Representative Faculty

AU is proud to have many community members who are advancing inclusivity in global technology policy. Contact us to learn more.

Fiona M. Alexander
Distinguished Fellow, Internet Governance Lab and Distinguished Policy Strategist, School of International Service
American University

Ms. Fiona M. Alexander is both Distinguished Policy Strategist in Residence in the School of International Service and Distinguished Fellow at the Internet Governance Lab at American University. For the Internet Governance Lab, she is also the inaugural Chair of an Alumni Expert Council. 

Fiona is a former government executive with extensive experience and globally diverse contacts in international Internet, telecommunications and emerging technology policy.  

For close to 20 years, Fiona served at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce where she was Associate Administrator for International Affairs. In this role, she was the principal official responsible for the analysis, development, and execution of international Internet, cyber and communications policy within the Executive Branch of the United States government (USG). She managed the U.S. government’s relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and is NTIA’s sole Presidential Rank Award winner for her leadership in the two-decade effort to privatize the Internet’s domain name system (DNS). Ms. Alexander is a member of the High-level Advisory Group for the Global Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network and was appointed by the United Nations Secretary General to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Multistakeholder Advisory Group.

At NTIA, Fiona was the convener and co-leader of the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force which developed policy, norms and tools for issues related to commercial data privacy, online copyright protection, cybersecurity, and the global free flow of information.
She represented the United States at a variety of fora, including the UN World Summit on the Information Society, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and ICANN. During her tenure, the U.S. led the development of Internet policy making principles and joined the only international agreement on Artificial Intelligence at the OECD, won the election of the first woman in the 153 year history of the ITU, and managed the collaborative implementation of Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) at the authoritative root of the Internet domain name system.

Prior to joining NTIA, Ms. Alexander was a Senior Consultant at Booz, Allen & Hamilton. She has a Master’s Degree in International Relations from American University, Washington, D.C. and is co-founder of Salt Point Strategies, a consulting group that provides public affairs advice, strategy, and advocacy to clients navigating the emerging high-tech economy.

Dr. Diana L. Burley
Vice Provost for Research

Dr. Diana L. Burley is a proven academic leader able to establish and maintain strong partnerships, manage broad portfolios, and achieve high quality results. She is an award-winning global cybersecurity expert with over 20 years of experience leading multi-institutional, cross-sector teams to drive education, research, and strategic innovation.

As the developer of robust cybersecurity workforce development programs, curricular frameworks and educational standards, Dr. Burley is a dynamic industry thought leader advocating for holistic strategies to address cybersecurity challenges. She a proven and effective advocate for building a diverse cybersecurity workforce and global cybersecurity awareness.  
Diana currently the Vice Provost for Research at American University (AU) where she is also Professor of Public Administration and Policy in the School of Public Affairs and Professor of Information Technology & Analytics in the Kogod School of Business. In this role, she serves as the university’s chief research officer; responsible for stewarding the university-wide research mission, leading the research enterprise, fostering a research-oriented culture and supporting faculty led scholarly and creative activity across all disciplines. Diana also holds research appointments with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Cyber Mission Operations Group and the Idaho National Laboratory National and Homeland Security Directorate. Diana also currently serves on the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Board on Human-Systems Integration, the Cyber Future Foundation, and the education advisory council of the Association for Computing Machinery.  
Prior to AU, Diana was a professor at George Washington University where she directed the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (I3P) – a 26-member national consortium dedicated to strengthening the cyber infrastructure of the United States. She led the Cyber Corps program and managed a multi-million-dollar computer science education and research portfolio for the US National Science Foundation, and has written nearly 100 publications on cybersecurity, information sharing, and IT-enabled change; including her 2014 co-authored book “Enterprise Software Security: A Confluence of Disciplines.”  

Dr. Derrick L. Cogburn is Professor at American University in Washington, DC. He has a joint appointment in the School of International Service where he serves in the International Communication and International Development Programs; and in the Kogod School of Business where he serves in the Department of Information Technology & Analytics.

He also serves at the founding Executive Director of the AU Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP), is Faculty Co-Director of the Internet Governance Lab (IGL), and is Director of COTELCO the Collaboration Laboratory.

