The Honorable Erin C. Conaton is a proven national security leader both in the legislative and executive branches, with particular expertise in making strategic decisions that impact national security, as well as the lives of service members and their families, in times of constrained defense budgets. Since leaving government, she has worked primarily as President of Conaton Strategies, LLC, often in partnership with J.A. Green & Co.
From June 2001 until March 2010, Erin served on the bipartisan staff of the House Armed Services Committee, the committee responsible for oversight of the U.S. Department of Defense and for drafting, negotiation, and passage of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Until August 2005, she was responsible for oversight of a range of national security issues, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and acquisition policy. Following that term, she served both as Minority (2005-2007) and Majority (2007-2010) Staff Director of the HASC. In these positions she led the professional staff as part of a bipartisan team. This particularly involved negotiating positive outcomes to many of the most contentious issues at stake in the annual NDAAs.
In 2010, Erin was confirmed as Under Secretary of the Air Force. In this role, she served as deputy to the Secretary of the Air Force in executing his responsibilities, including the organizing, training and equipping, and providing for the welfare of more than 510,000 Active, Guard, and Reserve airmen and 170,000 civilians. Additionally, she served as Chief Management Officer for the Air Force with responsibility for the business operations of the Air Force and was the senior official charged with presenting the proposed annual Air Force budget of over $115 billion (in Fiscal Year 2012) to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
In 2012, she was again confirmed by the Senate to a senior leadership role as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. In this regard, she served as the senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense on all matters concerning recruitment, career development, military health care, and pay and benefits for 1.4 million active duty military personnel, 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel, and over 782,000 DoD civilians. She was additionally responsible for overseeing the overall state of military readiness and for leading a global workforce of over 30,000 professionals serving the personnel and readiness missions.
Prior to her service on Capitol Hill, she was Research Staff Director for the US Commission on National Security/21st Century (the Hart Rudman Commission). She has also served in fellowship positions at the National Security Council Staff and the Central Intelligence Agency. In the private sector, she was a Financial Analyst at the then-Solomon Brothers.
Erin received her BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and her MA in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. She is currently completing her Ph.D. from Fletcher with a doctoral dissertation focused on Congressional authorities to the military in post-9/11 military actions.