Asian American and Pacific Islander National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders

Article/Op-Ed
May 29, 2019

The changing geopolitical landscape, new tensions between nations, and the midterm elections undeniably signal that the American people want to see a government that reflects the diversity of our nation and a national leadership that brings together different perspectives to address America's emerging national security and foreign policy challenges.

The Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is abundant with leadership in defense, diplomacy, and international development. This leadership has been demonstrated in the last century through the awarding of a Medal of Freedom to Florence Finch, the first Asian-American U.S Coast Guard Women's Reserve member, in 1947; to the appointment of the first Muslim-American ambassador, Bangladesh-born M. Osman Siddique in 1999; to more recent contributions from the first Asian-American administrator for USAID, Rajiv Shah (2010), and Tammy Duckworth, the first Asian-American woman and first female disabled veteran to be elected to Congress and serve on the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee (2013). Their contributions highlight that there has been no shortage of important contributions from this talent-rich and diverse community.

The Diversity in National Security Network and New America take great pleasure in recognizing the caliber of talent available within the AAPI community and elevating the next generation of voices in the national security conversation. We are pleased to honor the contributions of 40 Asian-American and Pacific Islander rising-star professionals in U.S. national security and foreign policy. The list features experts currently serving in government, think tanks, academia, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and the media. Selection is based on career excellence and leadership, current work in national security or foreign policy, contributions to their issues of expertise through thought leadership, and demonstrated service to their communities.

This list is part of a series highlighting the need for diverse voices in national security and foreign policy. We encourage you to read "Bringing More Diversity to the National Security Arena" and the first list in this series Black American National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders after you learn about this year's AAPI National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.

Wardah Amir
Graduate Fellow, National Nuclear Security Administration

Wardah Amir.jpg

Wardah Amir is joining the National Nuclear Security Administration Graduate Fellowship Class of 2019. She is a young ambassador with the Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS) and is co-chair of the WCAPS Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Policy Working Group.

After performing an internship with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, Wardah became extremely interested in CBRN policy. She joined CRDF Global's chemical security team as a project associate. She has also performed internships with several think tanks including Chatham House, Hudson Institute, and the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Wardah is currently completing her M.A. degree in security policy studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, with a specialization in weapons of mass destruction. Wardah holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University. Learn more about her current projects and follow her work on her website, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Chemical Nonproliferation, Chemical Security, Nuclear Security, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Policy, Weapons of Mass Destruction

Jimmy Antia
National Security Analyst, Institute of Security Governance

Jimmy Antia.jpg

Jimmy Antia is a national security expert focusing on security cooperation, special operations, post-conflict reconstruction, monitoring and evaluation, and fragile state issues. Working as an innovation and learning team leader with the Institute of Security Governance, his current work involves creating monitoring and evaluation policies for defense institution building programs for the Department of Defense.

As a former Obama appointee with the Department of Defense's Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict office, Jimmy created performance and evaluation guidelines for a $1 billion security cooperation program. Previously, Jimmy served on Barack Obama's 2012 campaign in Virginia. His governmental experience includes working in terms with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

As a Fulbright scholarship recipient, Jimmy studied environmental and development issues in Costa Rica. He holds a B.A. in urban planning from the University of Illinois, and an M.A. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Engage with him on LinkedIn.

Expertise: Security Cooperation, Special Operations, Monitoring and Evaluation, Stabilization and Reconstruction, Conflict Mitigation, Development in Conflict Zones

Frank Aum
Senior Expert on North Korea, United States Institute of Peace

Frank Aum.png

Frank Aum is senior expert on North Korea at the U.S. Institute of Peace. From 2010-2017, Frank served in various capacities at the Department of Defense, mostly as the senior advisor on North Korea in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was also senior counsel to the Army General Counsel. He advised four Secretaries of Defense on issues related to Northeast Asia and received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service. Frank previously worked as a corporate attorney, and in the public and non-profit sectors.

He completed a Fulbright Scholarship in South Korea and worked as a speechwriter in the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Frank worked on the Barack Obama campaign in 2007 and served on the Asia policy committee for the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.P.P. from the Kennedy School of Government, and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Learn more about his work here and follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Expertise: Northeast Asia, North Korea, Defense

Niruban Balachandran
Program Management Officer, The World Bank, and Director of Strategy & Programs, 1000 Abrahamic Circles

Niruban Balachandran (1).jpeg

Niruban Balachandran is an American of Sri Lankan descent who serves as a highly-sought-after strategist and advisor on U.S. economic diplomacy in Southeast Asia and China. Niruban has also served in the World Bank’s Indonesia office since 2013, leading special programs and operations in good governance, fragility, conflict, and violence.

