Frequently Asked Questions

What is CNAS’ mission?

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is an independent, bipartisan, nonprofit organization that develops strong, pragmatic, and principled national security and defense policies. CNAS engages policymakers, experts, and the public with innovative, fact-based research. A key part of our mission is to inform and prepare tomorrow’s national security leaders.

CNAS performs groundbreaking analysis to shape and elevate the national security and foreign policy debate in Washington and beyond. Our dynamic research agenda is designed to inform the decisions of leaders in the U.S. government, the private sector, and society to advance U.S. interests and strategy.

CNAS is located in Washington, D.C., and was established in 2007 by Dr. Kurt M. Campbell and Michèle A. Flournoy. Since the Center’s founding, our work has informed key U.S. strategic choices and has been acted on by Republican and Democratic leaders in the executive branch and on Capitol Hill. We have a track record of attracting the best and brightest scholars and practitioners to lead our research programs, and our board members, founders, leaders, scholars, and interns have held or gone on to prominent positions in the U.S. government, at the departments of Defense and State, the White House, and the Central Intelligence Agency, as well as in Congress and the private sector. As a result, we benefit from a strong network of supporters in all corners of the policymaking community.

CNAS is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Our research is independent and non-partisan. CNAS does not take institutional positions on policy issues, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in our publications should be understood to be those solely of the authors.

Read more about our mission statement.

What is the size of CNAS?

CNAS averages between 40 and 45 full-time employees.

How many research programs are there at CNAS?

There are seven research programs at CNAS. Our four functional programs are: Defense; Energy, Economics, and Security; Military, Veterans, and Society; and Technology and National Security. Our three regional programs are: Indo-Pacific Security, Middle East Security, and Transatlantic Security.

Who is on the Board of Directors?

The CNAS Board of Directors is the governing body of CNAS. Composed of distinguished individuals with diverse professional experience and a deep interest in national security and defense issues, the Board is responsible for the Center’s leadership, financial health, compliance, and intellectual integrity.

Who is on the Board of Advisors?

The CNAS Board of Advisors, comprised of prominent leaders from the private sector, academia, the military, and formerly government, actively contributes to the development of the Center’s research and expands our community of interest. Members engage regularly with the intellectual power generated at CNAS, though they do not have official governance or fiduciary oversight responsibilities of the Center.

Who is on the Executive Team?

Richard Fontaine, Chief Executive Officer

Anna Saito Carson, Vice President for Development

What are your flagship events?

CNAS’ flagship event is our National Security Conference, held annually in June in Washington, D.C. This day-long conference is an opportunity for CNAS to convene more than 800 stakeholders from our large and diverse national security community to shape the national security debate in Washington and showcase recent work by CNAS experts.

CNAS also hosts the Michael J. Zak Grand Strategy Lecture, held annually in the spring in Washington, D.C. The program endeavors to elevate new and unique perspectives to the discussion around American national security strategy.

Does CNAS host programs outside of Washington?

Yes, CNAS has programs across the United States and internationally. CNAS Council and Board members receive invitations to private seminars and programs with national security leaders around the country, including in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Florida, and Silicon Valley. Internationally, our experts travel to Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for research missions and interactions with stakeholders in the region.

What is the Shawn Brimley Next Generation National Security Leaders Program?

Every year, CNAS selects a bipartisan group of 20–25 emerging national security leaders between the ages of 27 to 35 to participate in the Shawn Brimley Next Generation National Security Leaders Program. In June 2018, CNAS named the program in honor of Shawn Brimley, one of the founding members of CNAS, for his incredible contributions to the Center and the national security community overall. Shawn truly exemplified the ethos and mission of the program and the Center.

This year-long, part-time professional development fellowship aims to bring together emerging leaders across sectors within the national security field to learn best practices and lessons in leadership. Brimley Next Gen fellows have the opportunity to engage with thought leaders through various engagements, including a monthly dinner series. Past speakers include Secretary Madeleine Albright, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Lt Gen Jim Clapper, General Stanley McChrystal, and Admiral Mike Mullen.

Brimley Next Gen fellows also have the opportunity to contribute to research projects with CNAS experts and are invited to participate in small, invitation-only meetings the Center hosts throughout the year. The program culminates in a week-long international study tour to delve deeper into national security issues and leadership. There is no cost to participate in the program, though individuals are responsible for the cost of travel to CNAS for dinners and events. Unless otherwise stated, all events will take place at CNAS in Washington, D.C.

What is your intellectual independence policy?

The Center’s policy is to retain sole editorial control over its ideas, projects, and productions, and the content of its publications reflects the views only of the authors. In keeping with its mission and values, CNAS does not engage in lobbying activity and complies fully with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.

