Heather Fong, 59
Assistant Secretary, Office for State and Local Law Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
How did you get here?
After I retired as Chief of Police for San Francisco in August 2009, I took a much-needed break to reenergize and restore myself after many years of demanding work. I kept busy with volunteer work on community boards. This opportunity came about as a bit of a surprise – I was certainly not expecting a call from the White House. I honestly had to think about it: did I really want accept a position and move across the country? I concluded that one only gets a few opportunities in life to make an impact, and this was one such chance. I knew I could bring a knowledgeable perspective to the role from my many years in local law enforcement, and in addition, I had had positive interactions with DHS personnel over the years. That’s why I said yes.
Who or what has been the greatest influence on your career?
Three groups of people have profoundly influenced my career. First, my parents, who supported my interest in law enforcement. Without their backing, my life would have been wholly different. Second, I’m grateful to the mentors I’ve had throughout my career, both within the San Francisco Police Department and from professional leaders across the country. Law Enforcement is not an easy job, so being able to reach out for guidance has always been helpful. Finally, I have great relationships with people from the community. We don’t operate in a vacuum, and the relationships between law enforcement and the people we serve are critical. I can’t do my job without them.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment during the Obama administration?
Well, I’m not done quite yet! But so far, I’m proud of how we’ve stood up this office within DHS and the relationships we’ve developed with state and local law enforcement organizations. We have a great team that is committed to doing what’s right for our law enforcement partners. We’ve been building relationship and trust. When I leave here, I’m confident that this office will continue to be a resource that supports those on the front lines of law enforcement across the country.
Can you describe your time working for the Obama administration in 10 words?
Tremendous opportunity to contribute, learn, and make a difference.
Complete the sentence: “When I’m not working, I…”
Enjoy time with family and friends.