Liberal Arts alumna combats foreign interference in U.S. elections

Anna Thoet
November 05, 2018

Laura Rosenberger, a 2002 College of the Liberal Arts alumna at Penn State, has created a policy blueprint for countering authoritarian interference in democracies. As the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), Rosenberger focuses on an issue that has dominated headlines for the last two years—Russian interference in U.S. elections.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy is the GMF’s latest project and is intended to track foreign interference in democracies and serve as a hub for best practices in defending U.S. institutions. The alliance works with European partners and allies who have dealt with similar threats to develop defensive and deterrent strategies. They do this by sharing experiences—what works and what doesn’t—and joining forces in the first step to halting foreign efforts to undermine democracies and weaken countries.

Prior to her current role with the GMF, Rosenberger served as the foreign policy adviser to Hillary for America, where she coordinated development of the campaign’s national security policies, messaging, and strategy. The Pittsburgh native has had a successful career, holding positions within the State Department and the White House’s National Security Council.

Penn State alumna Laura Rosenberger is the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshal Fund of the United States.

Penn State alumna Laura Rosenberger is the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshal Fund of the United States.

IMAGE: German Marshal Fund of the United States

“It's hard to choose one,” said Rosenberger in regard to her most notable career moments. “But the ones that stand out the most to me are ones where people's lives were on the line—whether it was refugees who I was involved in trying to save or being part of an effort to avert a genocide at the hands of ISIS.”

At Penn State, the Schreyer Scholar majored in sociology, psychology and women’s studies and went on to receive a master’s degree from American University’s School of International Service for international peace and conflict resolution.

Her liberal arts education has greatly impacted her career working in foreign policy. She said, “Two of the most important skills are critical thinking and writing, and my liberal arts education provided me with both of those.” Rosenberger tells current liberal arts students to “follow your passions and cast a wide net for opportunities—the best ones may be ones you don’t expect or even know exist.”

Her liberal arts education has given her the flexibility to excel in a variety of roles.

“When I was a student, I thought A led to B led to C, and that each step determined the rest, but I've found that for most people, careers aren't linear."

-- Alumna Laura Rosenberger, College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State

During Rosenberger’s time as an undergraduate, she served as a counselor/advocate at the Centre County Women’s Resource Center. She was also involved in student government and numerous student groups focused on women’s rights.

“When I was a student, I was so appreciative of people who helped me think about potential career options, and I enjoy working with current students to help them as well,” she said.

Rosenberger has remained an active alumna, mentoring current students and speaking to classes on her trips back to University Park. She serves on the Board of Visitors of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy in the College of the Liberal Arts.

She recently sat down with the McCourtney Institute’s Democracy Works podcast to discuss her work in an episode recorded live at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Listen at democracyworkspodcast.com and wherever podcasts are found.

Last Updated November 05, 2018