Sign Our Open Letter: Support Michèle Flournoy as our Next Secretary of Defense

NoExceptions Alumni
12 min readNov 24, 2020

This open letter is written in support of Michèle Flournoy for the next Secretary of Defense.

Please support by signing here.

Let’s communicate — both to the public at large and to the Biden team — the historic nature of nominating Michèle to this post and what it would mean to us to see her lead the Department of Defense.

Please share with your networks and invite them to sign. Signatures will be updated daily until the nomination is announced.

We write today in support of Michèle Flournoy as the next Secretary of Defense. Michèle is the most qualified person to lead the Department of Defense and will chart a course for America’s future that is strong, inclusive, and diverse.

As civil servants, veterans, innovators, and engaged citizens, it is exciting to live during a point in history where new heights are being reached by women every day. The comforting cacophony of breached brass ceilings and shattering glass brings pride to our hearts and hope for our country.

Michèle has consistently demonstrated willingness to listen, broker consensus, and lead in a direction that produces long-term improvements in our national security. Her unquestionable reputation amongst military leaders, civilians, lawmakers, partners and allies enables her to lead the Department at full speed from day one of the Biden-Harris Administration. This level of wide-spread trust and confidence will enable Michèle to build a coherent defense strategy and restore trust amongst allies and partners. She will repair the actual and reputational erosion of the last few years, while recruiting and sustaining talent to set our country on a confident and renewed course.

The Department of Defense has long been one of the last remaining male dominated bastions in our society. The Services were desegregated in 1948, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was overturned in 2011, but only in the last five years have women been able to fully serve our national defense. The most capable man for this job is a woman who, if confirmed, will be amongst those pioneering “firsts” who spent a lifetime earning the opportunity, and then excelling beyond expectations.

Michèle will lead the Department of Defense by charting a path free of politics or partisanship, allowing our military men and women to refocus on duty to their country under competent leadership while executing coherent policy. So too can civilian servants work each day, pursuing the interest of the American public and raising the eyes of the world back to the ideals upon which our great nation stands.

As we look at the complex challenges ahead, there is no one better to have at the helm than Michèle Flournoy. Her experience, knowledge, and respect make her the best fit for this job. As the first female Secretary of Defense, she will be living proof this country is moving toward a true meritocracy, no exceptions. She will be a model of success for women young and old. Another ceiling broken; another champion to showcase where grit, hard work, civility, and competence can take us as individuals and a nation.

The time has come; she has made the choice simple. A strong and hopeful future awaits our country with Michèle Flournoy as our next Secretary of Defense.

NoExceptions Alumni and Supporters

Update 1: The news of our support for Michèle continues to spread. Please share this with those you know, so we can continue to demonstrate the respect and support for our next Secretary of Defense.

Update 2: Additional stories have been posted describing our grassroots support for Michèle.

Update 3: Respected leaders from across the national security space have shared their experiences working with Michèle with the press and on social media:

Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James: “She has been a mentor to women in the national security space over the course of 20 some years or more.”

Former Flournoy Advisor Rosa Brooks: “I also think she’s someone who is strongly committed to having a diverse team in every possible way: not just gender but race, religion, age, type of background experience.”

President of the Brookings Institute and Retired Marine General John Allen: “There are one of three kinds of people who typically serve as secretary of defense. The first knows about the Pentagon’s enterprise but may not be knowledgeable about policy or security. The second is steeped in policy and security but not familiar with the enormity of the enterprise. And the third may not have a background in either but is connected politically. Michèle may be the first one I’ve ever known that’s all three.”

Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller: “People who have worked for her say she’s among the best, or the best, bosses they’ve ever had. Her support, mentorship, all of that have meant a lot.”

Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson: “Michèle is one of the most capable, intelligent, steady, decent and humane leaders I’ve ever worked with. She has virtually singlehandedly nurtured a cadre of women leaders in defense with the same qualities.”

Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute Tamara Coffman Wittes: “As a leader in & out of govt, Flournoy set policy & tone to enable her teams to have healthy work & family lives. She grows talent & gives it room to shine. POTUS-elect Biden wants a foreign policy for the rising generation, & she has supported next gen policy talent for years.”

