of the Lost Symbol, a collection of works by academics and other experts discussing the fact and fiction of Brown's novel. Her next book, co-authored with prolific crypto-blogger Klaus Schmeh, will be Codebreaking: A Practical Guide, scheduled for release in November 2020. Elonka is also an avid Wikipedian, having been elected to administrator status in 2007, and written or expanded over 500 articles on Wikipedia.
As a public speaker, Elonka regularly gives talks on her favorite subjects: Games, Wikipedia, cryptography, medieval history, Agile development, and geocaching.
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