Each year, the President recognizes a select group of Senior Executive Service (SES), Senior Level (SL), and Scientific and Professional (ST) employees for exceptional performance over an extended period with the Presidential Rank Awards. Two categories of rank awards are available.
Each year, federal agencies nominate hundreds of career SES members and SL/ST employees for these prestigious awards. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is honored to have 30 recipients in 2023 who distinguished themselves among career federal leaders and made significant achievements in their agencies. View the full list of recipients on OPM.gov.
Read the November 13, 2023, "30 DHS Employees Acknowledged by Secretary Mayorkas for Winning 2023 Presidential Rank Awards" press release.
Distinguished Rank Award
These individuals are recognized for sustained extraordinary accomplishments. Only one percent of career SES members and SL/ST employees receive this rank.
Jeffrey Dorko has made significant and lasting contributions to FEMA and the Nation in support of the President’s Management Agenda, delivering mission critical solutions, providing excellent customer service, and being a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars. He has delivered results and demonstrated the highest level of leadership competencies, including delivering program results and providing executive leadership. Mr. Dorko has provided extraordinary leadership across the Federal family and within FEMA and developed a strong workforce for the challenges ahead. He has led his people with the resolve necessary to persevere through challenges, preparing FEMA to help people before, during, and after disasters.
Staci Barrera has served as the Executive Associate Director (EAD) for Management and Administration (M&A), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since June 24, 2018. Ms. Barrera, supported by a geographically dispersed team of approximately 1,600 professional support staff (including 16 subordinate Senior Executives) and an annual operating budget of nearly $1.2B, delivers enterprise services to ICE’s workforce of approximately 20,000 law enforcement and support personnel in more than 400 offices across the United States and around the world. Ms. Barrera oversees ICE’s approximately $9.14M in budgetary resources, expenditures, accounting, and finance; acquisition management processes and procurements; human resources, workforce recruitment and hiring; information technology systems and tactical communications support; management, sharing, disclosure, and protection of ICE data and information; real property and asset management; and ICE’s leadership and career development training.
Tae Johnson is serving as the Acting Director for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) principal investigative agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As the Acting Director since January 2021, Mr. Johnson provides leadership for approximately 21,000 employees, including 6,700 criminal investigators in the Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and 6,600 officers in the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), with operational and mission support personnel assigned to more than 400 domestic offices and in 50 countries. In his career SES role as Deputy Director, Mr. Johnson oversaw day-to-day operations, implementing an annual budget of over $8.4 billion. ICE’s primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing the illegal cross-border movement of people, goods, money, technology, and other contraband. This mission is executed through the enforcement of more than 400 statutes, which enable agency personnel to target the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activity and to combat the illegal movement of people and goods. ICE also investigates, apprehends, and removes criminals and immigration violators from the United States and dismantles terrorist and criminal organizations that exploit our borders and lawful immigration system.
Randolph Alles, who serves as the Acting Under Secretary for Management, is responsible for management and administration of the third largest Department in the Federal Government, overseeing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) $60.7B portfolio and supporting DHS’s critical missions, Mr. Alles has maintained a focus on integrating and unifying DHS’ management programs, including financial management, major acquisitions, procurement, security, and biometric identity management, to support DHS Components’ ability to deliver their missions in support of the American people.
Kenneth Bible’s extraordinary and accomplished career as a Senior Executive spans a decade across multiple agencies and disciplines and includes leadership roles with enterprise‐wide and cross‐agency impact. He serves currently as the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he leads the day‐to‐day cybersecurity program and resources for a civilian and military workforce of one of the largest federal departments of over 240,000 employees serving in 15 component agencies. Mr. Bible’s exceptional leadership skills, technical depth and breath, and reputation for collaboration and creativity has led to exceptional results in each executive assignment. His federal thought leadership shaped the federal response to the national SolarWinds cybersecurity breach, the technical solutions enabling mission continuity throughout the COVID‐19 pandemic, Executive Orders, and shifts in both National Security and National Defense Strategies.