With over 15 years of U.S. foreign policy expertise, he is a frequently-invited conference speaker, and widely-published in Yale Global, The Jerusalem Post, Tablet, and The Jakarta Post, as well as by CSIS, Stanford, Harvard, and the East-West Center. Niruban is also director of strategy & programs of the interfaith NGO 1000 Abrahamic Circles, leading the transformation of Muslim-Jewish-Christian ties both globally and in Indonesia.

Niruban earned a mid-career M.P.A. from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and a B.A. Honors degree from Rutgers. He is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Indonesian, and is a member of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. Learn more about his current projects and follow his work on his website and LinkedIn.

Expertise: U.S. foreign policy in Southeast Asia and China, economic diplomacy, Fragility, Conflict, and Violence (FCV), Interfaith Peacebuilding Diplomacy

Neil Bhatiya
Associate Fellow, Center for a New American Security

Neil Bhatiya.jpg

Neil Bhatiya is the associate fellow for the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. His work focuses on how the United States uses tools of coercive economic statecraft, including sanctions and investment and trade controls, to achieve foreign policy and national security goals. He also studies how sanctions impact the geopolitics of energy markets. Prior to joining CNAS, he was the climate and diplomacy fellow at the Center for Climate and Security. He was also previously a fellow at the Century Foundation. His writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, World Politics Review, Bloomberg, The Atlantic, and The Diplomat.

Neil received his M.A. in History from The George Washington University. He graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in History. Learn more about his work here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Economic Sanctions

Malenereynee Carr
General Services Officer, U.S. Department of State

Malenereynee Carr.jpg

Malene Ginete Carr was born in Germany into a Filipino-American family during her father’s tour in the U.S. Army. Malene is a general services officer providing logistical support to the Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau in the State Department. She is currently the logistical manager overseeing the evacuation of personnel and personal effects from U.S. Embassy Caracas, Venezuela. She played a key role in the evacuation of American diplomats and family members in January 2019. Since this evacuation, U.S. Embassy Caracas officially suspended operations.

Malene continues to focus on Venezuelan issues, and hopes to be part of the team that resumes operations-in-country. Her tours include Bolivia, Malawi, Iraq, Argentina, South Africa, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Washington, D.C. She is married to Mark Carr, a Foreign Service Public Diplomacy Officer.

Malene earned her undergraduate degrees from the University of Florida and a graduate degree from the University of Maryland.

Expertise: Western Hemisphere Affairs, Venezuela, Procurement, Transportation, Fleet Management, Customs & Shipping

Katrina Chan
Director of Government Outreach, Bloomberg New Economy Forum

Katrina Chan.jpg

Katrina Chan is director of government outreach for the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, a new institution convening global business and government leaders to find sustainable solutions to the world’s most significant changes and challenges. In this role, she identifies and cultivates government partners who contribute their thought leadership on global governance, trade, finance and capital markets, urbanization, climate, inclusion, and technology.

She worked previously at the Embassy of the European Union in Washington, D.C. as the ambassador’s social secretary. During the Obama Administration, she served at the U.S. Department of State as a diplomatic partnerships officer and speechwriter, for which she was the recipient of the State Department's Meritorious Service Award. Her prior work experience includes positions at the Aspen Institute, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and NBC Universal. Katrina is currently a member of the young professionals advisory council for the National Democratic Institute.

Katrina graduated with a B.A. from the University of Southern California and a M.S. in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. Learn more about her here and on LinkedIn.

Expertise: Public-Private Partnerships, Media and Communications in National Security, Public Diplomacy, Protocol, Multilateral Convenings

Ben Chang
Spokesperson, Director of Media Relations, and Assistant Vice President for Communications, Princeton University

Ben Chang Princeton photo.jpg

Ben Chang is currently spokesperson, director of media relations, and assistant vice president for communications at Princeton University, helping manage the University’s range of communications channels and amplify University priorities, including diversity and inclusion in higher education, environmental and climate science, and development of an innovation ecosystem in New Jersey.

Previously, Ben served as a career Foreign Service Officer, with postings at the National Security Council in both the Bush and Obama White House, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, the U.S. delegation to the OECD, and El Salvador. Prior to moving to Princeton, Chang was managing director for public affairs and crisis at Burson-Marsteller in Washington, D.C., events editor at the Los Angeles Times, associate administrator for communications at the Small Business Administration, and an SVP at the Albright Stonebridge Group.

