Director’s Corner: April 2019

Tackling the hard issues.

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Dear Friends of PONI,

The first few months of 2019 have flown by and we at PONI have been busy! We were glad to see so many friendly faces at the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference in March and hear the lively debates that came out of the panels. But there seemed to be a sentiment of frustration that came up in discussion post-Nukefest that the nuclear field isn’t doing enough to tackle the issues of diversity, inclusion, and retention. We believe these are important issues to discuss.

PONI is proud to have diversity, inclusion, and retention as our core mission. We strive to build a “big tent” by convening and promoting new and diverse voices in the field. When we talk about diversity, we don’t just mean it in the traditional sense, we believe in the inclusion of diverse opinions as well. We can’t learn or better ourselves in an echo chamber, we need engagement with people who disagree with us or see things differently. We actively try to bring together people from throughout the field to learn from one another’s experiences. That said, we want to promote respectful disagreements and debates based on facts. In a world where name calling on Twitter is the norm, we need empathy. Empathy makes you better at your job and a better person in general.

PONI also cares very strongly about retention in the field, in fact, PONI was created to do just that.
As we have grown as a program, so have our efforts to engage people throughout the full pipeline. Our Conference Series provides a platform for anyone, from undergraduate students to early-career professionals, to present their research. The Nuclear Scholars Initiative aims to provide top graduate students and young professions with the opportunity to engage with senior leaders and produce a research project. Scholars also engage in lively debates on tough issues like no first use and low-yield nuclear weapons and participate in tabletop exercises. Finally, the Mid-Career Cadre offers those who have been in field for five or more years educational and developmental opportunities through international exchanges, multilateral dialogues, and opportunities to mentor young professionals in other PONI programs.

Finally, we want to thank all our participants for helping us walk the walk. Diversity, inclusion, and retention are hard issues to tackle, but PONI is determined to try. If you have programming suggestions for helping us accomplish this goal, send them our way at

We appreciate all your support helping make PONI what it is today. Make sure to connect with us on Twitter (@csisponi) or via our PONI Newsletter to find out about upcoming events. We look forward to engaging with as many of you as possible over the next few months, and don’t forget, our Mid-Career Cadre application is due on May 2nd!


Director, Project on Nuclear Issues

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