Joan Neuhaus Schaan, the Baker Institute's fellow in homeland security and terrorism, has been the executive director of the Houston-Harris County Regional Homeland Security Advisory Council since 2004. The council has reached many milestones, raising the visibility of Houston"s strategic significance to the nation and pursuing efforts to enhance security. Working closely with the city and Harris County, Neuhaus Schaan -- in her work at the Baker Institute as well as the council -- has:

  • Organized security-related events, including discussions with Michael Chertoff, then secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Gen. Victor Renuart, commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD); 
  • Testified before Texas state legislature and United States congressional committees;
  • Participated in the Mayor"s Task Force on International Travelers to improve the international arrival process and experience into Houston"s George H. W. Bush Intercontinental Airport. The task force subsequently participated in the Rice-Chertoff initiative, which strives to create a welcoming environment for international travelers without compromising security (Open Doors, Secure Border).  As a result, Houston"s Bush Intercontinental Airport was designated as one of three model ports for testing and implementing new security procedures;
  • Coordinated the Industry Essential Personnel Credentialing and Reentry System for use during mandatory evacuations, which allows key personnel freedom of movement during emergency situations;
  • Participated in the formation and funding of the Houston Ship Channel Security District to protect one of the nation's busiest ports;
  • Participated in the creation of a memorandum of understanding between the United States Coast Guard and the State of Texas that allows state law enforcement officers to augment security along the Houston Ship Channel;
  • Formed the Rail Security Working Group and was asked to join the advisory board of the regional freight rail district;
  • Engaged in the first outreach by a regional homeland security group to Northern Command with the goal to educate and inform intelligence officials about the specific security needs of the Houston-Harris County region, as well as the strategic importance of Houston to the rest of the nation;
  • Recommended gathering and sharing information among security and intelligence groups through a regional intelligence fusion center, which has since been established;
  • Provided summary and analysis of worldwide terrorism incidents to local government officials and civil authorities; and
  • Reviewed and assessed security risks in regional communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.
  • Proposed the concept of the Corporate Good Samaritan provision of the Texas Homeland Security Act to Elizabeth Ames Jones, then state representative from San Antonio, which was later incorporated into the Texas Homeland Security Act passed in the 2003 legislative session. As a result, corporations requested by governmental bodies to assist citizens during an emergency are shielded from liability.