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RELEASE: The Council on Strategic Risks Selects Erin Sikorsky as New Director of the Center for Climate and Security, and John Conger as Senior Advisor

September 1, 2021 —  Today the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) announced it has selected Erin Sikorsky as its new Director of the Center for Climate and Security (CCS). Ms. Sikorsky previously served as the CCS Deputy Director. The previous Director of CCS, the Honorable John Conger, will now be a Senior Advisor across CSR’s programs and Director Emeritus of CCS.

“As we’ve seen repeatedly this summer, no corner of the world is safe from climate change-driven hazards. In 2021 alone, these hazards have taken thousands of lives and done millions of dollars of damage to critical infrastructure,” said Sikorsky. “Beyond these first order impacts, however, are a series of more complex security concerns that arise as climate change compounds other risks — including extremism, poor governance and corruption, rising inequality and state fragility, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other health security risks. As more and more governments come to grips with this reality, the Center for Climate and Security has the expertise, diverse network, and silo-busting approach needed to analyze these risks and lead action to identify and implement climate security solutions. I’m honored to step into this leadership role and continue the organization’s ground-breaking work.”

Prior to joining CCS, Ms. Sikorsky served on the U.S. National Intelligence Council where she led the US intelligence community’s environmental and climate security analysis and co-authored the quadrennial Global Trends report, the U.S. government’s premier unclassified strategic forecasting effort. She is also the founding chair of the Climate Security Advisory Council, a Congressionally-mandated group designed to facilitate coordination between the intelligence community and US government scientific agencies on climate security matters. Ms. Sikorsky is an adjunct professor at George Mason University, a visiting fellow at University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House, and serves on the advisory board of the Smith College Center for Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability. 

“I’m so proud that we’ve got Erin Sikorsky here to take the reins and to take the Center for Climate and Security to the next level.  She is outstanding and will make a huge difference in this role” said Christine Parthemore, CEO of the Council on Strategic Risks.

Mr. Conger, who has served as Director of CCS since 2018, will transition to a broader role as Senior Advisor at the Council on Strategic Risks, supporting not only CCS initiatives as Director Emeritus, but also the biological and nuclear threat work at CSR’s Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons and the Converging Risks Lab. 

“Even as climate change reshapes the global security environment, we see many other transboundary risks that have emerged.  I’m looking forward to building bridges and promoting pragmatic progress in responding to these risks, just as we have with climate security.” said Conger.

“John has made incredible progress in the climate security space,” said Parthemore. “We are grateful to leverage his strategic skills and deep knowledge of policy-making dynamics across the full CSR mission.” 

Mr. Conger previously served in DoD as Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations & Environment), and for more than a decade as a security expert on Capitol Hill.  

Speaking to both Erin and John’s new roles, Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, Co-Founders and former CEOs of CSR and CCS, stated:

“Erin’s path-breaking leadership on climate security within CCS and previously with the U.S. intelligence community make her the ideal choice to lead the Center. And John’s record of major climate security policy victories over the past four years as Director of CCS, and experience within the Pentagon and the US Congress, will be a huge boon to the broader suite of policy issues being advanced by CSR on addressing converging and emerging threats. Thinking back a decade to when we founded the organization, we didn’t dream of having people of Erin and John’s caliber on the leadership team. This is great news not just for the organization, but for anyone who cares about preventing or mitigating some of the most dangerous risks we face.”

Contact: Francesco Femia, ffemia at csrisks dot org, WhatsApp: +1-571-263-5691   

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The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) is a nonprofit, non-partisan security policy institute devoted to anticipating, analyzing and addressing core systemic risks to security in the 21st century, with special examination of the ways in which these risks intersect and exacerbate one another. To further this goal, CSR currently hosts non-partisan institutes on climate and security (The Center for Climate and Security), and strategic weapons and bio risks (The Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons), as well as a program designed to study converging, cross-sectoral risks (The Converging Risks Lab). The CSR contends that though societies are facing unprecedented risks, they also possess unprecedented foresight, and this dynamic creates a “Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent.” CSR was founded in 2017 by Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell.

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