Elizabeth Cappello’s distinguished military and federal civilian career spans 33 years. In 2011, Ms. Cappello launched her Senior Executive Service career as the Executive Director of the Field Support Directorate for CBP Office of Information Technology, where she assumed responsibility for critical technology services in support of the U.S. Government’s largest law enforcement agency. In her first year, she identified critical end of life technologies and upgraded server and desktop infrastructure at 1,340 sites resulting in improved stability and approximately $1 million in cost avoidance. In 2016, Ms. Cappello progressed in her career as the Deputy Chief Information Officer for ICE, where she executed an enacted budget of $436.2M with a staff of 434 federal employees and approximately 1,100 contractors providing information technology (IT) services and products for the largest investigative branch of DHS.
Nina Ferraro’s leadership has been critical over the years, making positive improvements in a variety of roles in DHS. Most recently responding to customer feedback, she championed six major initiatives throughout fiscal year 2022 that improved the DHS procurement experience. Addressing concerns about the timeliness of emergency procurements, she rapidly revamped the Congressional Notification process for emergency actions. Doing so saved more than three days in the process, time that is vital to meeting survivor needs. Another effort focused on robotic process automation to shift resources to higher value work. With few resources, Ms. Ferraro partnered with the Army to leverage an automation for contractor responsibility. During the pilot, a 90% reduction in time generating artifacts to make the responsibility determination was realized. Moreover, modernizing manual processes greatly improved morale.
As Assistant Administrator (AA) for Surface Operations, under Security Operations, at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Sonya Proctor is responsible for the challenging task of securing approximately 10 billion passenger trips on public transportation, 14 billion tons of cargo carried by truck, rail and maritime, 3,000 domestic pipeline systems, 1.2 million trucking companies, 480,000 school buses, and approximately 3,000 motor coach operations. In 2019, Ms. Proctor was appointed Assistant Administrator (AA) for the newly established Surface Operations, under Security Operations. In this newly created role, Ms. Proctor has established TSA’s strategic direction for the surface transportation security, which has included the development and expansion of cybersecurity mitigation efforts with industry, creating a national and regional organizational reporting and oversight structure, leading groundbreaking efforts to improve coordination and communication with surface transportation stakeholders, and maturing an organization that benefits from its broad diversity in personnel and experience and thrives on proactivity, innovation, cohesion, and professionalism.
Regional Director (RD) Jason Schwabel leads the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Africa Middle East Bureau for International Operations (IO), where he works with federal agencies and host governments to improve international transportation security standards globally and to mitigate risks inbound to the United States. He provides leadership, strategic direction, and facilitates funding for projects throughout Africa and the Middle East which significantly improves the aviation security posture. He establishes organizational performance metrics in accordance with TSA’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives, specific to international engagements and activities. Additionally, he coordinates with TSA’s Compliance Directorate for the successful implementation of the Foreign Airport Assessment and Air Carrier Inspection Programs. He also established the strategic direction for international operations and its globally deployed workforce and oversees the budgetary and human resource needs of his area of responsibility consisting of 77 countries.
Robert Vente has served in the Federal Government for over 30 years. During the last 12 years, he has worked primarily in the international aviation security arena where he has assembled a record of achievement that is recognized throughout the agency; by host government authorities; domestic and international industry stakeholders, including foreign airports/air carriers; and foreign intelligence and law enforcement officials. Over those 12 years, Mr. Vente has held the following positions within TSA International Operations (formerly Office of Global Strategies [OGS]): TSA Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague; Regional Director for Africa/Middle East; Deputy Assistant Administrator (DAA) for OGS and Regional Director for Europe. In each position, he has successfully achieved major program goals through the efficient and effective use of internal and external resources to further TSA’s risk-based, intelligence-driven, counter-terrorism mission overseas. Mr. Vente has made, and continues to make, valuable contributions to the global transportation system through his dedication, diplomacy, and executive leadership.
Albert Curry, Jr
In the face of an increasingly complex and uncertain global environment, in 2022, Albert Curry, Jr. was personally detailed by the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, a 3-star military flag officer, to serve in a position of high-level senior leadership as Deputy Commandant for Mission Support-Deputy for Materiel Readiness (DCMS-DMR). As Acting DCMS-DMR, Mr. Curry is responsible for six diverse executive program offices in charge of CG engineering, information technology, acquisitions, logistics and data management, managing a $2.6 billion annual budget, leading more than 10,000 CG members and providing direct oversight of a CG acquisition and sustainment portfolio totaling $42 billion. Previously, Mr. Curry served as the CG’s Deputy Assistant Commandant for Engineering and Logistics, where he was the highest-ranking civilian Engineer in the CG and served as the Acting Chief Engineer during military leadership changes.