A native of Washington, D.C., Chang graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is on the board of directors of the Council for a Livable World, co-chair of the Rising Leaders Council for the Meridian International Center, and a member of the D.C. Leadership Council for the U.S. Soccer Foundation. Learn more about him on his website, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Communications and Public Diplomacy, Non-proliferation, North Korea, Diversity and Opportunity in Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Higher Education

Shamila Chaudhary
Senior Advisor to the Dean, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

Shamila Chaudhary.jpg

Shamila N. Chaudhary is a senior South Asia fellow at New America and senior advisor to dean, Vali Nasr, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She is a foreign policy expert specializing in American foreign policy, counterterrorism, South Asia, and Pakistan. She has published in major media outlets on foreign policy issues and engaged the public on foreign policy in media and think tank events. She worked in the U.S. government for twelve years, including at the Obama White House as director for Pakistan and Afghanistan; as South Asia advisor on the U.S. Department of State’s policy planning staff; and senior advisor to the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Shamila earned an M.A. in international affairs from American University’s School of International Service and a B.A. in English literature and women’s studies from the University of Toledo. Learn more about her current projects and follow her work on her website, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: American Foreign Policy, South Asia, Counterterrorism, U.S.-Pakistan Relations

Ravi Chaudhary
Director of Advanced Programs and Innovation, Office of Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration

Ravi Chaudhary.png

Dr. Ravi Chaudhary is a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES), and the director of advanced programs and innovation in the Office of Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He is a former Air Force officer, having completed a variety of command, operational, engineering, and senior staff assignments. As a C-17 pilot, he conducted and led global flight operations in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific regions. He also serves as a member of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Ravi holds a doctorate specializing in executive leadership and innovation from the Georgetown University D.L.S. Program, an M.S. in industrial engineering as a NASA graduate fellow, and a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Academy. He has logged over 3,000 hours as a pilot and flight test engineer (including 760 combat hours) with multiple deployments since Sept. 11, 2001. Learn more about him here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Air Force, Air Power, Airlift, Pilot, Personnel Recovery, Rescue, Space, Space Launch, Budget, Strategy, Governance

Tashi Chogyal
Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy Candidate, Tufts University

Tashi Chogyal.jpg

Tashi Chogyal is currently pursuing a masters of arts in law and diplomacy with a focus on international organizations and U.S. foreign policy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Before graduate school, he served as special assistant to the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Prior to joining USAID, he served in the office of legislative affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice; worked at the Center for American Progress, and served on the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee. In 2012, he worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign as the deputy operations director in Iowa. Before joining campaigns, he interned for the Department of Information & International Relations at the Central Tibetan Administration and attended the Sarah College for Higher Tibetan Studies. A graduate of the University of Puget Sound with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Asian studies, Tashi is a proud Tibetan-American. Engage with him on LinkedIn.

Expertise: Humanitarian Assistance, Foreign Aid, National Security, Congressional Affairs

Grace Choi
Director of Policy, New York City Mayor's Office

Grace Choi.JPG

Grace Choi is the director of policy in the New York City Mayor's Office. Recently, she served as the constituency director for AAPI outreach for the Stacey Abrams for Governor Campaign. Previously, she was the associate director for global gender policy and advocacy at Save the Children, served in President Obama’s Administration as a policy advisor in the Office on Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State. Grace has also worked for the Council of Korean Americans, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Presidential Inauguration Committee, President Obama’s 2012 Presidential Campaign, the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Refugee Affairs Division. She is a Council on Foreign Relations term member and served on the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership board of directors. She holds a masters of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a bachelor of arts from Boston College. Learn more about her here, on LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Gender Equality, International Development, U.S.-Asia Relations, Social Inclusion

Mieke Eoyang
Vice President for National Security, Third Way

Mieke Eoyang.JPG

Mieke Eoyang currently runs the National Security Program at Third Way, where Third Way focuses on Congress' role in national security policymaking. The program seeks to understand the politics of national security, in particular where the political constraints impact policy choices. She also chairs Third Way's Cyber Enforcement Initiative, which develops policy recommendations to improve the government's ability to apprehend malicious cyber actors. Previously, Mieke had a long career in Congress, as a subcommittee staff director on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as Senator Edward M. Kennedy's defense policy advisor during the Iraq War, and as the lead Democratic staffer on the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee in the Clinton Administration. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Politics of National Security, National Security Law, Intelligence, Congress, Defense Budgets, Military Personnel

Ashley Feng
Research Associate for Energy, Economics, and Security, Center for a New American Security

Ashley Feng.png

Ashley Feng is a research associate for the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, focusing on East Asia and China. She was a research associate for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where she researched U.S. policy toward China and Chinese foreign policy. Prior to CFR, she interned at the National Defense University, the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and the China Affairs office in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. She received her B.A. in government and politics and geographical sciences from the University of Maryland. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: U.S.-China Trade and Economics

Sajit Gandhi
Senior Professional Staff Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Sajit Gandhi.jpg

Sajit Gandhi is the senior professional staff member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, advising the Chairman and all Democrats on issues related to South Asia and on institutional oversight of the Department of State. He began his career at the National Security Archive, focusing on U.S. foreign policy towards India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2004, Sajit joined the State Department as a Presidential Management Fellow and held several South Asia-related assignments, including as India Desk Officer, political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka, and deputy communications director to Richard Holbrooke, who was Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the time.

