GSPIA alumna Allison (Varricchio) Iannarino (MID ‘15) just ended her 18-month appointment on the National Security Council at the White House.
As the Director of Afghanistan, Iannarino led a full interagency team to develop policy recommendations for the President and National Security Advisor on issues such as counterterrorism, relocating Afghans at risk, providing humanitarian assistance and economic stabilization support to benefit the Afghan people, and promoting of human rights and women’s rights.
Iannarino also played a major role in leading negotiations to secure the release of Mark Frerichs, a U.S. citizen held hostage in Afghanistan for nearly three years.
“The most surprising part of my detail was being able to see the totality of the U.S. government in motion,” she said.
“I gained a deep appreciation for how the different skills, expertise, and perspectives are utilized to solve complex problems and implement policy directives.”
For those students interested in working in national security, Iannarino offers her words of wisdom:
“The key to success is being able to effectively distill complex problems into their core elements in order to make recommendations for decision makers,” she shared.
“My advice for anyone interested in working in national security is to concentrate on developing your tangible skills in addition to developing subject matter expertise. Mastering foundational skills such as policy analysis, oral briefing, and writing is essential. These skills will transfer to any job you have in the national security space, regardless of the subject matter you are working on.”
Iannarino’s work on the NSC on such a challenging account was far from easy. “The hours are long, the expectations are high, and the pace can often be grueling, but the work is done in true service to our country,” Iannarino shared. “I gave it my all over the last 18 months, and I left my ‘clap out’ feeling incredibly proud. The NSC team is composed of the most hard working, dedicated, and creative professionals. They represent the best of our public service, and I am honored to be one of them.”