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel and Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities: “Ms. Flournoy’s sound policy experience will be vital to ensuring strong civilian oversight of the military, professionalism and ethics in our special operations forces, workforce diversity, and activities to strengthen our technological edge through science and innovation…Ms. Flournoy is held in the highest regard as a preeminent defense policy expert…”

32nd Under Secretary of the Navy, Janine Davidson: “Flournoy has developed a masterful knowledge of the Pentagon bureaucracy. Her expertise is unmatched in everything from strategy and budgets to the delicate art of civilian control, interagency coordination, and White House decision-making. Further, she knows all the players, from the admirals and generals she will need to bring along to achieve the administration’s goals in securing America’s defense, to senators and congresswomen and men (and their staffs) as well as the leaders in the intelligence, homeland security, and diplomatic corps. From both her time as undersecretary of defense for policy under President Obama and her work starting and leading a think tank, she is well known and well respected among her counterparts around the world. These deep relationships will be critical to rebuilding damaged American alliances.”

Former Special Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security Affairs Jon Wolfsthal and colleagues: “[Michèle Flournoy] has a deep understanding of nuclear weapons policy and budgets, and is highly qualified to lead the Department of Defense on the complex and critical issues of nuclear weapons procurement, deterrence policy, and nuclear risk and arms reduction…The growing nature of nuclear risks demands that the next Secretary understand them in depth and be ready to address them with experience from the first day in office. Michèle Flournoy does and will be.”

Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ): “[Michèle Flournoy] has the experience to hit the ground running on day one at the Pentagon and restore confidence at home and abroad after years of chaos and mismanagement of our military under Trump.”

Senior Vice President and Director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council Barry Pavel: “Ms. Flournoy recently has outlined a vision of the need to harness emerging technologies to help the U.S. military remain competitive…Realizing that vision will require hard choices about how to fund such capabilities and tough negotiations with both Capitol Hill and the defense industry. Thus, Ms. Flournoy is on record with a vision for U.S. national defense and a process for getting there that, inter alia, will entail winners and losers in the defense industry.”

House Armed Services Committee Vice Chair Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) and Congressman Marc A. Veasey (TX-33): “Ms. Flournoy has been a tireless advocate for diversity and inclusion in national security and ensuring those of diverse backgrounds have the opportunity to compete and thrive within the enterprise. Her nomination as Secretary of Defense would be the realization of these principles: an extremely qualified, dedicated, public servant who is selected not because she is a woman, but because she was given the opportunity to compete and is the right person for the job.”

Democratic Women’s Caucus: “We are confident that she [Flournoy] is the best and most qualified person for the job. Her steadfast leadership and guidance will help to steer the Department of Defense in the best interest of your administration…She pushed to life the ‘exclusion’ rule which prevented women from serving in combat roles and thus limited their ability to achieve promotions. She believes in ‘paying if forward,’ serving on the honorary advisory committee of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security…We undersigned can think of few better examples for aspiring female leaders than Ms. Flournoy.”

Over 250 Signatures as of December 4

Tripp Adams, Executive & Veteran (Detroit, MI)

Rebecca Agostino, MBA Student (Philadelphia, PA)

Elizabeth Anderson, Gardener (Powell Butte, OR)

Andrea, Embassy Executive Assistant (Washington, DC)


Mabel Annunziata, Veteran (Washington, DC)

Barbi S. Appelquist, Attorney (Los Angeles, CA)

Brittany Arbitter (Monterey, CA)

Frances R. Arias, Nonprofit Senior Leadership (San Antonio, TX)

Meredith Aronson, Marketing (Philadelphia, PA)

Cathryn Cluver Ashbrook, Executive Director, Future of Diplomacy Project, Harvard Kennedy School (Boston, MA)

Kishla Askins (Alexandria, VA)

Jennifer Atala, Founder, Inara Strategies LLC (Greenville, NC)

Alia Awadallah, Counter Disinformation Officer, Department of State (Washington, DC)

Krista B., Supervisory Foreign Affairs Specialist (Arlington, VA)

Zack Baddorf, Veteran and Executive Director of Military Veterans in Journalism (Silver Spring, MD)

Medha Bankhwal, MBA student (Philadelphia, PA)

Joanna Barrett

Kayla Bassett, Major, USMCR / Business Integrity @Facebook (Seattle, WA)

Alysha Bedig (Bethesda, MD)

Clara M. Belk, Campaign Professional (Scarsdale, NY)

Jenna Ben-Yehuda, CEO and President, Truman National Security Project (Washington, DC)

J. B., Liaison (Arlington, VA)

Mary Pat Bierle, Retired University Professor (Yankton, SD)

