Heather Peterson

Photo of Heather Peterson
Associate Policy Analyst
Santa Monica Office


M.A. in international relations, Syracuse University; M.P.A. in public administration, Syracuse University; B.A. in international relations, University of Southern Calif


Heather Peterson is a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. She has worked on security cooperation, building partnerships, irregular warfare, counterinsurgency, stability operations, planning, and deterrence issues for the U.S. Army, Air Force, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).

Prior to joining RAND, Peterson was a civil servant in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, or OUSD(P), working on stability operations and interagency planning issues. She developed the first Department of Defense (DoD) Directive on stability operations and the first interagency strategic planning guidance for a DoD contingency plan. She also negotiated a National Security Presidential Directive on Stabilization and Reconstruction and contributed to the first Guidance for Employment of the Force.

Peterson has experience in a range of other issues such as humanitarian affairs, peacekeeping, institutional reform, and strategic planning. She helped develop DoD policy for the U.S. military deployment to Haiti in 2004 as part of the Multinational Interim Force and subsequent UN mission. She also managed the Department's strategic relationship with the Australian Department of Defence and the Canadian Department of National Defence and participated in efforts to better align major DoD processes as part of the Institutional Reform and Governance Roadmap in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review.

Peterson received her B.A. in international relations from the University of Southern California, and her M.A. in international relations and M.P.A. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Honors & Awards

  • Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service, Office of the Secretary of Defense (2006)
  • Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service (Bronze Palm), Office of the Secretary of Defense (2008)