Areas of Expertise
• Homeland and national security policy and strategy development
• Critical infrastructure security and resilience, including cyber security
• Enterprise risk assessment and management
• Emergency preparedness and response
President, Sunesis Consulting, LLC
Former President and General Counsel, Homeland and National Security Solutions, Civitas Group llc
Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Prevention, Preparedness and Response, White House Homeland Security Council
Kirstjen Nielsen is an expert in homeland and national security policy, strategy, and assessment, with a focus in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, including cyber security, preparedness, response and incident management, information sharing, risk assessment, trend analysis and risk management, organizational development, stakeholder requirement analysis, outreach and communication, and training and exercise programs.
As President of Sunesis Consulting, LLC, Ms. Nielsen currently advises senior domestic and foreign government officials and senior private sector officials on the development and execution of preparedness strategies, policies, plans, tools and tabletop exercises to prevent, protect against and respond to catastrophic events with a focus on critical infrastructure interdependencies. Ms. Nielsen also assesses and analyzes various entities’ preparedness for all hazard events and develops recommendations and corrective actions to address any gaps or inefficiencies. Prior to founding Sunesis Consulting, Ms. Nielsen was the General Counsel and President of the Homeland Security and Private Sector Preparedness practice at Civitas Group llc, where, in addition to her work with governments, Ms. Nielsen was instrumental in assessing the legislative and policy landscape for companies looking to enter the homeland security market, expand their presence or develop new homeland security related technologies or capabilities.
Prior to her work at Civitas Group, Ms. Nielsen was commissioned by President Bush to serve as Special Assistant to the President for Prevention, Preparedness, and Response on the White House Homeland Security Council, where her responsibilities included the development, coordination, and oversight of U.S. Government homeland security policy and the development of numerous Presidential homeland security policy documents on issues ranging from public alert and warning to improvised explosive devices to the information sharing environment to national security professional development. In that role, she chaired five Policy Coordinating Committees consisting of Assistant Secretary level participants from throughout the federal interagency chartered to develop and oversee implementation of federal homeland security policy.
Prior to her service on the staff of the HSC, Ms. Nielsen created and managed the Offices of Legislative Policy and Government Affairs at the Transportation Security Administration, developing transportation security related policy and drafting legislation relating to security background checks, credentialing, passenger pre-screening, surface transportation and security funding.
She previously practiced corporate transactional law for Haynes and Boone, LLP and worked for Senator Mack on defense, aviation, foreign affairs and government affairs issues.
Ms. Nielsen is currently the Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Risk and Resilience, and developed and is leading a global initiative on the Role of Big Data in Increasing Security and Resilience with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Councils. She serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Council for Strategic and Global Security Programs at Penn State, and is a Safety and Security Advisory Board Member for the Center for Naval Analysis. Ms. Nielsen is also a Member of the State Bar of Texas and a Member of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Nielsen has Top Secret Clearance and is eligible for SCI Clearance.