Leanne Erdberg Steadman is the director of violent extremism at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she leads the Institute’s work on preventing and countering violent extremism, including overseeing the RESOLVE Network—a global research consortium—as well as USIP’s newest work on violent extremist disengagement and reconciliation.

Directing USIP’s work on violent extremism, Steadman helps advance a deeper understanding of the dynamics that drive terrorism and extremist violence by leveraging peacebuilding tools and techniques, providing a platform to explore novel policy and practical approaches, and linking peacebuilding and conflict disciplines with the unique empirical, practical, and political facets of the study of terrorism.

Prior to joining the Institute, Steadman served on the National Security Council staff at the White House as a senior advisor on homeland security, as well as director of African affairs. She’s also worked at the Department of State as a counterterrorism advisor and at the Department of Homeland Security as a presidential management fellow. Steadman has also worked in the private sector with Accenture Federal Services and she began her public service career with positions at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the World Health Organization, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and on a U.S. congressional campaign.

Before her work in foreign and public policy, Steadman co-founded an independent record label. She holds a J.D. with honors in international law and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in mass communication studies, both from Boston University.

Publications By Leanne

Can Syrians Who Left ISIS Be Reintegrated into Their Communities?

Can Syrians Who Left ISIS Be Reintegrated into Their Communities?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

By: Mona Yacoubian ; Chris Bosley; Leanne Erdberg Steadman

More than a year since the territorial defeat of ISIS, the region is still reeling in the wake of the self-styled caliphate’s destruction. Kurdish authorities operate two dozen detention facilities in northeast Syria holding thousands of former ISIS fighters. On October 5, Kurdish authorities in charge of al-Hol said they would free the 24,000 Syrians in the camp, where conditions have become increasingly unsustainable. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian, Chris Bosley, and Leanne Erdberg Steadman look at what led to the decision to release these Syrians and the challenges ahead for reintegrating them into their communities.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Reconciliation; Violent Extremism

Disengagement and Reconciliation in Conflict-Affected Settings

Disengagement and Reconciliation in Conflict-Affected Settings

Friday, August 7, 2020

By: Leanne Erdberg Steadman

Even in brutal and desperate conflict settings, it is possible for people to abandon violence and leave violent groups. Peacebuilders know this well—yet terrorism and counterterrorism policies and practices have often neglected practical ways to address participants in violent extremism and failed to provide them opportunities to reject violence. This report examines how peacebuilding tools can help transform the individual attitudes, group relationships, and social ecosystems and structures needed to facilitate the effective disengagement and reconciliation of former members of violent extremist groups.

Type: Special Report

Violent Extremism

Why the U.S. Military Presence in Africa is Vital Beyond Counterterrorism

Why the U.S. Military Presence in Africa is Vital Beyond Counterterrorism

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

By: Judd Devermont; Leanne Erdberg Steadman

Since Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced a potential drawdown of U.S. troops in Africa, U.S. congressional leaders, military officers and various commentators have defended the importance of the military in Africa. But they’ve focused almost exclusively on the fight against terrorism. This is not surprising, since the public has for decades really only heard about the U.S. military in Africa when drone strikes hit terrorists in Somalia, when Navy SEALS raid pirate ships in the Gulf of Aden, and when Army Rangers hunt down genocidaires in the jungle.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Global Policy

The Role of Aid and Development in the Fight Against Extremism

The Role of Aid and Development in the Fight Against Extremism

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

By: Leanne Erdberg Steadman

Extremist groups thrive in fragile states where basic needs go unmet. Development efforts can address the conditions that make people vulnerable to extremism. If you look at a map of where terrorist groups operate and where terrorist attacks occur, you will find that many coincide with locations of intractable conflict and deep development deficits. Low human development indicators, stark disparities in opportunity and access to resources, poor or scattered governance, and a history of conflict and social marginalization feature prominently among afflicted communities.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Fragility & Resilience

What Policymakers Can Learn About Gender from Terrorists

What Policymakers Can Learn About Gender from Terrorists

Monday, November 18, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg Steadman

The road to violent extremism is neither simple nor predictable, with diverse motivations and discrete, individual paths. No singular profile accurately describes all those who decide to join. Millions of people may experience similar situations and live in similar contexts but never join an extremist group, while some people will join who would we would not deem at risk. This makes preventing and countering violent extremism exceptionally difficult. It’s an even more intractable task when gender is an afterthought, or worse, gender is used to justify over-simplified, one-size-fits-all approaches.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Violent Extremism

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