President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a presidential aide and national security official, to become deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would replace Daniel Poneman, who is stepping down from the No. 2 job this fall after five years.
Sherwood-Randall currently serves as special assistant to the president and White House coordinator for defense policy, countering weapons of mass destruction, and arms control, a position she has held since 2013. She served as special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council from 2009 to 2013.
The New York Times reported that Sherwood-Randall, 54, would bring a background in nuclear weapons and nonproliferation strategy to the department, which has split responsibilities for energy strategy and the country’s weapons and counter-proliferation work. It would be her third job in the Obama administration.
The newspaper said Sherwood-Randall oversaw the effort to get chemical weapons out of Syria and the development of the administration’s policy for dealing with the nuclear arsenal.
Poneman has been U.S. deputy secretary of energy since May 2009, and he also served as chief operating officer under former Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Poneman has been focused on nuclear safety and proliferation, among other issues, the Times said. He briefly served as acting secretary in 2013 before the confirmation of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
Before she joined the White House, Sherwood-Randall was a Stanford University senior research scholar from 2000 to 2008, and from 2004 to 2008, she was also the adjunct senior fellow for alliance relations at the Council on Foreign Relations, a White House press release said.
From 1997 through 2008, Sherwood-Randall was a founding principal in the Harvard-Stanford Preventive Defense Project. From 1994 to 1996, she served at the Pentagon as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, for which she received the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
From 1990 to 1993, she was co-founder and associate director of the Harvard Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. From 1986 to 1987, she served as chief foreign affairs and defense policy adviser to then Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Sherwood-Randall received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.