Rebecca Hersman Joins CSIS as Director of the Project on Nuclear Issues and Senior Adviser in the International Security Program

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2015 – Ms. Rebecca Hersman has joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as Director of the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) and Senior Adviser in the International Security Program.  PONI works to build and sustain a community of young nuclear experts and advance the public debate on nuclear weapons issues.

Ms. Hersman comes to CSIS from the Department of Defense where she served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In this capacity, she led DoD policy and strategy to prevent WMD proliferation and use, reduce and eliminate WMD risks and respond to WMD dangers. She served as DoD’s principal policy advocate on issues pertaining to the Biological Weapons Convention, Chemical Weapons Convention, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

“Rebecca has been a key leader over the past six years on issues ranging from the nuclear security summit to the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons to the global health security agenda,” said Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks, senior vice president, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and director of the International Security Program at CSIS. “She brings to CSIS strategic vision, real world experience, and a commitment to the development of young professionals.”

Prior to joining the Department of Defense, Ms. Hersman was a senior research fellow with the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University from 1998-2009. Her primary projects focused on the role of the Department of Defense in mitigating the effects of chemical and biological weapons attack, concepts and strategies for eliminating an adversary’s WMD programs, as well as proliferation issues facing the United States. Ms. Hersman also founded and directed the WMD Center’s Program for Emerging Leaders, an initiative designed to shape and support the next generation of leaders from across the U.S. government with interest in countering weapons of mass destruction.

“We are delighted to welcome Rebecca to CSIS,” said Dr. John J. Hamre, president, CEO, and the Pritzker Chair at CSIS. “She is one of the nation’s true leading experts on nuclear and counter-WMD issues, and I am confident that the PONI program will thrive under her strategic direction.”

Ms. Hersman previously held positions as an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a member of the House Armed Services Committee professional staff. She holds an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Duke University.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan, non-profit organization founded in 1962 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It seeks to advance global security and prosperity by providing strategic insights and policy solutions to decision makers.