Program Director and Senior Fellow, Defense Program

Full Time

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) seeks to hire a Program Director and Senior Fellow for its Defense program. This individual will be responsible for leading a talented team of defense analysts; conceptualizing and executing the overarching research program; informing and elevating national debates about issues related to national security and defense; and convening and engaging with stakeholders dedicated to defense matters (including strategy, planning, posture, acquisition, and budget). 

The CNAS Defense program focuses on adapting the U.S. military to meet emerging challenges. The United States faces an evolving security environment and innovative adversaries who seek to undermine America’s ability to defend the homeland and project power abroad. The United States must adapt its strategy, forces, posture, and concepts of operation to protect American citizens and interests abroad. The CNAS Defense team aims to be at the forefront of the debate about the future of U.S. military strategy and forces by exploring innovative concepts of operation, emerging technologies, and changes to force structure, posture, and capabilities. Specific areas of focus include power projection, airpower, long-range strike, nuclear, autonomy and unmanned systems, and emerging technologies, including in the space and cyber domains. 


The following is an overview of primary responsibilities. Other tasks may be required, and responsibilities will vary over time.

  • Program Leadership
    • Develop and implement a vision, strategy, and research agenda focused on the most consequential defense issues.
    • Advise and manage the program’s full-time staff, adjunct fellows, outside authors, and other CNAS and external contributors.
    • Work with the Center’s leadership to develop resourcing plans and steward program supporters; manage program budgets.
    • Raise funding for the program’s work, together with the Center’s development team and leadership.
    • Direct the program’s flagship Future Force task force.
  • Research and Analysis
    • Conduct original research and analysis to advance understanding and improve public policy related to U.S. defense strategy, planning, posture, acquisition, and budget.
    • Write and publish reports, policy analyses, articles, op-eds, and other written products related to core program themes and other CNAS research priorities.
    • Engage outside experts to conduct research and analysis related to the program’s mission.
    • Collaborate with other CNAS research programs.
  • Outreach
    • Serve as an expert commentator in the media and engage in public outreach through social media, public speaking and other outlets.
    • Lead and/or participate in events, including working groups, panel discussions, roundtables and task force meetings.
    • Conduct consultative meetings and outreach to senior executive branch officials, military officers, thought leaders, members of Congress, and staff.
    • Engage key constituency groups and organizations; understanding of Congress, the defense industry, and/or relevant foreign defense strategies and capabilities is desirable.
  • Institutional Responsibilities
    • Participate in interviewing job candidates and other personnel processes.
    • Attend internal meetings and represent CNAS at outside events.
    • Mentor colleagues, both formally and informally.
    • Provide feedback and critiques to colleagues.
    • Participate in networking, messaging, and outreach.
    • Staff CNAS activities as needed.

Background Qualifications 

  • Demonstrated innovative thinker on the future of U.S. defense strategy and forces.
  • Demonstrated success in innovative, ideas-driven research and writing, and a publication history on defense issues.
  • Demonstrated experience and expertise in defense and established networks in the field. Technical or operational background preferred.
  • Experience with military and Defense Department organizations, operations, and research resources.
  • Project management experience and a demonstrated ability to develop and carry out a work plan is strongly preferred.
  • Ability to train, supervise, support, and work well with others is required.
  • Required personal attributes include:
    • Ability to be a visionary, creative and strategic thinker; ability to identify and consider emergent needs, trends, issues, and opportunities.
    • Initiative to shape an ambitious research agenda and marshal resources to support program objectives.
    • Ability to communicate effectively with elected, appointed, and military officials, donors and other colleagues and associates, and steward those relationships with integrity and good judgment.
    • Ability to prioritize and handle numerous projects simultaneously, and delegate where appropriate.
  • A graduate degree is required, with a Ph.D. in a relevant field preferred.
  • Legal right to work in the United States.

About CNAS    

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit research organization dedicated to developing strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies. Building on the deep expertise and broad experience of its staff and advisors, CNAS engages policymakers, experts and the public with innovative, fact-based research, ideas and analysis to shape the national security debate. CNAS is located in Washington, D.C.

To Apply

CNAS is accepting online applications only. Apply online using this link: 

Your complete application must include a cover letter explaining why you are interested in and qualified for this job and a resume or CV.

All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or national origin.