2015 Rising Star Awards
Director of HSIN mission integration and outreach, Department of Homeland Security
- By Sean Lyngaas
- Nov 23, 2015
Without Katherine Mullins, the Department of Homeland Security's network for sharing sensitive but unclassified information would not run nearly as smoothly.
The Homeland Security Information Network is the communications backbone for 40,000 current and prospective users, including employees of federal, state, local and private-sector entities. The network allows users to communicate securely during an emergency, make security plans for big public events and tap geospatial tools to track resources and intelligence.
Colleagues say Mullins is changing the way HSIN users are trained, and she has ushered in a new learning management system to track the effort.
Mullins, director of HSIN mission integration and outreach, started as a contractor and now manages engagement with all the network's users. That work involved migrating terabytes of data and tens of thousands of users to a new platform. She has also gone to bat for the network, pitching it to state agencies by drawing on her experience at the Mississippi Department of Public Safety's Office of Homeland Security.
"I grew up with law enforcement and first worked as an analyst with a fusion center," Mullins said, "which is where I was introduced to this ever-evolving world of information sharing in the post-9/11 environment."
She built a communications strategy for HSIN from scratch and has brought together disparate user groups into integrated teams. She has also transformed the way network users' stories are collected and displayed.
The importance of her job means Mullins keeps high-level company. She has briefed top leaders at DHS, including the undersecretary for intelligence and analysis.
The network itself might be composed of machines, but Mullins is proof that managing HSIN takes a human touch.
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.
Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.
Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.