Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) - Members
The PIDB consists of nine members, five appointed by the President, and one each by the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House, and the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate. The PIDB’s founding statute requires the appointment of U.S. citizens who are preeminent in the fields of history, national security, foreign policy, intelligence policy, social science, law, or archival science.
Acting Chair and Vice Chair Alissa M. Starzak was appointed on February 27, 2018, to serve on the Board by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. The current authorizing legislation extends her term to February 15, 2022. On July 1, 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed John F. Tierney to a new three-year term on the Board until June 30, 2023. On August 24, 2020, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appointed Harold W. (“Trey”) Gowdy, III to a three-year term on the Board. On October 8, 2020, the President of the United States Donald Trump appointed Ben Powell and Michael G. Lawrence to three-year terms on the Board.
Current Members Biographies
On August 24, 2020, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appointed Harold W. (“Trey”) Gowdy, III to a three-year term on the Board. Mr. Gowdy served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina’s 4th congressional district from 2011-2019. In Congress, Rep. Gowdy’s committee assignments included the Judiciary Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Education and Workforce Committee, and the Ethics Committee. He chaired the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the U.S. House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attacks in Benghazi. Prior to entering Congress, he served for 16 years as a prosecutor in South Carolina, including six years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and federal prosecutor, and ten years as the elected 7th Circuit Solicitor for Cherokee and Spartanburg Counties. Mr. Gowdy holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Baylor University (1986), and Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina (1989). He clerked for John Gardner on the South Carolina Court of Appeals and for U.S. District Judge George Anderson, Jr. After retiring from Congress, Mr. Gowdy returned to Greenville, SC where he is a Partner in the law firm Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough. Mr. Gowdy is a public speaker and the author of Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: Using the Power of Questions to Communicate, Connect, and Persuade (August 18, 2020).
Alissa M. Starzak was appointed on February 27, 2018, by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. She has served as Acting Chair and Vice Chair since June 5, 2020. The current authorizing legislation extends her term to February 15, 2022. Presently, Ms. Starzak is Head of Public Policy at Cloudflare, a web security and optimization company. Prior to joining Cloudflare, Ms. Starzak worked for the U.S government in a variety of national security positions. Most recently, she served as the 21st General Counsel of the U.S. Department of the Army, after confirmation by the Senate. As General Counsel of the Army, she was the primary legal counsel to the Secretary of the Army and the Army’s chief legal officer. Her appointment as Army General Counsel followed service as the Deputy General Counsel for Legislation at the U.S. Department of Defense, where she advised on legal issues with a legislative or congressional component, and managed an office of attorneys responsible for developing the Department of Defense legislative program. Prior to moving to the Department of Defense, Ms. Starzak served as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, focusing on legal issues relating to intelligence collection and covert action, and as an Assistant General Counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of General Counsel. She also worked in private practice in Washington, D.C., and clerked for The Honorable E. Grady Jolly, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She graduated from Amherst College and the University of Chicago Law School, where she served as an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review. Ms. Starzak is serving her first term on the PIDB.
On July 1, 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed John F. Tierney to a new three-year term on the Board. He previously was appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives on July 11, 2017, for a three-year term that was extended to June 29, 2021 in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. He resigned his position on the Board on June 30, 2020 to realign the House of Representatives appointments. His current three-year term will end on June 30, 2023. He is presently Executive Director at the Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation and its sister organization, The Council for a Livable World. His work focuses on national security issues, nuclear non-proliferation, missile defense and areas concerning peace and security. Mr. Tierney is a former nine-term Massachusetts Congressman who served on the House Intelligence Committee and chaired the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee. His 18-year career included oversight of the Government Accountability Office’s annual assessment of the Pentagon’s Weapons Selection Programs and reform of overall Pentagon spending. Additionally, Mr. Tierney was a senior member of the Education and Workforce Committee of the House, where he served as Ranking Member on the Health, Employment, Labor and Pension Subcommittee, and served on the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee where he had a prominent role in several Higher Education Reauthorization and Workforce Opportunity Reauthorization Acts and related legislation. Prior to being elected to Congress, Mr. Tierney was a Partner in the law firm Tierney, Kalis and Lucas, counsel for several community governments, a Trustee of Salem State College (now University) and member and President of the local Chamber of Commerce. He holds a B.A. from Salem State College and J.D. from Suffolk University Law School.