Sajit received an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and a B.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University. He is a former term member at the Council on Foreign Relations. Engage him LinkedIn and Twitter.

Expertise: South Asia, Democracy, Human Rights, Representation

Hila Hanif
Director, Afghanistan Strategy and Policy, U.S. Department of Defense

Hila Hanif.jpg

Hila Hanif serves as the director for Afghanistan strategy and policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Hila has been with DoD since 2009, and has served in various positions, including Director for Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Policy, special assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and advisor for Cyber Policy. Her other government assignments and rotations include stints at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan; at the Department of State’s Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; and at USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives. Prior to joining the Department, Hila worked in the international development field on various capacity-building programs, and was based in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Hila holds a B.A. in economics from Georgetown University and a master of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She speaks Dari, French and Arabic. Engage with her on LinkedIn.

Expertise: U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan, Cyber Policy, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction

Shin Inouye
Former Press Secretary and Acting Senior Advisor for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Shin Inouye.jpg

Shin Inouye is director of communications and rapid response at The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights/The Leadership Conference Education Fund. Inouye served for eight years as an Obama Administration appointee. From 2014 to 2017, he was press secretary and acting senior advisor for intergovernmental and external affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Previously, he was director of specialty media in the White House Office of Communications. Prior to that, Inouye was a spokesperson for the Obama Presidential Inaugural Committee. Before that, he was the constituency communications coordinator at the Obama for America campaign. Previously, Inouye was communications director for Rep. Jerry Nadler. Before that, Inouye was the senior legislative communications associate at the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union. He graduated with departmental honors from the Johns Hopkins University. Engage with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Expertise: Immigration

Sadaf Khan
Staff Director, Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Sadaf Khan.jpg

Sadaf Khan is currently the staff director for the Western Hemisphere subcommittee on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. She has worked on Capitol Hill since 2008 where she has filled multiple roles including legislative assistant and senior policy advisor to Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ). Legislative initiatives she helped shepherd through Congress revolve around global health, freedom of press, and foreign assistance. She has advised Members of Congress on a range of national security and foreign policy issues. Her other legislative areas of expertise include Middle Eastern, Asian and African foreign policy, as well as post-conflict stabilization, national defense, intelligence, and immigration. Sadaf double majored in political science and media & communication studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and received her graduate degree in global security studies from Johns Hopkins University. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Western Hemisphere, Conflict Stabilization, Global Health

Laura Khor
Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton

Laura Khor.jpg

Dr. Laura Khor graduated with a PhD in international relations from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Laura has published and lectured around the world to international law enforcement, national and international government officials, universities, and NGOs on the subjects of counterterrorism, countering violent extremism (CVE), and terrorist radicalization. She is a Booz Allen Hamilton Associate working in the DoD. Laura formerly served as associate director at The Osgood Center for International Studies and was an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University Center for Security Studies. Laura was born and raised in Montana and loves the outdoors, especially hiking. She hiked for Childreach International with a team of 16 in Nepal to raise funds to build schools and promote programs to combat human trafficking in Nepal. Laura volunteers with the Junior League of Washington and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution Capitol Chapter. Engage with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Expertise: Counter-Terrorism

David Kim
Research Analyst, Stimson Center

David Kim.jpg

David Kim is a research analyst at the Stimson Center. His former stints have included the Department of State where he helped to advance priorities around international security and nonproliferation, U.S.-Japan relations, and public diplomacy; and at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and Correspondence. His research interests include nuclear nonproliferation, security, and arms control; U.S. relations in East Asia; inter-Korean relations; and Asian multilateralism. David’s writings have been published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, NK News, The Diplomat, and East Asian Forum and he has provided commentary for outlets such as CNN, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, TIME, Bloomberg, Fortune, Reuters, and AFP. He is a member of The Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. He received his MPA and MPP from the University of Tokyo and Columbia University and his BA from the University of Washington. Learn more about his current projects and follow his work here, on LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Nuclear Nonproliferation, Arms Control, Security in Asia-Pacific, North Korea

