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Distinguished Alumnae

Deborah Hannon Rosenblum ’80

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs

The United States Pentagon has not had many women appointees in its history (only 70 up through 2016, in fact). Onto that landscape walked Deborah Hannon Rosenblum ’80, who on July 20, 2021, was confirmed by unanimous consent by the US Senate to be the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.
How did this trailblazer go from Lyman Circle to being a nuclear policy expert at the Pentagon? A Phi Beta Kappa graduate in political science and French from Middlebury College, Deborah received her master’s in international relations and affairs from Columbia University. She spent the next 12 years in the U.S. Department of Defense as a civilian employee and member of the Senior Executive Service in the areas of homeland defense, peacekeeping operations and support, nuclear forces and counter-proliferation policy followed by seven years as VP at Cohen Group, an international consulting firm. Prior to being tapped by President Joe Biden for her current position, Deborah served as the executive vice president at Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), which she helped build from a start-up into one of the world’s leading NGOs dedicated to transforming global security by finding solutions to nuclear and biological threats.

Assistant Secretary Rosenblum has been at the center of some of the most innovative work aimed at saving the planet. AT NTI she led the development of Connecting Organizations for Regional Disease Surveillance (CORDS), as an independent self-sustaining global network aimed at detecting and controlling the spread of infectious disease, and the Global Health Security Index, an assessment of how well prepared countries are to address global health threats. An international peace negotiator, she has helped manage security issues related to China and the Middle East and worked on high-level counter-proliferation negotiations, including representing the US in multi-year negotiations with North Korea around its nuclear program.

For almost a decade she served on the board, including a term as President, of the prestigious Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship, and she served as a fellow with N Square, a network of innovators committed to ending the nuclear threat. Despite the intensity of her work at the highest levels of foreign policy, Deborah always finds time to provide advice, support and encouragement to others, especially women, at the beginning of their careers in international security.

As one nominator noted, “Her lived experience, moreover, served as my constant reminder that women DID belong in the male-dominated world of international politics and that women’s leadership embodied intellect, passion, commitment, dedication and a strong moral compass.”

For her tireless work to keep the world safe, her commitment to mentoring the next generation of peace advocates and for serving as a role model to other women, both in and out of the national security arena, the Alumnae Association recognizes Deborah Hannon Rosenblum ’80 with the 2022 Distinguished Alumna Award.
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