Kirstjen Nielsen '99 Tapped for Top Post at Homeland Security

Nielsen Would Become Second UVA Law Grad to Lead Department
Kirstjen Nielsen
October 11, 2017

Kirstjen Michele Nielsen, a 1999 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, will be nominated as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the White House said Wednesday.

Nielsen would be the second graduate of the Law School to hold the cabinet post, which was created in 2001 in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. The first was Janet Napolitano, now president of the University of California, who served from 2009-13.

Nielsen is a cybersecurity expert who, pending confirmation, will leave her current position as a White House deputy chief of staff under John F. Kelly — the previous secretary of Homeland Security. She served as his second in command there as well, in the chief of staff role.

She would become the seventh person to lead the department. Elaine Duke has been the acting secretary since July 31.

In addition to her work with the Trump administration, Nielsen has served as a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, located at George Washington University, and on the Global Risks Report Advisory Board of the World Economic Forum. She is the founder and former president of Sunesis Consulting.

Nielsen also holds a B.S. from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

Four other alumni have been tapped for top posts in the administration, with three to serve in general counsel slots.

John Mitnick ’88 has been nominated to serve as general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security. Mitnick has served during the past several years as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for the Heritage Foundation.

J. Paul Compton Jr. ’89 has been chosen to be general counsel of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He exits partnership at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings.

Peter B. Davidson ’90 has been selected to be general counsel of the Department of Commerce. Davidson recently served as senior vice president for congressional relations at Verizon Communications, and prior to that, as general counsel to the U.S. trade representative. 

Emily Murphy '01 has been nominated to run the General Services Administration. Currently senior adviser to acting GSA chief Tim Horne and a former GSA chief acquisitions officer, Murphy is an experienced Capitol Hill staffer.

Media Contact

Mary M. Wood
Chief Communications Officer
wood@law.virginia.edu / (434) 924-3786

News Highlights