Leanne Erdberg 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

What Policymakers Can Learn About Gender from Terrorists

What Policymakers Can Learn About Gender from Terrorists

Monday, November 18, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg

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 ; 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

Leanne Erdberg on Violent Extremist Disengagement and Reconciliation

Leanne Erdberg on Violent Extremist Disengagement and Reconciliation

Thursday, August 1, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg

While some will face criminal trial, many of those who traveled to live with ISIS but have disavowed its ideology will have to reintegrate into their communities. “We need to encourage a way to talk about them so that they can form new bonds with their communities,” says Leanne Erdberg. “Language has a very important role to play.”

Type: Podcast

Violent Extremism; Reconciliation

How Civil Society Can Help Prevent Violence and Extremism

How Civil Society Can Help Prevent Violence and Extremism

Thursday, June 6, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg ; Bridget Moix

Editor’s Note: Congress charged the U.S. Institute of Peace with convening the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States. Following the public launch of the Task Force’s final report, four groups of experts came together to discuss how to implement the report’s recommendations. This four-part series will discuss the findings from these strategy sessions. Part one summarizes expert discussion on how civil society actors are preventing violent extremism and building resilience in their communities and practical ways the U.S. and other international actors can more effectively interact with civil society to bolster its role in prevention.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & Resilience; Violent Extremism

Leanne Erdberg on the Psychology Behind Terrorism

Leanne Erdberg on the Psychology Behind Terrorism

Thursday, May 9, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg

Nearly 20 years after 9/11, determining the profile of someone who is going to join a terrorist group remains a deeply challenging effort. For too long we have looked at simple explanations— like poverty or lack of education—for why people join violent movements. Erdberg discusses a new project to investigate the psychology and neuroscience that motivates people to resort to extremism.

Type: Podcast

Violent Extremism

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