Dorbina Bishop, Retired Treasury Director (Bend, OR)

Daniella Bove-LaMonica, Corporate Security Professional (Hermosa Beach, CA)

Rachel Braun, MBA student (Philadelphia, PA)

Aimee Breslow, Independent Consultant (Washington, DC)

Erik Brine, National Security Expert (Jameston, RI)

Jayson Browder, Iraq Veteran and National Security Professional (Manning, SC)

Zachery Tyson Brown, Strategic Futurist (Alexandria, VA)

Sarah Bruno, Executive Director of Public Leadership Education Network (Washington, DC)

Amanda LeAnne Brunzell (Grand Rapids, MI)

Elizabeth Burks, Art Therapist (Annapolis, MD)

Katherine Burks, Retired (Annapolis, MD)

John Burks, Retired Military Officer (Annapolis, MD)

Stan Byers, International Cybersecurity (Washington, DC)

Jason Cain, Teacher (Sanford, NC)

Brian Carroll, Cybersecurity Lead Senior Engineer (Denver, CO)

Matt Castelli (Washington, DC)

Elisa Catalano Ewers

Mark Christopher, Consultant (Hartford, CT)

Erin Clancy, Foreign Service Officer (Huntington Beach, CA)

Dr. Jason Clark, Manager/Engineer for National Security R&D (Yellow Springs, OH)

Susan Clark, Retired (Oro Valley, AZ)

Jim Clarke, (Silver Spring, MD)

Jamie Clausen (Morgan Hill, CA)

Ajenai Clemmons, Academic (Durham, NC)

Charlotte Clymer, Writer (Washington, DC)

Honorable Erin C Conaton, Consultant (Wyckoff, NJ)

Stone Conroy (Chicago, IL)

Patricia L. Cordoni, Real Estate Broker (Madras, OR)

Virginia M. Cordoni, Citizen & Great-Grandmother (Bend, OR)

Mary Kate Cunningham, Association Management (Washington, DC)

Meaghan L. Cunningham (Scottsdale, AZ)

Mary Ellen Cunningham, Public Health Nurse Consultant (Scottsdale, AZ)

R. B. Dalton, III, Department of Defense (Orlando, FL)

Jessie Daniels (New York, NY)

Janet Dart, Retired IT Professional (Bend, OR)

Jessica P. Davis (Cleveland, OH)

Kelly J. Diaz, Analyst (Arlington, VA)

Bailey Dinman, Researcher (Potomac, MD)

Jolene Dodge (Bend, OR)

Kathleen Doherty, Ambassador (ret.) (Arlington, VA)

Tanya Domi, Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University & US Army Veteran (New York, NY)

Maria Galperin Donnelly (Monterey, CA)

Bess Dopkeen (Washington, DC)

Catrina Doxsee

Isaac Eagan, Army Veteran (Washington, DC)

Alexis Ellis, Development (Washington, DC)

Megan Ellis, Executive Director, Higher Ed (Galena, OH)

Rachel Evans, Education Leader (Washington, DC)

Carol M. Falvey, Attorney (Hingham, MA)

Ariel Fanger, International Development (Framingham, MA)

Colleen Farrell (Seattle, WA)

Maggie Feldman-Piltch

Ann Francois, Retired (Bend, OR)

Sarah Francois-Bouton

Kerry S Fray-Carlson, Defense Contractor (Alexandria, VA)

C. J. Freese, Teacher, Nurse, Mother, Grandmother (San Jose, CA)

Jamie Fullerton, Political Consultant (Fullerton, CA)

Koma B. Gandy Fischbein, Educational Technology (Bronx, NY)

Alison Garfield (Denver, CO)

Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux, Entrepreneur (New York, NY)

H. Geary, Retired 911 Dispatcher (San Jose, CA)

Kathleen Geary, Retired (Bend, OR)

Patrick Geary, Retired Law Enforcement (Bend, OR)

Kate Germano, LtCol, USMC (Ret) (Washington, DC)

Amanda Gibbs, Homemaker (Astoria, OR)

Nancy M. Glick, Retired Business Owner (Bend, OR)

Robert Golan-Vilella (Washington, DC)

Ilan Goldenberg, Former State Department and DOD Official (Falls Church, VA)

Andrea N. Goldstein (Kinderhook, NY)

K. Gollesch, Retired

Deborah Goodall, Retired / Community College Administrator (Bend, OR)

