Portrait Unveiled of Former Georgetowner and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson
By January 26, 2023 0 636•
Three levels of high grade security — including driving at 5 mph through a building that’s an automobile-magnetometer — formal ID scrutiny, uniformed guest checkers, a total joint military-service color guard and an audience full of VIPs, such as former Democratic House Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and former representative and Wilson Center director Jane Harmon (Calif.), were all part of the official portrait unveiling ceremony of former Georgetowner and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. The special event was held Jan. 24 at the St. Elizabeth’s campus in Southeast Washington, D.C.
“I had the good fortune of a terrific leadership team and together we led the Department of Homeland Security,” the famously understating Johnson said. “This ceremony is the capstone, not just of my career at DHS, but my career in Washington, encompassing my time as General Counsel at the Department of the Air Force, General Counsel at the Department of Defense, and Secretary of Homeland Security.”
Johnson, his wife Susan DiMarco, daughter Natalie (now a grad student at Columbia University) and son Jeh Jr. (now a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard) lived at the corner of 27th and O streets in Georgetown during his time as secretary.
Soon enough, it was time to unveil the oil portrait by artist Robert Anderson. Some oohs and aah and delighted applause ensued. The painted figure of Johnson portrays him overlooking the Statue of Liberty while he stands on Ellis Island, part of which lies in his home state of New Jersey. It’s so realistic that it seemed like one is seeing double as the real Johnson stood beside it.
Johnson who was the fourth Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security since its founding in 2002, was joined on the stage at the official unveiling of his portrait by current secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who praised Johnson’s leadership that led to investments in new technology, operational advances, and investments in the department’s workforce. “Today, homeland security is national security. The threats now facing our country are more diverse and dynamic than ever before, yet our department can address them successfully because we are able to build on the contributions and achievements of those who have preceded us,” said Mayorkas.
Johnson and Mayorkas are not only former colleagues — the current secretary was former deputy secretary of HLS under Johnson. Their families are also friends and neighbors to each other as well as to many Georgetowners, as the Mayorkases now live on 29th Street, just a few blocks from Johnson’s former home.
In 2015, the Johnsons donated a plaque and helped dedicate the Rose Park Tennis courts in tribute to the famous African American tennis stars, the Peters sisters, Margaret Peters and Roumania Peters Walker, who lived across the street from Rose Park and taught hundreds of D.C. residents to play tennis there for years.
At the official portrait unveiling of Johnson, among those in attendance, were colleagues and friends, including several Georgetown friends, such as former Friends of Rose Park President David Dunning.
VIPs at the special event included former Secretaries of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and General John F. Kelly.
The department was created in 2002 by President George W. Bush in response to the terrorist attacks on New York City, the Pentagon and Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, when 2,756 persons were killed. The new department was formed to coordinate some 22 separate federal agencies all concerned with national security including first responders and intelligence agencies dealing increasingly with cyber and infrastructure security, disaster relief (FEMA) as well as to reorganize the immigration and border processing and enforcement services. The former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was reformed into separate bureaus for border and customs patrols and agents (including the Coast Guard), a bureau to manage legal immigration and citizenship processes — the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) — and a brand new agency to deal with immigration enforcement inside the United States, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau (ICE). The Secretary of Homeland Security manages them all.