Rich Cooper

May 7, 2009

With yesterday’s announcement of Dr. Tara O’Toole’s nomination to be DHS’ next Under Secretary for Science & Technology it should not go unnoticed that a significant portion of the Department’s leadership positions are held by women.  While I’ve not gone through the other Cabinet Departments to compare how many women are in some of their most senior leadership positions, at DHS the facts speak for themselves.

•    Janet Napolitano, Secretary, DHS
•    Janet Lute, Deputy Secretary, DHS
•    Jan Lesher, Chief of Staff for Operations
•    Elaine Duke, Under Secretary for Management
•    Vice Admiral Vivien S. Crea, Vice Commandant of the United States Coast Guard
•    Dr. Tara O’Toole, Under Secretary for Science & Technology, DHS (nominee)
•    Juliette Kayyem Assistant Secretary, Office of Intergovernmental Programs
•    Gale Rossides, (Acting) Administrator, Transportation Security Administration
•    Chani W. Wiggins, Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs
•    Sue Ramanathan, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs
•    Connie Patrick, Director, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
•    Mary Ellen Callahan, Chief Privacy Officer
•    Dora Schriro, Special Advisor on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Detention & Removal

In addition to these positions, women also occupy some of the most senior roles in Congress over homeland issues. These include:

•    Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Ranking Member (and former Chairman), US Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee
•    Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Chair, Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery
•    Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chair, Adhoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight
•    Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Chair, Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism
•    Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Chair, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment
•    Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Chair, Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection
•    Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Chair, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology

I know there are numerous other women in senior leadership positions in the various components of DHS, the Congress and in state, local and tribal governments and the private sector that are working homeland issues, but when you take a step back and compare the diversity of homeland security leadership to other major issue areas (defense, labor, finance, etc.), the facts simply speak for themselves.  It’s an impressive and noteworthy accomplishment when you consider where this country was ten, twenty, thirty years ago in terms of executive leadership and a trend to applaud as well.

This piece was originally posted on Security Debrief.


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