Nicholas Wilson ‘05
Special Assistant to the Secretary
United States Air Force
“My journey from the Patterson School to the Pentagon was not direct, but included several essential stops: first at a think tank, then with the aerospace/defense industry, and finally in politics. Working on the 2008 presidential campaign turned out to be just the right ticket to land a political appointment as a special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force.
I arrived at Patterson with a UK degree in political science, an interest in Africa, and a solid year's experience working in politics at the state level. At Patterson I concentrated on diplomacy with a minor in development, taking a raft of economics courses — but not a single class on defense or security issues. Who knew that my career trajectory would center upon defense, business, and politics.
Upon graduation, I immediately relocated to DC, working as a program manager and analyst at CSIS. There I put my training in "cross-cultural bargaining" to good use, directing teams tackling projects ranging from post-conflict reconstruction and Southeast Asian defense strategy to nuclear deterrence/non-proliferation and terrorism. Next, I expanded my security expertise by working as a management consultant at Renaissance Strategic Advisors, a Virginia-based aerospace and defense sector consulting firm.
At the Air Force, I help prepare the Secretary and other senior Air Force leaders for their engagements on Capitol Hill with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Currently, I am working on an effort to bring alternative sources of energy to the Air Force that are efficient, affordable, and environmentally compliant.
This is a challenging time to be at the Pentagon as we draw down from the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and set strategic priorities in the face of sharp budgetary constraints.”