The SPECTRUM Group > Christopher “Chris” Nielsen, SES, Ret.

Christopher “Chris” Nielsen, SES, Ret.


  • Law Enforcement Policy, Training, and Operations
  • Security Affairs (Europe, Latin America, Asia)
  • U.S. and Global Government Relations and Diplomacy
  • Leadership Development, Training, and Mentoring


Drawing on his more than 25 years in law enforcement, investigations, security, and business operations, Mr. Nielsen helps clients reduce risk, address threats, and advance company interests in U.S. and international spaces. He delivers substantial expertise in investigative, security, and risk management domains, helping clients manage threat exposure and develop and implement solutions to business development and strategic challenges.

Prior to joining The SPECTRUM Group, Mr. Nielsen served a 26-year career with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), retiring as Associate Administrator, the highest career official rank in the agency. In this role, he led and optimized business operations for the DEA’s 10,000 employees and 5,000 contractors across 70 countries, including in finance, compliance, technology, training, and allocation and alignment of its $3.1B annual budget. Mr. Nielsen previously served in key DEA Senior Executive Service (SES) roles, including as Far East Regional Director (U.S. Embassy, Thailand), where he led DEA operations in 18 offices across 14 countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the South Pacific, and as Special Agent in Charge for Northern and Central California. He also previously served as the DEA Country Attaché for the U.S. Embassy in Germany and as a Group Supervisor and Senior Special Agent for the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia.

Mr. Nielsen also previously served in the U.S. Army, earning a Ranger Tab and attaining the rank of Captain. He is fluent in Spanish and holds an active TS/SCI clearance.


  • Associate Administrator, U.S. DEA
  • Far East Regional Director, U.S. DEA
  • Special Agent in Charge for Northern and Central California, U.S. DEA


  • B.A., Political Science, University of Colorado Boulder