May 10, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Sociology-Criminology Alum’s Path: from 82nd Airborne to Director of Security at The Henry Ford

Christian Cullen standing in front of an airplane with the Ford logo on the side

The 1926 Ford Flivver behind Cullen was Henry Ford’s attempt at developing the “model T of the skies”. It was test flown by Charles Lindbergh.

After graduating with his B.A. in Sociology-Criminology from the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University, Christian Cullen ’05, served as an officer in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, NC.

He then served as a Diplomatic Security Special Agent within the U.S. Department of State for seven years. During his time as a Diplomatic Security Agent, he operated as a close protection, physical security and operational planning specialist in dynamic, high-threat locations around the world.

Christian left the federal government to become the Director of Security and Safety for The Henry Ford, the Nation’s largest indoor/outdoor history museum complex with four distinct attractions: Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Benson Ford Research Center, and Ford Rouge Factory Tour. The Henry Ford provides unique educational experiences based on authentic objects, stories and lives from America’s traditions of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation, all in the interest of inspiring people to learn from these traditions to help shape a better future.

Cullen uses his background as a decorated security professional and military officer to lead his team with a focus on fusing effective planning, policy, and servant leadership.

Connect with him on LinkedIn.

What has been the most difficult challenge that helped shape your path?

I had a lifelong dream to become a combat arms officer when I graduated college, but I was directed to serve in the Quartermaster Corps – the direct opposite of what I’d hoped to do in my career. I realized that I could perpetually feel sorry for myself, or I could decide to accept it and drive on. I chose to dig in and be the best I could, regardless of my specialty or how I felt about it. That mentality really shaped my outlook when I faced adversity in the future. I learned that I can’t control everything, but I can control how I respond.

What has been the most surprising aspect of the transition into your role at The Henry Ford?

Probably adapting to the variety of venues and programs that require unique security solutions. We have everything from a charter academy high school to a primitive working farm, and they all require special planning considerations. It’s a factor that makes my job both challenging and exciting.

What helped prepare you for your career?

My involvement in the Army ROTC program was the foundation for my success as an army officer and security professional. I was a freshman in college when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, and I remember watching the second plane hit while I was eating my breakfast. That event ignited my desire to lead and serve others, and the ROTC department was the medium for that learning to take place. I knew there was a high probability that I’d be involved in a wartime campaign, and it fueled me to strive toward developing effective leadership skills.

The Best Part

“There are many reasons why I enjoy working at The Henry Ford,” Cullen says, “but I really love the stability it provides for my family.”

He lived a transient lifestyle in his previous career and it began to take a toll once he and his wife had children. Traversing the world was fun and exciting for Cullen until his daughter was old enough to say, “Daddy please don’t leave.”

Their priorities shifted and drew them back to the Midwest.

“Now I can do what I love and never miss a birthday.”

One Comment

  1. Mark Rosche says:

    I checked this out tonight at home.. also saw your dad’s cool post on the boat to put’nBay…. very interesting and productive life you have had… and you are so young!
    Looking eagerly forward to my time with you, Tuesday, all-star. You are certainly made of the ‘right stuff’.

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