Professional Bio

Elonka Dunin speaking at the 2005 NSA Cryptologic History Symposium, and smiling to see that her slides are working!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 2023, she is a management consultant with Accenture Business Agility. As a certified SPC 6 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. From 2012–2022 she was on the Board of Directors for the National Cryptologic (Museum) Foundation. 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 site, and in 2006, published The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms. As of 2023, her website has had over 6 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. Elonka is also an avid Wikipedian, having been elected to administrator status in 2007, and written or expanded over 500 articles on Wikipedia.

In 2020, she co-wrote a book with prolific crypto-blogger Klaus Schmeh, Codebreaking: A Practical Guide, released in the UK with publisher Constable Robinson in December 2020.

In 2023, they co-wrote the Expanded Edition of Codebreaking with US publisher No Starch Press. It was released on Amazon on September 19th.

As a public speaker, Elonka regularly gives talks on her favorite subjects: Games, Wikipedia, cryptography, medieval history, Agile development, and geocaching.

6-minute CNN / Great Big Story video about Elonka's 2019 visit to the CIA's Kryptos sculpture.
As of 2023, over 8.6 million views!
18-minute TEDx talk "Two thousand years of ordinary secrets",
recorded on May 8, 2021

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This page was most recently updated on September 27, 2023

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