Jongsun Kim
Professional Staff Member, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Jongsun Kim.jpg

Jongsun A. Kim is an Asia Pacific specialist who focuses on national security, defense, intelligence, and foreign policy issues. As a professional staff member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Jongsun advises the vice chairman, oversees agency budgets, drafts legislation, and conducts oversight missions. She previously served as the committee designee and chief national security advisor to Senator Barbara Mikulski. Prior to working in the Senate, Jongsun managed the U.S.-South Korea Alliance at the Department of Defense as a presidential appointee in the Obama Administration and worked in various capacities at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and White House, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. She began her career in government and politics in the state of New Jersey, working in a gubernatorial campaign in 2001 and subsequently, the governor's office. She holds degrees from Harvard, National Intelligence University, and Wellesley College. Learn more about her here and LinkedIn.

Expertise: Asia, Defense, Intelligence

Sri Kulkarni
Former Foreign Service Officer and U.S. Congressional Candidate (TX-22)

Sri Kulkarni .jpeg

Sri is a lifelong public servant and national security expert who has spent his career overseas working to protect Americans here at home. From Jerusalem to Iraq to Russia, Sri served in some of the toughest places in the world, representing the interests of the United States and reducing conflict around the globe. Sri received a Pearson Fellowship to serve as a defense, foreign policy, and veterans’ affairs advisor in the U.S. Senate, where he advised on some of the most critical threats facing our national security. Sri went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard, where he started an initiative called “Breaking Bread,” aimed at reducing the partisan hostility and divisiveness afflicting our country. In the U.S. Foreign Service, Sri served tours overseas in Iraq, Israel, Russia, Taiwan, and Jamaica, promoting American values, such as women’s rights, a free press, and religious tolerance. He speaks English, Spanish, Hebrew, Hindi, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese. Learn more about his campaign here and engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Expertise: Conflict Mitigation (Russia, NATO, Middle East, China, South Asia)

Michelle Kwan
Director of Surrogates, Biden for President

Michelle Kwan.jpeg

Michelle Kwan is the most-decorated skater in U.S. Figure Skating history, having won two Olympic medals, five World titles, and nine U.S. titles. Kwan’s eight consecutive U.S. titles (1998-2005) and 12 consecutive U.S. medals (1994-2005) are records. She is the only lady in figure skating history to reclaim the World title three times (1998, 2000, ’03). Michelle’s illustrious skating background is coupled with an equally successful career in international relations, diplomacy, and politics. In 2006, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named Michelle a public diplomacy ambassador, a position that continued under the Obama administration. In 2009, she graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in international studies. In 2011, she earned a master’s degree in international relations from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. The same year she was named a senior adviser to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the U.S-China Women's Leadership Exchange and Dialogue (Women-LEAD). Since then, Michelle has been involved in a variety of public service and political campaigns, including the Clinton Presidential Campaign and Special Olympics. Currently, she is working for Joe Biden's 2020 presidential campaign as the director of surrogates. Follow her on Twitter.

Expertise: Foreign Policy, Sports Diplomacy, Cultural Diplomacy

Jessica Lee
Senior Director, Council of Korean Americans

Jessica Lee.jpg

Jessica Lee is a senior director at the Council of Korean Americans (CKA). Previously, Jessica served as its interim executive director, working to increase the voice, visibility and influence of Korean Americans and support Korean American leadership everywhere. Prior to joining CKA, Jessica was a resident fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she published articles on security and economic relations in East Asia. She was previously a senior manager at The Asia Group, LLC, a strategy and capital advisory firm. From 2008 to 2014, Jessica served as a professional staff member handling the Asia region for the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and as a senior legislative assistant on foreign policy and trade for a congressman on the Ways and Means Committee. Jessica is a Google Next Gen Policy Leader and a Truman Security Fellow. Jessica received a B.A. in political science from Wellesley College and a M.A. in East Asian studies from Harvard University. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: East Asia, National Security, Congressional Affairs

Jean Lee
Director of the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy

Jean Lee_0.jpg

Jean H. Lee is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated veteran foreign correspondent and expert on North Korea who now serves as director of the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. As a journalist, Jean led the Associated Press news agency’s coverage of the Korean Peninsula as bureau chief from 2008 to 2013. In 2011, she became the first American reporter granted extensive access on the ground in North Korea, and, in January 2012, opened AP’s Pyongyang bureau—the only U.S. news bureau in the North Korean capital. Jean has a bachelor's degree in East Asian studies and English from Columbia University, and a master's degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She appears as an analyst for CNN, BBC, NPR, PRI and other media, and serves frequently as a guest speaker on Korea-related topics. Jean is a member of the National Committee on North Korea and the Council of Korean Americans. Learn more about her current projects and follow her work on her website, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: North Korea, South Korea