Meritorious Rank Award
These individuals are recognized for sustained accomplishments. Only five percent of career SES members and SL/ST employees may receive this rank.
Sidney Aki is an innovative leader who has consistently delivered creative solutions to the most complex challenges. He has delivered significant and lasting contributions to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), while inspiring his employees and earning the trust and respect of leaders and subordinates alike. Mr. Aki currently serves as the Director of Field Operations (DFO) for the San Diego Field Office, where he oversees CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) along the entire Southern California border. Mr. Aki’s demonstration of extraordinary leadership abilities has been instrumental in making CBP a premier border security agency.
Jeffrey Caine is the Chief Financial Officer at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), responsible for the fiscal stewardship of the agency’s $20 billion annual budget serving over 64,000 employees, and the collection of over $100 billion in trade revenue. Throughout his 35-year Federal career, Mr. Caine has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and innovative problem solving that keeps our borders safe and economy prosperous.
Jose Fabre has consistently demonstrated extraordinary and innovative leadership, transforming the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Budget Directorate into a premier organization. His transformative agenda allowed CBP to both mitigate a collapse in user fee revenues due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic and manage increasing operational demands at our nation’s Southwest Border.
Diane Sahakian is an extraordinary visionary leader who, as Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Acquisition, has transformed federal procurement operations and delivered sustained, creative solutions to complex challenges at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). She also Redesigned Procurement Operations at CBP to Support Migrant Surges and Increase Border Security, Deployed Innovative Robotic Process Automation Software Robots (Bots) to Transform Federal Procurement Processes, and Developed Trusted Partnerships with Federal Agencies and Private Industry.
Adrian Sevier, Chief Counsel of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has served our Nation for 23 years. He has had immeasurable beneficial impacts on millions of disaster survivors in crisis, as they experienced disruption of their lives; the loss of their homes, possessions, and jobs; and in some cases, the grief of losing their loved ones. Mr. Sevier’s exhaustive knowledge of FEMA programs and authorities, tirelessness, creativity, quiet courage, and leadership of a team exceptionally talented legal professionals transformed how America prepares for, responds to, and recovers from disasters as climate change continues to raise the long-term threat from catastrophic disasters to American communities.
Since 2019, Bryan Lemons has served as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) in two positions at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC), including the Assistant Director (AD) for the Technical Training Operations Directorate (TTO) and the AD for the Mission and Readiness Support Directorate (MRSD). He is an innovative and exemplary leader with unparalleled integrity who faithfully serves as an efficient and effective steward of resources. Mr. Lemons has dedicated his 33-year career to serving and protecting the American people, garnering operational and training leadership experience through his military and civilian career.
Daniel Bible currently serves as the Deputy Executive Associate Director (D/EAD) for Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), the second-largest operational component of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ERO protects the homeland through the arrest and removal of noncitizens who undermine the safety of our communities and the integrity of our immigration laws, and its main areas of focus are interior enforcement operations, in-custody and case management, and repatriation of noncitizens who have received a final order of removal. As D/EAD, Mr. Bible is second-in-command for all ERO law enforcement programs, personnel, and operations. He administers a budget of approximately $4.4 billion while leading and motivating a diverse cadre of more than 8,000 operational and mission support employees assigned to 25 ERO field offices and headquarters, in more than 200 domestic locations and 25 overseas locations.
Rachelle Henderson is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the Department of Homeland Security’s principal investigative agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She leads over 400 employees and 1,000 contractors in disparate locations, overseeing a >$350 million annual budget, and ensuring Information Technology (IT) contract spend for total contract value of >$1.8B. She is dedicated to delivering timely and secure technology capabilities for a law enforcement organization with over 20,000 employees. She has also assumed an inter-agency leadership role to deliver digital capabilities, transforming how ICE and our partners effectively address immigration challenges.
