Pete Gaynor

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Pete Gaynor
Peter Gaynor official photo (cropped).jpg
Acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security
In office
January 12, 2021 – January 20, 2021
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyKen Cuccinelli (acting)
Preceded byChad Wolf (acting)
Succeeded byDavid Pekoske (acting)
Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
In office
January 16, 2020 – January 12, 2021
Acting: March 8, 2019 – January 16, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byBrock Long
Succeeded byBob Fenton (acting)*[1]
Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
In office
October 11, 2018 – January 16, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Succeeded byDaniel Kaniewski (acting)
Personal details
Peter Thomas Gaynor

1958 (age 62–63)
Warwick, Rhode Island, U.S.
EducationCommunity College of Rhode Island
Rhode Island College (BA)
Naval War College (MA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Marine Corps
Years of service1977–2007
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
*For the duration of Gaynor's term as Acting DHS secretary until Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021, Fenton is performing the duties of FEMA administrator.

Peter Thomas Gaynor (born 1958) is an American government official who served as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security under President Trump.[2] Gaynor previously served as administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He was appointed as Acting Administrator by President Donald Trump on March 8, 2019, and became Administrator on January 16, 2020.

Gaynor assumed the role of Acting Secretary of Homeland Security[3] on January 12, 2021, upon the resignation of Chad Wolf. Gaynor was succeeded as Acting DHS Secretary by David Pekoske on January 20, 2021, after President Biden's inauguration.[4]


Gaynor attended Community College of Rhode Island from 1982 to 1984, and Rhode Island College from 1984 to 1986, graduating with a BA in History. While in the Marines, he earned an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College in 2001. He completed the Executive Leaders Program at the Naval Postgraduate School in 2013.[5]


Gaynor served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 26 years, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was the executive officer responsible for the security of Camp David; was the head of Plans, Policy, and Operations at the Headquarters, Marine Corps, during the September 11 attacks; and deployed with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force where he coordinated combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, for multinational and Marine forces.[6]

From March 2008 to December 2014, Gaynor was the director of the Providence Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security.[7] A colleague there describes him as being prepared for anything and respectful of the chain of command because of his military experience.[8]

From January 2015 to October 2018, Gaynor was the director of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA).[9] During that time, RIEMA responded to numerous small and large disasters, including one presidentially declared disaster and at least seven pre-existing active federal disasters. Gaynor oversaw response and recovery efforts to blizzards, floods, tropical storms and public health emergencies. He also coordinated evacuations, mass care, special events, and school safety.[10]


Gaynor was confirmed by the Senate on October 11, 2018, as the deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).[11]

On March 8, 2019, when Administrator Brock Long returned to the private sector, Gaynor became acting administrator. Gaynor was in charge of the agency's recovery efforts for many disasters, including the California wildfires, tornado outbreaks, severe storms, flooding in the Midwest and the Puerto Rico earthquakes.[11] On January 14, 2020, the Senate confirmed Gaynor as administrator with a vote of 81 to 8.[11][9] He was sworn in two days later.[12]

Acting Secretary[edit]

With the resignation of Chad Wolf in January 2021, Gaynor became the acting Secretary of Homeland Security on January 12, 2021.[13]


  1. ^ "Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf resigns; FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor to take over". CBS58. January 11, 2021. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  2. ^ AP (January 11, 2021). "Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf resigning citing 'recent events'". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  3. ^ AP (January 11, 2021). "Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf resigning citing 'recent events'". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  4. ^ Megan Cassella (January 20, 2021). "Biden names his acting Cabinet". Politico. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  5. ^ "ELP alum, retired Marine, tapped for Deputy Administrator at FEMA". July 13, 2018.
  6. ^ "R.I. Marine Colonel Leads Emergency Response Operations for Providence". Government Technology. February 26, 2008.
  7. ^ "RI Native Peter Gaynor Confirmed as FEMA Administrator | U.S. Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island". Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  8. ^ Barr, Luke (March 25, 2020). "FEMA Chief prepared for COVID-19 challenge, former colleagues say". ABC News.
  9. ^ a b "Senate Confirms Gaynor to Lead FEMA on 81-8 Vote – Homeland Security Today". Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  10. ^ "Rhode Island native Pete Gaynor named FEMA administrator". International Code Council. January 15, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c "Gaynor named full-time FEMA administrator". WPRI. January 14, 2020.
  12. ^ "Open Letter from FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor". January 16, 2020.
  13. ^ Alvarez, Priscilla; Sands, Geneva (January 12, 2021). "Sudden change to Homeland Security leadership raises new worries at the worst possible time". CNN. Retrieved January 12, 2021.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Brock Long
Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
Acting: 2019–2020
Succeeded by
Robert J. Fenton
Preceded by
Chad Wolf
United States Secretary of Homeland Security