Mikhail Grinberg, Consultant (Washington, DC)

Inigo Guevara, Defense Analysis / Education (Springfield, VA)

R. G. (New York)

Alicia Haley Rau, Analyst (Alexandria, VA)

Kristen R. Hajduk (Washington, DC)

Erin Harbaugh, Foreign Affairs Professional (Washington, DC)

Mary Ryan Hawkins, Research (Durham, NC)

Selina Hayes, National Security Advisor (Coronado, CA)

R. Hickox (Corrales, NM)

LeAnne N. Howard, Department of Defense (Deployed)

Evanna Hu

Samantha Hubner, Global Security & Technology (Somerville, MA)

Elie Jacobs, Consultant (Englewood, NJ)

Mark R. Jacobson, Educator, Veteran, & Former Policymaker (Washington, DC)

Amy Janavich, Teacher (West Chicago, IL)

Jennifer, Scientist & Mother to a Daughter (Santa Fe, NM)

Jimmy, Military Officer (Columbia, SC)

Alexiaa Jordan, Security & Tech (Chicago, IL)

Tyler Jost (Boston, MA)

Justin, IT (Apollo Beach, FL)

Kareeda Kabir (Cupertino, CA)

Nicole Kauss, Chief Operating Officer (Milwaukee, WI)

Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew (St. Petersburg, FL)

Nickolaus W. Kesler, Strategy Consultant (Richmond, VA)

Anastasia Kessler-Dellaccio, Strategic Partnerships & Social Impact (Washington, DC)

Sahar Khan, Academic (Arlington, VA)

M. Lyla Kohistany, President, PROMOTE Leadership (Alexandria, VA)

Larina Konold, Foreign Service Officer (Washington, DC)

Andy Kopp (San Diego, CA)

Gentry Lane (Washington, DC)

Erin Larson, Clean Energy Investor / MBA Candidate (Philadelphia, PA)

Stephanie Latham, Medical Student (Highland Park, NJ)

Carrie Lee, Professor of International Security (Montgomery, AL)

David Li, Student (Philadelphia, PA)

Peter Liebert V, Cybersecurity Expert (Sacramento, CA)

Dana M. Linnet, President and CEO, The Summit Group DC (Alexandria, VA)

Leigh Livergood, Government Affairs Professional (Alexandria, VA)

Doug Livermore, Strategic Consulting (Lorton, VA)

Marissa Loya, USMC Veteran & Lawyer

John W. Lunch, Digital Imaging Specialist (Oakland, CA)

Chelsea Magnant (Oakland, CA)

Hansen Mak (Washington, DC)

Shaila Manyam, Former Foreign Service Officer

Joshua Marcuse, Chairman & Founder, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (Alexandria, VA)

Andrea Marr (Costa Mesa, CA)

Don Martinez, Public Servant (Colorado Springs, CO)

Jon Margolick, Executive Vice President, Truman National Security Project (Washington, DC)

Kylie Mason, Government Cybersecurity (Arlington, VA)

Michael Masserman, Senior Advisor, Albright Stonebridge Group (San Francisco, CA)

Ryan McGill, Executive Director Emerge the Art of Leadership (Charlotte, NC)

Mike McNerney, Cybersecurity Executive (Redwood City, CA)

James Mersol (Washington, DC)

Minerva, Graduate Student

Riley Mistrot, Government (Washington, DC)

Kate Monson (Washington, DC)

Anthony Morano, Student (Philadelphia, PA)

Jonathan Morgenstein, Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran (Arlington, VA)

Vivek, Student (Philadelphia, PA)

Erin Murphy (Philadelphia, PA)

Patrick Murray, Finance (Cambridge, MA)

O. B., Tech Policy Manager (Washington, DC)

Dr. Faith I. Okpotor, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Moravian College & Security Fellow, Truman National Security Project (Bethlehem, PA)

Olive, Future POTUS, Age 12 (Santa Fe, NM)

Deborah Omori, Retired Minister (Mather, CA)

Brian O’Neill, USAF, Retired (Niceville, FL)

Andrea Otero, Public Administration Professional & PhD Student (Orlando, FL)

Seth Palmer, Director of Strategic Communications

Elizabeth Perez, CEO & Founder of GC Green (Vista, CA)

Jim Perkins, National Security (Bethesda, MD)

