2021 Keynote Speaker

Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins

Bonnie Jenkins


Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins is the Founder and Executive Director of WCAPS—Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security. It all began in 2017, when Jenkins started an organization of women of color working in peace and security who felt isolated and felt their voices were not being heard. Jenkins wanted to encourage and actively develop leadership and a network of women in areas that affect them most globally: Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation. Four years later, in January 2021, Jenkins and WCAPS were named as the 2020 Arms Control Association’s Persons of the Year. She is also the founder of Organizations in Solidarity, which seeks to combat racism and discrimination in all of its manifestations as individuals and in organizations, and in so doing diversify the fields of peace and security, foreign policy, and national security, making such work more inclusive and equitable. 

Jenkins is an expert in the areas of arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation. She was nominated by President Barack Obama in April 2009 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June 2009 as Special Envoy and Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN), U.S. Department of State (DOS). She served in that position until January 2017. Jenkins promoted a coordinated U.S. effort on threat reduction globally. Jenkins was the DOS lead for the 2010 - 2016 Nuclear Security Summits and the U.S. Representative to the G7 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.  She led diplomatic efforts promoting the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), and was the U.S. government lead in outreach to the non-governmental sector. In that role, she established the GHSA NGO Consortium, founded the GHSA Next Generation Network, engaged in discussions leading to the establishment of the GHSA Private Sector Roundtable, and organized meetings with philanthropic organizations funding programs in global health. For her service as Coordinator of Threat Reduction Programs, Jenkins was the 2016 ISN Nominee for the Secretary's Award for Excellence in International Security Affairs. 

In addition to leading WCAPS, she also chairs the Steering Committee of Organizations in Solidarity, which she founded in 2020, and leads the Redefining National Security (RNS) Initiative and the RNS Working Group at WCAPS. She is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Senior Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Jenkins is currently the Chair of the Committee on Radioactive Sources: Applications and Alternative Technologies of the National Academies of Sciences. She is a Professorial Lecturer at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs; an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and the Georgetown University Law Center; and a Lecturer at the University of Virginia Batten School. She was also a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Schools of Nursing and Veterinary Science. She recently served on the Biden-Harris Transition Team on the State Department Review Team. She also recently served as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House and as a Visiting Dignitary at the LBJ School at the University of Texas in Austin. 

Prior to joining the Obama administration in 2009, Jenkins worked at the Ford Foundation as the Program Officer for US Foreign and Security Policy, and Conflicts. She also served as Counsel on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission). She was the lead staff member conducting research, interviews, and preparing commission reports on counterterrorism policies in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on U.S. military plans targeting al Qaeda before 9/11. She served as General Counsel to the U.S. Commission to Assess the Organization of the Federal Government to Combat the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and worked at Rand Corporation focusing on Middle East weapons of mass destruction issues. Jenkins began her work in the federal government a Legal Adviser at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) where she served as legal advisor on arms control and nonproliferation treaties and treaty implementation bodies including serving as a legal advisor to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Open Skies Treaty, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and the Biological Weapons Convention. She has worked with international institutions such as the IAEA, the WHO, the OPCW, the OSCE, the CTBTO, Interpol, and the BWC-ISU.

Jenkins holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia; an LL.M. from the Georgetown University Law Center; an M.P.A. from the State University of New York at Albany; a J.D. from Albany Law School and a B.A. from Amherst College. She was a Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the JFK School at Harvard University at which time she also worked at the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising at Harvard Law School where she advised law students on employment in the US government and public entities. Jenkins is a retired U.S. Naval Reserve Officer and received numerous awards for her military service. She is a member of the New York State Bar.