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Teaching TSA’s History and Its Importance to the Future


By any standards, what Michael Smith does is unique at TSA. As the agency’s historian, Smith joined TSA in early 2010 with a background in the museum field, previously working at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Library of Virginia. With colleagues in the Workforce Engagement Branch – part of the Office of Training and Workforce Engagement – Smith works on the Historian Project to help ensure that employees understand TSA’s history and its importance to our future.

Smith (left) and Jason Lim, Program Manager with Training and Workforce Engagement, hold a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center.Smith oversees TSA’s Mission Hall museum – managing its exhibits and documentary films – and provides updates to the public through news media. He also manages an interactive intranet historical timeline that features hundreds of images, videos, historical documents, and links to external web content.

Additionally, Smith cares for TSA’s collection of Heritage Assets, which are special historical artifacts collected by TSA that are considered rare or otherwise irreplaceable. These include items from TSA’s September 11th collection such as Indiana limestone recovered from the exterior walls of the Pentagon and pieces recovered from the World Trade Center.

“What I do matters because improving workforce engagement at TSA is integral to our counterterrorism mission. If our employees have a sense of pride and care about what they do then they will do their jobs better and our agency will succeed. I believe that by looking at the history of our agency, there is much that can inspire pride. We have accomplished a great deal since our inception and if we study the past and highlight our successes, while also learning from our mistakes, I believe we will become stronger in everything we do.

“I find it extremely rewarding that I truly get to do something that I love and that I get to do it as a public servant. I have loved history all my life and I feel so privileged that I get to study the past and help teach others about it as part of my career. Both of my parents were federal employees for more than 30 years and growing up in the Washington, D.C. area helped me understand the importance of giving something back to my country.

“The Workforce Engagement Branch is a small group that is trying to do some very big things. I enjoy tackling challenges and working to improve our agency with such a small dedicated group. The only way to do it is to build partnerships with colleagues inside and outside TSA. When I do that, I not only make a difference in our mission, but I am also building invaluable professional relationships that I will have throughout my career.”

From the Office of Strategic Communications/Public Affairs

Latest revision: 28 June 2013