Kathryn Wheelbarger was the Rosenblatt Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute in 2021, where her research focused on U.S. security and defense policy in the Middle East.From 2017-2020, she served as acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. In that role, she oversaw policy issues related to the nations and international organizations of Europe, including NATO; Russia; the Middle East; Africa; and the Western Hemisphere.
From 2011–2017, Wheelbarger served as policy director and counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, where she specifically handled the committee's intelligence portfolio for Chairman John McCain (R-AZ); and as deputy staff director and senior counsel on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she performed budget and policy reviews of intelligence community programs, led investigations, and developed policy positions for Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI).
Prior to working in Congress, Wheelbarger served from 2007-2009 as counsel to Vice President Richard Cheney and general counsel to the vice president’s 80-person staff. From 2005-2007, she served as counselor to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and associate general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security. Before entering government service, Wheelbarger was a litigator with two law firms and served as a judicial clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Boise, Idaho. She is a summa cum laude graduate from UCLA and cum laude graduate from Harvard Law School.