Dr. Matthew Spence is a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for International Affairs. From 2012 to 2015, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy, where he was the principal advisor to three Secretaries of Defense for U.S. policy towards the Middle East. He was responsible for fourteen countries, including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Israel, Egypt, and the Gulf states. During his time at the Pentagon, Dr. Spence traveled to Israel over 30 times, and played a central role in U.S.-Israel military planning, the Iron Dome program, arms sales, and policy dialogues about Iran, Syria, Egypt, and the Middle East Peace Process.
Dr. Spence also served in a senior role on Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s confirmation and transition team. He received the Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding Public Service.
From 2009 to 20012, Dr. Spence worked at the White House on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Economic Affairs and as Senior Advisor to two National Security Advisors. He also served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team.
Dr. Spence is the co-founder of the Truman National Security Project, and started the Truman Project chapters in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New Haven. He was a Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford University, and has been widely published in national security and foreign policy. Trained as a lawyer, Dr. Spence also practiced criminal and international law in California, and served as a law clerk for Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. A Marshall Scholar and Truman Scholar, Dr. Spence received his doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University; J.D. from Yale Law School; and B.A. and M.A. in International Policy Studies from Stanford University. He was born and raised in southern California.