1. Meet Our Leadership Team

    President: Liesl Carter is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force and currently serves as the communications team chief for the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Executive Action Group.  As chief, she oversees all speechwriting, congressional testimony, and correspondence for the Air Force’s Secretary, Under Secretary, Chief of Staff, Vice Chief of Staff, and Assistant Vice Chief of Staff.  Colonel Carter began her career after graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 1993.  She earned her wings in 1995 and is a command pilot with over 2,800 military flying hours in the KC-135R/T, T-38, and T-37.  During her career, Colonel Carter has served in a variety of squadron, group, and headquarters positions including evaluator pilot, chief of group training, assistant director of operations, and as an Air Force intern in the Department of Defense Air Warfare Acquisitions office and on the Headquarters Air Force staff in the Checkmate Division.  Colonel Carter has combat tours in Operations SOUTHERN and NORTHERN WATCH, ALLIED FORCE, ENDURING FREEDOM, and IRAQI FREEDOM, and served as the detachment commander for the 429 Interagency Task Force – South.  Most recently, Colonel Carter served as a National Security Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  In her civilian occupation, she is a commercial airline pilot and is type rated in the B-757, B-767 and B-747-400 aircraft.

    Vice President: Sahana Dharmapuri is an independent gender advisor with over a decade of experience providing policy advice and training on gender, peace, and security issues to USAID, NATO, The Swedish Armed Forces, The United States Institute for Peace, international development consulting firms, and NGOs. Ms. Dharmapuri has garnered numerous awards for her work on women, peace and security issues. She was appointed a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2011-2013) and an Investing in Women in Development Fellow at the United States Agency for International Development  (2003 to 2005). In 2000, Ms. Dharmapuri was invited by His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s Foundation for Universal Responsibility in New Delhi, India to conceptualize and facilitate their first conflict-transformation program for young women from India and Pakistan. In 1999, Ms. Dharmapuri was selected to be a member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders. Her writing has appeared in the  Christian Science Monitor, Human Rights Quarterly, The Global Responsibility to Protect Journal, The Global Observatory, The Providing For Peacekeeping Project,  and Parameters: The Senior Professional Journal of the US Army.   She received a Masters Degree in Middle East Studies and a Masters Degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago in 1997, and her BA from The University of Chicago in Anthropology in 1992.  She is currently a member of the US Civil Society Working Group on the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. Her writing has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Human Rights Quarterly, and Parameters.  

    Secretary:  Anne O’Connell, West Haven, CT, is a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Coast Guard. She has commanded four Coast Guard ships, including one in the Middle East conducting international security missions as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and one in the Caribbean responsible for regional security priorities including counter-narcotic, anti-human trafficking, and other operations. In June of 2012, Anne was selected as a White House Fellow, and served her fellowship year at the Domestic Policy Council where she assisted the Director for Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Military Families in implementing national level policy and Presidential priorities across the Federal government. Anne’s military decorations include four Coast Guard Commendation medals, the Iraqi Campaign medal and multiple unit awards. She received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy where she was a member of the National Political Science Honor Society and a Second Team All-American in Rowing. Anne also holds a Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

    Our Leadership Team with Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Michelle Flournoy at W3D’s Launch Event on August 20, 2013.

    (From left: Liesl Carter, Michelle Flournoy, Anne O’Connell, Sahana Dharmapuri)

  2. About Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development (W3D)

    The Harvard Kennedy School Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development (W3D) alumni group is an innovative network, and the first Kennedy School of Government alumni network dedicated to connecting and cultivating women to become global leaders who work together toward sustainable peace. 

    Founded in 2012, by three HKS alumni, W3D aims to build trust and collaboration between the defense, diplomacy, and development sectors to create holistic foreign policy decisions and solutions.  Based on the knowledge that trusted relationships and inclusive groups are the key to real collaboration and positive change, W3D seeks to tap the under-utilized power of women as influential global leaders for sustainable peace through gender equality.

    Our Mission - Connect and Lead:

    W3D builds on the core concept of connect, then lead by bringing together alumni and connecting them with the common goal of sustainable peace through gender equality.  The mission of W3D is to cultivate women leaders, build trust, and foster international peace and security.  W3D is a unique alumni network because its members value taking the time to establish close and long-lasting relationships through regular small group work. 

    We recognize that successful actions depend on the connections we make, and believe small interventions have the potential to make a big impact through network effects, such as:

    • Trailblazing—Finding new opportunities to use expertise
    • Teamwork and Peer Mentoring—Using personal interactions and trusted relationships to access other’s expertise and to share your own expertise
    • Translation—Helping decision-makers understand complex problems, and find balanced and well-informed solutions