Rebecca Hersman is the director of the Project on Nuclear Issues and senior adviser for the International Security Program. Ms. Hersman joined CSIS in April 2015 from the Department of Defense (DOD), where she served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD) since 2009. 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. Ms. Hersman was a key leader on issues ranging from the nuclear security summit to the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons to the global health security agenda. 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. Prior to joining DOD, 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 to 2009. Her primary projects focused on the role of DOD 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. 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.
Simone Williams is a program manager and research associate with the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) where she manages the PONI conference series, outreach, and the chemical weapons research project. She has also worked with the Smart Women, Smart Power Initiative at CSIS where she coordinated the planning for the first Future Strategy Forum. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and expects to receive her master’s degree in international affairs from American University in 2019.
Reja Younis is the program manager and a research associate with the Project on Nuclear Issues in the International Security Program at CSIS. Prior to working at CSIS, she completed a year-long fellowship with The Stimson Center, where she conducted research on nuclear deterrence challenges, crisis dynamics, and great power competition in the context of South Asia. She has also worked as a research analyst for the Chicago Project on Political Violence and has served as an editorial writer and subeditor of the Opinion and Editorial section for the Tribune newspaper. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and liberal arts from the Institute of Business Administration Karachi and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Chicago.
Suzanne Claeys is a program coordinator and research assistant with the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) at the Center for the Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) where she manages the Trilateral Track II Nuclear Dialogues and assists with the PONI conference series and outreach efforts. She holds a B.A. in international studies and Spanish studies from American University.