Keynote Speaker

Michèle Flournoy

Michèle Flournoy is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of WestExec Advisors, and a Co-Founder, former Chief Executive Officer, and now Chair of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Michèle served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from February 2009 to February 2012. She was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the formulation of national security and defense policy, oversight of military plans and operations, and in National Security Council deliberations. She led the development of defense strategy and represented the Department in dozens of foreign engagements, in the media and before Congress. Prior to confirmation, Michèle co-led President Obama’s transition team at the Defense Department. In January 2007, Michèle co-founded CNAS, a bipartisan think tank dedicated to developing strong, pragmatic, and principled national security policies. She served as CNAS’ President until 2009 and returned as CEO in 2014. In 2017, she co-founded WestExec Advisors, a strategic advisory firm. Previously, she was senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies for several years and, prior to that, a distinguished research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University (NDU). In the mid-1990s, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy. Michèle is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including: the NDIA Eisenhower Award (2021), the American Red Cross Exceptional Service Award (2016); the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service (1998, 2011, 2012); the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award (2000, 2012); the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service (1996); and CARE’s Global Peace, Development and Security Award (2019) She has edited several books and authored dozens of reports and articles on a broad range of defense and national security issues., and appears frequently in national and international media and is frequently quoted in top tier newspapers. Michèle serves on the boards of CNAS, Booz Allen Hamilton, Astra, Amida Technology Solutions, America’s Frontier Fund, The Gates Global Policy Center, The Mission Continues, The War Horse, and CARE. She serves on the advisory boards of The Leadership Council for Women in National Security, Special Competitive Studies Project, Sesame Workshop, Intel, RAND Corporation and PIMCO. She is a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a Distinguished Profession of the Practice at Georgia Tech’s Nunn School of International Affairs, a current member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group, a current member of the Defense Policy Board, and a former member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board the CIA Director’s External Advisory Board. Michèle earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University and a master’s degree in international relations from Balliol College, Oxford University, where she was a Newton-Tatum scholar.


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