Education program for rising professionals emerges

A new Center for Homeland Defense and Security educational program graduated 32 of the next generation homeland security leaders on March 10.

“The Emergence Program provides an educational opportunity for the emerging leaders within the homeland security community, where our Executive Leaders Program participants are selected from the more senior positions within the organizations,” said Ellen Gordon, CHDS Associate Director of Executive Education. “The pilot session was a one week program focusing on critical thinking, strategic visions and leadership topics.”

The inaugural session of the Emergence Program hosted 32 participants. (Photo courtesy of NPS/Javier Chagoya)

The Emergence Program was crafted for professionals who are in the early stages of their careers. The program expounds on CHDS’ Executive programs with an emphasis on identifying and addressing emerging issues and complex trends. Topics included traditional homeland security matters along with new components such as an Innovation Lab and individual presentations. Many of the presentations would be familiar to CHDS alums. FDNY Deputy Chief Joseph Pfeifer led a session on leadership, for example.

“I found Chief ( Joe) Pfeifer’s presentation to be one of the most interesting,” said participant Allison Thomson, Analyst with the Department of Homeland Security. “He was able to relate his experiences from 9/11 to lessons and frameworks we discussed in class and he was so impactful when he spoke. I learned about decision making during a crisis and how to navigate the sometimes difficult political arena.”

For Kelly Fitzgerald, FEMA Training Specialist, morning discussion time on emerging issues was helpful as was learning about the concept of social identity theory, taught by CHDS instructor David Brannan and Anders Strindberg, and how it can apply to criminal and terrorist groups.

“I feel that what I learned about homeland security has given me tools to see the work I do in a larger context, and will help me to develop more meaningful training going forward,” Fitzgerald said.

Discussions about religious ideals and why policy makers need to understand the social, political, and cultural context of religions such as Islam in regards to homeland security were useful for Donald Vincent, FEMA Emergency Management Program Specialist. Vincent also commended sessions on technology and policy.

“The speakers were phenomenal and added a lot of insight through discussion and crowd questioning,” he said. “Technology is constantly increasing and it is important to stay ahead of the curve in regards to planning and other homeland security initiatives.”

The program was an invaluable asset for those looking to enhance their skill set in the field of homeland security, said Scott Ferguson, Public Safety Officer with the Highland Park, Texas, Department of Public Safety

“The program challenged me to think more critically to identify emerging trends and threats in my unique context of service while also helping me see the bigger picture and the role I play in the security enterprise,” Ferguson said. “By providing crucial frameworks that help structure analysis and synthesis of critical information, as well as providing an environment for strategic relational networking, CHDS has created a ‘must attend program’ for individuals early in their careers.”

The Emergence Program is the latest CHDS Executive Educational course and is modeled on the successful Executive Leaders Program. The ELP was designed to give senior government and private sector leaders a leading-edge graduate style education on a wide range of homeland security issues and boast 575 alumni. The Pacific Executive Leaders Program (PELP), launched in 2010, is also modeled on the ELP.

“The Emergence Program was a great opportunity for those of us at CHDS to work with a wonderful and talented group of participants from across the country,” Gordon said. “They demonstrated they are committed to homeland security — it is very exciting to have them as our future leaders.”

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