Michael C. Hochman ’95: Chief of Staff, Office of the National Cyber Director, the White House. History Following law school, he clerked for the Delaware Court of Chancery, the nation’s preeminent forum for disputes involving the multitude of Delaware corporations. Trajectory: A longtime Biden supporter/campaigner, Hochman worked as a civil litigator before joining the Biden-Harris administration’s Office of the Staff Secretary in 2021.
You don’t expect to hear “start-up” and “federal government” in the same sentence. Yet this is the way Michael Hochman ’95 characterizes his current employer: the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) at the White House—the first new executive agency created in forty years.
“Cyber touches everything, and in my new role, I have an enterprise-wide view of the work of the office,” says Hochman, who started with ONCD in June 2022 as deputy general counsel and deputy chief of staff. He was promoted to chief of staff in November 2022. “It’s like working for a start-up. It has long hours and all the challenges that come from building something new, but it also brings great collegiality and an incredible sense of purpose.”
Under the leadership of inaugural National Cyber Director John Inglis, the ONCD is working to help fulfill President Biden’s vision that every American can share in the full benefits of cyberspace, including the economic prosperity and democratic participation it enables. As part of that mandate, the office is tasked with developing ways to help make the nation’s critical infrastructure more resilient to cyber threats in the long-term.
In October, for example, ONCD convened government and private-sector leaders for a forum focused on cybersecurity in the electric vehicle (EV) and electric vehicle supply equipment ecosystem. The office is also developing strategies to fill the 700,000+ cybersecurity jobs available in the United States. “Filling the open positions in cybersecurity is a national security imperative, but it’s also an incredible economic opportunity,” he says. “Right now, there are thousands of jobs that, with the proper training, don’t require a college degree.” ONCD is collaborating across the administration, with industry, and with non-profits to help fill those jobs.
ONCD is actually Hochman’s second post in the Biden-Harris administration. He started in January 2021 as special assistant to the president and deputy staff secretary in the Office of the Staff Secretary (OSS), described as the “nerve center” of the White House. That entity is responsible for managing the information flow in and out of the Oval Office—deciding which papers should go to the president’s desk and when they should be sent to him. “It was a fascinating and unique perch,” he observes, comparing the move from OSS to ONCD as going from a generalist to more of a specialist.
Hochman was drawn to work in the Biden-Harris administration by the “opportunity to live my dream of being part of good government and working for a president I deeply admire.” He sees this desire to serve as a natural extension of his BC Law experience, which he says “instilled in me the notion of giving back.” Hochman is a former member and civil litigator with Monzack Mersky Browder and Hochman in Wilmington, Delaware.
Though the tasks ahead are huge for the new agency, Hochman is invigorated by the esprit de corps. “By cultivating unity of purpose and efforts across agencies and sectors,” he says—quoting from the office’s mission statement—“ONCD aims to contribute to the development and implementation of stronger national strategy, policy, and resilience for the country’s digital ecosystem.”