Michelle Woods

Michelle Woods
Associate Director, RAND Homeland Security Research Division; Associate Director, Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center; Senior Defense Researcher
Washington Office


M.P.A. in management, University of Kentucky; B.A. in political science, Western Kentucky University; B.A. in communications, Western Kentucky University


Michelle Woods is the associate director of the RAND Homeland Security Research Division (HSRD), which operates the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC). She is also a senior defense researcher at the RAND Corporation.

Woods recently served as the program director for homeland security in the National Governors Association's (NGA) Center for Best Practices, where she manages the homeland security policy issue area, including state and local emergency management and resilience; homeland security policy issues related to preventing targeted violence, public health preparedness, information and intelligence sharing, critical infrastructure protection, and use of the National Guard; and state/federal funding mechanisms and practices, including grant programs.

Prior to joining NGA, Woods served as the Director for Homeland Security for the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. During her tenure with the Committee, Woods was responsible for leading major homeland security policy initiatives, including the effort to re-authorize the Department of Homeland Security, establishment of the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and authorization of the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice efforts to counter malicious drones.

Woods also worked at the U.S. Government Accountability Office where she conducted and managed program evaluations and investigations of the Intelligence Community and the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and State. Before that she served as special assistant to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where she was the director of civics literacy and voter education initiatives.

Woods has a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Communications from Western Kentucky University, and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Kentucky.


  • Artificial Intelligence

    Tackling the Existential Threats from Artificial Intelligence

    Addressing potential risks posed by artificial intelligence (AI) could begin with simple steps like finding appropriate risk-management approaches, conducting research to determine how AI can better meet designers' intent, and devising responses to issues related to racism, sexism, and other biases within AI systems.

    Jul 11, 2023

    The RAND Blog