The daughter of Syrian-Turkish immigrants, Sumer Alhinnawi brings a unique perspective to TSA, and has an understanding of the inner workings of Congress. As a Legislative Affairs Specialist, she serves as a liaison to congressional offices and committees on a range of matters that include civil rights and liberties, Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), passenger screening advocacy and the TSA risk-based security initiatives. Prior to joining TSA in 2011, she worked on Capitol Hill for two years in Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s (D-TX) office. Alhinnawi is part of a legislative affairs team that fields congressional inquiries, prepares TSA witnesses to testify at hearings, sets up briefings with Members of Congress and their staff, and identifies key areas of lawmaker concerns.
What I do matters because I carry out TSA’s mission and vision by educating Congressional staff and Members on TSA’s policies and mission. One initiative I’m currently working on is TSA Pre✓™. We are very excited about this initiative because it enhances aviation security by utilizing an intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to security and provides an expedited screening experience to individuals who participate in the program. Every day, I work to improve an understanding of TSA’s mission by clearing up misconceptions about TSA and educating staffers on Capitol Hill about TSA’s multitude of programs.
What do you find most rewarding about your work at TSA? Most rewarding for me is to know that my work has helped to open up a dialogue with key constituencies. Throughout the past year, I have been involved with TSA’s outreach in creating and strengthening our relationships with different minority groups and religious civic organizations. We’ve worked hard to enhance the communication, dispel myths, create more awareness about what we do, and build key contacts within our organizations and communities. For example, after hearing from different minority groups, TSA implemented revisions to its screening procedures when it comes to passengers with headwear.
In what ways does your job challenge you? One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of my job is making sure hard-working field employees get the credit and attention they deserve. During the last year, our office has helped to connect TSA field employees with their Congressional representatives and create personal connections between Members and their TSA constituents. We have also helped to promote noteworthy TSA employee stories with local Congressional offices. It’s those ongoing efforts that have helped humanize the workforce and improve how TSA is viewed not only on Capitol Hill but with the traveling public.