Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council

Founded in 2006 at the direction of then-Governor, Janet Napolitano, to provide an organizational structure through which homeland security advisors can share best practices to inform the development of homeland security policies and strategies that affect states, commonwealths, and territories.

Mission

The mission of the council is to act as a forum that brings together the governors principal homeland security advisors from each state, commonwealth, territory, and District of Columbia to:

  1. Provide a unified voice for states to inform and shape national homeland security policy;
  2. Keep governors abreast about the current threat environment and the impacts of Federal homeland security legislation, regulations, and policies on states; and
  3. Inform the work of the NGA Center by sharing ideas and best practices, identifying emerging issues, and reviewing and analyzing the impacts of Federal homeland security activities on the states.

Objectives

The Council serves as a forum through which state homeland security advisors can share information and expertise, discuss priorities setting and collaborate on strategic planning to address all hazards and threats facing the states. Key GHSAC objectives include:

  • Improving interstate and regional communication;
  • Facilitating communication between state and federal agencies; and
  • Developing a unified state and territorial voice to inform governors and the National Governors Association of the impacts of federal homeland security legislation, regulations and policies on the states.

Membership

Every state, commonwealth, territory, and the District of Columbia are represented on the GHSAC by the governor’s homeland security advisor. Governors have selected individuals with a variety of professional backgrounds as their homeland security advisors – from military officers to law enforcement professionals, and emergency managers.

GHSAC Leadership

The GHSAC is led by an eight-member executive committee—six elected by the general membership of the Council and two appointed by the executive leadership of the National Governors Association. Executive committee members serve one-year terms. Each year, the Council membership elects a vice chair to serve an additional one-year term. The vice chair then succeeds the Chair at the start of the next executive committee term.


2019-2020  Executive Committee

A.J. Gary, Chair
Director, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management

Lt. Col. Chris Kelenske, Vice Chair
Deputy Director, Michigan State Police

Brad Richy
Director, Idaho Office of Emergency Management

Brian Moran
Virginia Secretary of Public Safety

Gil Orrantia
Director, Arizona Department of Homeland Security

Kevin Klein
Division Director, Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Mark Ghilarducci
Director, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

Pete Landon
Director, Maryland’s Governor’s Office of Homeland Security

Overview of State Homeland Security Governance Structures

Every state has an established homeland security organization structured by the governor. No one structure has been identified as a model or best practice, nor are there federal requirements dictating a particular structure. The size, capability, and jurisdictional reach of the homeland security organization vary considerably among jurisdictions, but most are charged with uniting their jurisdiction’s preparedness and response capabilities across multiple agencies and departments.

Displayed below is an overview of the various homeland security structures across the country. Governors may organize their homeland security functions, either as an entity within an agency or department, an entity of the governor’s office, or a stand-alone entity.

  • Department/Agency
  • Governor’s Office
  • Stand Alone

Top five homeland security policy priorities in 2019

  • Cybersecurity

  • Natural Disasters and Extreme Weather Events

  • School Safety

  • Critical Infrastructure/Election Security

  • Preparedness


A Governor’s Guide To Homeland Security

This guide covers fundamentals in homeland security best practices ranging from emergency management, fusion centers, grant management, the national guard, emergency declarations, critical infrastructure and other areas of homeland security that a governor and their policy staff would need awareness on. A Governor’s Guide to Homeland Security’s best practices have been informed by NGA and experts in the homeland security policy field from all levels of government, academia, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.


Disclaimer

The Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council (GHSAC) is a professional network funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The issues and priorities are not necessarily representative of the National Governors Association or the Federal Government. Please contact Carl Amritt at camritt@nga.org for more information.