Collage of 2023 Out Leadership List.

National Security & Foreign Policy LGBTQIA+

2023 New Voices List

in partnership with the New America, June 27, 2023

Out in National Security and New America are pleased to honor the contributions of over 40 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 a movement that has grown stronger, more vibrant, and more inclusive with every passing year. Pride is a celebration of generations of LGBTQI+ people, who have fought bravely to live openly and authentically. And it is a reminder that we still have generational work to do to ensure that everyone enjoys the full promise of equity, dignity, protection, and freedom."

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 more than 70 anti-LGBTQ bills have passed into law, with 520 more introduced in state houses across the country as well as more than 220 anti-transgender and non-binary bills, 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

2023 New Voices

Charles Dunst

Deputy Director of Research & Analytics at The Asia Group
Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Author of Defeating the Dictators

Charles Dunst is deputy director of Research & Analytics at The Asia Group and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is the author of Defeating the Dictators: How Democracy Can Prevail in the Age of the Strongman (Hodder & Stoughton, February 2023).

He has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Telegraph, and Foreign Policy, among other outlets. An erstwhile foreign correspondent, he has reported from Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Hungary, and Romania.

He holds an M.Sc. with Distinction in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and a B.A. with honors in World Politics from Hamilton College, for which he also studied at Hungary's Corvinus University of Budapest.
Sarah McKellar

Privacy Assistant/Paralegal Specialist at the Federal Trade Commission
Sarah is a Privacy Assistant and Paralegal Specialist at the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of the Chief Privacy Officer where she works at the intersection of technology, consumer protection, and competition policy. She’s passionate about the intersection of intimate privacy rights and gender, sexuality, and race. She also serves as an editor for the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy’s Rising Experts program.

She previously worked as an Investigator at a due diligence firm in Washington, DC.

Sarah graduated with a BA in International Studies from American University in 2019 and focused her studies in national security and foreign policy, European affairs, and criminal justice.

Outside of work, she enjoys reading, writing, kayaking, singing in DMV choirs, and traveling.
Ronald Steinhoff

Management and Program Analyst, National Security Branch Global Engagement Lead, Federal Bureau of Investigation
From Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Ron has combined his passion for national security with equitable policies throughout his entire career.

Currently, he serves in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) National Security Branch and as the Co-Chair of FBI Pride, the FBI's LGBTQ+ employee resource group. Through this position, he has lead trainings on how the FBI can best support and protect the LGBTQ+ community.

Previously, he served as a Rosenthal Fellow in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy and as a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

He received his Master of International Public Affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's La Follette School of Public Affairs and is currently studying at the National Intelligence University for his Master of Strategic Intelligence.
Owen Maireni Daniel Sanchez

U.S. State Department Intern
Owen was born in Dominican Republic and moved to the northern side of Belgium at approximately 3 years old. He attended elementary school and Belgian High School in Ghent. At the age of 15, Owen and his mother moved to New York City. At that time, he was not sure what he wanted to pursue academically nor professionally, since he was placed in a trade school to pursue bakery due to his poor performance in Belgian elementary school.

When he was registering for high school in New York City, Owen was suggested to pursue business. Owen first became exposed to the American high school system as a sophomore at Richmond Hill High School. For him, high school in New York City was a culture shock, since it did not resemble high school in American TV shows. By junior year, Owen was able to adapt to the culture, make friends, and learn NYC slang.

By the time he attended Queensborough Community College to pursue business administration, Owen was openly out as a gay male. After obtaining his associate degree, he pursued a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications with a minor in French at Baruch College. During his undergraduate studies, Owen studied abroad in Paris during the fall of 2017 and was able to do an intensive language program and internship in Shanghai during the summer of 2018. At that time, Owen was interested in a career where he could make use of his language skills.

After obtaining his bachelors, Owen did an internship with the United Nations’ Department for General Assembly and Conference Management. He then obtained an internship with the Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the United Nations, where he attended UN meetings pertaining to economic, financial, and legal issues. During his time at the UN, Owen became exposed to the world of international affairs, which fascinated him. He was also able to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization around the time of his UN-related internships. He saw how different delegates from different member states defended their country’s position within UN resolutions, which inspired him to one day pursue a career in foreign affairs as an American citizen.

After spending approximately 8 months in Belgium during covid, Owen returned to New York to become a bilingual case planner at Mercy First, where he used his Spanish speaking skills to help families who had been involved in Child Protective Services. He then decided he wanted to pursue graduate studies in interest of landing a federal career.

Owen is currently pursuing a Master of International Affairs with a concentration in Global Security at Baruch College. During his graduate studies, Owen became an EEO Investigator at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development where he developed valuable skills pertaining to workplace discrimination. During the summer of 2023 Owen will intern with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. After his internship at the State Department, Owen will go to Taiwan to study Mandarin on a Boren Fellowship for approximately 8 months.

