The Hagel Advisory Council is an advisory group of top business leaders and entrepreneurs in the Midwest and the nation united by a deep commitment to making a difference in the key national security challenges facing the United States and the world today. The Hagel Advisory Council is named in honor of former U.S. Senator and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who has decades of experience in foreign affairs and national security policymaking and shares the Council's commitment to national security.

Senator Chuck Hagel

Chuck Hagel served as U.S. Senator (R-NE) from 1997 to 2009 and as Secretary of Defense in the Obama Administration from 2013-2015. As a Republican who worked for a Democratic President in the service of our Country, Chuck Hagel strongly signals bipartisanship. Hagel, hailing from Nebraska, represents the heartland of America and seeks with CPOST to give greater voice in American Security Policy to the Midwest. The Midwest is where work is accomplished across the political aisle, bringing Democrats Independents and Republicans together. We know of no better positioned senior government leader nor better region within the United States to bring people together over what brings our Country together as a whole: the Security of our Country.

The Hagel Advisory Council is the cornerstone of CPOST’s efforts to highlight and promote dialogue on security topics vital to our Nation’s prosperity. Members meet regularly with CPOST research staff and current and past government officials to discuss national security challenges facing our country and to share best practices.

The Hagel Advisory Council also helps underwrite the Hagel Lecture Series, an integral part of CPOST’s mission to engage the public on national security issues that impact the country and the world. The Hagel Lecture Series was established in 2019 in collaboration with Secretary Hagel, CPOST, and the University of Chicago. The Lecture Series aims to promote open and informed debate on current foreign policy and national security challenges facing the United States. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright was the inaugural lecturer; the most recent Hagel lecture featured former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul in 2023.

A Message from the Council

HAC Chair

Chris Hasbrook

Chris Hasbrook is Chair of the Hagel Advisory Council of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), a Research Center at UChicago. He is the CEO of Rusoh, Inc., the world's most innovative fully UL Certified Fire Extinguisher company. Click here for his full bio.

HAC Members

John DeBlasio

John P. DeBlasio is an American businessman who has served in various corporate, philanthropic, public service, and appointed leadership roles since 1992. Today, Mr. DeBlasio serves as the Chairman DT Global, DT Institute and ContinuityGS where he continues to innovate and expand the thinking of global security and international development industries. Click here for his full bio.

Aaron Dowd

Aaron T. Dowd is Chief Executive Officer of Rare Earth Salts, a leading rare earth element separation company. He previously served as Managing Partner of Mellontikos, an international, diversified venture development holding company. From 2003–2013, Dowd served as a Senior Advisor and Chief of Staff to The Honorable Chuck Hagel, former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator. Click here for his full bio.

Michael Kennedy

Michael Kennedy is a venture capitalist with a focus on developing and growing early-stage companies. His work involves a wide range of national and international companies in an array of different fields, including nano-technology, digital music, and fashion design. He is also a Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. Click here for his full bio.

Goerge Little

Dr. George Little is a Partner at Brunswick specializing in crisis communications, cybersecurity, reputational and public affairs matters. Prior to joining Brunswick, Dr. Little was head of Marketing and Communications at Booz Allen Hamilton. Click here for his full bio.

Carol Montag

Carol is a progressive educator and Certified Professional Coach with over forty years of independent school experience as a teacher, administrator and mentor. For more than two decades as a Lower School teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, she served on the first grade writing team for Everyday Mathematics. Click here for her full bio.

Bill Obenshain

Bill Obenshain is co-chairman of the Advisory Board for the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST) at the University of Chicago. He is immediate past chairman of the Advisory Board of the John L. Keeley Center for Financial Services at DePaul University. Click here for his full bio.

Anne Wedner

Anne Terman Wedner currently serves as a Commissioner on the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. She has been a leader in grassroots political development. Previous to her political involvement, Anne developed strategic marketing and communications programs in the advertising and the financial services industries. Click here for her full bio.