First Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Following the events of September 11, 2001, Tom Ridge became the first Secretary of the newly created Department of Homeland Security, heading the largest government reorganization since the Department of Defense was created in 1947. One of the first Vietnam combat veterans to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ridge was twice elected Governor of Pennsylvania, where he served as the state’s 43rd Governor from 1995-2001.
During his tenure with the Department of Homeland Security, Ridge worked with more than 180,000-plus employees from a combined 22 agencies to create an agency that facilitated the flow of people and goods, instituted layered security at air, land and seaports, developed a unified national response and recovery plan, protected critical infrastructure, integrated new technology, and improved information sharing worldwide. Ridge resigned from the position in 2005 and later wrote The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege…And How We Can Be Safe Again, which recounts his experiences in the department.
Ridge graduated with honors from Harvard in 1967 before earning a law degree from The Dickenson School of Law. He has served as a senior aide to Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, and was considered by some as a possible running mate for McCain, as well as a frontrunner for Senate candidacy in 2010. He currently heads Ridge Global as the company’s president and CEO.