Tommy Ross, M.A. ’02

Categories: Alums in the World

What do you do? Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 2.17.16 PM

I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security Cooperation. I lead an office responsible for overseeing the Department’s policy and strategy relating to U.S. defense engagements with partner nation militaries and defense ministries around the world.

What do you like best about what you do?

I’m fortunate that my office was established within the Department as a change agent. I have an opportunity every day to trouble-shoot, problem-solve, and ultimately help our government work better. Moreover, to the degree our work is successful, we’re contributing to addressing global security challenges that threaten the lives of millions of global citizens. So having a chance to contribute to the solutions to problems with such tremendous impact on our world is what I find most fulfilling about this position.

How did Union prepare you for this?

In this position, as well as in previous jobs on Capitol Hill, I’ve been consistently confronted with dilemmas that could serve as case studies in each of my Ethics courses at Union. Union exposed me to intellectual frameworks that help illuminate difficult ethical questions, guide ethical responses, remind that there are no easy answers, and enable thoughtful action that embraces—rather than being paralyzed by—tensions between foundational principles or policies. This ethical perspective has been immeasurably valuable to me throughout my career and forms the core of my approach to decision-making.

How do you stay connected to Union?

Not closely enough, unfortunately. Working within government for the last 15 years, I have been surprised by how limited the faith community’s engagement with policymakers on national security issues has been. I’ve thus been thrilled to see Union’s public policy voice grow louder in recent years, especially with its Union on the Hill seminars, and I’m eager to be a part of a more robust dialogue.

What would you say to someone applying to Union?

Union was an intellectual crucible for me: it forced me to confront stubborn personal and intellectual assumptions, invested me with deep passion for justice and ethical decision-making, and forged in me the core principles and instincts that I believe, and hope, represent my best self. My time at Union changed my life, and I remain grateful for each day I spent there