Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, PhD

CISAC Senior Research Scholar
Senior Adviser, Preventive Defense Project

Stanford University
Encina Hall
Stanford, CA 94305-6165

Research Interests

national security; proliferation prevention; defense leadership and management; alliance relations; Europe, NATO and the European Union; the former Soviet Union; Central Asia; China


Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was a senior research scholar at CISAC and named special assistant to President Obama and senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council in January 2009.

Prior to her appointment, Sherwood-Randall served as a founding senior adviser to the Preventive Defense Project (PDP), a Stanford-Harvard initiative that focuses on security problems and threats. She also was an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Her work focuses on American national security challenges, including preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, defense leadership and management, and alliance politics.

This is the second time Sherwood-Randall has served in the executive branch. From 1994 to 1996 during the first Clinton administration, she was deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. In this role, she developed and implemented regional security policy toward the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, including Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, and also established defense and military relationships. Sherwood-Randall was instrumental in extending NATO's Partnership for Peace program across Eurasia and in building the foundation for cooperation between Russia and NATO in the joint peacekeeping operation in Bosnia. For her work at the Pentagon, she was awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal by then-Secretary of Defense William Perry, who now co-directs the PDP at Stanford.

From 2007 to 2008, Sherwood-Randall was a member of the Review Panel on Future Directions for Defense Threat Reduction Agency Missions and Capabilities to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction. In 2008, she served on the National Security Strategy and Policies Expert Working Group that advised the Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, which Perry also leads.

Prior to her service in the Department of Defense, Sherwood-Randall was co-founder and associate director of Harvard's Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project. She also has served as chief foreign affairs and defense policy adviser to then Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and as a guest scholar in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution.

Sherwood-Randall earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar in 1981.