Year Inducted: 2022
A longtime leader in the national security community, Huban A. Gowadia is a strategic, results oriented, and collaborative executive with an exceptional track record of mission-critical successes within organizations charged with the nation’s safety and security.
Her commitment as a civil servant in protecting the nation through 18 years in the United States departments of Defense and Homeland security was capped by service as acting Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, leading a $7.6 billion budget and a workforce of 60,000 employees charged with protecting U.S. transportation systems and the traveling public.
She currently serves as the Principal Associate Director for Global Security at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. She is responsible for building and executing programs focused on intelligence, cyber and space security, as well as nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and counterterrorism and incident response across the spectrum of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threats.
Gowadia graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering from The University of Alabama in 1993. She went on to earn a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University, where she had the opportunity to apply her knowledge of aerodynamics and thermal sciences to the design of an explosives detection system.
After earning her Ph.D. in 2000, Gowadia worked for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aviation Security Laboratory. Her assignment as a checkpoint program manager for the FAA on Sept. 11, 2001, strengthened her motivation to dedicate herself to national security. With the standup of TSA in 2001, she led the urgent initiative to replace, in nine months, more than 1,700 metal detectors at 432 airports with enhanced systems. She then moved to the Science and Technology Directorate within Homeland Security (DHS), leading scientists from seven national laboratories
and one federal laboratory to assess counterterrorism capabilities and transitioning them to operational use.
In 2005, Gowadia transitioned to the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office within DHS that focused on the threat of nuclear terrorism. She advanced quickly to become deputy director in 2010. She took over as acting director of the agency in 2012 before her presidential appointment as director in 2013. Under her direction, DHS advanced its national nuclear forensics capabilities and coordinated government-wide efforts to detect, analyze, and report on nuclear and other radioactive materials.
Selected as deputy administrator for TSA in 2016, Gowadia applied her engineering skills to rebuild agency capabilities after a classified report detailed security test failures, garnering strong support from Congress and the White House along the way. For much of 2017, she served as acting TSA administrator, spearheading an international effort to substantially raise global aviation security standards for the first time since September 11, 2001.
She began her career at LLNL in 2018 as National Ignition Facility and Photon Science deputy principal associate director for programs and transitioned to her current role in early 2020. She leads more than 1200 matrixed employees and manages an annual operating budget of around $500 million.
Her honors include the 2005 Under Secretary’s Award for Science and Technology, for exceptional leadership of the Countermeasures Test Bed program, the highest honor in the DHS Science and Technology Directorate. In 2015, she was selected as a Distinguished Engineering Fellow by The University of Alabama College of Engineering.