New Security Center associate director joins Penn State from the White House

October 12, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Center for Security Research and Education (CSRE) at Penn State has appointed Herbert O. Wolfe as its inaugural associate director. Wolfe, who joined Penn State in September from the National Security Council (NSC) staff at the White House, will also serve as a professor of practice in the School of International Affairs.

Wolfe, who holds a doctorate in biodefense and a master of science in public health science and physician assistant studies, served as the director for medical preparedness policy for the NSC, where he led medical and public health preparedness policy activities for the assistant to the president for national security affairs and the deputy assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. In this role, he collaborated with departments and agencies and multiple NSC and Executive Office of the President offices to address policy issues relating to biodefense and biosecurity, domestic chemical defense, defense of food and agriculture, environmental health, medical intelligence, domestic medical resilience, and emergent global health challenges.  Wolfe also served as the federal co-chair on the InterAgency Board’s Health, Medical and Responder Safety Subgroup.

At CSRE, Wolfe will work closely with Director James W. Houck and representatives of CSRE’s member units in planning and executing the center’s strategic mission, which includes helping to bring Penn State faculty together from diverse disciplines for collaborative research around security-related topics.

“Herb Wolfe has more than 25 years of federal service working across nine departments and agencies,” said Houck. “We are fortunate to have his expertise on issues including public health preparedness and response, weapons of mass destruction, intelligence policy, and federal research and development practices.”

With Wolfe joining the SIA faculty, the school will offer a new course, Global Health, and bring back a popular elective — Hazards, Disasters, and International Affairs — which was previously taught by Professor John Kelmelis, who retired from Penn State in 2016.

“We are excited to have Professor Wolfe join the SIA faculty as a professor of practice,” said Hari M. Osofsky, dean of SIA and Penn State Law. “His tremendous expertise and policy experience in global health, security and disaster response will be a wonderful resource for our students and the Penn State community. We also welcome the opportunity to deepen our partnership with the Center for Security Research and Education.”

Prior to his move to the White House, Wolfe served as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration’s chief audit executive, providing independent and objective oversight for the organization’s $66 billion annual budget and 300,000-plus employees through proactively identifying system vulnerabilities, overseeing and implementing enterprise risk management assurance activities, and leading all internal audit functions across the clinical, business and financial domains of the global VA health care system.

Immediately prior to his appointment at the VA, he served as senior adviser to the director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a role in which he provided strategic direction and vision, advanced environmental health priorities, and helped to ensure the department fulfilled its critical mission of using the best science in taking responsive public health actions to prevent and mitigate harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances. He served as the senior agency official forward deployed to Flint, Michigan, in 2015, leading the public health response to the water crisis. 

Wolfe served on active duty in the U.S. Public Health Service as a physician assistant from 1998 to 2002, completing his family medicine residency at the Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma. Wolfe began his federal career in 1993 as a biological sciences laboratory technician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS). 

Wolfe’s doctorate in biodefense is from George Mason University and his master of science degree is from Lock Haven University. He also holds a bachelor of arts in biology from Lycoming College.

About the Center for Security Research and Education

Launched in the fall of 2017, the Center for Security Research and Education promotes research, teaching and public outreach programs in the field of security. The center brings scholars from diverse disciplines together to pursue comprehensive solutions to security challenges. CSRE also works to promote public discussion on the critical security issues of the day.

  • Professor Herbert Wolfe

    Herbert O. Wolfe, associate director of the Center for Security Research and Education and professor of practice with the School of International Affairs

    IMAGE: Courtesy of Herbert Wolfe
Last Updated October 15, 2018