The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Gil Kerlikowske as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
As his first public speaking engagement as the new head of CBP, he will make a surprise appearance at noon Friday at the CBP Trade Symposium in Washington, D.C.
Kerlikowske has served the Obama administration as director of National Drug Control since 2009. For nine years prior to that, he was chief of police in Seattle.
He was recommended to the full Senate by the Finance Committee, but could not get on the schedule for a vote until yesterday. A week ago, 28 trade associations wrote Senate leaders, urging a vote on Kerlikowske's nomination because the agency needs a highly visible leader to articulate the agency's strategy and garner legislative support for key initiatives supporting economic and national security, they said.
Thomas Winkowski, who has served as acting commissioner for nearly a year, will return to his original role as deputy commissioner.
From 1998 to 2000, Kerlikowske was deputy director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the U.S. Department of Justice. From 1994 to 1999, he was police commissioner of Buffalo, N.Y.
He began his law enforcement career serving in the St. Petersburg, Fla., police department from 1972 to 1987.
Kerlikowske served on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972, and in the Army Reserve from 1972 to 1976.
He received a B.A. and an M.A., as well as a D.H.L., from the University of South Florida.