Celeste Ward Gventer Joins the Strauss Center as Associate Director

Oct. 7, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — Celeste Ward Gventer, a defense policy expert, has been named associate director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas at Austin.

Gventer, who will join the Strauss Center in November, has extensive U.S. Department of Defense and foreign policy experience. She is a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.

Gventer's appointment as associate director follows Ambassador Gregory W. Engle's retirement to pursue a music career. Engle, a career diplomat and Foreign Service officer with international, management and policy experience, helped shape the Strauss Center's operational capabilities and improve its research capacity. Engle has been named a Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and will continue to participate in the center.

"Celeste brings an incredible depth of knowledge and policy experience to the Strauss Center," said Francis J. Gavin, the Strauss Center's director. "We are thrilled she is joining us, and we look forward to working with her to continue providing policy-relevant solutions to the biggest global challenges of today."

Gventer was previously the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Stability Operations Capabilities in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, providing policy advice regarding effective stabilization and reconstruction and counterinsurgency operations. She also served two tours in Iraq with the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003-04 and as politico-military adviser to the Multi-National Corps­-Iraq Commander for 2006. Gventer has also worked as a special assistant to the counselor of the State Department, a strategist in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a defense analyst at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office.

"The Strauss Center is fast becoming a significant voice on international policy only a few short years after its founding," said Gventer. "Its interdisciplinary approach, together with the world-class faculty and staff at The University of Texas, give it a unique capability. I am thrilled and honored to be joining such a distinguished and capable organization."

Gventer is known for her knowledge of military and defense operations, on-the-ground practical considerations and broad understanding of policy and strategy.

"Celeste is one of the brightest talents in the new generation of America's national security leaders," said Philip D. Zelikow, the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia and former counselor to the Secretary of State. "Tempered by war zones and Washington, she is fluent in grand strategy, but she also knows well what happens when high concepts have to hit the ground running."

"Celeste will bring to the Strauss Center her distinctive perspective that she has developed through diverse experiences with national security issues — on the ground in Iraq, across the interagency in Washington, D.C., and as a scholar and analyst," said Drew Erdmann, a former State Department and National Security Council official. "She is thoughtful, provocative and willing to challenge received wisdom."

Gventer received her master of public policy degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and her bachelor of arts degree in political science from Stanford University. She is the recipient of the Global War on Terrorism Civilian Service Medal, the U.S. Army Superior Civilian Service Award and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

For more information, contact: Kerri Battles, Admin Systems Modernization Program, 512-232-4054.

9 Comments to "Celeste Ward Gventer Joins the Strauss Center as Associate Director"

1.  Gerry Rosenthal said on Feb. 2, 2012

Ms. Gventner, my wife and I just watched the 2/2/20112 PBS segment with you and Gen. Keane. Thank you for your courage and intelligence, to espouse our feelings on the subject of Afghanistan. Please keep speaking your mind, and we will do the same.

Gerry Rosenthal
Great Falls VA

2.  ed dingilian said on Feb. 2, 2012

Congratulations to Celeste Gventer for her clear and cogent analysis of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, as she expressed it in this evening's PBS Nightly News Report (2/2/12) It is hugely comforting to know that someone with her experience working with institutions such as the Rand Corporation, and the prior U.S. Administration that have had it so wrong for so long in Afghanistan, herself has it so right, and expresses it so openly. The nation very much needs that type of thinking in its foreign policy.

3.  George Knaak said on Feb. 2, 2012

As a long time PBS NEWSHOUR watcher, I was happy to hear you and your views on Afghanistan. Thank you for your incite. Wish it were policy.
George Knaak

4.  William E. Stack, Jr said on Feb. 2, 2012

It was with a great deal satisfaction that I listened to your foreign policy analyst on NPT tonight. You were very impressive, keep up the good work. I hope to both see and hear more from you in the future.

Buddy Stack

5.  Jane Wright said on Feb. 2, 2012

Hello, Celeste,

I just returned from a rather personal conversation with Marvin Zonis at the University of Chicago (Feb 2nd, Chicago Club) and I need to tell you that your appearance on WTTW tonight is so beautifully in sync with Prof Zonis sentiments, and I fully agree! we were, and never should have been at war with the Taliban. I feel very sorry that when the Taliban swoop back into Afghanistan, it's not our problem. Unfortunately, it has never been in our national interest to be there and lose so many lives, both American and Afghanistan. by the way, I'm an old friend and classmate of Don Rumsfeld. He was everyone's buddy, but......... it has been a tragedy.

6.  alice stolzberg said on Feb. 2, 2012

It was very nice to hear a comment on the useles of continuing the current war. To hear someone speak out in a coherent manner re: the pointlessness and the lack of strategic gain was refresshing. So often there is a milk toast comment when clearly the person making the comment is not in favor of the current action. You should appear more frequently to give clear balance to the subjemt.

7.  D Bulow said on Feb. 3, 2012

CWG in the PBS NewsHour last night (2/2/12) and I got to wondering if George Kennan had conducted his private life according to principles of "realism" and if so how had it worked out for him? The usual hash? We can't know how things will eventuate and yet we have to try to do the right thing in the here and now.

8.  TERENCE HONIKMAN said on Feb. 3, 2012

Saw you on PBS last night and was so impressed. Googled you and found, (small world), that you went (initially) to Stanford for Aero where I did a PhD in Aero/Astro 1970. Would love to connect and follow your thoughts/ideas on politics/econ and security. Expect to see you on Fareed one of these days.
Hope to hear from you,

9.  Gilber H. Martinez, Sr. said on Feb. 9, 2012

The interview you recently gave on the PBS News Hour was both enlightening and informative. I am a Vietnam Veteran. I strongly opposed the Iraq War. Now I'm quite involved in opposition of the Afghanistan War. Please feel free to communicate your thoughts about the unending war in Afghanistan. Those thoughts may help me better to communicate with others. Thanks.