He has published widely, with his most recent books being: Transnational Advocacy Networks in the Information Society: Partners or Pawns? (Palgrave-McMillian, 2017); Making Disability Rights Real in Southeast Asia: Implementing the CRPD in ASEAN (Lexington, 2016); and The Turn to Infrastructure in Internet Governance (Palgrave-McMillan, 2016). He is Editor of the Palgrave Macmillan book series Information Technology and Global Governance and serves on editorial boards for Journal of Information Technology and Politics, Review of Policy Research, and Journal of Political Science Education. He is former Chair of the Review Panel for the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Diplomacy, Security and Development, Science Technology Policy Fellowships, and served as a member of the inaugural AAAS Big Data and Analytics Fellowship Committee and returned to serve as its chair. He served as a member of the High-Level Panel of Advisors for the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (UNGAID). Dr. Cogburn has been Principal Investigator on grants from a wide variety of government, private sector, and foundation sources including, the National Science Foundation Department of Education, Microsoft, Microsoft Research, Hewlett Packard, Cisco Systems, JPMorgan Chase, the WK Kellogg Foundation, and The Nippon Foundation. He also served on the Committee of Visitors for the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation. At Syracuse University, he was tenured Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies and Senior Research Associate in the Moynihan Institute at the Maxwell School. He is past president of the Information, Technology, and Politics section of the American Political Science Association and of the International Communication section of the International Studies Association. He served as Executive Director of the Global Information Infrastructure Commission-Africa and Vice Chair of the Global Internet Governance Academic Network. He holds a PhD in political science from Howard University in Washington, DC, where he was a W.K. Kellogg doctoral fellow at the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center.

Dr. Kathryn Walters-Conte
Director for STEM Partnerships and Outreach
College of Arts and Sciences, American University

Dr. Walters has worked with colleagues to create a cultural shift in the natural sciences at American University, from a collection of insular departments focused on faculty research and traditional student career paths, to a new network of disciplines that encourages students to pursue a variety of technology careers and encourages faculty to engage in interdisciplinary research.

As the director of the AU I-Corps program, she has trained over sixty teams in the lean start up curriculum. Several of the faculty/student teams have incorporated, secured patents and earned additional funding/revenue including an NIH STTR grant. Graduates of the program have gone on to prestigious doctoral programs and earned leadership positions at a variety of companies. Dr. Walters also spearheads many of the STEM partnership programs for the College of Arts and Sciences including Freddie Mac, the Applied Physics Laboratory, the Capital CoLab, McKinely Tech High School and the National Student Leadership Conference.

Dr. Walters’ most recent work is in establishing the Initiative for STEM Education, Equity and Ethics which uses an ethics-approach to broaden participation in the sciences both within and beyond the University. The Initiative was recently granted a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Driving Change Award, to pilot inclusive foundational STEM curriculum for undergraduates. She is also one of the Co-PI’s on American University’s NSF Advance Grant .


Gary P. Corn
Director, Tech, Law and Security Program and Adjunct Professor of Cyber and National Security Law
Washington College of Law, American University

Professor Corn focuses on the legal and policy issues raised at the intersection of national security, law and new technologies. He is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served over twenty-five years a military attorney practicing national security law at highest levels within the Department of Defense. Immediately prior to joining Washington College of Law, he served as the Staff Judge Advocate (General Counsel) to U.S. Cyber Command.

Gary Corn is a retired U.S. Army colonel and a recognized expert on cyber and national security law. Prior to joining the Washington College of Law, he served over twenty-five years on active duty in the U.S. Army as a military attorney practicing national security law at the highest levels within the Department of Defense. His final five years he served as the Staff Judge Advocate (General Counsel) to U.S. Cyber Command. Professor Corn is a frequently sought out speaker at international and national conferences and has published numerous articles, book chapters, and blog posts, including in the American Journal of International Law, The Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, and on Just Security and Lawfare. During his military career, Professor Corn also served as a Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Operational Law Branch Chief in the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Army, a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia, and on deployment as the Chief of International Law for Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan. Professor Corn received a JD from the George Washington University, a BA in International Relations from Bucknell University, an LLM from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, and an MA in National Security Studies from the United States Army War College.

Professor Corn is a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, a member of the editorial board of the Georgetown Journal of National Security Law and Policy, a visiting lecturer at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence, and an Advisory Board Director for the Cyber Security Forum Initiative.

Alex Joel
Senior Project Director & TLS Team Leader
Washington College of Law, American University

Alex Joel is a Scholar-in-Residence and Adjunct Professor at the Washington College of Law. He is conducting research, developing programming, and teaching courses focused on the intersections between the law, national security, technology, and privacy.

Previously, he was a senior officer with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), where until June 2019 he served as the Chief of the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency (CLPT). CLPT works to ensure that the Intelligence Community carries out its national security mission in a manner that protects privacy and civil liberties, and provides appropriate public transparency. As Chief of CLPT, Mr. Joel was the ODNI’s Civil Liberties Protection Officer, a position established by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act of 2004. Mr. Joel served in that position since the ODNI stood up in 2005.

Since 2015, he also served as the ODNI’s Chief Transparency Officer, appointed to the position by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Mr. Joel formerly served on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, the world’s largest association of privacy professionals. Previously, Mr. Joel worked as an attorney at the Central Intelligence Agency's Office of General Counsel.  Before that, he worked in private practice, as a technology attorney at the law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge in Washington, D.C. (now Pillsbury Winthrop), and as the privacy, technology, and e-commerce attorney for Marriott International, Inc. Mr. Joel began his legal career as an officer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

Dr. Sasha O’Connell
Executive in Residence and Director, Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy Master’s Program
School of Public Affairs, American University

Sasha Cohen O’Connell, PhD is a Professorial Lecturer & Executive in Residence in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology, School of Public Affairs, American University where she currently teaches cyber policy at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Additionally, she serves as the Director of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy Master’s program.

