How Did Kirstjen Nielsen Become Well Known and What Do We Know About Her Personal Life?

The Trump administration has become a sort of poisoned chalice for most people who have served since he became President in 2016. America’s 46th President might end up as the President with the highest turn over of aides in modern history. The White House now seems to have an ever-revolving door. One of these casualties is Kirstjen Nielsen, who until the 10th of April 2019, was US Secretary of Homeland Security.

She began her political career during the tenure of former President George W. Bush and has held several offices both at the grass-root, and the highest level of leadership in the US. Additionally, she has worked as a senior member of the Resilience Task Force of the Center for Cyber & Homeland Security Committee at George Washington University, as well as on the Global Risks Report Advisory Board of the World Economic Forum. How did Nielsen achieve this feat? Let’s find out.

Tracking The Rise Of Kirstjen Nielsen

Rising to become a member of a President cabinet is no mean feat. So when Nielsen was announced as the replacement for John F. Kelly, not very many people outside Washington circles had heard of her. She was born as Kirstjen Michele Nielsen on the 14th day of May 1972  in Colorado Springs. Being the daughter of Michele Nielsen and her husband, James McHenry Nielsen, Kirstjen is of Danish and Italian descent while her nationality is American.

She acquired her bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. After her graduation, Kirstjen studied further, acquiring her Juris Doctor Certificate from the University of Virginia’s School of Law in 1999. She also studied the Japanese Language at Nanzan University. However, it was after she graduated from Law School that Kirstjen kicked off her political career.

Her initial role was to serve as Special Assistant to the President during George W. Bush‘s dispensation in 2004. From there, she was appointed to the position of Senior Director for Prevention Preparedness and Response at the White House Homeland Security Council. While she was there, Kirstjen spearheaded several committees and helped put up robust security policies. Her incredible performances made her a stand out personality and also positioned her for higher roles subsequently.

Kirstjen Nielsen also served as the Assistant Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration’s Office of Legislative Policy and Government Affairs. Serving in that position, Kirstjen helped to coordinate and develop US Government security policies. Leaving her position in 2008, she joined Civitas Group LLC, where she served as the President and General Counsel of the Homeland Security and Private Sector Preparedness Practice.

In 2012, she founded her own security consulting firm called Sunesis Consulting LLC. The firm focuses on the planning and development of various policies and legislation for the government. Amazingly, the firm won a federal contract in 2013 to help provide technical writing and organizational development to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She continued to work at Sunesis until the end of 2016. During the early days of Trump’s administration in 2017, Kirstjen was recruited to serve as the chief of staff of the then-Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly. Kirstjen advised Kelly on the areas of cybersecurity, border security, and counter-terrorism, until September 2017

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Her Tenure As Secretary of Homeland Security Was Fraught With Controversy

Following her outstanding work ethic, Kristjen was nominated by Trump to serve as a replacement to the acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke in October 2017. However, her appointment was only confirmed in December 2017, making her the sixth Secretary of the US Homeland Security.

kirstjen nielsen
Nielsen with President Trump

In pursuing the President’s zero tolerance for illegal migration, Kirstjen Nielsen oversaw a policy of separating parents and children who were arrested for illegally crossing over the U.S.–Mexico border. This led to widespread outcry nationally and internationally. The policy was abandoned after an executive order from the President.

On the 25th of November, 2018, a group of migrants tried to forcefully gain entry into the US via the San Ysidro Port of Entry, when refused, they resorted to throwing stones, and rocks at border patrol agents; in response, Tear gas was used on to disperse the crowd. The use of tear gas came under criticism as opponents of Trump’s immigration policy claimed it was illegal and high handed. Investigations revealed most of the people involved had a criminal history and were using women and children as human shields while attacking law enforcement agents.

The death of two children held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection also sparked outrage. Kirstjen ordered improved medical screening at the border while lamenting the problem posed by smugglers and traffickers embarking north of the border. As President Trump tried to go tougher on immigration and tighten the nuzzle at the borders, administration officials began to notice a frosty relationship between the two.

There were reports that the President felt she wasn’t tough enough to implement his hardline stance on immigration. In a cabinet meeting, Trump is said to have come at her in strong language for not executing his wishes. On the 7th of April, 2019, Kirstjen Nielsen tendered her resignation as secretary of homeland security. Subsequently, she was appointed by Trump to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, in October 2019.

Amazing Facts About Kirstjen Nielsen’s Family Life

As required by law, Kirstjen is bound to disclose her financial sources of income and that of her spouse in what’s called a public financial disclosure report. In the column for a spouse, she filled “none,” which further reiterates the fact she isn’t married. There is absolutely no information regarding her love life.

Kirstjen Nielsen was born to American parents James and Phyllis Michele Nielsen. Her parents are both physicians, and they served in the United States Army. Her father, James, is of Danish origin while her mother, Phyllis has Italian ancestry. She grew up along with her two siblings – Ashley and Fletcher. They all spent their childhood in Colorado Springs. However, due to the nature of their parent’s job, her family moved over to Clearwater, Florida, when she was very young.

Later on, her parents separated when Kirstjen was in college, leaving Kristjen and her two siblings with their father. Sadly, her mother passed away in 2011. Additionally, her brother Fletcher has established himself as a musician while there is no much information regarding her sister. During her swearing-in ceremony in 2017, Kristjen introduced all her family members as they were on ground to witness the occasion.

Ikenna Nwobodo
Ikenna Nwobodo
Ikenna has been writing or editing for several websites and publications for over 4 years, When he is not writing, he likes taking adventures, playing the piano or singing, and hanging out with friends.


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