Before Biden was officially inaugurated as 46th president of the United States, he appointed Tech professor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall as the White House homeland security adviser. Sherwood-Randall is a distinguished professor of the practice in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.
According to the New York Times, her appointment – along with several others – “show how Mr. Biden appears determined to rebuild a national security apparatus that critics of the Trump administration say withered for the past four years.”
Adam Stulberg, Nunn School chair, congratulated Sherwood-Randall in a recent news statement.
“We at the Nunn School are absolutely thrilled about Sherwood-Randall’s return to the senior ranks of government service – her professional calling,” Stulberg said. “Although we will miss her as a colleague, we look forward to her return and the infusion of new insights into our future programming.”
At Tech, Sherwood-Randall taught classes that focused on national energy security, sustainability and international cooperation, including INTA 3042: Energy & International Security. She also mentored students on government careers and assisted the Nunn School with new curricula such as a joint graduate program for Nuclear and Radiological Engineering students.
Her new position, White House homeland security adviser, is an appointment originally created by former President George W. Bush and strengthened by former President Barack Obama.
In a brief interview with the New York Times, Sherwood-Randall stated her immediate tasks for her position.
“We’re going to be dealing at once again with border security, biosecurity, global public health and strengthening the resilience of our democracy. The last of those have grown more urgent.”
In order to address these large issues, Sherwood-Randall must first deal with a rough transition into her new position. Before the end of his term, former President Donald Trump dismantled the National Security Council’s pandemic preparedness office and slowly weakened the previously existing cybersecurity team.
Ashton B. Carter, the former secretary of defense, who hired Sherwood-Randall during the Clinton administration, said a “challenge will be rebooting this office.”
In response to this, Sherwood-Randall stated, “It’s disturbing to be in a transition moment when there really aren’t counterparts for that transition to be handed off.”
Sherwood-Randall originally attended college at Harvard University and later received her doctorate in international relations as one of very early ranks of female Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.
She started her career as chief foreign affairs and defense policy adviser to then-Senator Biden.
In the Clinton administration, Sherwood-Randall served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. During this era, she reduced Cold War nuclear arsenals by developing a cooperative security framework with Russia. She also was integral in persuading three former USSR countries to denuclearize. For her work, she was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service and the Nunn-Lugar Trailblazer Award.
In Obama’s first term from 2009 to 2013, Sherwood-Randall served as special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs on the White House National Security Council. With this role, she advised the president on U.S. relations with 49 European countries and three international organizations. She also initiated efforts to advance U.S. global interests through partnerships with U.S. allies.
For the next two years, Sherwood-Randall served as special assistant to the president and the White House coordinator for defense policy. In this role, she worked to ensure the effectiveness of the United States’ nuclear deterrence and was able to serve as the presidential sherpa for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands.
Throughout the remainder of the Obama administration, from 2014 to 2017, Sherwood-Randall worked as the deputy secretary of the United States Department of Energy.
During this time, she initiated programs to secure the U.S. competitive edge on advanced national security technologies.
She also led energy, climate, and nuclear security talks with U.S. global partners such as China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
This year, Sherwood-Randall will join many Georgians in the Biden-Harris administration including chief official White House photographer Adam Schultz and deputy assistant to the president Stefanie Feldman.
“Having [individuals] from a particular state can ensure that issues that matter to our state are reflected and known by the individuals that serve to execute laws within the executive branch,” Joseph Watson, Jr., UGA professor, said in an interview with 11Alive News.
Based on her Twitter account, Sherwood-Randall plans to use her new appointment very seriously to aid, not just Georgia, but the whole nation as it continues to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the existing social and economic tensions.
She tweeted on Jan. 20, “Today, I have the privilege of returning to the White House to serve as Joe Biden’s Homeland Security Advisor, joining … dedicated professionals across the U.S. government and around the world who work 24/7 to secure our democratic values and our way of life.”
She continued in a subsequent tweet, “I will be stepping away from this Twitter account with the promise that I will give the Biden-Harris Administration and the American people everything I’ve got, always mindful of what’s at stake: our principles, our ideals, and our children’s futures.”