Name: Rob Berschinski
Position: Director for security and human rights policy, National Security Council
Best known for: Berschinski, 32, is working to empower women living in conflict areas overseas and to support the end of human trafficking at home and abroad.
Though the United States has been a leader in the fight against human trafficking, President Obama said more needed to be done, and in a speech in September, he announced a series of new initiatives. Since then, Berschinski and others at the White House have worked to create a federal strategic action plan to strengthen the resources and services for trafficking victims.
Human trafficking, which affects more than 20 million people, involves the illegal trade of humans through force, fraud or coercion for commercial sexual exploitation or labor.
Berschinski also coordinates the implementation of an executive order that strengthens protections against human trafficking in federal contracting by raising standards to ensure that contractors and their employees do not engage in trafficking-related practices. He’s working, too, with members of the faith-based community to raise awareness about human trafficking.
In addition, Berschinski’s work includes protecting women in conflict areas and promoting the role of women in peace processes. Key to this effort has been implementing the first U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which outlines how the United States will better coordinate its foreign policy efforts to advance women’s inclusion in all aspects of peace efforts. Berschinski has worked with a dozen federal agencies on how each will implement the National Action Plan.
Government work: Berschinski began his federal career in 2008 as a Presidential Management Fellow in the Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. He joined the National Security Council in 2010. Prior to these roles, he served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, with assignments in Korea, Germany, Rwanda and Iraq.
Motivation for service: Berschinski said his parents instilled in him an ethos of the responsibility to serve the country, and after graduating from Yale University, he joined the military. “I graduated right after Sept. 11, 2001, and like many others, I was powerfully motivated to assist in whatever way I could. Today, I work in a job that grants me the tremendous honor of advancing the national interest by improving the lives of others around the world,” he said.
Biggest challenge: Coordinating policy among many different organizations, each with its own structure and way of doing business, can sometimes pose a challenge. But, he added, getting feedback that one of the policies or programs that he worked on made a difference in someone’s life makes the challenges seem insignificant.
Quote: “Whether coordinating U.S. government efforts to end modern slavery or empowering women in areas of conflict overseas, I’m motivated every day by the example of trafficking survivors advocating for tough new laws in their countries so that others won’t have to go through what they did, or by women who demand the same basic rights as their male counterparts while working for peace in war-torn countries. I’m motivated to work as hard as I can simply to honor these efforts on behalf of the president and the American people.”
For a full profile, go to The Fed Page at washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-government.