Expertise: Asia-Pacific, Middle East, U.S. foreign policy, defense policy
Kelly Magsamen is the vice president for National Security and International Policy at American Progress.
Prior to joining American Progress, she served in various national security positions. From 2014 to 2017, Magsamen was the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs and performed the duties of assistant secretary of defense. In these positions, she was a lead adviser to the secretary of defense for U.S. defense policy and strategy across the Indo-Asia-Pacific, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Prior to her tenure at the Pentagon, Magsamen served on the National Security Council (NSC) staff for two presidents and four national security advisers. As special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning from 2012 to 2014, she was responsible for long-term planning and helped craft the 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy. From 2011 to 2012, she served as senior adviser for Middle East reform during the height of the Arab Spring. As NSC director for Iran from 2008 to 2011, she was responsible for coordinating U.S. policy on Iran.
Magsamen began her government career as a presidential management fellow at the U.S. State Department, where she worked on Iraq policy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2005 to 2006, at the U.S. Mission to NATO in 2007, and as special assistant and chief of staff to the counselor from 2007 to 2008.
Magsamen received her bachelor’s degree from American University and her master’s from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Department of Defense, the Agency Seal Medal from the CIA, and multiple Superior Honor Awards from the State Department. Magsamen also currently serves on the Advisory Board for Foreign Policy for America, the Advisory Council of National Security Action, and the Policy and Strategy Advisory Board for the Texas National Security Review. She is a frequent national security commentator on CNN and MSNBC.