Rachel Kleinfeld already had a few years’ worth of human rights and economic development experience when she was working on her dissertation. But, as she traveled to more countries, she says, it suddenly became clear that neoconservative foreign policies “were making the world a lot less safe.” She knew she could try to do more work on the ground abroad, but she wanted make a broader change. So, she and a friend founded the Truman National Security Project. The goal? Changing America’s approach to foreign policy, and creating policies that create “a safe and stable world so we can have a secure and strong America.” No big deal, right?
Kleinfeld, 36, grew up in a log house on a dirt road in Alaska, but she says she’s been interested in politics since a 4th-grade food drive for the Ethiopian famine. She has worked as a consultant for several government agencies and private organizations (including the World Bank, the European Union, and Booz Allen Hamilton), has served as an elections monitor in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and is a Rhodes Scholar and a Truman Scholar. The Truman Project trains progressive politicians and staffers on national security issues, and does public education and advocacy about foreign policy. Kleinfeld says she would love to see more women — and more diversity, in general — in the national security realm, because people from different backgrounds have different experiences to bring to the table. “We really hurt ourselves when we have a lot of people with the same background, the same education, the same upbringing,” she says.
Kleinfeld’s work with Truman is far from done, she notes. She hopes to do more writing and speaking, particularly about how to make the government work better. And she hopes for something she’d like to see more of in politics: A better work- life balance.
Photo: Courtesy of The Truman Project