Leanne Erdberg Steadman is the director of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) at the U.S. Institute of Peace where she directs USIP’s CVE program that includes work focused on CVE Research (focused on the RESOLVE Network where Leanne also serves as the interim executive director of RESOLVE); CVE Practice (including pilot projects on various CVE topics that convene workshops, and build capacity of civil society actors and institutions); and CVE Policy (provides recommendations and coordination on policy responses and CVE strategies and frameworks).

Prior to joining the Institute, from 2009-2017, Leanne held several positions in the U.S. government including senior advisor to the deputy assistant to the president and deputy homeland security advisor on the National Security Council staff at the White House, counterterrorism advisor for the undersecretary of state for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, director of African Affairs for the National Security Council staff, regional counterterrorism advisor in the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism where she covered issues related to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq, and as a special assistant at the Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Leanne most recently comes from Accenture Federal Services, where she consulted on developing responsible uses of artificial intelligence for the federal government. Prior to federal government service, Leanne held policy and legal 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. Previous to her work in foreign and public policy, Leanne co-founded an independent record label.

Leanne holds a J.D. with honors in the concentration of international law and a B.S., magna cum laude in mass communication studies, both from Boston University. In 2017, Leanne was profiled in Forbes about working in national security.

Publications By Leanne

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

Can Policy Catch up to the Golden Age of Terrorism Research?

Can Policy Catch up to the Golden Age of Terrorism Research?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg Steadman; Fouad Pervez

Meanwhile, researchers are increasingly understanding the dynamics that drive people to join terrorist groups—unpacking the numerous, complex reasons, and shining light on the local sociopolitical dynamics, something the media is covering more regularly. This new wave of research has a multiplicity of focus areas and employs rigorous methods to offer workable insights on violent extremism. It’s time for policy to catch up to the research.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism

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