- Ph.D, Public Administration, American University; MPA, American University; BA, Political Science, Barnard College
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 at American as well as a Senior Advisor in the National Security Sector of Guidehouse LLC (formerly PwC Public Sector) where she continues to engage with federal law enforcement agencies on issues of strategic concern.
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. 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. O’Connell holds a Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College as well as an MPA and Doctorate in Public Administration from American University. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter, dog and cat.
Area of Expertise
FBI strategy, risk management, organizational design and decision-making; workforce diversity in law enforcement/national security; U.S. cyber policy including encryption/”lawful access”
Sasha Cohen O’Connell is a former senior executive at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who is currently an Executive-in-Residence and the Director of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy Program at the School of Public Affairs, American University. She can comment on strategy, risk management, organizational design and decision-making in government with a specialty in federal law enforcement and the National Security Council. She has expertise in workforce diversity in law enforcement/national security and U.S. cyber policy to include encryption/”lawful access.” She has experience with print, online, and broadcast media. She most recently appeared on the Lawfare podcast where she discussed her experience as Chief Strategy Officer at the FBI with Ben Wittes. She is currently the host of the Mission Is Possible podcast which focuses on management issues in the national security field. She is a Board Member of #NatSecGirlSquad an organization focused on building competent diversity in the national security space.