National Security & Foreign Policy LGBTQIA+

2022 New Voices List

in partnership with the New America, June 23, 2022

Out in National Security and New America are pleased to honor the contributions of 50 LGBTQIA+ experts in U.S. national security and foreign policy. This year’s list features experts currently serving in government, the military, think tanks, academia, and non-governmental organizations. We proudly celebrate our community's contributions to advancing peace and security in the United States and abroad.

We applaud our national security enterprise's efforts to build on LGBTQIA+ presence and voices in our institutions and advance LGBTQIA+ rights at home and abroad. As President Biden proclaimed, “We honor the resilience of LGBTQI+ people, who are fighting to live authentically and freely.  We reaffirm our belief that LGBTQI+ rights are human rights.  And we recommit to delivering protections, safety, and equality to LGBTQI+ families so that everyone can realize the full promise of America.

We are happy that our honorees have demonstrated so much character, resilience, and determination to live authentically in a field that is not always welcoming or inclusive.

When there are more than 200 anti-transgender bills before state houses across the country, when LGBTQIA+ books are banned, and when drag queen story hours and Pride celebrations are under attack, we’re grateful that our honorees have stood up to be counted and say, “gay.”

So, we hope you’ll join us this year by reviewing this stellar lineup of individuals and recognize their hard work with us, especially as we celebrate Pride Month.

Thank you to the evaluators - selected from honorees of years past - who supported our review process. Selection is based on: thoughtful and incisive responses to our application, demonstrated excellence and leadership in their field, and dedication to supporting the LGBTQIA+ and other intersectional communities. Finally, we work hard to create a list that represents the breadth of our national security community and, at the same time, the rich diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community. (Disclaimer: New America does not directly participate in the evaluation process, which is led by Out in National Security.)

Congratulations to our honorees, and happy Pride to all!

~ Luke Schleusener, James Osyf, and Rusty Pickens

Eli Walz

Midshipman, US Naval Academy

Eli Walz is a Midshipman in the USNA class of 2023. Eli is the first nonbinary person to transition at USNA. Eli is a Weapons, Robotics, and Controls Engineering major hoping to service select Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer.

Eli is on the USNA Triathlon Team as the third place overall female in national collegiate club triathlon, and is the president of Navy Spectrum.

What national security challenge motivates you, in or outside your work?

"The national security challenge that motivates me is the lack of retention of diverse officers. I
rarely see high ranking officers who are members of minority groups, indicating a significant issue in the Navy’s inability to retain minorities."

Wilson Trawick

Graduate Student

LinkedIn | Twitter

Wilson Trawick is a second-year Masters of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) student at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) studying Security, Strategy, and Statecraft with a regional focus on the Americas. Wilson received his BA in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Florida and participated in a semester exchange at Sciences Po, Paris. He is a proud 8th-generation Floridian.

While at SAIS, Wilson has interned at various offices within the Department of Defense, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs and the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy. Wilson is the president of SAIS Pride, SAIS' LGBTQIA+ Organization. Before coming to SAIS, Wilson worked both on and around Capitol Hill in infrastructure policy. He has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and enjoys sailing, architecture, and running.

What do you know now that you wish you did when beginning your career?

"A vast majority of people want to help others, but you have to put yourself out there and advocate for yourself. That means getting out of your comfort zone to talk to important people who you may find intimidating or people who have more professional experience than you do."

Hanna Tolfo

Intelligence Trainer, US Air Force

Hanna is an intelligence training instructor at Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado, supporting its 24/7 global missile warning mission, and serving as an external training lead for advanced training events and exercises to various audiences across the DoD enterprise.

What does it mean to you that you are out?

"Being out means more than just feeling “free.” It means staying true to myself, which reflects not only with the relationships in my personal life, but also to the kind of effort that I put forth towards my work."

Andrew Strahan

Program Assistant, West & Central Africa, National Endowment for Democracy

LinkedIn | Twitter

Andrew comes from a small town outside of Tuscaloosa Alabama. He earned my bachelors degree from Appalachian State University in 2019 and graduate with a Masters in Security Policy Studies from George Washington University in May 2022.

