C. Suzanne Mencer

Director, Office of Domestic Preparedness
202-282-8000

Suzanne Mencer has spent much of her career focused on investigating and fighting terrorism. Now, in her role as director of the Homeland Security Department's Office of Domestic Preparedness, she works to ensure that states and localities will be as ready as possible to face another terrorist attack.

Mencer spent more than 20 years as an FBI agent, much of it doing foreign intelligence and undercover work. In 2000, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens appointed her executive director of the state's Department of Public Safety, and in October 2003, she was confirmed as head of the Office of Domestic Preparedness in Washington.

At the ODP, which was first established in 1998 as part of the Justice Department and then moved to Homeland Security, Mencer oversees the distribution of more than $55 million in grants to state and local first responders. The agency's overall budget for fiscal 2004 is $2.2 billion.

The ODP is the primary agency responsible for providing emergency training, funds to purchase equipment, support for planning and executing disaster exercises, technical assistance, and other support to state and local jurisdictions in preventing, planning for, and responding to acts of terrorism.

Mencer began her career as a high school Spanish teacher and, after 10 years, ended up in St. Petersburg, Fla. When a colleague told her that the FBI was looking for Spanish-speaking female agents, she applied. And finding the pay more attractive, she joined and graduated from the FBI Academy in 1978. She spent more than 20 years with the FBI, working in foreign counterintelligence.

Later, in Denver, Mencer headed a squad of special agents, analysts, local law enforcement officers, and other federal investigators in the Joint Terrorism Task Force. After she retired in 1998, she worked as a consultant providing anti-terrorism training to local law enforcement nationwide in cooperation with the Institute of Intergovernmental Research.

Mencer's familiarity with terrorism at the federal level, through her experience in the FBI and working in Denver with first responders and law enforcement officers, has given her an appreciation for the multilayered approach needed to combat terrorism, she told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee at her nomination hearing in September.

But Mencer, 56, has her work cut out for her. State agencies have complained about the ODP's lack of flexibility in grant distribution, as well as delays in delivering funding. She is working toward creating a "one-stop shop" for homeland security grants so that states will not have to jump through so many hoops to apply for grants.

Mencer was born in Illinois but spent most of her educational years in Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in education.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.