Leah Scheunemann is the deputy director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. In her role, she oversees the Initiative’s programming and research covering US transatlantic policy, NATO defense policy, and European security.
Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, Scheunemann served in the Pentagon and was most recently a special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for policy overseeing matters related to international security. In this capacity she managed and advised the undersecretary on defense policy related to NATO, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa, and led coordination on international issues with the secretary of defense’s office. Previously in the undersecretary’s office, Scheunemann led on functional policy issues, including implementation of the National Defense Strategy, Missile Defense Strategy, and Nuclear Posture Review, while also overseeing force posture, homeland defense, cyber, space, technology, and security cooperation issues. Scheunemann began her time in the Pentagon as the secretary of defense’s country director for the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland in the European and NATO Affairs office. Notably, she was given the Secretary of Defense’s Award for Outstanding Achievement for her accomplishments, including founding a cross-Pentagon program to enhance cooperation with the UK on next-generation capabilities. Scheunemann was also twice awarded the Secretary of Defense’s Medal for Exceptional Public Service for her work in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
Formerly, Scheunemann was a professional staff member at the Senate Armed Services Committee and had responsibility for readiness, logistics, maintenance, and budget issues, while also supporting NATO and European defense policy. Prior to the Hill, Scheunemann was a research assistant at the Center for European Policy Analysis, and also had internships at the Washington Free Beacon and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Scheunemann is a Master of Public and International Affairs candidate at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where her research focuses on international security policy and the rise of populism in Central Europe. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from American University and spent a wonderful year abroad at the Charles University in Prague, Czechia and the Free University in Berlin, Germany.