President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday announced new national security nominations.
The President named Brenda Sue Fulton as Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Department of Defense; Donald Lu, Nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Department of State; Christopher Maier, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict, Department of Defense; Sarah Margon, Nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State; Deborah Rosenblum, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense, Department of Defense; Shawn Skelly, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Readiness, Department of Defense and Jessica Lewis, Nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Department of State.
Brenda Sue Fulton, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Department of Defense.
Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton graduated West Point in 1980, in the first class to admit women. She served as a platoon leader, staff officer, and company commander in Germany before her honorable discharge at the rank of Captain. During a 25-year career in brand management at Fortune 100 companies, she gained expertise in budget management, cross-functional team leadership, and strategic communications. Continuing to mentor West Point cadets and junior officers, Fulton helped found Knights Out and OutServe, both organizations key in the battle to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Fulton founded and led SPARTA to successfully end the transgender ban, while at the same time providing counsel to Army leaders on removing the combat exclusion rule and integrating women in the combat arms. In 2011, President Obama appointed her as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors, and she was later elected Chair (twice) with strong bipartisan support. During 8 years on the Board, she successfully advocated for significant increases in admissions of Black, Latino, and women cadets. In 2017, she was appointed to the Board of Visitors of the National Defense University.
Since 2018, Fulton has served NJ under Governor Phil Murphy as Chief Administrator of the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), an agency of 2,200 employees that generates ~$1.8 billion in annual revenue. During her tenure, she completely transformed and modernized NJ Motor Vehicles systems. In 2012, Fulton and Penny Gnesin were the first same-sex couple to wed in West Point’s Cadet Chapel. In 2019, after 24 years together, Penny died of breast cancer. Fulton continues to live in Asbury Park, NJ.
Donald Lu, Nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Department of State
Donald Lu, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, has been U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic since 2018. Previously, Lu was U.S. Ambassador to Albania. He has also served as Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy New Delhi, India, Deputy Chief of Mission and the Chargé d’affaires, U.S. Embassy Baku, Azerbaijan and Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. Earlier, Lu was the Deputy Director, Office of Central Asian and South Caucasus Affairs, for the Department of State and, before that, the Special Assistant to the Ambassador for the Newly Independent States. He also held postings in India, Georgia, and Pakistan. Lu earned M.A. and B.A. degrees from Princeton University. He is the recipient of the Rockwell Anthony Schnabel Award for advancing U.S.-European Union relations. Ambassador Lu speaks and reads Albanian, Russian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, West African Krio, Hindi and Urdu.
Christopher Maier, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict, Department of Defense
Christopher P. Maier has served in national security roles across five Presidential Administrations and is currently the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. In this role, he advises the Secretary of Defense on all special operations, irregular warfare, counterterrorism, and information operations policy issues, and oversees all special operations administrative matters. Maier previously led the Defeat-ISIS Task Force charged with integrating Department of Defense efforts in the campaign to achieve the enduring defeat of ISIS. Maier was appointed as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism in the Obama-Biden Administration.
Before moving to the Department of Defense, he held a variety of leadership and staff positions at the National Counterterrorism Center, focused on planning and analysis. Maier was detailed from 2009 to 2013 to the National Security Council staff, where he authored the 2011 National Strategy for Counterterrorism. He began his government career as an intelligence analyst on Middle East and Africa issues. He continues to serve as an officer in the Air National Guard. Originally from California, Maier earned degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Sarah Margon, Nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State
Sarah Margon currently serves as the U.S. Foreign Policy Director at the Open Society Foundations. Previously, she served as Washington Director and, before that, Deputy Washington Director for Human Rights Watch. Margon also was Associate Director for Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding at the Center for American Progress and Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Russ Feingold and Staff Director for the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs. Earlier in her career she was Humanitarian and Conflict Policy advisor for Oxfam America. Margon holds an M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a B.A. in American Studies from Wesleyan University.
Deborah Rosenblum, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense, Department of Defense
Deborah G. Rosenblum currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-profit dedicated to transforming global security by driving systemic solutions to nuclear and biological threats. Ms. Rosenblum is part of NTI’s executive leadership team and helps oversee the organization’s threat reduction programs, operations and development as well as co-chairs NTI’s task force on diversity, equity and inclusion. Ms. Rosenblum serves as the President of the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship which is dedicated to developing next generation talent and capacity.
Prior to assuming her position at NTI in 2009, Ms. Rosenblum was a vice president with The Cohen Group, an international consulting firm. She also served as a career civil servant for 12 years in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, including as a member of the Senior Executive Service. Ms. Rosenblum worked in the areas of nuclear forces, counter-proliferation policy, countering narcotics, homeland defense, and peacekeeping operations and support. She also represented the United States in multi-year bilateral negotiations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea around its nuclear program. Ms. Rosenblum holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College. She is fluent in French.
Shawn Skelly, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Readiness, Department of Defense
Shawn Skelly served over twenty years in the U.S. Navy as a Naval Flight Officer flying the S-3 Viking and retired from active duty as a Commander. Her career included multiple carrier deployments, duty as a Fleet Replacement flight instructor, and staff tours attached to the U.S. Second Fleet, United States Pacific Command, and the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. She worked in industry with ITT Exelis and CACI International supporting Department of Defense offices and programs. Skelly joined the Obama-Biden Administration in 2013 as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, as Coordinator of the Defense Department’s Warfighter Senior Integration Group. She later served as Director, Office of the Executive Secretariat, U.S. Department of Transportation. President Obama appointed her in 2017 to serve as a Commissioner on the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, which was established to conduct a review of the military selective service process and consider methods to increase participation in military, national, and public service to address national security and other public service needs of the Nation. The Commission issued its final report to Congress in March 2020. She also served as a member of the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition Defense Agency Review Team.
Skelly is Vice President and Co-Founder of Out in National Security, a member of the Atlantic Council’s LGBTI Advisory Council, and a member of the Service Year Alliance Leadership Council. She received a B.A. in History from the University of South Carolina and a M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the College of Naval Command & Staff, U.S. Naval War College.
Jessica Lewis, Nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Department of State
Jessica Lewis currently serves as Democratic Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Previously, from 2007 – 2014, she was the National Security Advisor and Foreign Policy Advisor, and then Senior National Security Advisor, to Senate Majority/Minority Leader Harry Reid. Earlier, Lewis was the Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Robert Menendez and, before that the Democratic Staff Director for the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, Ranking Member Robert Menendez. She also worked as Manager, New Initiative Development, and as Manager, Net Corps America, at the Organization of American States. Lewis received an MPA degree from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, an MA degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a BA degree from Haverford College.