Andrew has worked at the National Endowment for Democracy for over 2 years now, first as a coordinator for government affairs and currently as a program assistant for our West and Central Africa team. Prior to the NED he interned in Congress and at the Human Rights Campaign. Andrew has published works both on GW's IAR and on independent sites for his studies on Africa.

As an LGBTQIA+ person from the deep south he have strived to be a light for those who wish to work in DC and in international affairs.

If he is not working or studying for a 20 page paper then he can be found at the gym, reading political biographies, or annoying his cat.

What’s the best advice you ever received from a mentor, and how have you applied it?

"The best advice I have ever received is a phrase that a mentor once gave me, “if one door closes, kick it down and walk right through.” This means different things to different people but to me it means not to allow anyone else to dictate what I can do."

Hollis Rammer

Intelligence Analyst, Los Alamos National Laboratory

LinkedIn | Twitter

Hollis recently received her MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, and is now working as a nonproliferation intelligence analyst at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

She has worked as a graduate research assistant at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and has held internships at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Arms Control Association, and the Carnegie Moscow Center.

What national security challenge motivates you, in or outside your work?

"The national security challenge that motivates me the most is nuclear security, safeguards, and nonproliferation. I strongly believe that nuclear weapons could pose an existential threat to the future of humankind, but also that nuclear energy (when properly regulated) is an important source of energy and economic growth."

Brent Peabody

Graduate Student

LinkedIn

Brent Peabody is an MPP candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he is also a research assistant at the Belfer Center.

Before Harvard, Brent interned at the Center for New American Security, taught English on a Fulbright in Brazil, and worked as a national security analyst at the National Journal. His writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, Business Insider, and the National Interest.

This summer, Brent will be studying Portuguese as a Kathryn Davis Fellow at Middlebury College, which he hopes will inform a career spent at the intersection of national security and foreign policy.

How do you engage with, and support, the communities you are a part of, LGBT+ or
otherwise?

"Now that I’m out, I find myself as an active member of the LGBT affinity group at whatever institution I’m in. Also, for me, LGBT support has an electoral component to it, and I’m proud of my work on two successful state legislative campaigns for pro-equality candidates in in my home state of Georgia."

Lindsey Parnas

Graduate Student at Georgetown; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fellow for Georgetown Security Studies

Doyle Seminars Graduate Assistant at Georgetown Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

LinkedIn

Lindsey is a researcher and analyst with a focus on the United States and Middle East and North Africa region having recently graduated from the Dual BA Program between UC Berkeley and Sciences Po Paris with two degrees in Political Science, Middle Eastern Studies, and Peace and Conflict Studies.

She is also a candidate for an MA in Arab Studies and a Diplomatic Studies certificate at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service to graduate in 2023.

Her personal interests focus in trauma-informed terrorism and counterterrorism, inter-religious conflict resolution, psychosocial support, and reconciliation, especially in the context of ethnic conflicts and civil wars.

At her current positions, she implement trainings about queer and disabled inclusivity in the security field and support the teaching of five seminars a semester on diversity, religion, and international affairs through offering writing and research assistance to approximately 50 students.

What’s the best advice you ever received from a mentor, and how have you applied it?

"The best advice I have ever received from a mentor is just get all the work experience you possibly can, in as many areas you’re interested in as possible."

Rashad Nimr

Inclusive Peacebuilding Advisor, USAID

LinkedIn | Twitter

Rashad Nimr is an Inclusive Peacebuilding Advisor with the USAID/Center for Conflict and Violence Prevention where he focuses on youth, peace and security, social inclusion, and human rights. Prior to his work with USAID, Rashad worked in various development and humanitarian organizations at the intersection of peacebuilding, gender equality, and social inclusion. He has consulted for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and worked for a local US refugee resettlement organization.

He has a Masters from the London School of Economics in international development and humanitarian emergencies, and a Bachelors from the University of Pennsylvania in middle eastern studies and human rights.

He identifies as a queer, disabled, Palestinian-American.

What does it mean to you that you are out?

"Being out is a daily practice. For me, it means being intentional and authentic with my language, my work, and my relationships. Not everyone can nor wants to be out, and there is always space for that as well."

