WSU Grad and Detroit Native Makes a Splash at the Department of Homeland Security in DC

Karinda L. Washington (WSU MA '10)

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Karinda L. Washington is the proud daughter of grassroots community mobilizers rooted on the eastside of the city of Detroit and a proud alumnus of Detroit Public Schools via Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School Math Science and Applied Technology program. As a daughter of the beloved city of Detroit, Karinda decided to run for elected office while serving at Michigan Legal Service, a nonprofit organization to protect homeownership and tenants’ rights.  After two unsuccessful bids for Detroit City Council, she began to knock on the doors of Detroit’s philanthropic community in search of her next career move.  Those doors never opened.  With the help of the Department of Communication’s Dr. Donyale Padgett, Karinda expanded her search to pursue her passion for community engagement at the federal level. 

Karinda’s search led her to an External Affairs position at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Washington, DC. This opportunity emerged on the heels of flubbing an interview at our beloved alma mater, Wayne State University.  That cliff experience prompted Karinda to make a vow to be prepared for the next interview and to stay ready for opportunity. She now serves as Executive Director for Social Impact and Campaigns, a position within the Senior Executive Service—the highest career rank in the federal government and one that she achieved within 10 years of public service.  In this role, she leads community engagement efforts, with special emphasis on creating more opportunities for underserved and underrepresented communities. She also oversees the Department’s Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking and “If You See Something, Say Something®” public awareness campaign to educate on the indicators of terrorism, terrorism-related crime, and domestic violent extremism.  

Karinda is also founder and keynote speaker at Dash Worthy, LLC®, a management consultant firm focused on public-private partnerships, corporate social responsibility, and philanthropy.  

On May 23, 2021, Karinda L. Washington joined the Senior Executive Service as Executive Director, Social Impact and Campaigns.  In this role, she leads the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) community engagement efforts, with special emphasis on creating more opportunities for underserved and underrepresented communities. She also oversees the Department’s Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking and “If You See Something, Say Something®” public awareness campaign to educate on the indicators of terrorism, terrorism-related crime, and domestic violent extremism. On August 30, 2021, Washington answered the call to serve as External Affairs Officer and Private Sector Lead for Operation Allies Welcome, a federal government unified effort to resettle over 85,000 vulnerable Afghans in the United States. 

Prior to these roles, Washington served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Partnership and Engagement. During her tenure, she led the coordination of the Department’s engagement efforts with state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT) governments, SLTT elected officials, SLTT law enforcement, the private sector, the faith community, and academia, ensuring a unified approach to external engagement. 

In 2020, Washington established the Office of Partnership and Engagement’s (OPE) Faith Initiatives division and the Department’s Faith Based Security Advisory Council while also serving as OPE’s Chief of Staff. As Chief of Staff, she administered OPE’s multimillion-dollar budget, managed daily operational complexities, provided strategic direction for the DHS Loaned Executive Program and Exemplar training with industry program, advised DHS senior leadership on public-private partnerships, and championed social impact initiatives Department-wide. Prior to these assignments, Washington served as an External Affairs Specialist in the Department’s Private Sector Office.   

Before joining DHS, Washington served 10 years and held multiple positions for Michigan Legal Services to help protect homeownership and advance affordable housing initiatives.  She continues to advise senior nonprofit organization leaders on how to rebuild and empower local communities in her hometown of Detroit, MI and in Washington, DC.  

Washington earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English: Written Communication from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Arts degree in Communication: Public Relations and Organizational Communication from Wayne State University. She is a Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executive Fellows alumna.