Adam’s public safety career spans 30+ years, with service in five states (MD, NC, VA, AZ, and PA) as a state-level deputy cabinet secretary, state fire director, metropolitan fire chief/commissioner, big city emergency management director, incident commander, company officer, fire and emergency services instructor, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter, swiftwater rescuer, and rescue SCUBA diver.
He has directly participated in planning, response, and recovery efforts for multiple Presidentially-declared disasters and National Special Security Events (NSSEs), including the 9/11 tragedy, hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, an earthquake, pandemics, major blizzards, and political/sporting events.
From 2014-2016, Adam was a Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In that role, he helped provide strategic direction, policy advice, management oversight, and operational coordination for eleven agencies with an overall budget of more than $3.1B and 30,000 employees. Deputy Secretary Thiel was directly responsible for the Departments of: Emergency Management, Fire Programs (including the State Fire Marshal's Office), Military Affairs (Virginia Army/Air National Guard), and State Police, along with the state’s Homeland Security and Resilience portfolios. Adam also served as the Governor’s deputy Homeland Security Advisor (dHSA), deputy Chief Resilience Officer (dCRO), Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), and FirstNet State Single Point of Contact (SPOC). He facilitated the Secure Commonwealth Panel and Rail Safety/Security Task Force, co-led the state's National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) project team to a $121M Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant award, and collaborated with myriad local, state, federal, military, NGO, private-sector, and other partners across all aspects of Virginia’s homeland security enterprise.
In addition to public service, Adam has founded or co-founded three successful consulting practices advising clients including: federal, state, and local agencies; institutions of higher education; non-profit organizations; law firms; and Fortune 500 companies in crisis management, leadership, training development, risk analysis, policy implementation, advanced data analytics, innovation, and business strategy. He was a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute (HSSAI), is widely published, has presented at numerous conferences in multiple states/countries, taught graduate-level courses at several colleges and universities, and co-edited the International City/County Management Association’s iconic “green book” Managing Fire and Emergency Services, 4th Edition.
Adam completed doctoral coursework in Public Administration (ABD) and Public Policy at Arizona State University and George Mason University, respectively; earned his MPA degree from George Mason University; received his BS in Fire Science from the University of Maryland University College; and earned his BA in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently studying for an M.Phil. in Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of the 2020/2021 Executive MSc. in Cities cohort at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Adam has completed the Virginia Executive Institute, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, and the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security Executive Leaders Program. He is a 2018 Eisenhower USA Fellow—comparing the urban fire experience in Germany and South Africa—and received the 2019 Jim Hovey Service Award from the Eisenhower Fellowships organization.