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Heather Hurlburt      

Director of the New Models of Policy Change Project, New America's Political Reform Program & Former Speechwriter to President Bill Clinton

Heather Hurlburt is the director of the New Models of Policy Change project at New America's Political Reform program. Hurlburt leads research into how policy advocacy can adapt to be effective in our current environment of intense political polarization and guides advocates and funders seeking to navigate politics effectively on behalf of policy solutions on issues such as national security and climate change.

Hurlburt is a contributor to New York Magazine; has published articles in Politico, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Fortune, Vox, and Time, among other publications. She co-hosts the Drezburt podcast and frequently appears in print and broadcast media.

Previously, she ran the National Security Network, a premier source for internationalist foreign policy messaging and advocacy, held senior positions in the White House and State Department under President Bill Clinton, and worked on Capitol Hill and for the International Crisis Group.

Her policy work focused primarily on the politics of U.S. foreign policy, counter-terrorism and resilience, and the nexus of civilian and military approaches to conflict resolution.

Before joining the National Security Network, Hurlburt ran her own communications and strategy practice, working on global and political issues with political, entertainment, and educational leaders. From 1995-2001, Hurlburt served in the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant and Speechwriter to the President, speechwriter for Secretaries of State Albright and Christopher, and member of the State Department's Policy Planning staff.

She has also worked for the International Crisis Group, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Congressional Helsinki Commission.

In 2012, Hurlburt was named to Foreign Policy Magazine's "FP Top 50" and again in January of 2013, Foreign Policy Magazine featured Hurlburt as one of the 10 women the Obama administration should appoint to a top national security job. She appears frequently as a commentator in print and news media and her work has been published by the New York Times, US News and World Report, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Guardian, POLITICO, and New Republic.

Hurlburt holds a Bachelor's degree from Brown University and a Master's from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.

Speech Topics

Leaning In, Leaning Out, Moving Up

Amid the heated debate over what women should expect—and what should be expected of them—at the highest levels of the business and government world, Heather Hurlburt brings a unique point for view as an insider. Heather was the only female speechwriter for the first female Secretary of State and a speechwriter for then-Senator Hillary Clinton. Heather also spent a decade as a manager in nonprofits, working across generations to promote women in the national security field. She is a leading voice in her own right in a field in which women are still under-represented. In this talk, Heather speaks to her own experience as a professional, mother of a special-needs child, and daughter of a woman denied her own diplomatic ambitions and shares her keen eye on what is and isn’t changing for women writ large.

Drones and the American Way of War

Technology now makes it possible to follow, target and destroy a car, individual or particular room in a house from thousands of miles away—without putting US boots on the ground or lives at risk. But experts disagree about when the use of drones and remote, targeted killing are legal; how many killings of innocent civilians they involve; and whether they are actually the most effective way of dealing with the threat posed by terrorism. In this talk, Heather Hurlburt discusses her two decades spent either making or following national security policy in Washington, including the current debates over whether, how and where more oversight or restrictions on America’s drone wars are likely or wise.

Transpartisanship—Is it possible?

It’s common to hear Americans lament the passing of an age when republicans and democrats met and compromised for the common good. Today there is quiet cooperation between the parties in Washington, but based—instead of compromise—on finding issues and approaches that reinforce a sense of ideological purity among centrists and conservatives, or liberals and libertarians, alike. Heather Hurlburt has been in the forefront of efforts at building new alliances on civil liberties and Pentagon reform, and in this talk she discusses the prospects and limits of this approach and what it means for the health of our democracy.


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