Inaugural cohort of students complete NPS-CHDS Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security (HSx) program

On January 17, 2019, the inaugural cohort of students in the Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security program received their certificates of completion during an intimate ceremony in Monterey, CA.

CHDS Director Glen Woodbury addresses the group of students.

Over the last two decades, technology, environments, and the human experience have changed at exponential rates. They are also intersecting with each other, producing changes in the homeland security environment that rapidly outpaces how we view traditional strategy, policy and practice development. The Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security program (HSx) is an 18-month collaborative program designed to build our collective understanding of future security challenges facing the nation and global community.

The program is not intended to forecast or predict the futures for which its participants will learn to operate in; they will be taught, discover and create skills and abilities to lead and thrive in an environment that is unknown, complex, chaotic, and evolving. HSx is a co-curated learning experience between the faculty and participants that seeks to fulfill the goals, needs, and direction of each participant. Students will further hone their ability to be change agents through challenging reflective practices, intense feedback exercises, and evolving leadership frameworks.

Director Woodbury presents Andre Billeaudeaux with his certificate of completion, as instructor Tim Manning looks on.

In what’s commonly referred to as a “Grand Challenge,” HSx participants are required to identify and research a complex issue that has potential to affect homeland security. These grand challenges may take various forms such as entrepreneurial endeavors, supporting organizations in overcoming internal challenges, or writing and advocating for policy change. The techniques they apply in addressing their grand challenge provide a foundation that can be used to understand and solve many different types of issues.

Meredith Austin presents Director Woodbury with a commemorative Navy Paddle as a token of appreciation from the cohort.

One example of a project that was borne from HSx students is the K-12 School Shooting Database, which was developed by David Riedman and Desmond O’Neill and received national attention. It was covered by some of the more prominent media outlets including Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, BBC News, CNN, and NPR. The K-12 School Shooting Database documents each instance a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason—regardless of the number of victims, time of day, or day of week. Although a handful of school shootings lists already existed, they have different criteria, limiting their collective utility for global analysis. It was the first time anybody had attempted to compile this type of data, much less share the raw data with the public. But it’s exactly the type of project and dataset that HSx was designed to explore and could produce innovative solutions to this uniquely complex safety issue.

While the outcome of HSx remains to be seen, the participants leave with a better understanding of homeland security issues and new frameworks for addressing them. After laying the foundation for this extraordinary academic program, these plank holders will now move forward and attempt to resolve future security concerns by applying the skills they developed here together.

Pictured from left to right: Director Glen Woodbury, John Comiskey, Nick Catrantzos, Michael Larranaga, Meredith Austin, David Riedman, Angi English, Andre Billeaudeaux, Merideth Bastiani, and instructor Tim Manning. Students not pictured were on furlough due to the government shutdown. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Patrick Dionne)


Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security

Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security (HSx) cohort 1701

Meredith Austin – RADML Deputy for Operations, Policy and Capabilities, US Coast Guard

Merideth Bastiani – Manager, Child Care Subsidy Program, New York State Office of Children & Family Services

Gregory Bernard – Acting Director, Strategic Infrastructure Analysis Division, US Department of Homeland Security/ National Risk Management Center/NPPD

Michael Billeaudeaux – Executive Director Native American Guardians Association, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)

Calvin Bowman – Deputy Director, Maryland Governor’s Office of Homeland Security

Michael Brown – Associate Director, Department of Homeland Security Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships

Nick Catrantzos – Writer, Investigator, Non-profit Director / Village Courier, SCR Community Association

John Comiskey – Assistant Professor, Monmouth University

John Delaney – Captain II, Arlington County Fire Department

Angi English – Division Chief for Strategic Programs and Senior Advisor, Texas State Office of Risk Management (Retired)

Leslie Holland – Acting Director, Workforce Health and Medical Support Division, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Health Affairs

Michael Larranaga – Principal Consultant and Practice Leader, Ramboll

Daniel O’Connor – Division Director, Mission Support Directorate of FEMA

Desmond O’Neill – Special Agent, ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)

William Pilkington – Public Health Officer, Public Health Authority of Cabarrus County

Steven Polunsky – Director of the Transportation Policy Research Center, The University of Alabama

David Riedman – Captain, Montgomery County MD Fire and Rescue Service

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

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