Editor-in-Chief: Brian C. Goebel
Brian C. Goebel is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 2040matters.com. He is an occasionally proud, but more often frustrated, member of Generation X. Brian resides in Santa Barbara, California, where he is happily married and the father of two wonderful children, Isabelle and Erich, to whom this Blog is dedicated.
Brian is a self-described recovering lawyer, a recognized expert on homeland security issues, a successful entrepreneur, applied analytics junkie, and elected official (Board of Directors, Montecito Water District). He is a frequent speaker and writer on homeland security, constitutional law, public policy, and baseball analytics issues, and has published opinion pieces in various publications ranging from the Orange County Register to the National Interest to the Washington Post. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center.
Though he still relies on his kids for IT support, this hasn’t stopped Brian from trying his hand at blogging (when he has time). He is focused on identifying and solving the biggest challenges facing the United States over the next 25 years so that Generation X+ can break the cycle of generational decline and restore the American Dream.
Brian grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and Vienna, Virginia, and received his undergraduate degree from William and Mary, which his mom helped pay for by taking out a second mortgage on the family home. He then went on to earn his J.D. from William and Mary, which he paid for using a scholarship and student loans. He considers his family’s experience paying for college and graduate school to be a powerful lesson in generational duty, the inverse relationship between debt and choice, and the connection between hard work and opportunity.
Following a Clerkship with Judge Fortunato P. Benavides on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Brian had a successful legal career in Los Angeles and Washington, DC with Gibson Dunn. During his career, he was very fortunate to work on a wide variety of public policy issues: He argued for a constitutional right to death with dignity under the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause; helped overturn an unjustified and excessive damages award against a large department store chain; successfully represented a California inmate who had been unlawfully beaten by a correctional officer; worked on a variety of cases involving flawed agency rulemaking; and proved that a search of his client’s offices by federal law enforcement authorities violated the Fourth Amendment.
Brian left legal practice for public service following September 11th. In the week following the attacks, he began serving as a Counselor and Senior Policy Advisor to the Commissioner of U.S. Customs, Robert C. Bonner. In this role, Brian helped design and implement key programs and regulations to facilitate secure travel and trade, many of which remain cornerstones of the government’s border security efforts. He also helped oversee the 2003 transition from the Treasury Department into the Department of Homeland Security and the merger that created U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In 2005, Brian left his traditional DC career track behind and founded his first consulting firm in order to continue to working on important public policy issues, including: border security and management (e.g., counter-proliferation, cross-border smuggling, and terrorist travel); customs modernization; immigration management; and transportation security. Under his leadership, and with the help of many talented colleagues, this firm grew into three separate businesses, including a data analytics firm (where Brian’s dependence on his Blackberry was a great source of amusement for his millennial data scientists). Together, these firms provided advice and expertise to public and private sector clients in the U.S. and abroad, including the UK, Estonia, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, and Ecuador as well as the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Customs Organization, and the United Nations. As a small business owner, Brian is familiar with the myriad tax, licensing, insurance, payroll processing, fundraising, health insurance, retirement benefit, and labor law obstacles that successful entrepreneurs must navigate.
In 2014, Brian and his partners achieved a goal shared by many entrepreneurs: They sold one of their businesses — the data analytics firm. That same year, Brian lost his mother after she lost her second battle with cancer. Struggling to care for his mother, even with the amazing help of his sister and caring physicians, nurses, and hospice professionals, Brian learned several more lessons on generational duty and observed the strengths and weaknesses of our healthcare system for the elderly. As a result of these events, Brian decided it was time to leave DC behind. He moved west, as Americans have done for more than 150 years, to seek a better life for his family and to escape the cynicism, gridlock, partisanship, and Type A+ personalities that can define life inside the Beltway. With just a few months of ocean air and exposure to the sunny optimism of Californians, Brian was downgraded to Type A- (a positive development, unlike the downgrading of the U.S. bond rating).
In 2018, Brian ran for public office and won a seat on the Board of Directors for the Montecito Water District, where he now works on myriad water supply challenges facing his community. Despite the challenges we face, he remains a firm believer in the American Dream as well as the axiom that “you make your own luck.”