CHDS Emergence Program Graduates 29 Students

A total of 29 students graduated from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security Emergence Program in a ceremony at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, on Friday, Jan. 19.

It was new Emergence Program director Cynthia Renaud’s first graduation ceremony since she took over for long-time program director David O’Keeffe last year. 

The Emergence Program is designed for homeland security officials in the first half of their careers, offering an opportunity for them to critically think about homeland security, explore emerging trends, and initiate change in themselves and their organizations.

Renaud described the Emergence Program cohort as a “very multidisciplinary group of Homeland Security professionals that also brought vast experience from their personal lives and prior jobs before getting into government work,” adding that “all of that really came together in the classroom for robust conversations and very whole, complete conversations about what they were facing in their organizations and how they can best deliver their mission set and contribute to keeping our nation secure.”

Renaud noted that the cohort had a unique opportunity to meet with CHDS Master’s Program and Executive Leader Program students, and benefit from their experience. 

“The networking that this particular class did was phenomenal,” she said. “Those professional relationships will continue with them throughout their career, so that’s a very positive contribution back to the CHDS alumni family, along with some really good growth and learning for all of the cohorts.”

Emergence Program graduate Jesse McCord described the program as “a melting pot for professionals across various governmental agencies to collaborate and broaden their understanding of homeland security.” 

“This diverse representation fostered a rich exchange of perspectives and experiences,” the Memphis, TN, Police Department Emergency Communications Manager said, “enhancing the learning environment.”

McCord also lauded the diversity of topics and issues that the program instruction included and said a “key strength of the program was its focus on practical applicability across all levels of government. Discussions and case studies were tailored to ensure that the insights gained were not only theoretical but also directly translatable to real-world scenarios. This approach enabled participants to apply their learning in their respective roles, enhancing the collective capacity to address homeland security challenges.”

“The CHDS Emergence Program stands as a testament to the importance of interdisciplinary learning and collaboration in the realm of homeland security,” he said. “As a proud alumnus, I can attest to the program’s effectiveness in enhancing leadership capabilities and providing invaluable insights into the multifaceted nature of Homeland defense and security.”

New York Police Department Det. Mara Weiner called Emergence “an enriching experience that truly opened my eyes and mind to so much in such a short amount of time.”

“The environment that was created and grew not only in the classroom but spilled over into our remote work was one that felt so incredibly supported by Cynthia and David,” Weiner said. “Having all of these vital conversations with subject matter experts, opening up those lines of communications across both public and private sector organizations and simply learning about such crucial topics was a transformative experience that I will not only carry with me but left me motivated and inspired to do so much more and extraordinarily hopeful for the future of the defense and safety of our nation.”

Emergence Program Cohort 2301 Graduates

  • Anne Armstrong, Policy Analyst, DHS – Headquarters, Washington, DC
  • Victoria Castleberry, Enlisted Advancements and Career Retentions Section Chief, United States Coast Guard, Washington, DC
  • Peter Costé, Criminal Investigator/Special Agent, DHS – ICE – Homeland Security Investigations, Boston, MA
  • Dennis Dantro, Special Agent, Department of State – Diplomatic Security Service, Rockville, MD
  • Christine Dawson, Intelligence Analyst, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York, NY
  • Brandie Dressel, Field/Administrative Supervisor, California Highway Patrol, Castro Valley, CA
  • Stephan Edgar, Strategic Resilience and Preparedness Manager, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Christian Ferguson, Advisor and Program Manager, DHS – Headquarters, Washington, DC
  • Jonathan Frohnhoefer, Sergeant, New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department, Babylon, NY
  • Daniel Hays, Special Agent, United States Secret Service, Washington, DC
  • Julie Horn, Intelligence Analyst, New York State Police, East Greenbrush, NY
  • Jonathan Keenan, Doctrine Analyst, DHS – Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, DC
  • Nicholas Koven, Detective, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC
  • Andrew Kunkes, Director of Emergency Relief and Recovery, New York City Mayor’s Office, New York, NY
  • Dillon Mathies, Captain – Company Commander, Louisiana National Guard, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Jesse McCord, Emergency Communications Manager, Memphis Police Department – Emergency Communications Bureau, Memphis, TN
  • Carolyn Mejia, CORE DC Program Coordinator, DC Homeland Security & Emergency Management Agency, Washington, DC
  • Jiaru “Grace” Meng, Officer, DHS – U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Los Angeles, CA
  • Eric Merner, Sergeant, Boston Police Department, Boston, MA
  • Kelsey Nielsen, Program Coordinator/Logistics Section Chief, Coconino County Emergency Management, Flagstaff, AZ
  • Joseph Orenstein, Manager of Intelligence & Security Analysis Unit, Exelon Corporation, Baltimore, MD
  • Anthony Padilla, Detective – Sexual Assault Unit, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC
  • Acacia Phillips, Lead Officer, DHS – Transportation Security Administration, Casper, WY
  • Amelia Poulin, Senior Analyst, Infectious Disease Outbreak Response and Recovery, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Indianapolis, ID
  • Carly Royden, Marketing Specialist, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC
  • Gonzalo Velasquez, Border Patrol Agent, DHS – U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Sierra Vista, AZ
  • Mara Weiner, Detective, New York City Police Department, Staten Island, NY
  • Emily Wesselhoff, Preparedness Analyst, Maryland Department of Emergency Management, Baltimore, MD
  • Katelyn Wilhelm, Intelligence Operations Specialist, DHS – Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Arlington, VA

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment |, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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