Kirstjen Michele Nielsen was sworn in on December 6, 2017 as the sixth Secretary of Homeland Security and served until April 10, 2019. She previously served as White House Deputy Chief of Staff. Secretary Nielsen joined the Trump administration in January 2017 as Chief of Staff to then-Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly. In that position, she was responsible for advising the Secretary on all operational, policy, and legal matters, including counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and border security.
From 2012 to 2016, she served as the founder and President of Sunesis Consulting LLC, a private consulting firm focused on preparedness strategies, policies, plans, tools and tabletop exercises to prevent, protect against and respond to catastrophic events with a focus on critical infrastructure interdependencies. Prior to founding Sunesis Consulting, Secretary Nielsen was the General Counsel and President of the Homeland Security and Private Sector Preparedness practice at Civitas Group LLC, a strategic advisory and investment firm focused on homeland and national security.
In 2004, Secretary Nielsen was commissioned by President Bush to serve as Special Assistant to the President for Prevention, Preparedness, and Response on the White House Homeland Security Council, where her responsibilities included the development, coordination, and oversight of U.S. Government homeland security policy. Additionally, she created and managed the Offices of Legislative Policy and Government Affairs at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Secretary Nielsen also practiced corporate transactional law for Haynes and Boone LLP and worked for Senator Mack on defense, aviation, foreign affairs and government affairs issues.
Secretary Nielsen has also served as the Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Risk and Resilience, Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council for Strategic and Global Security Programs at Penn State, Senior Fellow at the George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, and a Safety and Security Advisory Board Member for the Center for Naval Analysis. She is a Member of the State Bar of Texas. She holds a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia’s School of Law.