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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 10, 2020

Center for Homeland Defense and Security programs elevates both civilians, military members professionally

By Janki Patel, MyCG Writer

Enrollment for the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) graduate and leadership training opportunities are now open. Both civilians and military members are eligible to submit applications for three programs, with rolling deadlines through November and December 2020.

Coast Guard employees looking to strengthen ties with the DHS network while improving strategic analysis and decision-making skills are encouraged to apply. 

Cmdr. Julie P. Kuck, chief of the office of leadership, sees the value Coast Guard employees can bring to the program, as well as the value they bring back to the office as alumni.

“The CHDS Master’s Program, Pacific Executive Leaders Program (PELP), and Executive Leader Program (ELP) have a great reputation for developing leaders in homeland security. Participants have the opportunity to grow a multi-disciplinary professional network that, in the long term, may be our greatest asset for U.S. Coast Guard,” said Kuck. “The program has helped launch ideas and work from its students and alumni to a broad audience, and in doing so, has greatly increased both the rate and potential for effecting real change for advancing homeland security.” 

Leaders who participated in the programs are saying…

"The most beneficial part of the program is the opportunity to work with federal interagency, state, and local partners. I've gained a large network of interagency peers which I continue to interact with on a variety of issues," said Rear Adm. Meredith Austin, 2007 graduate of the CHDS Master's Degree Program and a founding scholar of the Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security (HSx) in 2019.

“The program and my fellow cohort members provide vital insight into a broad array of challenges and opportunities in the homeland security enterprise. We are encouraged to explore innovative ideas and solutions to solve real-time, complex, and dynamic issues,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rachel P. Strubel, graduate of the CHDS Master’s Degree Program. “The relationships developed amongst the faculty and the cohort members representing federal, state, and local partners around the country are invaluable, professionally and personally.” 

Cmdr. Corey A. Braddock, Air Station San Francisco executive officer, is honored to serve as the Coast Guard’s sole representative to CHDS 2021 ELP and participant as one of only 18 military members selected since the program’s inception in 2006. 

“The ELP created an ideal opportunity to collaborate with security and public safety leaders across myriad of government and private jurisdictions; to hone my strategic public policy skills; and to strengthen the national security of the United States,” said Braddock. “Military service has blessed me with rich operational and academic experiences and I excitedly await this opportunity to share and grow with other homeland security experts.”

Cmdr. Benjamin A. Gates, the deputy Sector Commander in Honolulu, who participated in the March 2020 program shares his experience: 

“I was fortunate enough to represent the Coast Guard for the one-week PELP course. It was a definite highlight of my career as I was able to develop a new understanding of managing complex problems, network with colleagues from commercial and government leadership positions as we focused on security issues in the Pacific region,” Gates said. “The opportunity to spend a week, fully engaged to discuss critical, current and future issues with a panel of expert facilitators and instructors from the CHDS staff was exceptional and a valuable opportunity.”

Cohorts share tips for future applicants: 

  • Set your professional career goals early and develop a plan to meet those goals. 
  • Begin shaping and compiling a competitive packet well in advance of your desired attendance. 
  • Seek out opportunities to have an impact on the homeland security enterprise, to gain homeland security-related project experience, and develop interagency relationships. 
  • Broaden your operational experiences. 
  • Strive for a graduate degree in a desired subject of your choice. 
  • Network and seek to be placed in a special assignment within the Coast Guard (ex: CG-821, Office of Budget and Programs) 
  • Take advantage of opportunities to advance your career and education.


  • CHDS Master’s: Nov. 12, 2020, midnight
  • PELP: Nov. 12, 2020, midnight
  • ELP: Midnight on Dec. 17, 2020 (Cohort 2021) 


  • Additional information on all of these courses can be found at here.
  • For questions regarding CHDS applications and enrollment contact program manager Mr. Kin Szeto at 202-475-5515 or

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