Andrea Peterson, Product Owner (Jefferson, LA)

Darya Pilram, Senior Policy Researcher (Nashville, TN)

Melvin Pina, Student (Philadelphia, PA)

Jessica Pitchford, Teacher (SC)

S. Pitchford, Retired Educator (Mena, AR)

Julie Piotrowski, Public Health & Health Security (Norfolk, VA)

Philip Reiner, Former Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council & Pentagon civil servant (Oakland, Ca)

Kathy Roth-Douquet, Nonprofit Executive (McLean, VA)

Justin Rubin, Defense Council, Truman National Security Project (Washington, DC)

Patrick Ryan, Elected Official/Veteran (New Paltz, NY)

Sarah Sampas, Chaplain (Las Vegas, NV)

Cameron Sandgren, USN Veteran & Stay at Home Mom (Lincoln, NE)

Jimmy Santos, Policy Analyst (Boston, MA)

Chloe Sauer, Interior Designer (Napa, CA)

Shauna, Student (Enid, OK)

Raj M. Shah, Entrepreneur and Former Head of DIU (San Francisco, CA)

Andrea Schaller, Retired Military (Chicago, IL)

Cori Schumacher (Carlsbad, CA)

John Serafini, CEO, HawkEye 360 (Herndon, VA)

Gabe Sganga, Enterprise Defense Software (Annapolis, MD)

Jacob Shackelford, Engineer (Metairie, LA)

Jennifer Showell, Foreign Affairs Officer (Arlington, VA)

Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director of Policy Planning, State Department, 2009–2011 (Washington, DC)

Kathryn L. Smith (Atchison, KS)

Nathan R. Smith (Washington, DC)

Ashley Sogge, Student (Philadelphia, PA)

Mark Solomons, National Security (Fairfax Station, VA)

Katherine Spies, Technologist /, Inc. (Seattle, WA)

Jason Stanford, Writer & Senior Vice President (Austin, TX)

Jake Steel, Educator (Garden City, KS)

Camille Stewart (Oakland, CA)

Caroline Still (Charlottesville, VA)

Danielle Stone

Philip Stupak, Attorney (Saratoga, CA)

Dr. Nina Su, MD Retired

Sue Szabo, Retired Educator (Bend, OR)

Nanako Tamaru, Attorney and Peacebuilder (Providence, RI)

Carolyn Taylor Brown (Perryville, MD)

Lourdes Tigalo, Strategic Partnerships (Springfield, VA)

Katherin Tobin, Innovator (Arlington, VA)

Alexandra Toma, Nonprofit Executive (Washington, DC)

Kathy Trimble, Advisor (Washington, DC)

Hanna Tripp (Mansfield MA)

Bruce E. van Dam, MD Retired / Veteran (Las Vegas, NV)

Kate van Dam, USMC Veteran (Alexandria, VA)

Alexandra F. Van Dine (Washington, DC)

Mark Van Dine, FInancial Services (Hingham, MA)

Jake Van Dine, Mechanical Engineer (Somerville, MA)

Shawn J. VanDiver (San Diego, CA)

Amy von Koch, Marketing (Kamas, UT)

Elsa von Koch, Art Teacher, Adjunct Faculty (Denver, CO)

Lynn von Koch-Liebert, State Government (Carmichael, CA)

Andrew Waddell, Insights Analyst (San Francisco, CA)

Kevin P. Walling, Media Consultant (Rehoboth Beach, DE)

Laurie A. Watkins, President & Chief Strategist, Sunshine L.A.W., LLC (Jupiter, FL)

Lilah Wilder, US Department of State

Margaret C. Wilmoth, Major General, US Army (Retired) (Chapel Hill, NC)

Kelsey Rose Wiseman (New York, NY)

Amelia M. Wolf, Geospatial Intelligence (Alexandria, VA)

Ruth Wozniak, Technical Program Manager (San Jose, CA)

Sam Wright, Engineer (Arlington, VA)

Tianyi Xin, Attorney (Washington, DC)

Angelic Young (Silver Spring, MD)

Vera Zakem, Founder, Zakem Global Strategies (Walnut Creek, CA)

MAJ Kiona Zappe, US Army Officer (Southern Pines, NC)

Matt Zeller, Entrepreneur (Oakton, VA)

Chenny Zhang



NoExceptions Alumni

NoExceptions was an initiative that represented post 9/11 veterans and policy experts who supported opening all military positions to women.