R. Gil Kerlikowske has a distinguished 40-year career as an urban law enforcement executive and leading the nation’s largest law enforcement organization. Appointed by President Obama, Gil has served as the only Senate-confirmed commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), serving from 2014-2017. The CBP has 60,000 employees at 338 ports of entry and over 800 employees in 40 nations. As commissioner, Gil guided CBP’s mission to secure the United States’ borders while facilitating lawful international trade and travel. The largest components of the organization are Air and Marine Operations, the U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, and Agriculture Inspection. The CBP has an annual budget of $13 billion.
Prior to his appointment to CBP, Gil served from 2009-2014 as the Senate-confirmed director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, a cabinet-level position. In his role, he initiated the first President’s Strategy on Prescription Drugs, authored the President’s National Drug Control Strategy, and co-authored (with John Brennan) the President’s Trans-National Organized Crime Strategy.
Under the Clinton administration, Gil was the deputy director of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services from 1998-2000, where he oversaw $6 billion of government assets aimed at reforming law enforcement policy and operations.
Gil served as the chief of police in two large, urban organizations where he instituted significant organizational change. In Seattle, Washington, between 2000-2009, he oversaw the organization in the aftermath of the World Trade Organization disorder—completely restructuring Seattle’s response to major international incidents and demonstrations. In Buffalo, New York, between 1994-1998, Gil was the first commissioner in 30 years from outside the organization. He transformed the department into a community policing organization, winning the praise of both local residents and national leaders. He was twice elected president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, comprised of the largest law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada. He is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for his leadership and innovation.
Most recently, Gil was a resident fellow at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Institute of Politics (Spring 2017).
Currently, Gil’s consulting practice provides strategic advice to U.S. companies. He is also a distinguished fellow at the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern University. He has taught graduate courses in criminal justice at Northeastern University and the University of South Carolina. He serves as a non-resident fellow at the Baker Institute and Rice University and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has been and continues to be a frequent speaker at national and international forums.
Gil earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from the University of South Florida which also bestowed an Honorary Doctorate, Humane Letters in 2010. He is also the recipient of the Army’s Presidential Service Badge.