The Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) announces the winner and finalists of its first annual essay contest. CHDS launched the contest last year to provide people from around the country the opportunity to express their opinions on homeland security issues and to suggest new ideas. The winner and four finalists were selected from eighty contest submissions by a committee comprised of CHDS staff, faculty, and alumni. The variety of the essay topics submitted, as well as the backgrounds of the authors, highlights the vast scope of the impact that homeland security policies, programs, and challenges have on our communities and professions.

This year’s contestants were asked to answer the question “What single aspect of Homeland Security has been most successful, and what single aspect will be most critical to Homeland Security success?” The contest winner is Matthew Allen, a staff scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in California. He is currently serving as an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Congressional Fellow. Mr. Allen’s essay is entitled “Reducing the Risk.” It explores the use of rhetoric as a tool to help frame the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) mission. He proposes that DHS officially adopt the phrase “reducing the risk,” to more clearly articulate to the public the purpose of the Department and to measure its success.

The four finalist essays covered a range of topics from biodefense to higher education.

The finalists and their essays are:

Meredith Allen, an epidemiologist with the Department of Health in Bucks County, PA, “Brick by Brick: The Strategic Re-Building of the Public Health Infrastructure;”

William L. Gardella, a Deputy Marshal with the Maine Judicial Marshal Service, “Ascendancy through Perception: the Importance of Dedicated Investment in Academic Homeland Security Research and Inquiry;”

William Goodman, assistant for plans in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Making Consequence Management Work: Applying the Lesson of the Joint Terrorism Task Force;” and

Jesse Tucker, a graduate student at the University of Alabama, “Proliferation of Biodefense Laboratories and the Need for National Biosecurity.”

Congratulations to this year’s winners. We hope reading their essays will accomplish the contest objective of stimulating thoughts and ideas and promoting discussion and debate on homeland security and defense issues.

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