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Volume 21 No. 30
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Helping in the homeland

Akmal Ali / Catalyst Partners

Akmal Ali was majoring in philosophy at Rollins College, a private liberal arts college in Winter Park, Fla., when the world changed.

“9/11 really impacted me and made me want to have a positive impact on security here in the homeland,” he said, crediting that reaction to his parents, who had fled to the United States during the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan. “My family gave me an opportunity millions of others didn’t have, the chance to be born and raised in the States, with access to education and a brighter future. I wanted to take advantage of that and do my part to make the world better. Also, maybe change some opinions about Muslims along the way.”

ALI
He left the warm weather of his native Jacksonville and enrolled at the Syracuse University College of Law, unaware that the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, a law certificate program, had just launched there.

“I was instantly drawn to INSCT as a ‘major’ for my law degree.”

After earning his Juris Doctor, he spent nearly five years at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, last serving as deputy director of the Office of Safety Act Implementation.

The Safety Act encourages the creation, deployment and use of anti-terrorism technologies and practices. It was enacted in 2002 in response to the multibillion-dollar lawsuits filed after the Sept. 11 attacks that left companies concerned they would be sued if security equipment they made or were using failed to stop terrorists. The federal recognition gives the award recipients protection from having to pay claims that might be filed by victims against them in the event of a terrorist attack.

Recognizing that the sports world needed help navigating DHS’s application process, Ali joined Washington, D.C.-based security consultants Catalyst Partners in 2011.

A year later, he successfully helped the New York Yankees secure designation and certification, Safety Act’s highest level of protection, for Yankee Stadium. It was the first sports venue to be granted such coverage.

Since then, he has become the only consultant to have helped at least one team each in MLB, the NFL, NHL and NBA. He has secured Safety Act coverage for more than one-third of the clubs in Major League Baseball.

His recent accomplishments include last week’s recertification for the Yankees, the first team to achieve that, and the approval this month of the St. Louis Cardinals’ application.