BISMARCK, N.D. – After working together with Homeland Security officials from across the nation over the last 18 months, Darin Hanson, of Mandan, North Dakota, in January earned his master’s degree in Security Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). Hanson serves as the Critical Infrastructure and Program and security manager for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (NDDES). He returns from the online and in-residence program in Monterey, California, equipped with the most current homeland security policy, strategy and organizational design changes to impart to emergency management partners across the state.
Hanson, who began the master’s program curriculum in September 2019, is one of only four North Dakotans to have ever been selected to complete the academic program at NPS.
“We are so proud of Darin’s achievements over the last 18 months and know it came with sacrifices, including time away from his family. We appreciate his willingness to learn, grow and bring back doctrinal knowledge that will help us all to better serve the citizens of North Dakota,” said Cody Schulz, North Dakota Homeland Security director, in a letter to employees congratulating Hanson. “We support our entire team in pursuing these kinds of professional development, since they benefit the individual and strengthen our team, as a whole.”
Students who participated in the program were required to write a thesis prior to graduating. Hanson focused his studies within the realm of cyber security, particularly on how a response to significant cyber incidents should be organized. He conducted case studies, completed interviews with cyber and emergency management leaders and administered a survey to those participants to provide analysis regarding cyber incident response perceptions. Hanson’s thesis is titled, “Normalizing Cybersecurity: Improving Cyber Incident Response with the Incident Command System.”
“Some of the value I can now bring to the state is just having that connection to a network of experts and thought leaders across the country in emergency management, intelligence and emergency services. Together with the 31 other professionals I attended the program with, I have learned new frameworks for understanding and solving problems more efficiently, particularly in applying new technologies to old problems,” Hanson said. “I was able to bring a rural, small state perspective to the program. I found it important to remind classmates that what works on the coasts or in the bigger cities may not work in a rural area. I made it a point to remind everyone that these rural areas exist, and that national policies impact us.”
Hanson also received the Mark Carr Esprit De Corps Award for his leadership and collaboration during the program. According to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, “Class Presidents guide the passage of a cohort through the CHDS experience. However, there are those members of a cohort who quietly steer the success of the cohort by their actions and dedication to fellow classmates. These individuals are best compared to a ‘quiet leader.’ The award is voted on by members of a cohort to recognize the classmate who best portrays a team player, supports a collaborative learning environment, and continually encourages his/her classmates to achieve success while juggling their own personal academic and professional challenges.”
“Those of us who work with Darin, know that the attributes described in this award citation accurately reflect the type of professionalism he brings to NDDES day in and day out. We are blessed to have him on our team,” Schulz said.
At NDDES, Hanson leads and coordinates state programs and policies on critical infrastructure security while establishing partnerships across government and the private sector for best practices. He has been employed with the agency for more than six years. During that time, he has helped initiate a cyber security task force and was instrumental in founding the statewide CyberCon event, which is a cybersecurity and critical information conference held in partnership with Bismarck State College. Hanson also has forged relationships with school safety security partners in North Dakota, including with the N.D. Department of Public Instruction. He also regularly conducts site visits to advise on critical infrastructure security measures.
A graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck, Hanson also holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration. He also served in the Montana Army National Guard for more than 20 years, achieving the rank of sergeant first class. He deployed to Afghanistan from 2012-2013, working at a tactical operations center while also leading an intel section within a military police unit. He also spent more than a year in Alaska working in law enforcement.
The NPS-CHDS graduates represent a snapshot of the homeland security enterprise, including professionals from the fields of emergency management, education, law enforcement, fire service, homeland security, public health, and city/county government.
Located at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), CHDS is the nation’s homeland security educator. Master’s degree students develop critical thinking, leadership and policy skills during a rigorous 18-month program. Each graduate completes a thesis on a current issue facing his/her jurisdiction. These theses often translate into policy and practice. The CHDS is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Preparedness Directorate, within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For information, visit www.chds.us.
ABOUT NPS: The Naval Postgraduate School's mission is to provide unique advanced education and research programs to increase the combat effectiveness of the U.S. and Allied armed forces and enhance the security of the United States. For information, visit www.nps.edu.