Colin T. McPherson

Private, Oklahoma National Guard

Twitter

Colin McPherson is in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, contracting with the Minutemen scholarship in the fall he will be studying political science and history pre-law at the University of Oklahoma, with the hopes to go to law school and eventually commission to become a Judges Attorney General Corps Officer.

Additionally Colin is a published author, having several featured poetry works in an anthology called “Queer Okies Tell Their Stories” He also has acclaims in public speaking and 2SLGBTQIA+ Advocacy in his state and works to create a safe and inclusive community in Oklahoma for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Colin also works with the Oklahoma City Pride Alliance as the Youth Committee Chair. They are in charge of planning all youth events, managing social media marketing, festival, parade, and all other engagement for people ages 13-20 throughout the year, not only at Pride but also special events. As the founding youth committee chair, Colin is one of the first people to lead the charge for youth inclusion in the cities Pride.

What’s the best advice you ever received from a mentor, and how have you applied it?

"Some of the best advice I have received is to always persevere regardless of the obstacles, prejudice, and institutional barriers that face me. If I power through I can accomplish, advocate for, and create anything I put my mind to."

Sarita Lee

Research Assistant, RAND Corporation

LinkedIn

Sarita Lee (she/her) has been a Research Assistant at the RAND Corporation for about two years, where she works extensively on military health topics.

She is most passionate about military mental and behavioral health and at RAND has worked on sexual assault and suicide in service members, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans. She has also worked on the effect of COVID-19 on the military and was specifically awarded by RAND for her work on evaluating the military’s capability to monitor emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

Sarita graduated from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2020 with her B.S. in statistics and minor in Mathematics. While she was a student, Sarita interned at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Also, during undergrad, she loved bringing people together through activities which included: organizing rock climbing trips, running a mentor program for other Statistics students, and teaching weekly salsa dancing classes.

How do you engage with, and support, the communities you are a part of, LGBT+ or
otherwise?

"The most deeply meaningful way I have helped others in my life is by supporting those who have
experienced sexual violence, specifically other Asian women who are very often fetishized and
mistreated due to these identities. My work on this has ranged from speaking in a documentary about my personal experiences to just helping friends and family when they are mistreated."

Tom Klein

National Security Fellow, Third Way

LinkedIn | Twitter

Tom is a national security and cybersecurity professional, experienced in policy research and intelligence analysis. Currently Third Way’s National Security Fellow, Tom researches cybersecurity policy, and has helped launch a US-China digital relations program.

Prior to Third Way, Tom completed his Masters of Public Policy with honors at Oxford University. Having worked and studied across Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, Tom brings a uniquely international perspective to cyber and security challenges.

What national security challenge motivates you, in or outside your work?

"Information security is hugely motivating to me because not only are the national
security implications clear, so are the risks to everyday people. When a data breach
occurs or when privacy is compromised, the United States can be opened up to a cyberattack that threatens critical infrastructure."

Jenna Goosen

Foreign Affairs and Defense Legislative Correspondent, Senator Dianne Feinstein

LinkedIn

Jenna Goosen is currently the Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Veterans Affairs Legislative Correspondent for Senator Dianne Feinstein. She has been on the hill for several years, also serving as the Assistant to the Chief of Staff in her current office. Jenna graduated from UC San Diego in 2019 with a degree in International Relations, focusing on national security issues.

How do you engage with, and support, the communities you are a part of, LGBT+ or otherwise?

"Being able to connect with my community is very important to me – and I do this with other groups I am a part of. I engage with women-led and women-focused groups on the Hill, and have made a home for myself within the immigrant community here in DC. Supporting the community is also something I’m passionate about – here and in DC."

Erik Fliegauf

Graduate Student, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service

Twitter

Erik Fliegauf is currently pursuing his M.A. in Security Studies at Georgetown University with a concentration in U.S. National Security Policy, and interning at the Department of Defense in Hawaii. His research interests include South Asian geopolitics, nuclear strategy and deterrence, and U.S. foreign policy.

Previously, he managed the gaming and Track II portfolio at the Stimson Center’s South Asia program; conducted research on India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations; and interned with Accenture Federal Services.