What is your funding policy?

CNAS accepts funds from a broad range of sources provided they are for purposes that are in keeping with its mission. These contributions may be payable on an annual basis or over a period of time or be given as in-kind goods or services. CNAS is grateful for the contributions it receives, which provide critical support that makes the Center’s work possible. CNAS respects the intent of its donors by ensuring that the Center uses donor funds in accordance with their wishes.

Acceptance of any contribution is at the discretion of CNAS. Accordingly, each is subject to a condition, which is reflected in a written acceptance letter for any contribution of $250 and above, stipulating that CNAS is accepting such contribution on the condition that CNAS retains intellectual independence and full control over any content funded in whole or in part by the contribution, consistent with the Center’s intellectual independence policy.

As a general policy, the Center does not accept anonymous contributions. In appropriate occasions CNAS will make exceptions to this policy for individual donors. CNAS does not accept funds from 501(c)(4) social-welfare organizations primarily engaged in political activities. CNAS publicly acknowledges all its donors who give $250 or more in an annual listing on its website and may do so in other contexts as well. The Center does not sell, trade, or rent its donor lists, and does not share donor information with third parties. CNAS takes all reasonable and appropriate measures to prevent unauthorized use of its donor lists.

Does CNAS lobby?

No, CNAS does not lobby. CNAS is a 501(c)3 institution, committed to national security research and the highest standards of organizational, intellectual, and personal integrity. The Center retains sole editorial control over its ideas, projects, and productions, and the content of its publications reflects the views only of the authors. In keeping with its mission and values, CNAS does not engage in lobbying activity and complies fully with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Accordingly, CNAS will not engage in any representation or advocacy on behalf of any entities or interests and, to the extent that the Center accepts funding from foreign sources, its activities will be limited to bona fide scholastic, academic, and research-related activities, consistent with applicable federal law.

What is your fiscal year?

Our fiscal year aligns with the U.S. government: October 1 through September 30.

What is your annual budget?

Our annual operating budget was $11.5 million in FY19.

Who are my peer funders?

All of CNAS’ supporters are listed on the CNAS honor roll.

What is your tax status and EIN number?

CNAS is a 501(c)3 non-profit research institution. CNAS’ EIN number is 20-8084828.

Who is your past leadership?

CNAS’ current CEO is Richard Fontaine. The past leaders of CNAS are:

CEO and Co-Founder: Kurt Campbell (2007–2009)
President and Co-Founder: Michèle Flournoy (2007–2009)
CEO: Nathaniel Fick (2009–2012)
President: John Nagl (2009–2012)
CEO: Robert Work (2013–2014)
CEO: Michèle Flournoy (2014–2017)
CEO: Victoria Nuland (2018–2019)
President: Richard Fontaine (2012–2019)

What is the CNAS Corporate Partnership Program?

CNAS’ Corporate Partnership Program is an opportunity for corporate representatives to participate in a broad set of CNAS research activities. CNAS corporate partners experience our expert network, shape strategic policy conversations, and affiliate with our nation’s leading defense and security policy institute. Corporate partners are also extended invitations to CNAS private, off-the-record dinners; roundtables; and special events with government, military, and business leaders in Washington, D.C.; New York; Silicon Valley; and San Francisco.

What is the CNAS Council?

The CNAS Council enriches the Center’s intellectual agenda by offering its members a vehicle to express their views and critical support and serves as a powerful link between the public and private sectors. Members are invited to participate in an array of private discussions with national security leaders around the country in Washington, D.C.; New York; Silicon Valley; and San Francisco.

Prospective members are invited to join the Council by current members, Council Chairs, or by CNAS board members.

Join the CNAS Council

How can I get involved?

Sign up to receive our research publications.

Individuals interested in joining the CNAS Council can get involved here or contact Deputy Director of Development, Kayvan Chinichian, at

Corporates interested in getting involved through the Corporate Partnership Program, sponsorship of our Annual National Security Conference or specific research program support, to learn more contact Development Assistant, Emily Tenuta, at

Foundations and governments interested in engaging in research partnerships can contact Development Officer, Jake Penders, at

How can I donate?

You can donate online.

For check payments, please address the check to the “Center for a New American Security” and send to the following address:

ATTN: Jake Penders
1152 15th St. NW, Suite 950
Washington, DC 20005

In addition to credit cards and checks, CNAS also accepts wire transfers, stock transfers, planned gifts, and in-kind contributions. One of our colleagues on the development team would be happy to speak with you personally if you have any questions.

How can I receive a receipt for my donation?

CNAS sends all donors a tax acknowledgement letter, listing the gift receipt, amount, and purpose. Please contact if you need a reissuance or additional assistance.

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