Featured Speakers

The National Security Studies Program (NSSP) features lectures from internationally renowned national security and foreign policy experts. Past programs have included, among others, the following speakers:


Dr. Matthew Levinger

LevingerMatthew Levinger is Director of the The George Washington University National Security Studies Program and Visiting Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs. Previously, Matthew was a Senior Program Officer in the Education and Training Center at the United States Institute of Peace, where he taught courses on conflict analysis and prevention for foreign policy professionals. He has more than twenty years’ experience doing research, analysis, and teaching on nationalism and violent conflict in the modern world. Before joining the U.S. Institute of Peace, he was director of the Academy for Genocide Prevention at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum from 2005 to 2007. At the Holocaust Museum he played a key role in launching the Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. The Task Force’s report “Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers” was released in December 2008. Previously, Matthew was associate professor of History at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon; he has also taught at Stanford University. Matthew is the author of Conflict Analysis: Understanding Causes, Unlocking Solutions (United States Institute of Peace Press, 2013), Enlightened Nationalism: The Transformation of Prussian Political Culture, 1806-1848(Oxford, 2000), and co-author (with Charles Breunig) of The Revolutionary Era, 1806-1848, 3rd ed. (W.W. Norton, 2002). From January 2003 to January 2004 he was a William C. Foster Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, where he worked on initiatives for atrocities early warning and prevention in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He received his B.A. from Haverford College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago.


Heather A. Conley

Heather A. Conley is senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic and director of the Europe Program at CSIS. Prior to joining CSIS in 2009, she served as executive director of the Office of the Chairman of the Board at the American National Red Cross. From 2001 to 2005, she served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs with responsibilities for U.S. bilateral relations with the countries of northern and central Europe. From 1994 to 2001, she was a senior associate with an international consulting firm led by former U.S. deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage. Ms. Conley began her career in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. She was selected to serve as special assistant to the coordinator of U.S. assistance to the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Ms. Conley is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Arctic and is frequently featured as a foreign policy analyst on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, NPR, and PBS. She received her B.A. in international studies from West Virginia Wesleyan College and her M.A. in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).


Ambassador Donald Steinberg 

Donald Steinberg is President and CEO of World Learning, a nonprofit organization advancing leadership in more than 60 countries. Before joining World Learning in 2013, he was Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), where his areas of focus included the Middle East and Africa; reforms under USAID Forward and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review; integration and mainstreaming of gender and disabilities into Agency programming; and enhanced dialogue with development partners, including civil society, business, foreign donors, international institutions, Congress and other U.S. Government agencies. Amb. Steinberg previously served as deputy president for policy at the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit seeking to prevent, contain and resolve deadly conflict. He also served as a Randolph Jennings senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where he advocated for the world's 25 million internally displaced persons. During his nearly 30 years with the government, Amb. Steinberg served as director of the State Department's Joint Policy Council, White House deputy press secretary, National Security Council senior director for African affairs, special Haiti coordinator, U.S. Ambassador to Angola, and the president's special representative for humanitarian demining.



Dr. David Rock

David Rock is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and leadership coach who applies neuroscience research to improve leadership and organizational performance. He is Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, a global initiative bringing neuroscientists and leadership experts together to build a new science for leadership development. With operations in 24 countries, the Institute also helps large organizations operationalize brain research in order to develop better leaders and managers. He co-edits the NeuroLeadership Journal and heads up an annual global summit. He has written many of the central academic and discussion papers defining the NeuroLeadership field. He is the author of the business best seller "Your Brain at Work" (HarperBusiness, 2009), as well as "Quiet Leadership" (Harper Collins, 2006) and the textbook "Coaching with the Brain in Mind" (Wiley & Sons, 2009). He received his Pr. Doc. degree from Middlesex University in 2010.


Stephen D. Biddle

Biddle Stephen Biddle is Adjunct Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University. Before joining CFR in January 2006, he held the Elihu Root chair in military studies at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and has held teaching and research posts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA); Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA); and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Office of National Security Programs. Dr. Biddle's book Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (Princeton University Press, 2004) has won four prizes, including the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Award Silver Medal for 2005, and the 2005 Huntington Prize from the Harvard University Olin Institute for Strategic Studies. His other publications include articles in Foreign Affairs, International Security, Survival, The Journal of Politics, The Journal of Strategic Studies, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Security Studies, The New Republic, The American Interest, The National Interest, Orbis, Contemporary Security Policy, Defense Analysis, Joint Force Quarterly, and Military Operations Research; shorter pieces on military topics in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal,Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, International Herald Tribune, Suddeutsche Zeitung, The Guardian, and Defense News; various chapters in edited volumes; and 31 IDA, SSI, and NATO reports.

Farah Pandith

PandithFarah Pandith was appointed the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities in June 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Under the leadership of Secretary John Kerry, the Office of the Special Representative is responsible for executing a vision for engagement with Muslims around the world based on a people-to-people and organizational level. In the years since her swearing in, Special Representative Pandith has traveled to more than 80 countries and launched youth-focused initiatives including Generation Change, Viral Peace, the Transatlantic Leadership Network, and Hours Against Hate (a campaign that was a partner with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.) She is also a key architect of the Women in Public Service Project. In January 2013 she was awarded the Secretary's Distinguished Honor Award for "exceptionally outstanding service to the agencies of the US Government resulting in achievements of marked national or international significance."

Prior to this appointment, Special Representative Pandith was Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. In this role she focused on Muslim communities in Europe where she was responsible for policy oversight for integration, democracy, and Islam in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. She also worked on issues relating to countering violent extremism. Initiatives launched include The Cedar Network and Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE). Special Representative Pandith served as the Director for Middle East Regional Initiatives for the National Security Council from December 2004 to February 2007, where she was responsible for coordinating U.S. policy on “Muslim World” Outreach and the Broader Middle East North Africa initiative. She reported directly to the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy.

Farah is currently a Fisher Family Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.


Harvey Rishikof

RishikofHarvey Rishikof is currently chair of the Advisory Committee for the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security and serves on the Board of Visitors for the National Intelligence University (NIU). He was a Professor of Law and National Security Studies at the National War College (NWC) in Washington, D.C., and is the former chair of the Department of National Security Strategy at the NWC. He specializes in the areas of national security, civil and military courts, terrorism, international law, civil liberties, and the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Rishikof’s career includes experiences in the private sector, academia and public service and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute. He is a former member of the law firm Hale and Dorr, a Supreme Court Fellow, the former Dean of the law school in Rhode Island, and has been a consultant to the Word Bank and USAID on law reform. As Legal Counsel to the Deputy Director of the FBI (1997-99), Mr. Rishikof focused on FBI policies concerning national security and terrorism, and served as liaison to the Office of the Attorney General at the Department of Justice. Mr. Rishikof worked on developing a variety of programs, e.g. NIBIN, and was involved in the drafting of Presidential Decision Directives in the national security area. As Administrative Assistant to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1994-96), Mr. Rishikof, served as chief of staff for the Chief Justice and was involved in general policy issues concerning the federal court system. In this capacity, he acted as liaison to the Executive Branch, Congress, the Federal Judicial Center and the Administrative Office of the United States Supreme Court. He is a former tutor in Social Studies, Government and Sociology at Harvard University. Rishikof has written numerous law review articles, monographs and book chapters, his most recent book is co-edited with Roger George, The National Security Enterprise, Navigating the Enterprise, (Georgetown Press, 2011). He received his J.D. degree from New York University.