As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Director of Financial Management (FM), Jeffrey Bobich oversees all financial management and financial systems activities across the departmental Headquarters and Component bureaus. Jeffrey serves as the primary point of contact for effective management and oversight of the Department’s financial reporting, financial policy, bankcard programs, and the department-wide financial systems modernization (FSM) initiative. In this capacity, he is responsible for monitoring and accurately reporting all DHS spending and earned revenue collections – which totaled $106 billion and $16 billion respectively in Fiscal Year 2022. Financial transparency and data integrity provide the Administration, Congress, and external stakeholders with confidence that funds entrusted to the department are prudently managed to ensure successful execution of critical Homeland Security missions.
Neal Swartz entered on duty as a Senior Executive on June 16, 2013, when he began serving as the Associate General Counsel for General Law. From the earliest days of his appointment, Mr. Swartz has been an extraordinary Senior Executive. He created and matured one of the most significant Divisions in the Department’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC). As a result of his efforts, the Department’s legal advice and representation on matters such as procurement, appropriations, labor and employment, appropriation lapses, the COVID Pandemic, and administrative law has been uniformly outstanding. Mr. Swartz has earned the trust and respect of Department leadership in multiple administrations and works seamlessly with leaders from across the political spectrum. It is not an exaggeration to say that Mr. Swartz and the team he developed have provided cutting edge legal guidance and support on the Department’s most sensitive and important programs and initiatives.
Dr. Herbert Wolfe is the U.S Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Deputy Chief Medical Officer and the Deputy Director of the newly established DHS Office of Health Security (OHS). As the principal medical, workforce health and safety, and public health authority for DHS, the OHS has a wide range of activities and responsibilities for CBRN health threats, border health security, food, agriculture and health resilience, total workforce protection, health informatics, regional medical operations and Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (FSLTT) health engagement. Preceding the establishment of OHS, Dr. Wolfe served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Medical Operations in the Department’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office. Dr. Wolfe’s current executive position at DHS is one of many throughout his nearly 25-year distinguished tenure in federal service that began as a GS-05 Laboratory Technician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1993.
As a senior executive, Tammy Meckley currently serves as the Associate Director (AD), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration Records and Identity Services Directorate (IRIS). In this role, Ms. Meckley is responsible for providing internal and external stakeholders with timely and appropriate access to trusted immigration and identity information in support of the mission and goals of USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the nation’s immigration system overall. This includes: managing the E-Verify and SAVE programs; delivering person centric identity and immigration information management and services for an ecosystem of more than 100 million immigration records; providing enterprise data and verification services to over 1M users across USCIS, DHS, employers, and state and local organizations; managing over 55.6 million immigration records to ensure these critical assets maintain integrity and are made available to a very diverse group of users and entities that rely on immigration information to make decisions; and leading the largest FOIA program across the entire federal government. Ms. Meckley leads approximately 1,200 federal and 1000 plus contractor employees across 135 headquarters and field support centers nationwide and manages an annual program budget of $450 million.
Connie Nolan was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2018 and has over 30 years of federal service. Throughout Ms. Nolan’s career she has demonstrated her dedication to the mission of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and throughout Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Her commendable leadership skills have provided more than 5,000 federal and 1,600 contract employees, located around the United States, a steadfast belief in the importance of public service and organizational excellence. Ms. Nolan has extensive knowledge and experience on financial oversight, adjudications, technology, data, emergency response, hiring, employee development and morale, which provides her the ability to solve challenges within an innovative leadership style.
Ambidextrous as a lawyer and operational executive, Ronald Rosenberg has served 10 years across several SES positions, where he applies a deep understanding of law, policy, and operations. As an SES, he has served five years as Chief of USCIS’s Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), two years as Chief of USCIS International Operations, and the past three years as District Director of the Washington District, where he is responsible for immigration services in Maryland, DC, Virginia, and North Carolina, as well as most overseas military naturalization operations. In 2020, with pandemic travel restrictions, Mr. Rosenberg conceived, developed, and implemented an entirely virtual interview and oath process to ensure that U.S. military members and their families can naturalize as U.S. citizens while serving overseas. In 2021, Mr. Rosenberg stood up and led USCIS operations at U.S. military bases nationwide during the evacuation and U.S. resettlement of 75,000+ Afghanis under Operation Allies Welcome (OAW).
