January 21, 2021

CNAS Experts and Alumni Selected for Senior Leadership Positions in the Biden Administration

Washington, January 21, 2021—The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) congratulates its experts and alumni selected for positions of responsibility in the Biden administration, including Victoria Nuland, Ely Ratner, Susanna V. Blume, Elizabeth Rosenberg, Kayla M. Williams, David Cohen, Peter Harrell, Derek Chollet, and Colin Kahl. They enter government alongside CNAS board members Kurt Campbell and Avril Haines and others.

“This group demonstrates CNAS’ track record of developing bold and innovative national security policies, said CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine, “and they embody our commitment to public service. We take great pride in knowing that they will bring their talents and expertise into government. The Center will remain the locus of national security policy development and dedicated to preparing other rising leaders for service.”

Victoria Nuland, who served as CEO of CNAS from 2018–2019, has been nominated as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, where she will be the third-ranking department official and manage day-to-day regional and bilateral policy issues.

Ely Ratner, the Center’s Executive Vice President and Director of Studies, will serve as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. Ratner was the lead author of “Rising to the China Challenge: Renewing American Competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific,” the most comprehensive study on Indo-Pacific strategy to date.

Susanna V. Blume, Director of the Center’s Defense Program, will serve as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense Performing the Duties of the Director, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE). At CNAS, Blume spearheaded “The Next National Defense Strategy,” a series of 25 papers authored by leading defense experts and aimed at informing the work of the 2022 strategy drafters.

Elizabeth Rosenberg, Director of CNAS’ program on Energy, Economics and Security, will serve as Counselor to the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury focused on international issues. Rosenberg led groundbreaking research at CNAS on instruments of economic power, authoring reports including “America’s Use of Coercive Economic Statecraft,” “A New Arsenal for Competition,” and “Strengthening the Economic Arsenal.”

Kayla M. Williams, Director of the Center’s Military, Veterans and Society Program, will serve as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, where she will oversee media relations, outreach, and field operations nationwide, as well as intergovernmental affairs. During her time at CNAS, Williams co-authored “From Sea to Shining Sea,” the first-ever nationwide research analyzing state benefits to veterans. This project included the groundbreaking “State Veteran Benefit Finder,” an interactive online tool aimed at helping veterans and their families navigate, identify, compare, and access state-level benefits.

Several CNAS Adjunct Senior Fellows are also entering government. David Cohen has been named Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Peter Harrell has been named Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness on the NSC staff.

In addition, a number of CNAS alumni have been named to senior administration positions, including Derek Chollet as Counselor of the U.S. Department of State and Colin Kahl as Under Secretary for Defense.

For media inquiries, contact CNAS Communications at [email protected].


  • Shai Korman

    Former Director of Communications

    Shai Korman is the former Director of Communications at CNAS, where he lead media, digital, and event strategy to advance the Center’s mission of developing innovative and pra...