How can the U.S. innovation ecosystem and commercial industry advance national security? What barriers are preventing new technologies from reaching the warfighter? What steps can policymakers take to help promising new defense entrants to navigate the “valley of death”? Led by TAPP Fellow and HKS Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy Nick Sinai, this study group aims to address these questions and more. Join us to discuss the critical challenges facing our leaders when they seek to leverage innovative technologies to strengthen U.S. national security. 

This study group has three sessions, each bringing a unique perspective on how to foster collaboration and partnership between industry and the national security community. 

Session 1. Perspectives from the Pentagon with the Honorable Michèle Flournoy
How can national security leaders promote innovation scaling in the Defense Department? What is the role of entities like the Defense Innovation Board, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the Accelerate the Procurement and Fielding of Innovative Technologies (APFIT) program, and the new Office of Strategic Capital? Join the Honorable Michèle Flournoy, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, to discuss the challenges and opportunities the Department of Defense faces in scaling innovative technologies, and what policymakers can do about it. April 4th at 3pm, Rubenstein 414-AB (Democracy Lab)

Session 2. Scaling Innovation: An Entrepreneur's Perspective with Josh Lospinoso
The commercial industry faces significant challenges when selling to the Department of Defense. Startups and scaleups struggle with the administrative burden of selling to the DoD, and need to sustain themselves through multi-year defense budgeting and requirements processes. How can policymakers enable entrepreneurs to better navigate a system designed for the traditional defense industrial base? Join Josh Lospinoso, CEO and Co-Founder of Shift5, to discuss how innovative startups and scaleups are addressing these challenges. April 6th at 3pm, Littauer L-324 (Fainsod)

Session 3. Delivering Innovation to the Field, with General Joe Dunford (Ret.)
As seen in Ukraine with the use of drones and satellite imagery, commercial technology is playing an important role on the battlefield. Innovative capabilities—like cyber, AI, and autonomy—are already being incorporated in annual exercises, but successful demonstration doesn’t guarantee procurement at scale. What role does the warfighter play in creating a demand signal, and validating how new capabilities can be used in theater? How do the needs of combatant commands fit into the requirements and budgeting processes?  Join General Joe Dunford (Ret.), Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to delve into the challenges and opportunities facing the delivery and scaling of critical technology to U.S. troops. April 13th at 3pm, Littauer L-324 (Fainsod)

Nick Sinai is an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at HKS and a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center.  Nick teaches Policy Design and Delivery II (API-502); prior, for five years, he taught the field course Tech and Innovation in Government. Nick joined HKS in 2014 as an inaugural recipient of the Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellowship.  He is an advisor to the Harvard Open Data Project, Harvard Computer Society's Tech For Social Good, and Upsolve.  He also serves as a board member of Coding It Forward

Nick helped found the U.S. Digital Corps, a new two-year federal fellowship for early-career technologists, launched in the summer of 2021.

Nick is the co-author, with Marina Nitze, of Hack Your Bureaucracy: Get Things Done No Matter What Your Role On Any Team, published in 2022.

Nick is also a Senior Advisor at Insight Partners and serves on the boards of Rebellion Defense, Shift5, Hawkeye360, and LeoLabs. He also serves as a Commissioner for the Atlantic Council’s Commission on Defense Innovation Adoption.

Nick joined Harvard in 2014 from the White House, where he was U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer. Nick led President Obama’s Open Data Initiatives, co-led the Open Government Initiative, and helped start the Presidential Innovation Fellow program. Prior, Nick played a key role in crafting the National Broadband Plan at the FCC. 

Nick earned a MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard. 

First Session Guest, Michèle Flournoy

Session 1 will take place on April 4th at 3pm in Rubenstein R-414-AB (David Ellwood Democracy Lab).


Michèle Flournoy is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of WestExec Advisors, and former Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where she currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors.

Michèle served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from February 2009 to February 2012. She was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the formulation of national security and defense policy, oversight of military plans and operations, and in National Security Council deliberations. She led the development of the Department of Defense’s 2012 Strategic Guidance and represented the Department in dozens of foreign engagements, in the media and before Congress.

Prior to confirmation, Michèle co-led President Obama’s transition team at the Defense Department.

In January 2007, Michèle co-founded CNAS, a bipartisan think tank dedicated to developing strong, pragmatic and principled national security policies. She served as CNAS’ President until 2009, and returned as CEO in 2014. In 2017, she co-founded WestExec Advisors, a strategic advisory firm.

Previously, she was senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies for several years and, prior to that, a distinguished research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University (NDU).

In the mid-1990s, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy.

Michèle is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including: the American Red Cross Exceptional Service Award in 2016; the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 1998, 2011, and 2012; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 2000 and 2012; the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service in 1996; and CARE’s Global Peace, Development and Security Award in 2019. She has edited several books and authored dozens of reports and articles on a broad range of defense and national security issues. Michèle appears frequently in national and international media, including CNN’s State of the Union, ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, BBC News, NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered and PBS’ News Hour, and is frequently quoted in top tier newspapers.

Michèle serves on the boards of Booz Allen Hamilton, Amida Technology Solutions, The Mission Continues, Spirit of America, The U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, CARE, and sits on the Honorary Advisory Committee of The Leadership Council for Women in National Security. Michèle is also a former member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, the CIA Director’s External Advisory Board, and the Defense Policy Board, and is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group, and is a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Michèle earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University and a master’s degree in international relations from Balliol College, Oxford University, where she was a Newton-Tatum scholar.

Second Session Guest, Josh Lospinoso

Session 2 will take place on April 6th at 3pm in Littauer L-324 (Fainsod).


Josh Lospinoso is the co-founder/CEO of Shift5. Josh is an entrepreneur with deep expertise in cybersecurity, data science, and system software engineering. Prior to Shift5, he co-founded RedOwl Analytics, an insider threat detection platform acquired by Raytheon/Forcepoint in 2017. Additionally, he served 10 years as a cyber officer leading teams to build dozens of elite hacking tools for the National Security Agency’s Tailored Access Operations, Army Cyber Command, and the Cyber National Mission Force.

Josh is also the author of C++ Crash Course (No Starch Press, 2019), dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles spanning multiple disciplines, and multiple patents. Josh earned a BS in Economics and Operations Research from the United States Military Academy and a Ph.D in Statistics from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Other than defending operational technology (OT) from cyberattack, Josh’s secret superpower is that he can read his own mind.

Third Session Guest, Joseph F. Dunford

Session 3 will take place on April 13th at 3pm in Littauer L-324 (Fainsod).


General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. (ret.) is a resident Senior Fellow with Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Before joining the Belfer Center, General Dunford served as the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council (Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2019).

Prior to becoming Chairman, General Dunford was the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps. He previously served as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps from 2010 to 2012 and was Commander, International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces-Afghanistan from February 2013 to August 2014.

A native of Boston, General Dunford graduated from Saint Michael's College and was commissioned in 1977. He has served as an infantry officer at all levels, including command of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, and command of the 5th Marine Regiment during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

General Dunford also served as the Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Director of Operations, and Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations. He commanded I Marine Expeditionary Force and served as the Commander, Marine Forces U.S. Central Command.

His Joint assignments included duty as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chief of the Global and Multilateral Affairs Division (J-5), and Vice Director for Operations on the Joint Staff (J-3).

A graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School, Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, and the U.S. Army War College, General Dunford also earned masters degrees in Government from Georgetown University and in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.