Christina Li
Advisor, U.S. Department of State

Christina Li.jpg

Christina Li is an advisor for religious dynamics at the U.S. Department of State. She is currently detailed to the U.S. Agency for International Development to serve as a main interlocutor in the agency's contributions to the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Prior to her work on religion and religious engagement, Christina managed $50 million in programs for Asia. Her policy experience has been informed by her work in Fortune 500 and Silicon Valley start-up companies, where she led cross-functional teams in risk analysis and marketing. She also possesses experiences working in NGOs focused on economic development. Growing up and coming to professional consciousness in multiple cultures with different experiences also informs her ability and commitment to adopting multiple perspectives when making decisions. She believes in win-win solutions that can come when we think and act with humility, creativity and generosity.

Christina holds degrees from Stanford and Oxford, as well as the University of California, in economics, international human rights law, and international development respectively. Learn more about her on LinkedIn.

Expertise: Peacebuilding, Transitional Justice, Religion, Human Rights, Governance

Hansen Mak
International Programs Strategic Planner, U.S. Department of Defense

Hansen Mak.jpg

Hansen is currently a security cooperation planner with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, where he is responsible for managing a $1.1B budget while planning and designing security cooperation programs in Europe. Previously, he served as an advisor to the first deputy assistant secretary of defense (security cooperation) and chief of security assistance policy to the deputy under-secretary of the Air Force (international affairs). His experiences include security cooperation, partnership policy, strategy and political-military affairs. Additionally, he was as a strategy and operations consultant with Deloitte and served in the Army from 1996-2008.

Mak is a graduate of the Air War College, holds a B.S. in business management from Norwich University and an M.B.A from Webster University. Hansen is a member of the Defense Council and TruDiversity Initiative Co-Director with the Truman National Security Project, and as a mentor for Veterans in Global Leadership. Learn more about him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Expertise: Security Cooperation, Europe and NATO Policy, Defense Capabilities

Amanda Nguyen
CEO and Founder, Rise

Amanda Nguyen.jpeg

Amanda is the CEO and founder of Rise, a civil rights accelerator. She is a nominee for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Amanda penned her own civil rights into existence and unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights after having to navigate the broken criminal justice system after her own rape. The federal law was the 21st bill in modern U.S. history to pass unanimously on the record and serves as a model for 22 other laws throughout the U.S. and abroad. Amanda has been negotiating a United Nations General Assembly Universal Survivors Bill of Rights with heads of states, foreign ministers and ambassadors. Amanda was named by Foreign Policy as a 2016 “Top 100 Leading Global Thinker,” 2017 and 2018 Forbes “30 Under 30,” Marie Claire “Young Woman of the Year,” and Tempest's “#1 Woman of Color Trailblazer.” Previously, Amanda was appointed by President Barack Obama to the United States Department of State as his deputy White House liaison. She worked at NASA and graduated from Harvard. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Expertise: Inclusive Security, United Nations General Assembly Resolution - Sexual Violence Survivor Human Rights

Mintaro Oba
Former U.S. Diplomat, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Mintaro Oba.jpg

Mintaro Oba is a former U.S. diplomat and expert commentator on U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region. His work as a diplomat in the Obama administration brought him to the White House Situation Room, the UN, and beyond. In this role, he advised senior officials on key issues in U.S.-Korea relations, crafted strategic messages to help officials advance U.S. interests, and worked closely with Korean diplomats. His portfolio included Korea’s diplomatic relations with Japan and China and inter-Korean relations, among many other South and North Korea issues. Today, Mintaro is a sought-after voice on North Korea and other key national security issues who delivers practical ideas for progress based on a deep knowledge of diplomatic tactics and the U.S. national security process. He has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC, and other major media. He is a director at West Wing Writers, a communications firm founded by former Bill Clinton speechwriters. Learn more about his current projects and follow his work on his website, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Asia Policy, North and South Korea, Japan

Won Palisoul
Adjunct Associate Faculty, Columbia School of Professional Studies, and Sister on the Planet Ambassador, OxFam America

Won Palisoul.jpeg

Born in China and raised in New York City, Won enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2001 and served aboard guided missile destroyers. She was forward deployed in the Pacific region for Operation Enduring Freedom. After separating from the military in 2009, she founded a small business. In 2012, Won was named a veteran associate at the New York Stock Exchange. She is now a senior compliance officer at a hedge fund and a certified fraud examiner. Given her passion in helping veterans, she founded the Women Veterans and Families Network (WVFN). Won is a Defense Council member at the Truman Project, chair of the Veterans Roundtable at CFA Society New York, and co-lead of Women Veterans on Wall Street. As a Sister on the Planet Ambassador at OxFam America, she advocates for human rights.