He holds a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, where he led the Harvard Youth Poll, the nation’s preeminent survey of young Americans’ political attitudes. He speaks French and Hindi.

What does it mean to you that you are out?

"Being confidently out at work, school, and in every aspect of my life means helping to
normalize the presence of LGBT people in all environments, including in defense and national security. Personally, I always feel as if a weight is lifted after I mention to someone that I’m gay, because bringing my “whole self” to work—cliché though it may be—builds trust on both sides."

Chris Estep

Press Secretary and Digital Director, House Armed Services Committee

LinkedIn | Twitter

Chris Estep is the Press Secretary and Digital Director of the Committee on Armed Services in the U.S. House of Representatives. He previously served as a Communications Officer at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where he coordinated the Center’s digital engagement and congressional relations efforts.

Chris holds a Master of Arts degree in Security Policy Studies from The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, where he concentrated in U.S. National Security, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religion from Eastern Nazarene College on Boston's South Shore.

What national security challenge motivates you, in or outside of your daily work? What does it
mean to you that you are out?

"People — their talents, perceptions, experiences, ideas, and so much more — are at the heart of solving some of our biggest national security challenges. That’s why, as a communications professional who spends a lot of time making things for the Internet, I care deeply about helping deliver accurate, compelling, and responsible information to everyday users, especially about issues in foreign and defense policy."

Kat DesCamp-Renner

Program Assistant for Middle East Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation

LinkedIn | Twitter

Kat DesCamp-Renner is a Government Affairs Associate at J Street, where she lobbies for pro-diplomacy, pro-peace American policies in the Middle East. Kat joined J Street in 2022 and previously served as Program Assistant for Middle East Policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2021 with degrees in Foreign Affairs and Global Studies: Middle Eastern Studies.

Kat was born and raised in Oregon.

How do you engage with, and support, the communities you are a part of, LGBT+ or otherwise?

"As a queer Christian working at a faith-based policy and advocacy organization, one of the most important ways I engage with the rest of the LGBT+ community is through the intersection of LGBT+ rights and religion, faith, and spirituality."

Sean DeBlasio

Analyst, U.S. Department of Defense

LinkedIn | Twitter

Sean DeBlasio is an analyst for the Department of Defense (DoD). In this role, he analyzes and assesses threats to the US’s critical infrastructure. Before his employment with the DoD, he served as a Contracting and National Security Acquisition intern analyst at the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Sean worked with other GAO professionals to assess, review, and create recommendations for the Department of Defense’s military components and the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s acquisition policies and practices. Notably, Sean assessed and developed recommendations for the DoD’s data reliability policies and sixteen (16) acquisition program’s efforts to accurately record and report program data.

Sean’s journey to Washington, D.C. began when he interned in Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office as one of the twelve (12) prestigious Victory Congressional Interns. On Capitol Hill, Sean worked with legislative aides to draft legislation and write memoranda regarding foreign affairs and defense policies.

Originally from Livingston, Texas, Sean graduated from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs with an M.A. in Security Policy Studies and Summa Cum Laude from Thomas Jefferson University with a B.S. in Law and Society.

What national security challenge motivates you, in or outside your work?

"Like much of the world, the US faces an emboldened authoritarian, far-right movement that threatens the essence of democratic values, fundamental human rights, and respect for our fellow Americans."

Ben Chao

Legislative Director, Representative Mondaire Jones

LinkedIn | Twitter

Ben Chao is the Legislative Director to Representative Mondaire Jones (D-NY-17). In that role, he manages the Representative’s progressive policy agenda, leads his legislative team, and advises on foreign policy and defense issues.

Ben previously served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Comptroller (Budget and Appropriations Affairs) at the U.S. Department of Defense. In that role, he supported the Department’s strategic engagement with Congress on the annual defense budget request and helped prepare senior Department leadership for congressional engagements. In addition to supporting the rollout of the Fiscal Year 2023 budget request, Ben assisted with efforts to engage with Congress on supplemental appropriations bills related to Operation Allies Welcome, the fuel leak at Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prior to joining the Department of Defense, Ben was Senior Legislative Assistant to Representative Ed Case (D-HI-01), serving as appropriations coordinator and leading a legislative portfolio that included foreign affairs, homeland security, and science and technology policy. Ben also managed the Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus and led efforts to draft the BLUE Pacific Act, legislation focused on expanding U.S. diplomatic presence and development assistance to the Pacific Islands region.

