Brian Harrell, who was assistant director for infrastructure at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency when he submitted his resignation to President Trump on Aug. 20, is joining AVANGRID as the company’s VP and Chief Security Officer.
Avangrid Networks owns eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving 3.2 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables owns and operates 7.5 gigawatts of electricity capacity, primarily through wind power, with a presence in 22 states across the United States.
In his new role, Harrell is responsible for the company’s physical and cybersecurity, security compliance, enterprise governance, and fire protection units.
“AVANGRID is a forward-leaning, sustainable energy company that remains focused on reliability, innovation, and security with an eye toward the future,” Harrell said. “Their corporate governance, compliance, and commitment to diversity and inclusion is second to none. As the power grid gets smarter and more interconnected, AVANGRID continues to focus on protecting its system against dangerous physical and cyber-attacks and I’m proud to help lead such a dedicated group of security professionals.”
Harrell, the former managing director of enterprise security at Duke Energy, was appointed to DHS in December 2018. He is also the former director of the Electricity ISAC and director of critical infrastructure protection programs at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
In his resignation letter, Harrell said it “has been the absolute honor of a lifetime to help lead the dedicated women and men at DHS during these challenging times.”
“The opportunity to work with those who protect our communities and our critical infrastructure from harm has been the highlight of my professional career,” he wrote. “During my time at CISA, we have responded to hurricanes and historic floods, provided expertise after mass-shootings, engaged thousands of critical infrastructure owners and operators, and we are now providing the private sector assistance during COVID-19.”
At CISA, Harrell led preparedness initiatives and training exercises with government and the private sector in areas including cybersecurity, drone threats, chemical sector security, soft-target threats, and more. “Threats may consist of hybrid cyber and physical attacks against the Homeland, which emphasizes the need to think about a comprehensive approach to the cyber-physical threat landscape,” he told HSToday when assessing the top threats to be anticipated in 2020. “Protecting soft targets and crowded places, from schools to sports and entertainment venues, faith-based communities etc., continues to be an important driver in the effort to strengthen the security and resilience of nation’s critical infrastructure and protect America’s citizens.”