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John Robinson

John Robinson is the NSPC’s Director of Academic Programs. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses focused on national security, including Innovating for Defense, an experiential course that pairs student teams with sponsors from the Department of Defense (DoD) to solve real-world national security problems. His research interests include international security and naval affairs.

John holds a Ph.D. in Politics from the University of Virginia, and a M.A. from the U.S. Naval War College.   

Katie Straight joined Batten following 15 years of diverse, cross-sector non-profit, international NGO, and consulting experience. Her previous work in global development and poverty reduction was largely focused on stakeholder management and communications, capacity development, strategic program design, and impact evaluation. She is passionate about supporting adult learning, strategic and sustainable organizational growth, and organization-wide leadership development. A UVA alum, Katie received a B.A. in History from the University of Virginia and an M.Ed. in International Education Policy from Harvard. In concert with her role as Assistant Director of Graduate Academic Programs, Katie serves as an adjunct lecturer of global development policy at Batten.

Shannon Valentine is the Secretary of Transportation at the Commonwealth of Virginia, a position she has held since 2018. Prior to this role, she was the founding member and co-chair of OneVirginia2021: Virginians for Fair Redistricting and is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Claire Oto

Claire Oto is a policy researcher and writer at the NSPC. She also coordinates the Center’s internship program. Prior to joining Batten, she was a communications specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy.  Claire earned an M.P.P in Space and National Security from George Washington University and holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California San Diego.

Melissa Henrickson

Melissa A. Henriksen serves as Director of Operations and Research Initiatives in the National Security Policy Center. Drawing on 20+ years of experience overseeing a wide array of university research activities, many with a focus on national security and defense, she provides expertise in strategic planning, program and project management, research development, and education, training, and engagement. Melissa holds a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, a B.A. in Chemistry from the College of the Holy Cross and is a certified project management professional.