Ben Bell III

Economics, 1976

Most Americans didn’t think twice about boarding an airplane. That is, until after Sept. 11 and the subsequent terrorist threats and attempts. For Ben Bell III, his daily work, which had already been a matter of national security for most of his career, now became even more important.

Now retired, Bell served as the director of the Office of National Risk Assessment, creating and managing various computer-based risk assessment programs. Among these was the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, which identifies airline passengers who may pose a terrorist threat and need additional screening before boarding a plane.

Bell was among the first individuals to be appointed to the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, established by the U.S. attorney general after the Sept. 11 attacks. Serving as deputy director and then acting director, Bell helped coordinate technology-based efforts to combat international terrorism.

Before accepting a leadership role with the task force, Bell served as the deputy assistant commissioner for intelligence for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Immediately after Sept. 11, Bell was responsible for analyzing all immigrant information in relevant databases to find any leads in the investigation of those attacks.

After serving 22 years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and 13 years as a senior executive in civilian services, Bell is now the chief executive officer of Global Information Group Ltd. of the Bahamas. He works with the Bahamian government on the compliance and improvement of its world-class privacy protections. The company also is an information solution provider for customers in the Caribbean and beyond.

Attending Nicholls State University helped Bell to enter diverse career paths and unexpected endeavors. “My experience at Nicholls was one in which I was able to pursue my educational explorations with a great deal of independence,” Bell says. “My success in government has been based on a willingness to look at possibilities rather than function within parameters set by someone else.”