This story was written by Edward-Michael Dussom, Harvard Crimson
Harvard Kennedy School professors Sarah B. Sewall 83 and John P. White joined President-elect Barack Obamas transition team last week, making them the latest in a long line of Harvard-affiliated appointments on the team.
Sewall joins the team after having advised the Obama campaign since 2007 on foreign policy and national security issues. She currently serves as the faculty director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, the Kennedy School institute once directed by former Obama campaign adviser Samantha Power.
The appointment of White, a professional economist and defense analyst, to Obamas Department of Defense Review Team continues his tradition of security-oriented public service: White served as deputy secretary of defense from 1995 to 1997 during the Clinton administration, and as assistant secretary of defense from 1977 to 1978 during the Carter administration.
As an adviser on the Pentagon review team, White will help to select candidates for positions within the department and prepare them for confirmation process.
Prior to his appointment, White conducted defense-policy research as a board member of the Kennedy Schools Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and chaired the schools Middle East Initiative.
Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former dean of the Kennedy School and founder of the Middle East Initiative, expressed strong support for Whites appointment. John White has terrific background for this task...and he is a man of impeccable judgement, said Nye, himself a former official in the Clinton Administration Defense Department and Carter Administration State Department.
The other professor, Sewall, is charged with managing and reviewing appointments to the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security, among others.
Lois E. Andreasen, the executive director of the Carr Center, said that Sewalls colleagues at the center felt that she would play in important role in the transition team as she had been very involved in the campaign.
Andreasen praised Sewalls ability to organize and unify divergent perspectives on sensitive issues, adding, I could see her transitioning herself into a position involving national security.
According to Andreasen, Sewalls work at the center focused on two major projects, both of which illustrated her passion for studying the interaction between humanitarian needs and armed conflict.
The Mass Atrocities Response Operations Project, which Sewall directs at the Carr Center, is a joint three-year project with the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute. The Harvard-based project studies the prevention of genocide and similar mass atrocities from an operational perspective, examining what roles should be played by the U.S. government, non-governmental organizations, and peacekeeping forces.
Additionally, Sewalls work with the National Security and Human Rights Program seeks, in Andreasens words, to weave humanitarian concerns into the practice of national security."
Both Sewall and White join a growing pantheon of Obama advisers with Harvard connections. Among his other advisers are a number of Obamas former Harvard Law School classmates and his former Law School professor, Christopher F. Edley, Jr. Edley is now the dean of the University of Califonia, Berkeleys Boalt Hall School of Law.