Dr. Sarah Sewall is a longtime advocate for advancing civilian security and human rights around the world. Her engagement with both the academic and policy worlds serves as a model for those who wish to bridge the academia-policy divide. Dr. Sewall earned her PhD at Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She went on to serve as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, then became the first Deputy Assistant Secretary for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance in the Department of Defense. She has taught at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, directed the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard, and served on President Obama's national security and foreign policy transition team. Dr. Sewall was sworn in as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights on February 20, 2014.
Dr. Sewall received our "Engaged Policy Maker" award and discussed Countering Violent Extremism, the U.S. Government's comprehensive, civilian-led approach for violent extremist threats like ISIL. The Under Secretary described how the evolution of violent extremism since the 9/11 attacks necessitates a more proactive, "whole of society" approach that emphasizes civil society, human rights and good governance to prevent the spread and emergence of violent extremism around the world.