Influencing U.S. foreign policy

July 1, 2014

From smoothing over international relations to reducing the threat of nuclear attacks, Jodi (Peterson) Lindley is one of many unsung heroes in the U.S. Pentagon working to protect the United States.

Jodi (’00) came to NNU in 1996 to study history and English education. “My favorite things to study were international history and political science,” she says. “Not surprising considering my post college career choices.” Foreshadowing also came in the form of her involvements both on and off campus, including serving on the SGA Senate for three years and interning with Idaho’s U.S. senator, Larry E. Craig.

Through NNU’s European Study Abroad program directed by Dr. Michelle Marshman, Jodi spent five weeks in France and England. There she gained a new appreciation for international politics and the United States Armed Forces. “I will never forget strolling the beach at Normandy and walking through the cemetery there. To see the German bunkers still intact and view the steep cliffs American and Allied troops had to traverse gave me so much respect for military men and women who choose to serve and sacrifice in support of the Constitution.”

After graduation, Jodi and her husband Jonathan moved to Virginia where she worked on Capitol Hill for Senator Craig for four years and then for a public relations firm. After two years in public relations, Jodi began looking for the next challenge. “I wanted to make sure I was working somewhere that I could make a difference and do work that was important,” she recalls. That desire ultimately brought her to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for Policy.

Since beginning at OSD in 2007, Jodi has served in many areas. For two years she was the country director for Kyrgyzstan, earning recognition for her work with the Kyrgyz and U.S. government agencies. Subsequently she was assigned as the country director for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. In that role she led the Department of Defense in reinvigorating defense conversations with New Zealand after 25 years of cool relations. Jodi drafted the Washington Declaration—an agreement that initiated efforts toward normalizing the defense relationship between the U.S. and New Zealand—which was signed by the U.S. Secretary of Defense and New Zealand Defence Minister.

“It’s a privilege to get to influence and shape U.S. policy in both small and large ways.” Jodi shares. “In the Office of the Secretary of Defense, I view a large part of my job as paving the way to allow our U.S. military forces to do the jobs our political leadership has determined they need to do with all the necessary tools, access and support required.”

Jodi’s latest assignment was in the National Defense University’s National War College. In June she graduated with a master’s of national security strategy, which will serve her in her new post as Southeast Asian regional advisor for Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR). The CTR program is the largest U.S. program to mitigate threats from weapons of mass destruction worldwide and encompasses reducing threats posed by nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and materials. In this position Jodi will guide the development of strategic direction and policies, keep Congressional oversight committees informed and work to develop and negotiate international agreements to enable CTR activities abroad.

“Being inquisitive, questioning assumptions, paying attention to details and speaking up boldly are skill sets that NNU taught me. My time at NNU was also a period of spiritual growth, and it paved the way for me to confidently step out into a new setting and walk boldly the steps that God has directed.”

Dr. Brent Peterson, Jodi’s brother and NNU professor of theology, could not be more proud. “Her ability to create and foster good relations has been one of her greatest assets. Jodi is a credit to her alma mater as she engages in the world as a transforming and redemptive agent.”