On the Job with Homeland Security
The thwarted Christmas Day airplane attack in Detroit reconstituted the debate over U.S. homeland security. Robert Hanson ’06 is caught up in the issue as a strategic risk management specialist in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Hanson began work at DHS last September as a presidential management fellow after completing graduate studies at Georgetown University. He had earlier worked as a staff member in the office of Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a job he obtained through astute political networking.
As a precocious freshman, Hanson had interned in Rep. James Langevin’s office, and an aide he worked with there hired him for Whitehouse’s 2006 senate campaign, which eventually led to Hanson’s job as a legislative correspondent for Whitehouse.
Hanson’s parents and two uncles are URI alumni, and one of his brothers is a graduate while the other is a current student. He is also the new husband of Kristin Marge ’08, a pharmacist at Fairfax (Va.) Hospital whose own brother attends URI.
Hanson was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper in his senior year and won a Presidential Medal in Political Science and a Boren National Security Education Scholarship to study in Russia in 2004.
His experience landed him at DHS where he is fulfilling his desire “to work in policy and to work on the issues.” DHS defines risk management as reducing security risks to an acceptable level at an acceptable cost, and Hanson collaborates on developing and applying risk models that help guide national security policy and funding.
It is a contentious process of reassuring the public without raising expectations beyond practical spending levels. “Our job,” Hanson said, “is to develop statistical models and apply the models to governance.”
He credits his undergraduate preparation, including his days at The Good 5 ¢ Cigar, with preparing him for such serious work. “I’ve applied skills I learned in classes and at The Cigar to everything I’ve done professionally,” he says.
—John Pantalone ’71