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Sarah Sewall is Executive Vice President for Policy at
In-Q-Tel In-Q-Tel (IQT), formerly Peleus and In-Q-It, is an American not-for-profit venture capital firm based in Arlington, Virginia. It invests in high-tech companies to keep the Central Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies, equipped wit ...
, a strategic investor for the national security community. A national security expert whose career spans government service and academia, she most recently served as
Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Under may refer to: * "Under" (Alex Hepburn song), 2013 * "Under" (Pleasure P song), 2009 *Bülent Ünder Bülent Ünder (born 16 April 1949) is a Turkish former professional football Football is a family of team sport A team is a man ...
, where she was the key architect of the Obama Administration's preventive approach to combatting
violent extremism Violent extremism is a form of extremism that condones and enacts violence with ideological or deliberate intent, such as religious or political violence. Violent extremist views can manifest in connection with a range of issues, including politics ...
abroad. At both the
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and
State Department The United States Department of State (DOS), or State Department, is an executive department The United States federal executive departments are the principal units of the Federal government of the United States, executive branch of the fede ...
, she built and led organizations that integrated security and human rights in their policy and operational work. She spent ten years as a professor at Harvard's
Kennedy School of Government The Harvard Kennedy School (officially the John F. Kennedy School of Government, or HKS) is the public policy school Public Policy schools are typically university programs which teach students policy analysis Policy analysis is a technique use ...
, where she directed the
Carr Center for Human Rights Policy The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy is a research center of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The Carr Center was founded in 1999 by Kennedy School alumnus Gregory C. Carr, Greg Carr, and has since developed focus area ...
. In partnership with U.S. military leaders, she helped revise U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine, led groundbreaking field assessments of U.S. civilian casualty mitigation efforts, and created new operational concepts for halting mass atrocities.


Early years

Sewall became interested in anti-satellite weapons during a Washington internship, turning this topic into her undergraduate honors thesis at Harvard. She did graduate work on strategic and international studies at
New College, Oxford New College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the ...

New College, Oxford
. She worked as a military analyst for the House Democratic Study Group before becoming Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell's Senior Foreign Policy Advisor in 1987. In that role, she was appointed to the bipartisan Senate Arms Control Observer Group, monitoring U.S. arms negotiations and treaty compliance. For six years, Sewall advised Mitchell and drafted legislation to halt U.S. nuclear testing, halt U.S. support for Cambodian rebels, oppose chemical weapons use in Iraq, and reform the
War Powers Resolution The War Powers Resolution (also known as the War Powers Resolution of 1973 or the War Powers Act) () is a federal law Federal law is the body of law created by the federal government of a count ...
.


DOD

In 1993, Sewall moved to the Pentagon, serving as the inaugural Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement Policy. She built the peacekeeping office mission, staff, and operations to provide equipment and services to the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
. She led Defense Department policy during the expansion of UN peacekeeping in Haiti, Somalia, and Bosnia. Under her leadership, the Peacekeeping Office also absorbed all
DOD The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an executive branch department of the federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-go ...
humanitarian policy and activities.


Harvard and military partnerships

In 2000, Sewall transitioned to academia, where she helped shape the field of civilian security. Sewall joined Harvard's
Kennedy School of Government The Harvard Kennedy School (officially the John F. Kennedy School of Government, or HKS) is the public policy school Public Policy schools are typically university programs which teach students policy analysis Policy analysis is a technique use ...
, where she launched the Project on the Means of Intervention, a ground-breaking forum for military and humanitarian actors to engage contentious questions about the conduct of war. Succeeding
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Michael Ignatieff
, Sewall served as director of the
Carr Center for Human Rights Policy The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy is a research center of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The Carr Center was founded in 1999 by Kennedy School alumnus Gregory C. Carr, Greg Carr, and has since developed focus area ...
for three years. She was also the Minerva Chair at the
U.S. Naval War College
U.S. Naval War College
in 2012. As a professor, Sewall taught classes on the tension between values and interests in US foreign policy and on the use of force for almost a decade. She is best known for her research on minimizing the effects of war upon civilian populations and her work with military actors to put these ideas into practice. She collaborated with General David Petraeus to revise U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine, making humanitarian issues central to the project, and writing an influential introduction to Field Manual FM 3-24. Sewall subsequently launched the MARO Project, a partnership with the U.S. Army Peacekeeping Institute, to develop an operational concept for intervening to halt mass atrocities. ''The MARO Handbook: A Military Planning Guide'', was incorporated into U.S. Army doctrine. Sewall also conceived and led the first major field study on civilian casualty mitigation, which she conducted in Afghanistan with an inter-service team of researchers over 2008-2009. The Joint Civilian Casualty Study, as the unclassified version is known, documented the viability of enhancing mission effectiveness while reducing civilian harm and provided recommendations for institutionalizing civilian protection.


Obama Campaign, Transition, and State Department

Sewall was an early foreign policy advisor to then-candidate
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government ...

Barack Obama
and served as a national surrogate during the 2008 campaign. She helped lead his pre-election transition effort and following the election directed the reviews of all national security, foreign policy, intelligence and development agencies before returning to Harvard. President Obama nominated Sewall to be Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights (known bureaucratically as "J") and she was confirmed on February 11, 2014. Sewall was responsible for integrating a reconfigured team of 5 bureaus and 3 offices with widely disparate missions, some 2,000 employees, and over $5 billion annual budget. An early strategic review process produced a joint J mission and three key priorities that guided Sewall's tenure: preventing the spread of violent extremism, preventing mass atrocities, and advancing the rule of law and anticorruption. She is credited with spearheading the Obama Administration's 2015 Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) policy and the associated White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism hosted by the
State Department The United States Department of State (DOS), or State Department, is an executive department The United States federal executive departments are the principal units of the Federal government of the United States, executive branch of the fede ...
. The policy harnessed non-military foreign assistance to prevent radicalization of vulnerable communities and elevated the role of civil society in prevention efforts. Sewall also consistently emphasized the importance of governance and human rights in the counterterrorism battle. The
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
ultimately adopted this comprehensive, rights-based approach, which it calls preventing violent extremism (PVE). Sewall also strengthened the State Department's ability to understand and prevent conflict, particularly mass killings of civilians. She worked to elevate corruption as a U.S. foreign policy priority and security issue. Sewall's personal diplomatic engagement focused on preventing conflict, terrorism, and atrocities in countries such as Nigeria, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, East Africa, Bangladesh, and Kazakhstan.


Personal life

Sewall has been married to Thomas P. Conroy since 1994. They have four daughters. Conroy served in the
Massachusetts House of Representatives The Massachusetts House of Representatives is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpo ...

Massachusetts House of Representatives
from 2007 to 2015.


References


External links


Sewall's faculty pageMass Atrocity Response Operations (MARO) Project homepage
* , - {{DEFAULTSORT:Sewall, Sarah 1961 births
Living people Related categories * :Year of birth missing (living people) / :Year of birth unknown * :Date of birth missing (living people) / :Date of birth unknown * :Place of birth missing (living people) / :Place of birth unknown * :Year of death mi ...
People from Boston Harvard College alumni American Rhodes Scholars Alumni of New College, Oxford Clinton administration personnel Harvard Kennedy School faculty Spouses of Massachusetts politicians Obama administration personnel American women diplomats American diplomats United States Special Envoys United States Under Secretaries of State 21st-century American women