Twenty-nine students earn Master of Arts in Security Studies from NPS-CHDS

The March 29 graduation ceremony at Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) included 29 homeland security professionals who completed a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies from the NPS Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS).

The twenty-nine CHDS students participating in the graduation ceremony represent a snapshot of the homeland security enterprise, including professionals from the fields of emergency management, education, law enforcement, fire service, homeland security, public health, and city/county government (see list below). Stephen Felty summarized the experience perfectly by stating, “This cohort represented a broad spectrum of homeland security practitioners; people who are dedicated to protecting citizens and commerce in this country. By working together and building relationships, we gained a newfound respect for the challenges and opportunities that exist within the various components of the HS community. But we also gained friends and colleagues that will help us grow as individuals and secure the homeland from natural disasters, terrorism, threats to public health, crime, and so much more.”

Located at the Naval Postgraduate School, CHDS is the nation’s homeland security educator. Master’s degree students develop critical thinking, leadership and policy skills during a rigorous 18-month program. Each graduate completes a thesis on a current issue facing his or her jurisdiction. These theses often translate into policy and practice. CHDS is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Preparedness Directorate, within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For more information, visit

ABOUT NPS: The mission of the Naval Postgraduate School is to provide unique advanced education and research programs in order to increase the combat effectiveness of the U.S. and Allied armed forces as well as enhance the security of the United States. For additional information, visit

Three students received special recognition:

  • Outstanding Thesis Award: Kristopher Thornburg, Human Performance Support & Training Engineer, USCG. His thesis was titled, “Disruptive Emergent Systems in Disaster Response.” The award is based on academic rigor and the quality of the literature review, analysis and conclusions as well as writing and overall presentation of the thesis.
  • Curtis “Butch” Straub Award: Stephen Felty, Executive Staff for the Regional Director at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). His thesis was titled, “Social Identity Theory and Intergroup Conflict in Israel/Palestine.” The award is presented in honor and memory of one of CHDS’ founders. Felty added “I want to thank my peers for recognizing me with this award. I have spent my whole life admiring the type of public servants that made up this cohort. Getting to learn aside these folks and collaborate on projects together was the opportunity of a lifetime. For me, this award is a validation my passion for academic growth and a symbol that I have been accepted as an equal among people I look up to. I also want to thank the professors and staff for facilitating a program that encouraged open learning and personal growth.”
  • Mark Carr Esprit De Corps Award: John Steward, Assistant Fire Chief, Broken Arrow Fire Department. His thesis was titled, “Applying Technology Acceptance Research to Information Systems Implementation in the Fire Service.” The Mark Carr Esprit De Corps Award and is named in honor of a former CHDS student who died in August 2014.



Master's Degree Cohort 1705/1706

Master’s Degree Cohort 1705/1706 stands for a group shot on graduation day, March 29, 2019. (Photo by Javier Chagoya/PAO)

Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security
Master’s Degree Program, cohort 1705/1706

Juan Alicea – Resident Agent in Charge, US Secret Service Office in Chattanooga

Jill Barnes – Executive Emergency Strategist, Los Angeles Unified School District

Benjamin Berger – Regional and Stakeholder Lead, FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Division

Angela Coonce – Major-Commander, Technological Solutions Investigations, Metropolitan Police Department at City of St. Louis (SLMPD)

Stephen Felty – Executive Staff to the Regional Director, TSA

Andrew Gregg – Lieutenant, California Highway Patrol (CHP)

Paul Jara – Colonel, Strategic Planner, Arkansas National Guard

Brian Jensen – Police Lieutenant, San Diego Harbor Police Department

Liane Jollon – Executive Director, San Juan Basin Public Health in Durango, CO

Kevin Knopf – Lieutenant, California Highway Patrol (CHP)

Kristie Krebs – Division Chief, Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate, USCIS

Aisha Krieger – Captain, San Francisco Fire Department

Madeline Kristof – Section Chief, USCIS

Bailey Martin Jr – Battalion Chief, City of Richmond VA Department of Fire and Emergency Services

John Montero – Assistant Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge, TSA Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service

Daniel Morgalo – Captain-Commander of the Street Crimes Section, Miami Beach Police Department

Charles Penn – Deputy Chief of Police, Arlington County Police Department

Kevin Peters – Deputy Director for Current Intelligence, DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis

Michelle Potts – Communications Manager, Chandler Police Department

Tracey Reed – Captain II, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

Michael Schaub – State Mitigation and Recovery Officer, Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Colby Stanton – Director of Readiness, FEMA Region IX Pacific Area Office

John Steward – Assistant Fire Chief, Broken Arrow Fire Department

Marcie Stone – Chief of Regulatory Compliance, DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection, Region IX

Denis Sweeney – Lieutenant, FDNY

Kristopher Thornburg – Human Performance Support Training Engineer, USCG

Darren Vogt – Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge, US Secret Service

Robert Walker – Resident Agent in Charge, US Secret Service, Wilmington Resident Office

Aaron Wellman – Deputy Current Operations Officer, USMC Marine Forces North