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. Prior to joining RAND, she was a foreign affairs specialist in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, or OUSD(P).

Peterson is an expert on security cooperation, interagency planning, and stability operations. She developed the first DoD Directive on stability operations and negotiated a National Security Presidential Directive on Stabilization and Reconstruction. Peterson also developed the first interagency strategic planning guidance for a DoD contingency plan and was instrumental in overhauling DoD's security cooperation planning process. At RAND, she has assessed multiple security cooperation programs for the U.S. Air Force and Army and visited each of the Combatant Commands to evaluate their planning process for security cooperation.

Peterson has expertise in a wide variety of countries and regions. While in the Department of Defense (DoD), she traveled to Haiti for discussions with the President and UN Force Commander following the U.S. military deployment in 2004 and visited Argentina for bi-lateral talks on peacekeeping. At RAND, she traveled to Nepal to work with their Ministry of Defense on strategy development. In addition, Peterson has conducted in-depth case studies on Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

Peterson also has expertise on humanitarian affairs, institutional reform, and strategic planning. While in DoD, she managed the Department's strategic planning 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.

Selected Publications

Heather Peterson and Joe Hogler, Understanding Country Planning, RAND (TR-1186-AF), 2012

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)