A Tribute to Dr. Janne E. Nolan

It is with great sadness that the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) mourns the passing of Dr. Janne E. Nolan, Founding Board Member of CSR, and Member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board.

Janne was a strong proponent of practical, non-partisan solutions for anticipating, analyzing and addressing systemic risks to security.  She played a major role in founding CSR in 2017, and contributed invaluable advice and expertise to the work of CSR’s Converging Risks Lab, Center on Strategic Weapons and Center for Climate and Security.

Janne was a pioneer and deeply-respected expert on nuclear security affairs, beginning with her seminal book “Guardians of the Arsenal: The Politics of Nuclear Strategy,”  which influenced generations of scholars and policy-makers in the field. She also founded and chaired the Nuclear Security Working Group (NSWG) for many years – a formidable non-partisan network that inspired much of the work of the CSR.

Janne held senior staff positions in the Department of State and the U.S. Senate, and was a prominent part of a number of blue ribbon commissions, including as Chairman of the White House Presidential Advisory Board on U.S. Arms and Technology Policy, and member of the National Defense Panel, the Department of State’s Accountability Review Board, the Congressionally-appointed Panel to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the U.S., and the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board.

In recognition of her extraordinary contributions to society, Janne’s CSR family offers the following personal testimonials (updated as more are received).

“Janne was a close friend and mentor, and we will miss her terribly. Every conversation with her elevated us above the din and clamor of an increasingly cynical world. She was graceful, elegant, funny, irreverent and incredibly generous. Through her good humor, she made Washington much more fun than it should have been, all while doing very serious work to prevent existential threats to human civilization. Though she was pragmatic and greatly valued bipartisan cooperation, she often warned against the tyranny of consensus. She was deeply serious about her work, but  she ‘always looked on the bright side of life.’ In other words, she contained multitudes. A leading light in the world has gone out, but her legacy and foresight will shine for as long as there is a need for it.”Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, CEOs, The Council on Strategic Risks; Co-Founders, The Center for Climate and Security

“Janne’s passing is a great loss to me personally, to the national security community, and to the nation as a whole. She was a great friend, and one of those all-too-rare people who combined intellectual brilliance with greatness of soul. Even more rare was her ability to make us laugh, and remember to embrace life with all its joys, even during times of great tension and angst. Janne always lit up whatever gathering she joined, and inspired all she encountered to look past the petty struggles and disputes of the day, past their own prejudices and preconceived notions, and seek out lasting solutions to the existential issues confronting us all. She will be greatly missed.” J. Robert Barnes, BG, USA (Ret), Founding Board Member, The Council on Strategic Risks; Member of the Advisory Board, the Center for Climate and Security; Member, The Nuclear Security Working Group

“Janne was my flight leader—a brilliant and original thinker, a consummate politician, and, yet, a completely non-partisan builder of consensus. I was honored to fly her wing in the halls of Congress, deep in the bureaucratic recesses of the Executive Office Building, and in the lofty heights of Foggy Bottom. She believed fervently in doing the right thing to ensure the security of our great nation and advocated for those policies with courage, audacity, and a simple view that Congress and the Administration, Republican or Democrat, shared her love of Country and in the end would do the right thing. Wanda and I remember being with her in a café in Tel Aviv, moved to laughter listening to her stories of Paris and a life well lived.  We will miss her charm, her quirky self-deprecating sense of humor, her witty conversation, her kindness, and most of all our friendship with the exceptional person she was.”Lieutenant General John Castellaw, USMC (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Council on Strategic Risks and The Center for Climate and Security; Member, The Nuclear Security Working Group

“Janne Nolan was an early female pioneer in the field of nuclear security and arms control.  From her earliest professional days, she brought professional rigor, sound judgment and collaborative qualities to all her efforts.  She worked at the highest levels, and in the farthest reaches.  She was unafraid to enter new domains or take on new challenges.  Janne worked selflessly on behalf of her vision to carefully manage the spread and influence of nuclear weapons and to educate the next generation of nuclear security professionals.  Her  laughter, smile and spirit will be an enduring flame, inspiring future generations.” – Sherri Goodman, Chair of the Board, The Council on Strategic Risks; Senior Strategist, The Center for Climate and Security

“Janne was truly one of a kind in a city where everyone aims to be special. She brought a refreshing good humor to the tired practices and pretenses of policy research. She aimed for nothing less than real insights that would make a demonstrable difference in cynical and unresponsive institutions. She was also quick to leave the business of state aside and to show up for her colleagues and friends. I’ll never forget her empathy and wisdom when I needed it most — she will be missed by all she touched.”Lukas Haynes, Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security

“Janne was a bright and guiding light in the world, demanding deft and relentless focus on managing existential threats of nuclear proliferation and climate change. She gathered both experienced and beginning followers to take action, embrace her wisdom, and move forward to get big things done. Many greyed  flag officers like me or high energy interns like so many she attracted, will forever be grateful for her friendship and guidance.” – Lieutenant General Arlen D. Jameson, USAF (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Council on Strategic Risks and The Center for Climate and Security; Former Deputy Commander in Chief, US Strategic Command

“Janne was a friend and caring colleague on the faculty of the George Washington University and the Board of the Council on Strategic Risks. She drove bipartisan agreement and ethical action on some of the most complex and contentious foreign policy issues while never taking herself too seriously.  She was a mentor to countless students challenging them to be better thinkers with her wit and candid insights about Washington. She was exceeding generous, eloquent and graceful. Whenever Janne made an entrance it was grand. A prolific author, her ideas will continue to inspire.” –  Dr. Marcus King, Vice-Chair of the Board, The Council on Strategic Risks; Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security

“Janne was an unmatched friend and mentor in so many of our lives. Much of our work at CSR is inspired by her conviction that diverse views and multidisciplinary eyes were required to see the world more clearly. She taught us the power of building connections, even when (or perhaps especially when) you don’t know where they will lead. Not one to care about political ties, media appearances, or other arbitrary metrics, she mastered the practice of cultivating the best people with the best ideas to address the world’s hardest problems. Janne was the kind of person who started every conversation asking about you, your health, your family, your life. And she truly cared about the answers, always offering help, advice, perspective, and laughter. We miss her, and will do our best to continue carrying forward and passing on all she gave to us.” – Christine Parthemore, Director of the Climate-Nuclear-Security Project, The Council on Strategic Risks

Janne Nolan and friends in Talloires, France, doing serious work to combat existential threats. May 7, 2015



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