Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB)

Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) Members

The Board is composed of nine individuals, five appointed by the President and one each by the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House as well as the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate. Appointees are to be U.S. citizens who are preeminent in the fields of history, national security, foreign policy, intelligence policy, social science, law, or archives.

On March 12, 2015, the President appointed Laura A. DeBonis and Solomon B. Watson IV as members to the Board. On January 14, 2015, the President reappointed William H. Leary.  On March 6, 2014, the Majority Leader of the Senate appointed Sanford J. Ungar. On September 17, 2013, the Minority Leader of the Senate appointed Kenneth L. Wainstein. On November 16, 2012, the President appointed Nancy E. Soderberg as chair of the Board. On May 18, 2012, the Speaker of the House appointed Admiral William O. Studeman. On March 29, 2012, the Minority Leader of the House appointed  David E. Skaggs. There is currently one vacancy.

Members Biographies

Presidential Appointees

Laura A. DeBonis
Laura A. DeBonis was appointed by the President on March 12, 2015.  She has been a consultant to EF Education First since 2013.  Previously, she was Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for the Juliette Kayyem Campaign for Massachusetts Governor from 2013 to 2014.  Ms. DeBonis was a Team Member with the Internet Safety Technical Task Force at the Berkman Center, Harvard University, from 2008 to 2009.  Ms. DeBonis served in various roles at Google from 2002 to 2008, including Director for Book Search Library Partnerships from 2004 to 2008 and Director of AdSense Online in 2004.  She worked for Alter Ego Networks from 2000 to 2001, Organic Online from 1999 to 2000, and Chedd-Angier Production Company from 1993 to 1997.  Ms. DeBonis is a Founding Board Member of the Digital Public Library of America, and a member of the Board of Trustees of WGBH Boston and the Boston Public Library.  She received a B.A. from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.  Ms. Debonis is serving her first term on the Board.

William H. Leary
was reappointed by the President on January 14, 2015. He was the Special Adviser to the National Security Advisor and Senior Director for Records and Access Management on the National Security Staff until his retirement in 2011. In that capacity, he served as Chair of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel and Chair of the Records Access and Information Security Interagency Policy Committee. A strong proponent of governmental transparency, Mr. Leary was one of the primary executive branch officials behind the creation of the Board in 2000 and the development of President Obama’s Executive Order 13526 on Classified National Security Information. Prior to joining the National Security Council staff, he served as the Deputy Director of the Agency Services Division at the National Archives and Records Administration for five years. From 1968 until 1973, Mr. Leary taught American history at the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, and the University of South Alabama. He received his B.A. in foreign affairs and M.A. and A.B.D. in history, all from the University of Virginia. He is serving his second term on the Board.

Nancy E. Soderberg
was reappointed by the President on November 16, 2012. She is a national security expert with vast experience at the White House, United Nations, and Congress. While at the National Security Council, she worked extensively on declassification issues. She is currently the President and CEO of Soderberg Global Solutions and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of North Florida. From 2009-2013, she was the President of the Connect U.S. Fund, a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting U.S. global engagement. Ambassador Soderberg served as Vice President of the International Crisis Group from 2001 until 2005. She was the U.S. Representative for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations from 1997 to 2001, with the rank of Ambassador, and Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Staff Director of the National Security Council from 1993 until 1997. From 1985 to 1992, she served as a Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Ambassador Soderberg has written The Superpower Myth: The Use and Misuse of American Might and co-authored, with Brian Katulis, The Prosperity Agenda: What the World Wants from America - and What We Need in Return. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She earned a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and an M.S. from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Ambassador Soderberg is serving her second term on the Board.

Solomon B. Watson IV
Solomon B. Watson IV was appointed by the President on February 24, 2015.  He was Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of The New York Times Company, positions he held from 2005 to 2006.  He began his career at The New York Times Company in 1974 and held various positions including Senior Vice President and General Counsel from 1996 to 2005, Vice President and General Counsel from 1990 to 1996, General Counsel from 1989 to 1990, Corporate Secretary from 1979 to 1989 and 2000 to 2002, and Corporate Counsel from 1974 to 1979.  Mr. Watson has been a Special Master in the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, and is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.  From 1966 to 1968 he served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in the Military Police Corps.  Mr. Watson received a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.  He is serving his first term on the Board.


Congressional Appointees

David E. Skaggs (Acting Chair)
was appointed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the House, on March 29, 2012. He is the Chairman of the Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics and practices law with the firm McKenna, Long, and Aldridge. He previously served as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education from 2007 to 2009. He served 12 years in Congress from 1987 to1999 as the Representative from the 2nd Congressional District in Colorado, including 8 years on the House Appropriations Committee and 6 years on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. After leaving Congress, he served as Executive Director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the Council for Excellence in Government from 1999 to 2006, and taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, where he recently resumed teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Law School. He has a B.A. in philosophy from Wesleyan University and an LL.B from Yale Law School. Mr. Skaggs is serving his third term on the Board.

Admiral William O. Studeman, USN (Ret.)
was appointed by Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, on May 18, 2012. He recently retired from Northrop Grumman Corporation as Vice President and Deputy General Manager of Mission Systems. Admiral Studeman’s flag tours included OPNAV Director of Long Range Navy Planning; Director of Naval Intelligence; Director of the National Security Agency; and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, with two extended periods as Acting Director. He served as a member of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction and is currently serving on the National Advisory Board on Bio-Security and the Defense Science Board. He holds a B.A. in history from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, and an M.A. in public and international affairs from George Washington University. Admiral Studeman is serving his third term on the Board.

Sanford J. Ungar
was reappointed to the Board by Sen. Harry Reid as Majority Leader of the Senate on March 6, 2014. He recently retired as the tenth President of Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Prior to assuming his position at Goucher College, Mr. Ungar served as Director of the Voice of America, Dean of the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., as the Washington editor of The Atlantic, as managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, and as a staff writer for The Washington Post. He is a former host of “All Things Considered” on National Public Radio and had published six books, including The Papers & The Papers: An Account of the Legal and Political Battle over the Pentagon Papers. Mr. Ungar obtained his B.A. in Government from Harvard College and a Master's degree in International History from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Mr. Ungar is serving his third term on the Board.

Kenneth L. Wainstein
was appointed to the Board by Sen. Mitch McConnell as Minority Leader of the Senate on September 17, 2013. He currently is a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, where he specializes in white collar and criminal defense and corporate investigations. He is an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Center of Law. Previously, Mr. Wainstein served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, first in the Southern District of New York and then in the District of Columbia. In 2001, he served as the Director of the Executive office for U.S. Attorneys. In 2002, Mr. Wainstein joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation as General Counsel. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller appointed him Chief of Staff in 2003. Mr. Wainstein was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia in 2004, a position he held until his appointment as Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Justice Department in 2006. As the first Assistant Attorney General for National Security, he established and led the new National Security Division, which consolidated the Justice Department’s law enforcement and intelligence activities on counter-terrorism and counterintelligence matters. In 2008, after 19 years at the Justice Department, Mr. Wainstein was named Homeland Security Advisor by President George W. Bush. As the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and counter-terrorism, he advised the President on all homeland security matters, chaired the Homeland Security Council, and oversaw the inter-agency coordination process for homeland security and counter-terrorism programs. Mr. Wainstein holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Wainstein is serving his first term on the Board.

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