Celebrating Diverse Talent in the Biden Administration
May 12, 2021

Next Generation in National Security (Next Gen), Out in National Security (ONS), and New America are excited to highlight and celebrate the #NextGenNatSec Experts, and LGBTQIA+ Out in National Security Leaders who have received political appointments in the Biden administration in our #LookingLikeAmerica campaign!

While this page does not reflect all the appointees from both the Next Gen and ONS communities (participants opted-in), the #LookingLikeAmerica effort demonstrates the impact of both the #NextGenNatSec List and Out Leadership List as potential resources for those in hiring positions.

Moreover, the #LookingLikeAmerica campaign showcases the exceptional talent of individuals of underrepresented backgrounds, increasing transparency about pathways into the national security space. Finally, #LookingLikeAmerica carries on the mission of the Lists, further increasing the visibility of national security experts of underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations who are now serving in the Biden administration.

In 2018, Next Generation in National Security and New America released the first #NextGenNatSec List, honoring and amplifying the presence of experts, contributors, and leaders of color in the field. More recently in 2020, Out in National Security and New America, with support from Next Generation in National Security, released the annual Leadership List to honor the contributions of LGBTQIA+ experts in U.S. national security and foreign policy.

Over the course of two years, Next Generation in National Security and New America have released seven lists, recognizing the talents of 230 national security and foreign policy practitioners who identify as Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and North African American.

These lists were a few among several other ongoing efforts to address the lack of diversity and representation within the national security space. When Next Gen and New America launched the very first list in 2018, people of color constituted only 26.2 percent of the intelligence community and women made up 38.8 percent of the intelligence workforce.

Members of Next Gen framed the issue in 2018 in this manner, writing:

It’s well known that the United States takes great pride in being a multicultural nation, but when our national security ranks don’t reflect that diversity, it weakens the very ideals and values that we, as a country, have long been touting to other parts of the world. According to the National Security Diversity and Inclusion Workforce Act of 2017, minorities represented only 22 percent of the overall officer corps in the military—far less than the 40 percent of the enlisted force.

The act also recognizes that many racial and ethnic groups remain stuck in low- and mid-career positions in the State Department. It points out that though black Americans represent 15 percent of the total State Department workforce, they represent only 6 percent of the Foreign Service.”

Leaders in the national security space have emphasized that a diverse workforce is essential because individuals of different races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations—when fully included—bring invaluable, varied perspectives that are essential to creative problem solving, as well as assets integral to cross-cultural, linguistic, and international exchanges. Moreover, an intelligence community that more closely represents the United States demographically renders it more capable of understanding the security concerns and needs of the nation as a whole.

The lists created by Next Gen and ONS in partnership with New America connect managers, employers, journalists, and event organizers to national security experts who are underrepresented in the national security space. Next Gen and ONS has shared the work of honorees with networks across the industry, establishing partnerships to support the cultivation of this communities’ talent and to support efforts aimed at promoting diverse candidates for political appointments.

This collection of profiles, #LookingLikeAmerica, demonstrates the impact of the Lists and shows that concerted efforts to increase the visibility of experts of all races, genders, and sexual orientations in the national security space can make a difference.