Wendy R. Sherman, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Delivers the Fall 2015 Kenner Lecture on November 16

November 13, 2015
Wendy R. Sherman, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Wendy R. Sherman, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and the lead U.S. negotiator in the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, will deliver the Fall 2015 Hyunja Laskin '88 and Jeffrey Kenner Lecture on Monday, November 16. Sherman will discuss her experience leading the U.S. negotiating team to the successful conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal.

"The President's charge to all of us was…to make sure that Iran would not be able to obtain a nuclear weapon…that we could be assured that its program was exclusively peaceful and that we had shut down all the pathways for different materials for a nuclear weapon...and we believe we have done that," Sherman said speaking an event at Harvard in October.

Sherman told CNN that she drew on experiences from her first career as a social worker and community organizer in the negotiations. "That skill set came in handy," Sherman said. "You have to see all the parts in front of you. You really learn how to understand people."

During the Iran negotiations, she managed the complex relationship between Washington and Tehran while also managing the interests of the P5+1 (the UN Security Council's five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany).

Sherman was no stranger to high-stakes nuclear negotiations coming into the discussion. As counselor to then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ‘59, Sherman was at the table when the United States sought a deal with North Korea in the 1990s, even accompanying Albright on a historic trip to Pyongyang, the highest-level visit to North Korea by a U.S. official since the end of the Korean War.

Sherman continued to work with Secretary Albright, serving as a founding partner of the Albright Group and then as Vice Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group. Sherman is now serving jointly as an Institute of Politics resident fellow and senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Speaking at Dartmouth College last month, an audience member asked Sherman how she had managed to "succeed while operating in a male-dominated field." Sherman said her answer came from Secretary Albright, "I learned long ago, particularly as a diplomat, that when I sit at that table, I’m the United States of America," she said. The Dartmouth Review further reported that Sherman said, "Understand the power you bring to the table. Own it.”

The Kenner Lecture is presented by the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs. The lecture will take place on Monday, November 16 at 5:00pm in SCI 277.