About the Expert
Ann Norris is a senior fellow for women and foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Norris has more than two decades of experience working in Congress, for the executive branch, and at the local level on a range of national security issues with a particular emphasis on gender equality.
During the Barack Obama administration, Norris served at the State Department as senior advisor and counselor to the ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. In that role, she focused on gender-based violence, gender issues in Afghanistan and the Asia-Pacific region, and the empowerment of adolescent girls. Specifically, Norris worked extensively on the development and launch of the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, and spearheaded the State Department’s role in Let Girls Learn, a presidential initiative aimed at improving access to education for adolescent girls. At the end of the Obama administration, she served as principal deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs.
From 2005 to 2014, Norris served as senior foreign policy and defense advisor and legislative assistant to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). In that role, Norris handled all issues relating to Senator Boxer’s responsibilities to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and served as the lead staff member of the subcommittee on international operations and organizations, human rights, democracy, and global women’s issues. During her time in the Senate, Norris focused extensively on issues involving sexual assault in the U.S. Armed Forces and the Peace Corps, and on gender-based violence and women’s rights globally.
In recent years, Norris has worked as a consultant to the office of the mayor of the city of Los Angeles on the CHANGE Initiative, an international city network focused on achieving gender equality through the pursuit of inclusive city policies and programs. From 2019 to 2020, she worked for National Security Action to develop a strategy for gender equality that could inform an incoming U.S. administration. She also recently authored a CFR report on reforming the international architecture for gender equality.
Norris is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and holds a master of arts degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College.
UN Women has the potential to make serious progress on gender equality and equity—but the U.S. government needs to help make this a reality.