Ms. Michele Markoff is the former acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Cyberspace Security in the Department of State’s newly established Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy. She is also the recipient of the prestigious National Defense University College of Information and Cyberspace (CIC) 2023 Admiral Grace Hopper Award for distinguished service in the fields of information and cyberspace in national security, with a track record in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. She was concurrently made CIC’s inaugural Distinguished Scholar for her years of support to NDU’s cyber curriculum.
From 1998 to 2023, Ms. Markoff was the senior State Department subject matter expert overseeing the development and implementation of foreign policy initiatives on cyberspace issues, in 2011 becoming the Deputy Coordinator for Cyber Issues in the Secretary of State’s Office of Cyber Issues and later, in 2019, the Acting Coordinator. She coordinated U.S. policy on the spectrum of cyber-related issues across the Department and interagency, and developed diplomatic strategies to encourage states to join the United States in taking steps to cooperate internationally to enhance and preserve global cyber stability.
Ms. Markoff implemented those strategies through negotiations in a wide variety of venues. Ms. Markoff was the U.S. lead negotiator at the UN for six successive Groups of Governmental Experts (GGE) in 2005, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2019, and the 2019-2021 Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) and final GGE. Both the GGE and OEWG reached consensus on two reports in 2021 designed to further understanding and implementation by all states, of the framework for responsible state behavior in cyberspace. In September 2019, Ms. Markoff led diplomatic efforts to engage 27 states to sign a Joint Statement on Advancing Responsible State Behavior in Cyberspace which included a commitment to, “work together on a voluntary basis to hold states accountable when they act contrary to this framework.” Ms. Markoff is also the architect of agreements on cyber confidence-building measures in the Organization of Security Cooperation in Europe, and similar initiatives in the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Organization of American States. In June 2013, Ms. Markoff’s initiatives led to the successful completion of the first-ever bilateral agreement on confidence-building in cyberspace between the United States and the Russian Federation.
An expert in Russian and Chinese military affairs, Ms. Markoff spent the first half of her career in strategic nuclear arms control positions, including State Department Advisor and then Executive Secretary to the START I Talks, and Senior Policy Advisor and Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency’s Policy Planning Group. Ms. Markoff has a B.A. in International Relations from Reed College, an M.A. in International Relations and an M.Phil. in Political Science from Yale University, and a M.Sc. in National Security Strategy from the National War College of the United States (where she received the NDU President’s Award for Strategic Vision and Excellence in Research and Writing). She attended high school in the former Soviet Union and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.