UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State School of International Affairs (SIA) students had a surprise visitor on Friday afternoon. Laura Rosenberger, Penn State alumna and foreign policy adviser for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, stopped by SIA and sat down with students for a conversation about her position on the campaign and her prior experience in a range of foreign policy and national security positions at the State Department and the White House National Security Council.
Rosenberger gave a brief overview of her professional background, which started as a presidential management fellow with the State Department. While she never thought she would be working on a political campaign, she accepted the position as an opportunity for professional growth. She pointed out that most voters don’t put foreign policy at the top of their list when they go to the polls, and she has to figure out how to make foreign policy issues relevant.
“I always thought I was a policy person, but this is a unique position,” she said. “I have to explain and articulate to a voter in Scranton that what China is doing matters to them; or how our alliance with Japan is beneficial to a voter in Pittsburgh.”
Working in foreign policy on a partisan political campaign forced Rosenberger to make a mindset shift. During her time at the State Department and the National Security Council, when a major, global event occurred, her responsibilities included coming up with solutions to the issue, whereas on the campaign, her responsibility is to relate the issue to voters.
“For example with the recent Belgium attacks, when I was in government foreign policy, I’m looking at policy solutions; but in political foreign policy, I’m looking at how to explain this to voters,” she said. “In this field you need to learn lots of information and think through problems very fast.”
Rosenberger coordinates development of the campaign’s national security policies, messaging and strategy. Prior to joining the campaign, she served for over a decade in a range of foreign policy and national security positions at the State Department and National Security Council. Most recently, she served as chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and as then-Deputy National Security Adviser Blinken’s senior adviser, advising him on the full range of national security policy.
In her role at the National Security Council, she managed the interagency Deputies Committee, the U.S. government’s senior-level interagency decision-making forum on our country’s most pressing national security issues. She also has extensive background in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Northeast Asia. She served as National Security Council director for China and Korea and in a variety of positions focused on the Asia-Pacific region at the State Department, including managing U.S.-China relations and addressing North Korea’s nuclear programs. She served as special assistant to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, advising him on Asia-Pacific affairs and on nonproliferation and arms control issues. She graduated Penn State in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and received her master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University in 2004.