The Honorable Ashton B. Carter
The Honorable Ashton B. Carter is the Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he leads the Technology and Public Purpose project and serves as the Belfer Professor of Technology and Global Affairs. He is also an Innovation Fellow and member of the Corporation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Carter served as the 25th United States Secretary of Defense, 2015- 2017. For over 35 years, Dr. Carter leveraged his extraordinary experience in national security, technology, and innovation to defend the United States and make a better world. He was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Department’s highest civilian honor, on five separate occasions.
Before becoming Secretary of Defense, Dr. Carter served as Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, 2011-2013, where he oversaw the department’s management and personnel. As Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, 2009- 2011, he managed global logistics and led the Department’s procurement reform and innovation agenda.
Earlier in his government career, Dr. Carter served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. Over the past three decades, Dr. Carter has also served on the Defense Policy Board, the Defense Science Board, and the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board.
In addition to his government service, Dr. Carter has been a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a lecturer at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. At Harvard’s Kennedy School, 1996-2009, he was a Professor of Science and International Affairs and Chair of the International & Global Affairs faculty and co-directed the Harvard-Stanford Preventive Defense Project. He served as a physics instructor at Oxford University, a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University and MIT, and an experimental research associate at Brookhaven and Fermilab National Laboratories. He is also author or co-author of 11 books and more than 100 articles on physics, technology, national security, and management.
Dr. Carter has served on the boards of the MITRE Corporation, Mitretek Systems, and Lincoln Laboratories at MIT, and as a member of the Draper Laboratory Corporation. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Aspen Strategy Group. Currently, he is a member of The MIT Corporation and Delta Airline’s Board of Directors.
Dr. Carter earned his bachelor’s degrees in physics and in medieval history, summa cum laude, at Yale University, where he was also awarded Phi Beta Kappa. He received his doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
A native of Philadelphia, he is married to Stephanie Carter and has two grown children.