Owen currently speaks Dutch, French, and Spanish at a limited-professional capacity level. He would like to further improve his languages while learning and mastering Mandarin. As an Afro-Latino gay male, he looks forward for the opportunity to be involved with ONS as well as the Black China Caucus to encourage other minorities to pursue their academic and professional endeavors to push toward the diversification of the entire U.S. workforce on all levels, in all sectors.

Naveena Aruldhas

DEI Alumni Collaborator at UMD iSchool & DEI Coordinator of DMV Queers

Naveena is DEI Coordinator of a local DMV organization called DMV Queers as well as DEI Alumni Collaborator for the University of Maryland iSchool.

Right now as a recent graduate during an economic recession, they have worked as a business analyst, a cupcake shop worker, and a server.

Their personal and volunteer work shines through and through community service they are able to help people understand technical terms and come to solutions to better protect their data and internet presence.

Hunter Zhao

Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State

Hunter Zhao is a political-track Foreign Service Officer currently serving at the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Prior to joining the State Department, he was a senior graduate fellow in policy and advocacy at the Truman National Security Project. He provided additional support at Truman’s Afghanistan Operations Center. During 2019, Hunter served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malaysian Borneo.

His previous work experiences include USAID, IOM Iraq, Human Rights Watch, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and the High Court of Uganda. He also is a recipient of the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship which allowed him to serve in U.S. Embassy Manila where he focused on political-military affairs, particularly the presence of the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea.

Hunter holds an M.A. in Human Rights Studies and a graduate certificate in African Studies from Columbia University. He is an alumnus of the International Fellows Program at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He earned his B.A. in History and Sociology from the University of Michigan, where he also served as the president of First-Generation College Students at Michigan. He speaks Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

William Oestreich

Busboy, Dupont Italian Kitchen

William grew up in an on and off again expat family, was motivated to study national security in part due to the War on Terror and my stepmother's experience with the 2003 Riyadh bombings.

William moved to DC looking for work on the Hill or in a think tank.

Jake Sepich

Associate, Lafayette Group

Jake Sepich is an Associate at the Lafayette Group.

Originally from Chicago, they recently completed their master's at American University in International Relations with a concentration in cybersecurity.

They have worked on a variety of political campaigns, in congressional offices, and as a program manager for a grant before this position.

Seth Davis

Program Manager, Wildfire and Disaster Management, Europe & Eurasia - Management and Engineering Technologies International

Seth is a well-rounded domestic and international development professional with extensive knowledge in capacity building, emergency management, strategic planning and stakeholder engagement and mobilization.

Having developed human-centric projects in Ghana and India, Seth is inspired by local actors creating sustainable change in their communities. This drives them to support complex development projects from inception to completion in many of the world’s most challenging contexts.

This has led to the implementation of work on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, US EUCOM, USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, US Department of State, UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNICEF, UN Free & Equal (UNFE), WHO and with various national line Ministries.
Will Cullen

CJohn McCain Strategic Defense Fellow, DoD
Will Cullen is a John McCain Strategic Defense Fellow at DoD passionate about climate change, international politics, and sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific region. He hopes to dedicate his career to assisting the US government address the two major global security challenges of climate change and the PRC's economic, technological, and military modernization.

Previously, he worked as a fellow at the National Committee on US-China Relations and World Resources Institute, as well as a research intern at the US Embassy New Delhi and U.S. Senate. Will has unique linguistic, professional, and academic experience in the Indo-Pacific region: he was a Critical Language Scholar (Hindi, 2019) in India, and lived in Seoul and Taipei during his Schwarzman Scholarship year. He has proficiency in Mandarin and Hindi languages.

Will received a master's degree in Global Affairs from Tsinghua University as a Schwarzman Scholar and graduated cum laude with honors from Claremont McKenna College with a bachelor's degree in Environment, Economics, and Politics and a sequence in Human Rights studies.

Jo Desmone

Gender Data Assessor at Open Data Watch; Events Manager at Glifaa

As a recent graduate student at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, my master's studies centered on LGBTQIA+ inclusion in foreign and development policy. As a gender and social inclusion consultant I currently work with Open Data Watch to support the publication of their inaugural Gender Data Monitor and manage the events calendar for Glifaa, the Department of State’s LGBTQIA+ employee affinity and resource group. While a graduate student, I worked with Freedom House to evaluate and create trauma-sensitive programming for LGBTQIA+ Ukrainians effected by the war.

Previous experience includes working on the Democratic staff of the U.S. House of Representative’s Foreign Affairs Committee, participating in a DOS-administered fellowship program, the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX), and working with the Czech delegation of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

Previously, my bachelor’s and master’s degrees focused on International Affairs; with honors certificates in Global Inequality & Development + Global & Comparative Governance from American University; and Women, Peace, and Security + Diplomatic Studies from Georgetown University. I use my experiences in the public sector to enhance policies that promote equity, prevent inequality, and advocate for more inclusive practice.

At the center of my work is the desire to collaborate with and create communities of practice for promoting the human rights and political participation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT+), and other Gender and Sexual Minorities.

Affiliations: Glifaa, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, Women's Foreign Policy Network, Society for International Development