About Us

About Truman Center

What We Do

Elevate Best-In-Class National Security Leaders Who Reflect The Diversity of America
Modernize National Security Institutions
Promote Principled American Global Engagement
Fortify Domestic Foundations of America’s Global Strength

The national security field does not reflect the diversity of America, which makes America less secure. Truman is the leading national security membership organization that attracts, trains and uplifts early- and mid-career national security professionals.

National security institutions are resistant to change and often fail to adapt to new realities. Truman’s inside/outside perspective - in our community we have people currently working in national security institutions, veterans of those institutions, and seasoned observers of them - gives us an ability to make recommendations for modernization and then see them through.

For nearly 20 years Truman has been a leading voice in promoting a values-based foreign policy, from inside and outside of Washington. Truman promotes principled American global engagement through its programming and members’ own diverse activities inside and outside of government.

There is newfound urgency to domestic democratic renewal. Many Truman members are engaged in this field in their personal or professional capacity, and many bring global expertise and experience that can be relevant at home. Truman is positioned to be a thought and action leader at the intersection of domestic and foreign policy.

The Truman Center is committed to advancing timely, principled, and innovative solutions to complex national security challenges. We believe that the United States must use a wide range of tools that bridge foreign and domestic policy, and go beyond military might, to strengthen national security. We use our voice and platform to advance this view.

Truman defines national security broadly and believes that issues ranging from climate change to immigration to democratic resilience and more all impact America’s national security. Because broader inputs into policymaking processes lead to better policy outcomes, Truman leverages its national network, unwavering commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging, and a growing body of work that extends throughout America to reshape the national security discourse. In short, we bring national security nationwide, and we bring the diverse viewpoints of the American people to national security policymaking. 

Truman explores and demonstrates why national security matters to leaders, communities, and Americans nationwide. Governors, mayors, state legislators, and other local leaders all need to have a nuanced understanding of national security issues, from great power competition to regulating technology to managing migration. Moreover, global engagement benefits local communities, including through peer-learning and tangible economic benefits for constituents. U.S. foreign policy benefits as well because local leaders amplify America’s global influence.

The Truman Center weaves the connective tissue between communities nationwide and Washington through our programs and policy advocacy:

  • We’re innovators in the growing field of city and state diplomacy, building the infrastructure for mayors and governors to engage with counterparts abroad and to inform U.S. foreign policy. In 2024, we’ll debut a detailed map of subnational diplomatic activity happening throughout the United States.
  • We’re examining how local leaders view some of the most consequential national security issues, including U.S. relations with China and nuclear nonproliferation. We bring what we learn back to Washington policymakers to improve their decision-making.
  • Federal immigration policy is in desperate need of reform but beholden to politics. We’re changing the narrative on immigration by facilitating conversations around the country about why humane immigration policy is essential to national security.

As we bridge the divide between Washington D.C. and the rest of the country, we’re reforming the institutions that govern national security.  Too often, those institutions are resistant to change and lack the diversity of perspectives that enable innovation.  To respond to contemporary national security threats - and grasp the opportunities - institutions must be more nimble, diverse and technologically savvy.  The Truman Center advances that goal in several ways:

  • We work closely with our sister organization, the Truman National Security Project, a membership organization composed of close to two thousand policymakers, veterans and political professionals, many of them serving in national security institutions. We build members’ skills and expand the resources available to them so they can be institutional change agents.
  • We reform the structures and practices of institutions, including through our work to diversify the State Department and establish the State Department’s first Unit for Subnational Diplomacy.
  • We identify institutional failures and design solutions. For example, we saw firsthand the inability of the public and private sectors to coordinate during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan; in response, we are developing a playbook for public-private coordination during crises.

We pursue our goals using tools ranging from task forces designed to address specific national security weaknesses, to public reports and statements, to behind-the-scenes advocacy, to convenings nationwide, including our flagship annual conference, TruCon. Join us as we build a national security ecosystem that serves all Americans.

The Truman Vision
We envision an inclusive US foreign policy that makes American lives better because it advances democracy, human rights, prosperity, and security at home and abroad.
Our Mission
We offer timely, principled, and innovative solutions to pressing national security challenges.

The Truman Center pursues this work in concert with its sister organization, the Truman National Security Project (TNSP).
Our History
The Truman Center for National Policy works in tandem with the Truman National Security Project, which unites and equips a diverse community of American leaders to produce innovative and principled solutions to complex national security challenges.

Until 2013, Truman Center for National Policy operated on its own as the Center for National Policy (CNP), an organization founded in 1981 with the goal of promoting national security ideals around the world. In 2013, CNP merged with the Truman National Security Project and became what is today the Truman Center for National Policy, a 501c3 non-partisan organization. Past CNP leaders include: former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, Cyrus Vance, and Ed Muskie; and Deputy Secretary of State Scott Bates.

In both incarnations, we have remained an independent voice in an increasingly partisan political environment, bringing together decision-makers focused on strengthening U.S. national security and democracy at home and across the globe.