Leadership, Security Staff Acquisition & Development

CISA chief of staff Kiersten Todt departs for private sector job

Kiersten Todt of CISA has worked hard to improve cybersecurity training to offset the skills gap. Today’s columnist, Pieter Danhieux, offers ideas on how the industry can improve cyber education.

Kiersten Todt, who has served as chief of staff for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency since 2021, will be stepping down, the agency announced Tuesday.

According to a release, Todt will depart CISA for an unnamed job in the private sector, while remaining a senior advisor to CISA Director Jen Easterly. Stepping into her place will be Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, currently serving as acting deputy under secretary for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.

Todt came to CISA in September 2021 from the non-profit Cyber Readiness Institute, which she helped co-found and where she worked as managing director. Prior to that, she was the executive director of President Barack Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity and worked for Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee chair Joe Lieberman.

As chief of staff at CISA, her job responsibilities included planning, allocation of resources, development of long-range agency objectives, strategic vision and guidance at one of the most critical homeland and cybersecurity-focused agencies in the federal government. She has worked closely with Easterly on a number of cybersecurity priorities during the Biden administration.

“I want to thank my dear friend and our fabulous outgoing chief of staff, Kiersten Todt,” said Easterly in a statement. “Kiersten’s contributions to this administration cannot be overstated — helping to transform CISA into America’s cyber defense agency, while spearheading a number of CISA priorities including collaboration with industry, corporate cyber responsibility, the stand up of our Cybersecurity Advisory Committee, and the co-creation of our people-first culture. All of us at CISA are grateful to Kiersten for her tireless work over the past 22 months and look forward to her continued engagement with CISA as we execute our agency’s critical mission."

A CISA spokesperson told SC Media in an email that Todt will remain at the agency in "a part-time capacity" as senior advisor where she will focus on "coordinat[ing] with CISA leadership on the Cybersecurity Advisory Committee, corporate cyber responsibility, artificial intelligence initiatives, and public awareness efforts." Todt's last full day as chief of staff will be May 5, while Coulter Mitchell will come aboard "in the next few weeks."

Coulter Mitchell has served as deputy under secretary at S&T since May 2021, where she served as DHS’s top science advisor and oversaw the agency’s research, development, innovation and testing evaluation activities. She previously served as chief of staff for S&T, where she was responsible for strategy, policy organization development, communications and planning. Prior to that, Coulter Mitchell worked at a public relations firm representing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and as a congressional aide on Capitol Hill. She has a master's degree in communications from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park.

“I’m really excited to have Kathryn join our team at CISA,” said Easterly. “She brings the perfect combination of experience and expertise to the job, and I look forward to working with her as CISA grows and matures as an agency.”

Derek B. Johnson

Derek is a senior editor and reporter at SC Media, where he has spent the past three years providing award-winning coverage of cybersecurity news across the public and private sectors. Prior to that, he was a senior reporter covering cybersecurity policy at Federal Computer Week. Derek has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Hofstra University in New York and a master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University in Virginia.

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