The essence of policy advocacy is the search for steps political decision makers can take to deal with a given problem—sometimes by seeking consensus, other times engaging in forceful political debate.

After spending a career in senior roles with many of the foreign policy community's leading philanthropies, think tanks, and advocacy groups, I set up a consulting practice focused on organizational strategy, effectiveness, and evaluation. From 2014-2015 I was a consulting program officer for the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, helping wind down its $25M Nuclear Security Initiative. Before that I spent many years at the Stanley Foundation bringing together top experts and officials to develop constructive proposals on a range of subjects from the evolution of the G20, to climate change, the roles of rising powers, and the protection of refugees and their rights. In the process, I forged partnerships with many of the world's leading think tanks. Previously I worked for a number of organizations in the Washington foreign policy community including Human Rights First, Refugees International, Search for Common Ground, British American Security Information Council (BASIC), Arms Control Association, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

My book on the Republican Party's current hot mess of a policy agenda—titled I Call Bullshit: Four Fallacies That Keep Our Politics From Being Reality-Based—was published in August 2016. My two earlier books were co-edited volumes. Together with Michael Schiffer I co-edited Powers and Principles: International Leadership in a Shrinking World (Lexington Books), in which analysts conceived of steps pivotal powers could take toward a stronger rules-based international order. Bridging the Foreign Policy Divide (Routledge) is a collection of bipartisan essays co-edited with Derek Chollet and Tod Lindberg. 

Beyond day-to-day responsibilities for my organizations' programs, I have been active in my personal capacity—writing articles and blogging on foreign policy as well as advising political campaigns and candidates. My essays have appeared in Washington QuarterlyForeign PolicyThe National InterestSurvivalPolicy ReviewWorld Politics Review, and Foreign Service Journal, and opinion pieces in more than a dozen newspapers. I was a main blogger on Democracy Arsenal as well as a regular contributor to TPMCafé and Care2. I served on the foreign policy team for both of President Obama's campaigns and was principal adviser to then-candidate Al Franken from 2005-2009.

In the spirit of thinking globally and acting locally, I won election to the Stevens Point City Council in April 2016. My formal training was at the Harvard Kennedy School, on top of a BA in religious studies from Brown University. A lifelong fan of pop music, I published an essay at PopMatters on what The Clash mean to me and was featured several times on the "Top Five" segment of David Dye's World Cafe on NPR. I live in Stevens Point with my wife Susan Bender, a soprano soloist and voice professor—our college-age daughter having flown the coop.