Ash Carter

Ash Carter

Formal First Name
Ashton (Ash)
1954 - present

Ashton Carter served as the 25th United States Secretary of Defense and the current Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, where he leads the Technology and Public Purpose project. He is also an Innovation Fellow and Corporation Member at MIT. For over 35 years, Sect. Carter has leveraged his experience in national security, technology, and innovation to defend the United States and make a better world. He became known for his savvy leadership and for ensuring the Pentagon thought “outside its five-sided box.” In addition to his government service, Carter has taught at many of the world’s outstanding academic institutions. He was a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a lecturer at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He also was a Senior Executive at the Markle Foundation, helping its Economic Future Initiative advance technology strategies to enable Americans to flourish in a networked global economy. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group. In addition, Carter is author or co-author of 11 books and more than 100 articles on physics, technology, national security, and management.

Professional Experience

Academic History


  • He led the creation of the military campaign and international coalition to destroy ISIS, and designed and executed the strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific.

  • He established a new playbook for the U.S. and NATO to confront Russia’s aggression, and launched a national cyber strategy.

  • He spearheaded new technological capabilities and a more agile approach to the relationship between the Pentagon and the tech sector.

  • He steered strategy and budget through the turmoil of sequester and ensured the future of the force and its institutional best practices.

  • He transformed the way DoD recruits, trains, and retains quality people, including opening all military positions to women without exception

  • He also served on the Defense Policy Board, Defense Science Board, and the Secretary of State's International Security Advisory Board.


  • He provides unique insights into how leaders can challenge the status quo and prepare their organizations to compete in a changing world.

  • He offers an insider’s informed point of view relating to cybersecurity, terrorism and other hot-button concerns.



  • 5x Distinguished Public Service Medal, Department of Defense (1994, 1995, 2010, 2012, 2013)

  • Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award, Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff (2013, 2017)

  • Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Award, Center for Strategic & International Studies (2017)

  • Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award, Department of the Air Force (2017)

  • Eisenhower Award, Business Executives for National Security (2016)

  • Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service (2015)

  • W. Stuart Symington Award, Air Force Association (2014)

  • Distinguished Civilian Service Award, Department of the Army (2013)

  • Distinguished Public Service Award, Department of the Navy (2013)

  • Defense Intelligence Medal, Defense Intelligence Agency (1998)