U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Carlos J. has some big ideas about how to support and enhance his organization’s intelligence-driven security and law enforcement program.
Carlos J., a Center for Homeland Defense and Security Emergence Program cohort 2201 graduate, recently made a pitch to his organization’s senior leadership regarding his change initiative aimed at rebranding the Regional Security Officer position to better reflect its central role in the overseas environment with a renewed focus on everything from a management and training continuum and academic perspective to esprit de corps and liaison skills. He said he believes his proposed changes better reflect the nature of the work he and his colleagues do in various international assignments.
Diplomatic Security Special Agents are sworn federal law enforcement officers that provide a safe and secure environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. They conduct criminal investigations of passport and visa fraud; protect the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, and official representatives of foreign governments while in the U.S.; secure information systems; and safeguard U.S. diplomatic personnel and facilities throughout the world in more than 175 countries.
Carlos J. said the response from his Emergence pitch to his senior leadership was positive even as the organization undergoes a broader reorganization effort that he said he hopes will provide “momentum to make my own change” come to fruition.
The 15-year law enforcement veteran who has worked for the State Department since 2008 is just one of a number of State Department agents recruited for CHDS educational programs by U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service Supervisory Special Agent Bruce Baldwin, a CHDS Executive Leaders Program cohort 2002 alum.
Baldwin said after he completed the ELP he thought it was necessary for more people in his organization to attend CHDS educational programs. So he said he and CHDS Strategic Communications Director Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran met with senior leadership and Baldwin, in coordination with a small group of agents, and now regularly refers DSS to CHDS.
Baldwin said he was alerted to the CHDS educational programs by Department of State Special Agent Rawad Taha (ELP 1902), who is believed to be the first Department of State official to participate in a CHDS program.
Currently, Baldwin said there are four participants from his organization in addition to Carlos J. in CHDS educational programs from his organization, including Chief of Staff, DSS, Lonny Muller and Supervisory Special Agent/Regional Security Officer David Howell with ELP cohort 2201, San Francisco Field Office Special Agent in Charge William Chang with ELP cohort 2202, and Special Agent Michael Fitzpatrick with Emergence cohort 2202.
Baldwin said he believed his organization could benefit from CHDS educational programs “because it gives us a different perspective” and a “relationship with the broader homeland security enterprise,” as well as instruction from top experts in the areas of crisis response and management, and disaster response.
Baldwin said he also felt it is his responsibility to help his fellow agents succeed and grow in their careers.
As for Carlos J., Baldwin said he had previously worked with his colleague while training Panamanian police charged with protecting judicial officers and staff, and he said he came to realize Carlos J. “saw the bigger picture as special agents and diplomats overseas” and interacting with both public and private partners.
“It made me feel good to see somebody who gets it,” he said, noting that both he and Carlos J. are also “men of color in law enforcement. To get promoted in this organization you need to have an impact. It was incumbent upon me to help him succeed.”
Carlos J., who is currently stationed in Guadalajara, Mexico, said the CHDS Emergence program allowed him to “home in on critical thinking like never before”—he describes the program as a graduate-level course in critical thinking—and allowed him access to “vetting by the cohort made up of people with vastly different perspectives.”
“I was looking for a program that would challenge me to think critically about national security through a different lens,” he said. “I believed Emergence would offer me the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded professionals also looking to contribute to positive change within their own organizations. One of the biggest advantages of the program is working with people from outside your own organization who can challenge your assumptions, provide constructive feedback, and help broaden one’s perspectives.”
He said the Emergence Program also offered him an opportunity to “operationalize my ideas,” and learn strategies for “managing change in my own organization.”
Emergence cohort 2201 graduated on Jan. 20, 2023.