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Michelle Woods headshot

Michelle Woods (MPA ’07) began working as the Program Director for Homeland Security at the National Governors Association (NGA) in Washington D.C in November 2020. Michelle has extensive experience in homeland security policy through her previous position as the Director for Homeland Security for the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, where she led major homeland security initiatives. She has also worked for the U.S. Government Accountability Office where she managed program evaluations and investigations of the Department of Homeland Security, Justice, State, and Intelligence Community. 

In her new role at NGA, she says her “main focus is supporting governors’ offices and governors’ homeland security advisors with respect to public policy issues and challenges that they are facing.” Some of these issues include emergency management, emerging technology, cyber security, border security and immigration, and federal grant funding to support state and local efforts. In her new role she also manages the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council (GHSAC) which represents all states, commonwealths, territories, and D.C. Through this role she provides one on one technical assistance on homeland security issues. In her move from working on the Hill to now working for NGA, she says it has given her a “unique perspective on seeing how public policy and implementation come together.” 

Michelle’s experience at the Martin School helped set her up for success. She reflected on how the environment of the Martin School helped her develop “soft skills” necessary for a public policy career, “learning how to collaborate and really critically think through issues as a team and take others people’s opinions and suggestions is critical to your success.” She also reflected on the “hard skills” she gained at the Martin School such as data analysis, public finance, and program evaluation. These skills, especially program evaluation, prepared her for her career at GAO. Her advice to current students is that “collaboration, kindness, and respect will go a long way.” In her free time she enjoys long walks, shows about design and organization, going to museums, and exploring new things in D.C.