Cynthia Cook

Director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and Senior Fellow, International Security Program

Cynthia Cook is director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and a senior fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her research interests include defense acquisition policy and organization, the defense industrial base, new technology development, and weapon systems production and sustainment. From 1997 to 2021, Dr. Cook worked at the RAND Corporation, where she oversaw, led, and worked on a wide range of studies for components across the U.S. Department of Defense, along with the Australian Department of Defense and the UK Ministry of Defense. Notable research leadership includes support for the government of Puerto Rico in the development of their congressionally mandated hurricane economic and disaster recovery plan and the publication of 20 supplementary analytic reports on recovery in every sector of the island's society. She led the implementation research for the 2010 report Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy , which contributed to the elimination of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Her RAND management jobs include terms as the associate director of Project AIR FORCE and as the director of the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center in the National Security Research Division. Previously, Dr. Cook was a research specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working on the Lean Aerospace Initiative. Before her graduate studies, Dr. Cook worked in New York as an investment banker, specializing in high-yield finance. She holds a PhD in sociology from Harvard University and a BS in management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.