Catherine Emerson

Catherine V. Emerson was appointed August 4, 2011, as the Department of Homeland Security’s first career member of the Senior Executive Service to serve as the chief human capital officer.

Emerson is responsible for the department’s recruiting, diversity, learning and development, policies, programs and technology to ensure the department has the right people in the right jobs at the right time; that the DHS workforce represents the nation it serves; that employees are developed and rewarded; and human capital policies, processes and technology support the department’s ability to fulfill the mission.

Prior to joining the department, Emerson was the assistant administrator for human resource management at the Federal Aviation Administration. Emerson advised and assisted the administrator in directing, coordinating, communicating and leading an effective FAA human resources program that supports a workforce responsible for ensuring the safety and efficiency of the national airspace system. She served as chair of the administrator’s Employee Engagement Steering Committee and a member of the FAA’s labor forum. She also served as the designated agency employee health and safety official, and the co-chair of the Employee Forum Association. She was appointed from her position as the deputy assistant administrator for human resource management.

Prior to her employment with the FAA, Emerson served as the director of policy and performance management/chief human capital officer and the acting executive director for the Federal Labor Relations Authority. From July 2008 to October 2008, she served as FLRA’s administrative head in absence of a presidentially appointed chairman. Emerson is the only federal career employee at FLRA to have performed this function.


Prior to joining FLRA, Emerson was an assistant director in the Office of Human Resources, Justice Management Division, Department of Justice. In October 2007, she received the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award, the department’s highest award presented to attorneys for contributions and excellence in legal performance. While at the Justice Department, Emerson also received several Justice Management Division Special Commendation Awards.

Emerson holds a B.A. and J.D. from The Catholic University of America. She is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia Bars.