Dr. Denise Natali serves as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO). She previously served as the Director of the Center for Strategic Research at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University where she provided strategic analysis and support to senior leaders at the Joint Staff, Secretary of Defense, Combatant Commands, and other U.S. government stakeholders on issues related to the Middle East, Iraq, trans-border Kurdish issue, countering ISIS, and post-conflict stabilization.
Dr. Natali has more than thirty years of experience in post-conflict relief, reconstruction, and stabilization. She worked as Director of Cross-Border Operations for a non-governmental organization in Peshawar, Pakistan, a specialist for the American Red Cross Gulf Relief Crisis Project in Washington D.C., and Information Officer for the Disaster Assistance Relief Team in northern Iraq as part of the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance’s effort in support of Operation Provide Comfort II. Dr. Natali returned to post-Saddam Iraq, where she engaged in research, teaching, and university start-ups in the Kurdistan Region, including positions as Associate Professor, Director of Research Institutes, and Dean of Students at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimaniya.
Dr. Natali is the author of numerous publications, op-eds, and short analyses on Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Kurds, and countering ISIL. Her books include The Kurdish Quasi-State: Development and Dependency in Post-Gulf War Iraq and The Kurds and the State: Evolving National Identity in Iraq, Turkey and Iran, which received the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title.
Dr. Natali received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a B.A. in government at Franklin & Marshall College. She studied at L’Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris, the University of Tehran Deh Khoda Language Program, and Tel Aviv University. Dr. Natali is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and speaks French and conversational Kurdish and Farsi.