Ben holds a B.A. in Political Science and History with Interdisciplinary Honors in International Security Studies from Stanford University. He grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii.

What national security challenge motivates you, in or outside of your daily work?

"I am deeply passionate about global order and shaping one that protects political, economic, and social freedom and advances justice across our societies. To me, this means protecting and
reshaping the existing international structures, institutions, and norms that have brought us this
far and ensuring they remain responsive and resilient to future challenges."

Andrew Carpenter

Project Lead, CRDF Global

LinkedIn | Twitter

Andrew Carpenter is a dynamic, young professional currently managing projects for the State Department at CRDF Global. With growing expertise in weapons of mass destruction nonproliferation, Andrew works extensively with stakeholders in Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Southeast Asia on threat-reduction activities to prevent the spread of WMDs and their precursors.

Andrew is a two-time Fulbright Scholar and a former Nonresident Fellow at the Turkish Heritage Organization. Prior to CRDF Global, Andrew held positions at Hillary For America and the State Department.

What does it mean to you that you are out?

"Being out is a point of pride, but also a call to action. It is a responsibility to look out for my
queer colleagues (out or not), hold others accountable, and provide opportunities for those
that don’t have the privilege or support to be out in their workplace or personal lives. For
me, being out is a responsibility that guides the work I do."

Miranda Bass

Computer Forensic Analyst, Homeland Security Investigations

LinkedIn

Miranda is a national security professional focused on cybersecurity and defense with an international orientation. She is currently a computer forensic analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, performing digital forensics in criminal investigations.

Miranda found her new path after being medically retired from the US Army, where she served as an intelligence officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. As a Fulbright Fellow, Miranda earned an MA in Security and Diplomacy Studies from Tel Aviv University, and she graduated from the US Military Academy – West Point.

In addition to her time in Israel, Miranda has lived for 15 months in China and Taiwan, and has published on Chinese and Israeli defense and cybersecurity. She speaks Mandarin and Hebrew and resides in New York with her fiancée Alissa.

What national security challenge motivates you, in or outside your work?

"I am motivated by the national security threat of domestic terror and hope to move in that
direction as I establish a career in government service, particularly in light of the recent horrific attack in Buffalo, NY. Domestic terror exists at a nexus between the law enforcement and national security intelligence apparatuses in this country, two fields in which I have
begun gaining experience."

Jordan Aronowitz

Audit and Consulting Senior, Ernst & Young

LinkedIn

Jordan Aronowitz is currently a Senior Auditor and Consultant in the Government Public Sector practice of Ernst & Young (EY). Jordan was previously part of the Office of Secretary of Commerce in 2016.

Jordan's national security interests lie in identifying the root causes and nature of divisions to ensure the efficient and trustworthy internal operations of the armed services, FBI, and other national security organizations. His professional experience at the Department of Defense and FBI surrounds financial and cultural national security risk assessment and mitigation, as well as agency adherence to regulations and operations.

In 2018, Jordan joined the Department of Navy Financial Statement Audit, working from the Pentagon to the field to understand the Navy's control environment, then identifying and communicating financially relevant deficiencies. Jordan concurrently advised the Department of Army audit remediation effort, aligning DoD branch priorities. In early 2022, he transitioned to an FBI risk mitigation team, responding to internal assessments and advancing agency-wide processes.

To make a positive impact in national security, Jordan stresses meeting others where they are comfortable and open to discussion, but working to guarantee authentic voices are heard. Jordan earned a B.A. in Economics-Accounting & Government from Claremont McKenna College and holds a CPA license in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Jordan also enjoys CrossFit and roller coasters.

What’s the best advice you ever received from a mentor, and how have you applied it?

"'Own your outcome' – a college mentor explained how these three words can apply to all facets of life. At its core, owning your outcome means believing in your ideas, your presence, and your results."