- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Impact in Action: Alumni in Government

| Fall/Winter 2016-2017

At Work for the Nation and the World

With upcoming changes in Washington, the Center salutes the members of our community who are serving the U.S. government in leadership roles. Our deep appreciation to them and to all of our alumni who are working around the world for a more secure, sustainable, and peaceful world.

Ashton B. CarterJohn P. HoldrenLaura HolgateSamantha PowerEric Rosenbach, and Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall are just a few of the public servants whose careers have included time at the Belfer Center. Here are some of their many accomplishments in government.


U.S. Secretary of Defense: 
Ashton B. Carter

At the Belfer Center 1988–’93; ’98–2009: Center Associate Director, then Director; Co-Director, Preventive Defense Project

  • Established Force of the Future Initiative to recruit talented individuals “to maintain superiority through the 21st century.”
  • Opened all military combat jobs to women.
  • Launched “innovation units” to develop technologies to better protect Americans and troops on and off the battlefield.

“[He] is an innovator who helped create the program that has dismantled weapons of mass destruction around the world and reduced the threat of nuclear terrorism. He’s a reformer who’s never been afraid to cancel old or inefficient weapons programs.”

—President Barack Obama


Science Advisor to President Obama:
John P. Holdren

At the Belfer Center 1996–2009: Director, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program

  • Revitalized the role of science and technology in education, government, and other aspects of society; oversaw a historic increase in R&D.
  • Highlighted climate change dangers and worked successfully to implement actions to reduce climate threats around the world.
  • Created incentives and awards for innovation to improve security and well-being.

“A physicist renowned for his work on climate and energy, [John Holdren] has been one of the most passionate and persistent voices of our time about the growing threat of climate change.”

—President Barack Obama


Ambassador & U.S. Rep. to UN-Vienna and IAEA: 
Laura Holgate

At the Belfer Center 1990-1992: Coordinator, Projects on Cooperative Security and Post-Cold War Reconstruction

  • Led efforts before IAEA to prevent proliferation of WMDs in the Middle East.
  • Served as Nuclear Security Summit Sherpa/Sous-Sherpa for all nuclear security summits.
  • Directed the historic global effort to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

“Laura’s wisdom, talent, and exceptional leadership make her uniquely qualified to serve in this role. Laura has served in senior positions across the U.S. Government for 14 years, and has advised the President for over six years.”

— National Security Advisor Susan Rice

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: 
Samantha Power

At the Belfer Center 1998–1999: Founding Director, Human Rights Initiative (then, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy)

  • Helped organize September’s Leaders Summit on Refugees; leading UN  efforts to support refugees.
  • Heading UN efforts to get the international community on board in the fight against ISIS.
  • Named by Forbes as one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” in 2016.

“There are few Americans, if any, who have spent as much time contemplating the necessity of the United Nations but also its failures.”

— Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin J. Rhodes


Chief of Staff to Secretary of Defense: 
Eric Rosenbach

At the Belfer Center 2007–2010: Executive Director for Research

  • Was principal architect of U.S. cybersecurity policy.
  • Worked with industry executives to attract cybersecurity talent into the military.
  • As Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, focused on countering weapons of mass destruction, cyber operations, defense support to civil authorities, and space-related issues.

“As the principal architect of DoD’s cyber policy, [Eric] has already left a lasting imprint on our military…[He] brings the right blend of strategic acumen, technological expertise, and managerial skill to help me lead the department during an important time in its history.”

—Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter


Deputy Secretary of Energy: 
Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall

At the Belfer Center 1989–’93; ’97–2008: Associate Director, Strengthening Democratic Institutions; Senior Advisor to Preventive Defense Project

  • Gave the keynote speech at the 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium in September on U.S. energy commitments for the future.
  • Advancing Paris climate agreement by encouraging international compliance.
  • Managing the U.S. nuclear enterprise to ensure safety and security, deliver effective deterrence, and counter proliferation and nuclear terrorism.
  • Led U.S. planning for 2014 Nuclear Security Summit as coordinator for defense policy, countering WMD, and arms control.

“You’ve already made the country better and you’ve improved the circumstances of the world.”

—Vice President Joseph (Joe) Biden

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Wilke, Sharon, ed. Impact in Action: Alumni in Government.” Edited by Wilke, Sharon. Belfer Center Newsletter (Fall/Winter 2016-2017).