Skip to Main Content

Leon Fuerth



Page Hall


Leon Fuerth’s career in government spanned 30 years, including positions in the State Department, House and Senate staff, and the White House. His most recent government service was as Vice President Gore’s national security adviser for the eight years of the Clinton administration, where he served on the Principals’ Committee of the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, alongside the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the president’s own national security advisor.

During his 12 years as a foreign service officer with the State Department, Fuerth served in the U.S. Consulate General in Zagreb, Yugoslavia; the office of the Counselor of the Department; the Bureau of Intelligence and Research; and in both the Bureau of Political Military Affairs and the Bureau of European Affairs in several capacities. He became a resource for strategic intelligence (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons); arms control; Soviet and Warsaw Pact affairs; and NATO.

On the Hill, Fuerth worked for the late Congressman Les Aspin as staff director of the sub-committee on covert action, in the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; for Al Gore during the last two years of his term as a member of the House; and for Gore during both his terms as a senator. In the course of this 12-year period, Fuerth was the Select Committee’s expert on arms control verification, in addition to operating as its primary staff resource for monitoring covert action; he was deeply involved in the development of arms control positions by Congressman Gore; and in the Senate, he served as Gore’s staff link to both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Committee on Science and Technology (space sub-committee). He was responsible to Sen. Gore for all aspects of national security, including international trade.

In the White House, Fuerth served as Vice President Gore’s national security adviser for both of his terms in office. During this time, he operated — by presidential order — as a full member of the Principals and Deputies Committees in both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, where he participated in the formation of national policy as an adviser to both the vice president and the president. He was the senior administration staff member responsible for the operation of bi-national commissions with Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Egypt and South Africa, as well as the U.S.-China Environmental Forum, which he personally negotiated. For three years, he coordinated sanctions against Serbia on behalf of the U.S. government, at the request of the Principals Committee. Throughout the Clinton-Gore administration, Fuerth also led efforts to develop the International Space Station with the Russians and other partners; to raise awareness and take action to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa; to denuclearize former Soviet states by providing alternative energy sources for the replacement of certain nuclear reactors and by providing alternative employment opportunities for nuclear scientists in Russia; to win China’s cooperation in protecting the environment and reducing pollution; and to spur foreign investment in Egypt, offering a positive example for other Arab nations involved in the Middle East peace process.

After retiring from government service at the conclusion of the Clinton administration, Fuerth came to The George Washington University to serve as the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of International Affairs from January 2001 to January 2003. He also then served simultaneously as a research professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs. In addition, from 2011-2013 he served as a distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University. Lastly, he served as a practitioner in residence at the George Washington University’s Institute for Global and International Studies from 2013-2016.

During this period, Fuerth served as a member of the National Academy of Science Committee on Climate, Energy and National Security, and to The Alliance on Climate Change, and as a consultant to former Vice President Al Gore.

Fuerth is the founder and director of the Project on Forward Engagement. The Project on Forward Engagement promotes the use of Anticipatory Governance to improve the federal policy process by incorporating: foresight as an actionable component of the policy process; networked systems to support whole-of-government responsiveness; and feedback systems to monitor performance and speed-up learning from results. The Project was funded by the MacArthur foundation, the National Defense University and the George Washington University. More information is available at

Currently, Fuerth serves as a co-researcher on a project on foresight and democracy funded by Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Fuerth holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in history from New York University, as well as a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.

Portable Innovation, Policy Wormholes, and Innovation Diffusion
Environmental Policy and Management
August 07, 2019
This article explores the effects of city managers' career paths on the diffusion of climate policy innovation among municipal governments in the United States.
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Student Achievement on Ohio’s Third-Grade English Language Arts Assessment
January 27, 2021
This report draws on data from the fall administration of Ohio’s annual Third-Grade English Language Arts assessment to examine how the COVID pandemic has affected student learning in the state.
Whatever it Takes: Sexual Harassment in the Context of Resource Dependence
Social Policy
March 09, 2021
Research suggests powerful resource dependencies are present in the public and nonprofit sectors.
Glenn College Releases Review of Columbus Response to 2020 Protests
Civic Engagement, Advocacy and Volunteerism
April 26, 2021
In July 2020, Columbus City leaders commissioned an independent, outside after-action review of the City’s response to protests that took place last summer. Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs were named the lead investigative team.
Resilience Decision Making in Repeated Disasters
Public Finance and Budgeting
June 07, 2021
The research, published in Environment Systems and Decisions Journal, examines resilience decision making in the context of repeated catastrophic events.
Maximizing the Efficiency of Active Case Finding for SARS-CoV-2 Using Bandit Algorithms
June 14, 2021
Using bandit algorithms, the authors of a paper in Medical Decision Making present and test an approach for finding otherwise undetected cases of COVID-19 before they lead to a widespread outbreak.
Not All High-Growth Firms Are Alike: Capturing and Tagging Ohio’s Gazelles
June 29, 2021
In this study, published in Economic Development Quarterly, the authors present a statistically valid typology of high-growth firms, also known as gazelles, to determine if payroll and job growth patterns differ between groups or clusters.
How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Student Learning in Ohio
August 27, 2021
Analysis of Spring 2021 Ohio State Tests
Informational Determinants of Large-area Hurricane Evacuations
Environmental Policy and Management
August 30, 2021
This study, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, presents an experimental design that overcomes the counterfactual problem present in all prior published experiments by relying on an actual storm with a known outcome.