Alan Bersin was appointed by President Barack Obama on March 27, 2010 to serve as Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As Commissioner, Mr. Bersin oversees the operations of CBP’s 57,000-employee work force and manages an operating budget of more than $11 billion. Commissioner Bersin is responsible for fulfilling CBP’s mission of protecting the nation’s borders from all threats while facilitating legitimate travel and trade. Previously, Commissioner Bersin served as Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs in the Department of Homeland Security. In that capacity, he served as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s lead representative on border affairs and strategy regarding security, immigration, narcotics, and trade matters as well as for coordinating the Secretary's security initiatives on the nation's borders.
Before this service, Bersin served as Chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, appointed by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders in December 2006, and confirmed by the San Diego City Council. Previously, Mr. Bersin served as California’s Secretary of Education between July 2005 and December 2006 in the Administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gov. Schwarzenegger also appointed Mr. Bersin to the State Board of Education, where he served until 2009 as a member confirmed by the California State Senate. Between 1998 and 2005, he served as Superintendent of Public Education in San Diego where he launched a major reorganization of the district to focus its resources strategically on instruction and to modernize its business infrastructure in order to support teaching and learning in the classroom. In a related capacity statewide, Mr. Bersin served between 2000 and 2003 as a member and then Chairman of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Prior to becoming the leader of the nation’s eighth largest urban school district, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California and confirmed in that capacity by the U.S. Senate. Mr. Bersin served as U.S. Attorney for nearly five years and as the Attorney General’s Southwest Border Representative responsible for coordinating federal law enforcement on the border from South Texas to Southern California.
Mr. Bersin previously was a senior partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, where he served on the firm’s policy and compensation committees, chaired the committee overseeing the firm’s extensive program of pro bono legal services, and was principally responsible for developing the firm’s innovative paralegal program. At Munger, Tolles & Olson, Mr. Bersin specialized in complex RICO, securities, commercial and insurance litigation before state and federal trial and appellate courts. He is a member of the California and Alaska bars.
Other professional experience includes employment as Special Counsel to the Los Angeles Police Commission, as Visiting Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law, as an adjunct professor of law at Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Southern California Law Center and as a Lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. Mr. Bersin serves as a member of the Board of Overseers for Harvard University (2004-2010) and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy.
In 1968, Mr. Bersin received his A.B. in Government from Harvard University (magna cum laude). He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society and awarded post-graduate scholarships by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Football Hall of Fame. While at Harvard, Mr. Bersin was selected as a member of the All-Ivy, All-New England and All-East Football Teams and was inducted in 1995 into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame. From 1969 to 1971, Mr. Bersin attended Balliol College at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. In 1974, he received his J.D. degree from the Yale Law School. Mr. Bersin was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws (Honorary) by the University of San Diego in 1994, by California Western School of Law in 1996, and by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2000. He is fluent in Spanish.