Kirstjen Nielsen

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen, longtime aide to Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly, will be nominated to be the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the White House announced Oct. 11.

In a statement on, the administration said of Nielsen:

Ms. Nielsen has extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and emergency management. She is the first nominee for this position to have previously worked within the Department of Homeland Security, having served there in two administrations, first as senior legislative policy director for Transportation and Security Administration under President George W. Bush and then as Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff under President Trump.

If confirmed, Nielsen, 45, will take over for Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, who raised some eyebrows when she described the Puerto Rico hurricane as “a good news story.” Duke took over when Gen. Kelley departed for the White House on July 31.

Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge said of Nielsen: “She is a patriot and takes a mission-focused approach to her work. I think her no-nonsense, business-like manner is what earned the confidence, first of General Kelly, and now the President.”

The Department of Homeland Security was created following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Ridge became the first DHS secretary.