The Atlantic Council and The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF) are very pleased to announce a new partnership, which takes the form of an incubation agreement. DEF is an independent, not-for-profit group of emerging defense leaders that strive to solve national security problems from the bottom-up by exposing Defense professionals to the techniques and experiences of civilian innovators and social entrepreneurs. This agreement facilitates the establishment and growth of DEF and gives them the tools to become nonprofit thought leaders in the national security arena. The agreement features the formation of a Board of Directors, which will meet for the first time today.

One of the primary items on the Board’s agenda is DEF’s third annual flagship conference, which will take place in Chicago on November 6-8, 2015. The conference is a unique opportunity for military intrapreneurs and veteran entrepreneurs to interact and connect to push their ideas forward.

The Board Members are Daniel Y. Chiu, Deputy Director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and Director of the Strategy Initiative; General James Cartwright; John Haederle, Executive Vice President of Finance and Operations at the Atlantic Council; Rachael Dean, Vice President of Public Relations at Javelin; and Steven Grundman, the George Lund Fellow for Emerging Defense Challenges.

DEF Founder and Chairman Ben Kohlmann spoke highly about the Atlantic Council as a “unique partner that deeply understands the mission and values of DEF and is well-positioned to help foster our primary objectives. We are excited to start this mutually-beneficial relationship and enthusiastic about how this partnership will further amplify the voices of emerging leaders in the national security space.”

Mr. Kohlmann took part in and won the 2014 Take Point Initiative, a contest organized by the Atlantic Council’s Millennium Leadership Program in partnership with the Bob Woodruff Foundation that engages post-9/11 veterans transitioning to careers as nonprofit and thought leaders in the policy field. DEF received a $25,000 grant. Subsequently, the Atlantic Council and DEF joined in a partnership that will incubate the organization and guide them to the next level.

The partnership is being coordinated by the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, and will add to the Center’s work on defense and national security strategies and policies, while augmenting DEF’s mission to foster and promote innovation. Through the incubation agreement, the Brent Scowcroft Center will engage new audiences, reach younger constituents, and help foster a new generation of policy leaders in international defense and security.

“This groundbreaking partnership lends the resources and networks of the Atlantic Council to the growth of high-potential organizations like DEF,” said Barry Pavel, Vice President, Arnold Kanter Chair, and Director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. “This partnership allows the Atlantic Council to help build future leaders in international affairs and both organizations to magnify their reach and impact.”

To learn more about this partnership, please email

Related Experts: Daniel Y. Chiu and Steven Grundman