Won earned an M.A. in IT management from Webster University, and an M.S. in nonprofit management from Columbia University School of Professional Studies (SPS), where she currently serves as an adjunct associate faculty member. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: U.S. Military Strategy, Veterans Affairs, Economic Development, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Diversity Initiatives, International Trade, and Human Rights

Radhika Prabhu
Executive Director, U.S.-Pakistan Women's Council, U.S. Department of State

radhika headshot.jpeg

Radhika Prabhu serves as executive director of the U.S.-Pakistan Women's Council at the U.S. Department of State. A public-private partnership designed to accelerate women's economic empowerment in Pakistan, the Council works with corporations, non-profits, academia and government leaders in the United States and Pakistan to accelerate inclusive economic growth in Pakistan. Radhika previously served as a senior policy adviser to the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, providing expertise on a range of foreign policy issues in South Asia. An expert on inclusive security and growth, Radhika has worked at the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. She is a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations and serves as a senior faculty member for the Art of Living Foundation. Learn more about her on LinkedIn.

Expertise: South Asia, Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, Inclusive Economies

Rosa Park
Director of Programs and Editor at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

Rosa Park.JPG

Rosa Park is the director of programs and editor at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK). Rosa has conducted interviews with numerous Korea experts and North Korean escapees, including the first interview with Ji Seong-ho after his State of the Union appearance in January 2018, which are published on HRNK Insider. Rosa has also completed editorial and graphic design work on all of HRNK’s publications over the past seven years. In addition to managing the HRNK internship program, Rosa directs conference and public outreach programs in Seoul, Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and New York City. Rosa was a leading member of the team that gained United Nations consultative status for HRNK in April 2018, making HRNK the first civil society organization in the U.S. focused solely on North Korean human rights to achieve this status. Rosa has been featured in CNN, NBC, Democracy Digest, Epoch Times, The National Interest, and USA Today. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Human Rights

Sandeep Prasanna
Counsel, Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, House Committee on Homeland Security

Sandeep Prasanna.jpeg

Sandeep Prasanna serves as counsel on the House Committee on Homeland Security, where he advances legislation and oversight on counterterrorism, national security, armed conflict and detention, civil rights, privacy, and DHS intelligence and law enforcement functions. Sandeep previously served as general counsel to Sen. Bill Nelson and as a legislative aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee for Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Prior to joining Capitol Hill, Sandeep worked to challenge domestic human rights abuses using international legal mechanisms as a legal fellow at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. Sandeep’s prior human rights legal work sent him to Switzerland, the Netherlands, D.R. Congo, and South Africa. He is a published author on the laws of war and, from 2012 to 2013, wrote for The Economist on language politics.

Sandeep holds a J.D. from UCLA Law, where he received the Greenspan Prize for best performance in international law; an M.P.P. from UCLA Luskin; and an A.B. with distinction from Duke. Learn more about him on his website and LinkedIn.

Expertise: Counterterrorism, National Security, Armed Conflict and Detention, Cyber Security, Intelligence Enterprise, Privacy and Data Protection, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Protection

Sameer Punyani
Associate, Strategic Innovation Group, Booz Allen Hamilton; Former Obama Administration Appointee

Sameer Punyani.png

As an Associate in the Strategic Innovation Group at Booz Allen Hamilton, Sameer advises DoD clients and civilian agencies on developing and maturing data and analytics capabilities to enhance mission effectiveness. Previously, he served as an Obama administration appointee in various roles at DoD including as Country Director for Afghanistan, Country Director for Egypt, and in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense for Secretaries Ash Carter and Chuck Hagel. Sameer has conducted research for CSIS, Chatham House, and Transparency International UK. From 2008 to 2010 he planned and managed the execution of political and official government events for the Democratic National Convention, Obama for America campaign, Presidential Inauguration, and official White House trips to the Middle East. He is a two-time recipient of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service and a 2018 German Marshall Fund Manfred Wörner Fellow. Learn more about him on LinkedIn.

