From 2009 until 2016, Michaelidis served as a key Obama Administration communicator on security, public safety, and community preparedness issues. As director of speechwriting for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) he led message development and coordination across the third largest cabinet-level agency of the federal government. Most recently, he advised top DHS officials on communicating with the private sector and the American public about cybersecurity risks.
Dr. Michaelidis brings his longtime passion for translating complex issues for general audiences, and is a regarded expert on evidence-based approaches to security awareness efforts. He is a Truman National Security Fellow, a Cybersecurity Fellow at the New America Foundation, an advisor to the Human Behaviors in Cybersecurity program at ideas42, and part of Dūcō Experts, a startup marketplace of leading international affairs and security experts.
Before joining the Obama Administration, Dr. Michaelidis spent a decade creating compelling policy campaigns at a major public research university, influential think tanks, and a growing public affairs firm. An outside foreign policy advisor to the 2008 Barack Obama and 2004 John Kerry presidential campaigns, he has BA and MA degrees from the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and a PhD in history from the University of Maryland, College Park. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and two daughters.
Ph.D., History, 2005, University of Maryland, College Park
M.A., History, 1994, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York
B.A., cum laude, History, minor in Spanish, 1992, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. Summer term abroad, Colegio Major de San Pablo, Madrid, Spain
Policy, Research, and Communications Experience
Senior Advisor for Public Affairs, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Department of Homeland Security. February 2014 – January 2017. Advise senior DHS cybersecurity officials on communications with a range of audiences, assist in responses to incidents such as the Heartbleed vulnerability and Office of Personnel Management breaches, and coordinate messaging and media for major national cybersecurity awareness and education programs.
Director of Speechwriting, Department of Homeland Security. May 2009-January 2014. Chief speechwriter and leader of three-person writing team responsible for drafting and completion of more than 400 speeches, testimonies, op-eds, articles, and blog posts for Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and senior leadership in third-largest Cabinet agency. Major responsibilities included:
- Message and product development for DHS-wide outreach and communications efforts, including: national preparedness and cybersecurity month; tenth anniversary of 9/11, State of Homeland Security address, and National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS).
- Served as lead messaging and communications staffer on DHS Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Working Group, as primary author of public CVE language and strategic communications guidance, and represent DHS at meetings with international counterparts in the UK, and with partners across the federal government.
- As a senior member of the DHS Office of Public Affairs, helping respond to the failed bombing attempts of a U.S.-bound airline on Christmas Day in 2009 and Times Square in 2010, among other incidents.
Barack Obama presidential campaign – 2008. Joined pre-campaign effort in January 2007 and served as an outside foreign policy advisor on Europe policy team during campaign. Contributed to planning candidate speeches, preparing materials for daily briefing book, and drafting rapid-response points on transatlantic political and security issues.
Director of Research and Strategic Analysis, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. April 2006 – May 2009. Research advisor and speechwriter for Office of the President at SUNY’s most comprehensive research university, and a member of the Association of American Universities. Staffed UB President Dr. John B. Simpson on NYS Commission on Higher Education, and served on advisory board of university’s think tank, the UB Regional Institute.
Senior Associate for Policy and Communications, Center for Global Development. February 2005 – April 2006. Responsible for policy outreach to Congressional and White House staff and development policy community. Redesigned “Development Matters” series of policy briefs, translating complex research into accessible language for educators and the general public.
John Kerry presidential campaign. Served as an outside foreign policy advisor from 2003 through 2004 and co-chaired campaign’s Europe policy group.
Senior Policy and Communications Analyst, the Hatcher Group. March 2001 – February 2005, advised major national foundations, non-profits, and advocacy groups on communications and outreach as first senior hire at growing Washington, DC-area public affairs firm.
Senior Research Assistant, the Brookings Institution, Foreign Policy Studies. August 1999 – March 2001. Updated senior fellow on current policy debates, researched and wrote policy briefs, and conducted statistical analyses of public opinion data on U.S. engagement abroad, globalization, immigration, and use of military force.
Editorial Associate, “A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-Violent Conflict” (Palgrave, 2000). Researched and wrote first drafts of chapters on non-violent campaigns in the Balkans, Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the American South for acclaimed book and documentary film project, and precursor to creation of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
Conference remarks in “Defining a Strategic Campaign for Working with Partners to Counter and Delegitimize Violent Extremism: A Strategic Multilayer Assessment Project,” Department of State/RAND/Department of Defense, Washington, DC, May 19-20, 2010
“Macedonians,” article in Encyclopedia of American Folklife, M.E. Sharpe, 2006
“France Must See Immigrants’ Future,” with Audrey Singer, Baltimore Sun, November 20, 2005
“Salvation Abroad: Macedonian Migration to North America and the Making of Modern Macedonia, 1870-1970,” doctoral dissertation, Advisor, Gary Gerstle, Ph.D., May 2005
“Making Macedonia Work: Balancing Nation and State after the Violence of 2001,” Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Eastern European Studies, April 17, 2002
“Don’t Dangle U.S. Citizenship,” with Audrey Singer, Christian Science Monitor, December 24, 2001
“Macedonians in Chicago,” entry in Encyclopedia of Chicago History, University of Chicago Press, 2001
“Bush’s Flair for Unilateralism Not Boosting International Ties,” with James M. Lindsay, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 3, 2001
“How to Prevent Civil War in Macedonia,” San Francisco Chronicle, June 15, 2001
“A Workable Solution for Macedonia,” Boston Globe, June 9, 2001
“U.S., NATO Key to Balkan Peace,” Baltimore Sun, March 28, 2001
“A Timid Silence on America’s Immigration Challenge,” with James M. Lindsay, San Diego Union-Tribune, January 5, 2001
“U.S. Forces Must Stay to Aid in the Balkans,” Baltimore Sun, November 26, 2000
Academic and Policy Citations
My research on migration, national identity and security, and Macedonian-American history has been cited in a number of traditional and web-based academic and policy journals and articles. Examples can be found here and here.
Fellowships and Awards
Truman National Security Project, Fellow, 2011-present
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Eastern European Studies,
Short-term Scholars award, Summer 2002
University of Maryland, Hearst Fellowship, 2000 and 2001
Southeast European Studies Association, Harrison Fellowship, 2001
University of Maryland Provost, Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award, 1998
New York State Regents Scholarship, 1988-1992
Mentor, White House Liaison Office, Department of Homeland Security, 2014-2015
Advisory Board member, University at Buffalo Regional Institute, 2007-2009