Northeast Alumni convene at 9/11 Memorial Museum

Earlier this month, alumni of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) Northeast Regional Chapter held their fall meeting. Thanks in part to Executive Leaders Program (ELP) alumnus Charles Dunne (ELP1101) and master’s graduates Thomas Richardson (MA0901/0902) and Richard Blatus (MA0701/0702), they were able to host the meeting at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

From left to right: Richard Blatus (MA0701/0702), Judith Boyd (MA0603/0604), John Haseney (MA1701/1702), Brian Harrell (ELP1901), John Sudnik (MA0403/0404), Thomas Richardson (MA0901/0902), John Esposito (MA0705/0706), Frank Leeb (MA1405/1406), Joseph Russo (MA1505/1506), Tim McNamara (MA1501/1502), Glen Woodbury (MA0301).

Richardson and Blatus serve as Co-Presidents of the Northeast Chapter. Blatus, FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief of Operations, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to host these regional alumni gatherings, “The goal of our group is to stay connected with the school and also grow our network of colleagues. Through the Center, we’ve all learned the importance of collaboration and relying on the relationships we build. These alumni gatherings are a great way to continue the mission of the CHDS program.”

Located in New York City, the 9/11 Memorial Museum was created to explore the events of 9/11, document the impact of those events, and learn about 9/11’s continuing significance. The museum tells the story of 9/11 through interactive technology, archives, narratives, and a collection of artifacts. As the Executive VP of Security, Fire & Life Safety at the museum, Charles Dunne played a big role in organizing the meeting. Richardson, FDNY Chief of Fire Operations, said, “It was an honor to host the Northeast Regional Alumni Chapter event at the 9/11 Museum. Every event that we organize is intended to be a continuing homeland security educational opportunity as well as a great way to bring together the network of alumni and professionals. We can’t thank Mr. Dunn enough for the hospitality shown to us. I think for those who were able to attend, this event will be a memorable one.” CHDS master’s graduate Judith Boyd, Northeast Region Privacy Officer for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), agreed, “It was wonderful to meet so many awesome alumni and current students in that special place.”

Brian Harrell, CISA Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security

The guest speaker was ELP participant, Brian Harrell (ELP1901). Harrell is Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security at the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and he discussed the need for secure and resilient infrastructure for the nation. CISA is the newest operational component within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He also spoke about the role of DHS in countering domestic terrorism, securing soft targets and crowded places, and what the department has done to ensure secure elections in 2020.

“As we mature as an agency, we will continue to focus on Defending Today and Securing Tomorrow. We will continue to lead on the anti-terrorism front, but we also need to focus our efforts on future and emerging threats,” Harrell shared. “Threats stemming from an interconnected society, drones and the overhead threat, and the fact that nation state adversaries are focused more and more on targeting critical infrastructure. Owners and operators of critical infrastructure are on the front lines of national security and we must advise industry on emerging threats, the likely enemy avenue of approach, and suggested mitigation measures that we have compiled throughout the years.”

The 9/11 Memorial Museum holds a special place in the hearts of many CHDS alumni due to the Center’s close connection with the first responder community and FDNY, in particular. Chief Richardson summarized, “This event was very special considering that we held it at such a solemn and sacred location which truly symbolizes the sacrifices made 18 years ago by ordinary people, both civilian and uniformed who simply went to work that day.” Upon reflection, guest speaker Harrell shared similar thoughts about the venue, “It was an absolute honor to provide some remarks to CHDS this evening at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I am humbled by the courage and bravery felt on this hallowed ground.”

To learn more about national network of CHDS Regional Alumni Chapters, check out the Alumni Resources page.