Expertise: Military and Defense Policy, Middle East, South Asia

Kabir Sehgal
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy Reserve

Kabir Sehgal.jpg

Kabir Sehgal works in corporate strategy at First Data Corporation, a global payments technology firm which completed the largest IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015. Previously, he served as a vice president in emerging market equities at J.P. Morgan. Kabir is a U.S. Navy veteran and reserve officer who served on active duty with special operations in the Middle East, and he received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. He served as a speechwriter on a presidential campaign and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Kabir is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the London School of Economics. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of thirteen books. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Fortune, Foreign Policy, Harvard Business Review, among other publications. He has appeared on CNN, PBS, NPR, C-SPAN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox News, National and Geographic. Kabir has won four Grammy and two Latin Grammy Awards as a producer. Learn more about her current projects and follow his work on his website, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Cybersecurity, Intellectual Property

Pinal Shah
Data Privacy and Security, Lyft

Pinal Shah.jpeg

Pinal is a California-licensed attorney working in cybersecurity and information privacy. In 2014, Pinal was appointed to the Obama Administration as Counselor to the Under Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security where she advised on issues including aviation cybersecurity, countering violent extremism, and unmanned aircraft systems. She negotiated numerous international R&D agreements with foreign governments on behalf of the United States government. She also spent two years in the cyber security division at DHS working with tech companies to solve some of the most challenging problems in cyber, AI, and IoT. An avid global traveler, Pinal speaks Gujarati, Spanish, Italian, and English fluently. In 2016, she was selected by the White House to be a part of the inaugural class of technology and innovation fellows.

Pinal holds a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and a J.D. from Howard University School of Law, where she was a member of the Human Rights & Globalization Law Review. Learn more about her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Expertise: Cybersecurity, Data Privacy, Diplomacy, Rule of Law, Human Rights Law, International Law, Countering Violent Extremism, Diversity & Inclusion, Privacy & Security Risk

Lovely Umayam
Fellow, Stimson Center

Lovel Umayam.JPG

Lovely manages the nuclear security portfolio at the Stimson Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. At Stimson, Lovely leads projects that bring governments, industry representatives, and civil society together to discuss how to better secure nuclear materials around the world. She also is the founder of Bombshelltoe, a creative hub linking artists, community organizers, and nuclear experts together to present nuclear policy in a compelling and impactful way to the greater public. Bombshelltoe was the first-prize winner of the U.S. Department of State’s Innovation in Arms Control Challenge in 2013. Lovely’s policy research and creative work have been featured in Fast Company, SXSW, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The Atlantic, Vice, PopTech, The New Republic, MoMA PS1, and Newseum, among others. Learn more about her current projects and follow her work on her website and LinkedIn.

Expertise: Weapons of Mass Destruction Nonproliferation, Nuclear Security

Thomas Wong
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State

Thomas Wong.jpg

Thomas Wong is a career Foreign Service Officer with a broad range of foreign policy and national security experience. He currently serves as the political-military officer at the American Institute in Taiwan in Taipei. Previously, he had assignments in Washington in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and overseas at the U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara, Mexico. From 2014-2016, Tom was president of the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association and led the affinity group’s efforts to appeal for transparency in the Department of State’s assignment restrictions process, for which he was co-recipient of the 2017 William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent. Tom began his career as a U.S. Army officer and served for six years, participating in operations in Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

Wong earned his B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and his M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Learn more about him here and on LinkedIn.

Expertise: Diplomacy, Civil-Military Relations, Defense, Diversity in Foreign Policy

Jonathan Wong
Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation

Jonathan Wong.jpg

Dr. Jonathan Wong, PhD is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. His research focuses on military force development issues such as the role of new technologies, processes, and concepts in shaping how militaries fight. He also contributes to RAND's military logistics, manpower, and strategy portfolios. Previously, Jonathan was a consultant at Boston Consulting Group, advising corporate clients on strategic decision-making in the industrial goods and public sector spaces. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an enlisted infantryman, infantry officer, and manpower planner from 2001 to 2011. He was deployed multiple times to Iraq and the Western Pacific.

Jonathan has a B.A. in political science from the University of California-San Diego, an M.A. in security studies from Georgetown University, and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Learn more about his work here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Defense Acquisition, Force Development, Military Logistics, Manpower Policy

Ali Wyne
Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation

Ali Wyne.jpg

Ali Wyne is a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, and a nonresident fellow with the Modern War Institute. He is also the rapporteur for a National Intelligence Council working group that analyzes trends in world order. Ali graduated from MIT with dual degrees in management science and political Science (2008) and received his master in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School (2017), where he was a course assistant to Joseph Nye. While at the Kennedy School, he served on a Hillary for America working group on U.S. Asia policy. Ali is a coauthor of "Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World" (2013) and a contributing author to "Power Relations in the Twenty-First Century: Mapping a Multipolar World?" (2017). He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Rockefeller fellow with the Trilateral Commission, and a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project. Learn more about his work here, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Expertise: Trends in World Order, Great-Power Competition, U.S. Grand Strategy, U.S.-China Relations, China-Russia Relations

Related Topics
Work