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Director of Public Works/City Engineer Completes Homeland Security Program at Naval Postgraduate School

February 25, 2019

Director of Public Works/City Engineer Completes Homeland Security Program at...
By Mark Ray, Director of Public Works/City Engineer, City of Crystal, MN
Over the last year, I have had the great privilege to participate in the Center for Homeland Security and Defenses’ Executive Leaders Program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. The program consisted of four, one-week in-person sessions over a period of 10 months. The cohort had just over 30 people from the local, state, federal and private sector from across the United States. The group of people in my cohort were truly remarkable in their experience, friendliness, and dedication to service. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend four weeks with these amazing people and I very much look forward to staying in touch with them over the years to come. 
The format of the class was pretty straight forward in that prior to each session there was required reading from books on a variety of topics ranging from border security to leadership to the Constitution. During the week-long in-person class, a wide range of speakers were brought in to talk about topics in their expertise. Speakers included: John Yoo, University of California Berkeley who was the Deputy Assistant US Attorney General under President George W. Bush; Christian Picciolini who is a co-founder of Life After Hate, but was previously a leader of the American white power movement; and Alan Bersin who is a former Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, as well as other roles within the Department of Homeland Security.    
The program is federally-funded and local government participants receive a stipend and reimbursement for books, travel, lodging, and transportation. Local agencies only pay staff’s normal wages and benefits while in the program.  
Public works professionals have made up fewer than 10 participants in the program’s entire history, but serve a critical role in homeland security. I would challenge my public works colleagues to branch out from our traditional operating silos and apply to programs such as this. We bring a lot of knowledge and experience to the table. The homeland security enterprise is based on trust and the best way to build trust is through personal connections and common-cause efforts. Looking to the future, connections with the homeland security enterprise will become much more of a focus due to a number of factors such as cybersecurity, electrical grid security, and FEMA’s focus on maintaining and restoring critical lifelines. Public works professionals need to be part of these conversations, but to do this successfully we need to learn more about where the homeland security enterprise is coming from and build personal connections with those professionals.  
To learn more about the program, please visit:

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