O'Connell's career in public service includes time in academia and the executive branch. She has spent the majority of her career at the FBI where she served most recently as the organization's Chief Policy Advisory, Science and Technology and as the Section Chief of Office of National Policy for the FBI's Deputy Director where she led policy engagement with the National Security Council on a wide breadth of issues including cyber critical incident response and lawful access. Among other roles, O'Connell ran the FBI's Strategy Management Office where she led implementation of the Balanced Scorecard for the FBI's Director and served as Chief of the Executive Staff for the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division where she led strategic planning, performance evaluation, training, and communications for the Bureau’s criminal programs. During her time at the FBI O'Connell focused her energy on enhancing strategic, risk-based decision making; driving cross-programmatic strategic initiatives; building partnerships across government and private sector; and driving strategic communications and outreach to enhance the public's understanding of the role of federal law enforcement.

As a founding board member of #NatSecGirlSquad, Ms. O'Connell mentors women entering the national security and law enforcement space and advises organizations on matters related to enhancing diversity in the national security space. Ms. O'Connell and her recent work has been featured in Politico, Lawfare, and the Wall Street Journal among other outlets. She recently co-authored a report on the need for a National Cyber Director which includes an implementation plan for making it happen in 2021.

O’Connell holds a Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College as well as an MPA and Doctorate in Public Administration from American University.

Dr. Nanette S. Levinson
Faculty Co-Director, Internet Governance Lab
School of International Service, American University

Dr. Nanette S. Levinson is one of three faculty directors of the Internet Governance Lab and a tenured Associate Professor in the School of International Service (SIS), International Communication Program, American University where she served as Associate Dean from 1988-2005 and from 2015 - 2018.

She also serves as Academic Director of the SIS/Sciences-Po Exchange Program and as Ph.D. Concentration Chair for Technology, Security, and Social Change. Her research and teaching focus on internet and global governance as well as knowledge transfer and innovation in complex, cross-national, cross-cultural and cross-organizational systems (including online settings). She has studied internet governance since the early days of ICANN and has been involved in research collaborations with colleagues in France, Japan, and at American University.

She served as the first elected Chair of GigaNet (the Global Internet Governance Academic Network). At American University, she designed and directed the first Master’s Program on Advanced Technology Management. She collaborated with the Xerox Corporation, focusing on Xerox rising stars, to design a research-based Program on a systems approach to technology. Her leadership positions also include: first woman Chair of the National Conference on the Advancement of Research, co-founder of the American Society for Public Administration’s Section on Government and Business, and past President/Chair of both the International Studies Association’s International Communication Section and the American Political Science Association’s Information Technology & Politics Section. Additionally, she founded and serves as Co-Chair of the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Science’s Digital and Social Media mini-track on Culture, Identity and Inclusion.  

Dr. Levinson’s writings appear online and in journals ranging from Information Technologies and International Development to International Studies Perspectives. She has also served as Editor of the International Communication Section of The International Studies Compendium. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Her newest co-edited book (with Laura DeNardis, Derrick Cogburn, and Francesca Musiani), is Researching Internet Governance: Methods, Frameworks, Futures, (MIT Press, September 2020). She received her bachelor’s, masters and doctoral degrees from Harvard University.

Dr. Heng Xu
Director, Kogod Cyber Governance Center
Kogod School of Business, American University

Dr. Heng Xu is a Professor of Information Technology and Analytics in the Kogod School of Business at the American University, where she also serves as the Director of the Kogod Cyber Governance Center.

Before joining Kogod in 2018, she served as a professor at the Pennsylvania State University for 12 years, as well as a program director at the National Science Foundation for 3 years. Her recent research focuses on AI governance, privacy protection, data ethics, and algorithmic fairness. Her work has received many awards, including the IEEE ITSS Leadership Award in Intelligence and Security Informatics in 2020, the Operational Research Society’s Stafford Beer Medal in 2018, National Science Foundation's CAREER award in 2010, together with 12 best paper awards and nominations at various leading conferences. Her scholarly work has been published in premier outlets across various fields such as Psychology, Business, Computer Science, and Law. Her interdisciplinary work has been sponsored by many competitive grants from multiple funding agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and National Security Agency. Dr. Xu has served on a broad spectrum of national leadership committees including developing the National Privacy Research Strategy released by the White House in 2016, co-chairing the Federal Privacy R&D Inter-agency Working Group in 2016, and serving on the National Academies Committee on Open Science in 2017-2018.