Assistant Secretary of Partnership and Engagement
Brenda F. Abdelall was appointed to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Partnership and Engagement at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on August 1, 2022. In this role, she serves as the Secretary’s primary advisor on external engagements and the impact of the Department’s policies, regulations, processes, and actions on state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT) officials, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and the academic community. She also serves as the Co-Chair for the Department’s Council to Combat Gender-based Violence.
She is a widely respected and recognized public policy expert, focusing on civil rights and national security. Ms. Abdelall joined DHS on January 21, 2021 in the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties as Chief of Staff before joining the Office of Partnership and Engagement in March 2022. Prior to her appointment, she served in many leadership positions, including on the Virginia Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and on the advisory board for several organizations. She was director of a national nonprofit organization, Muslim Advocates, leading a portfolio representing over 1,500 charities nationwide on domestic policy, national security, and civil rights matters.
Ms. Abdelall also taught at New York University - Abu Dhabi, the University of Michigan Law School, and the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Her courses focused on civil rights, with a focus on the first amendment. While at New York University - Abu Dhabi, she also served as Deputy Chief Compliance Officer, leading the development of the first social responsibility program in the region focused on migrant labor rights. Recently, as the founder and president of Bridge Strategies, she sought innovative ways to bolster philanthropic giving to build capacity in community-based organizations, while also developing and advising on strategic plans.
Ms. Abdelall started her career practicing law at Sidley LLP, where she was a member of the healthcare regulatory and public policy group. She graduated with both a BA and JD from the University of Michigan. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and twin sons.