As Chief Counsel, Thomas Huse is the Secret Service’s primary legal advisor. Mr. Huse has over 20 years of experience as a legal professional and he currently oversees a 35-member team of attorneys who work within the Office of the Chief Counsel (OCC). Since joining the U.S. Secret Service in 2009, Mr. Huse has supported multiple Secret Service mission functions as a legal advisor within the Office of Professional Responsibility (serving as Acting Deputy Assistant Director), the Criminal Investigative division, the Asset Forfeiture Branch, and the Rowley Training Center.
Special Agent in Charge Brian Lambert possesses 23+ years of federal law enforcement experience. In 1999, he began his career with the US Secret Service as a Special Agent in the New York Field Office. Mr. Lambert has since served the Presidential Protective Division, the Office of Investigations, the Saginaw, Michigan Resident Office, and the Office of Strategic Information and Intelligence. In 2018, he was named Deputy Assistant Director in the Office of Human Resources and in 2019, he was named Deputy Assistant Director in the Office of Investigations, managing global investigative operations and policy implementation. In 2020 he was selected as Special Agent in Charge of the Rome Field Office, where he now provides leadership for the Agency’s dual mission in 63 nations in southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, through offices and personnel in Rome, Sofia, Bucharest and Pretoria. Mr. Lambert prioritizes the Agency’s mandate to safeguard the payment and financial systems of the United States, focusing on cyber enabled financial fraud investigations, which span currency counterfeiting, bank and financial institution fraud, identity theft, access device fraud, network intrusions, and business email compromise investigations. Mr. Lambert also works with host governments to ensure the safety of Agency protectees while in the Rome District.
Douglas Thigpen accepted an appointment to the Senior Executive Service (SES) in 2016 as the Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Field Office, where he provides leadership for the Agency’s investigative and protective mission for this Texas city and the surrounding counties of Houston, Austin, and the country of Mexico. Mr. Thigpen is solely responsible for overseeing protective operations for the President, Vice President, Foreign Heads of State and National Special Security Events in his District. He commands the tactical response teams utilized to mitigate threats and institutes countermeasures to provide a safe environment for all protective venues. Mr. Thigpen also manages global investigative operations that have a nexus to the country of Mexico and implements policy directives as appropriate. Mr. Thigpen is directly responsible for 90+ employees within the one foreign and two domestic offices that he manages. He exercises direct oversight and control of hundreds of Special Agents, Administrative Professionals, and Technical Support employees during protective visits to his District. Mr. Thigpen is responsible for directing, planning, developing, implementing, and managing staffing strategies and logistics for all these employees. He exercises direct oversight for the Houston District’s annual budget, totaling $800,000 annually. Mr. Thigpen provides executive direction to District personnel on all policies concerning investigations of counterfeit currency, financial, electronic, and cyber-crimes.
Dr. David Torres has 26+ years of leadership and federal law enforcement experience. He serves as the first Hispanic appointed to the leadership role of Assistant Director of Strategic Intelligence and Information (SII), which coordinates all U.S. Secret Service (USSS) covert and overt protective intelligence investigations to identify, evaluate, and manage persons at risk for engaging in violent or disruptive behavior directed at the White House, the President, and other agency-protected assets. Dr. Torres has served in several Senior Executive Service (SES) leadership roles such as the Special Agent in Charge of the USSS Protective Intelligence and Assessment Division. He also took on leadership of the National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC), a behavioral research unit that works with federal, state, local, and private sector partners in support of school safety. As Deputy Assistant Director of Human Resources and Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer, he exercised responsibility for all HR functions, hirings, performance, and payroll for 7000+ employees. He then served as Deputy Assistant Director of SII before his 2022 appointment as Assistant Director. He provides able stewardship for protective intelligence, threat assessment, targeted violence, counter-surveillance, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.
Meritorious Senior Professional Winners
Dr. Richard Legault is an exceptional Senior Professional with over 20 years of scientific achievement as well as over 30 years of combined active and reserve duty military service. He is a national and internationally recognized expert in criminal justice, and the social and behavior sciences. He is recognized not just throughout the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but also nationally and internationally. His work has inspired his colleagues and earned DHS partners’ and stakeholders’ respect.