January 31, 2012
START names new executive director
William "Bill" Braniff tapped to lead consortium
BY JESSICA RIVINIUS
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has named William (Bill) Braniff as its new executive director. Braniff will work closely with Gary LaFree, director of START, to develop and implement strategies for the consortium while managing START’s staff and many research projects.
“I am thrilled by the opportunity to join START—a world class organization that plays such an important role informing our national security community,” Braniff said. “START is one of a select few places that practitioners and policy makers can turn to for a thorough, unbiased analysis of the human causes and consequences of terrorism.”
Braniff is well-suited for his role at START after serving as the director of practitioner education and an instructor at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). There he led the practitioner education program, the nation’s largest provider of counterterrorism education to federal, state and local governmental audiences.
Braniff has also taken a keen interest in the field of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). He has consulted with the Department of Justice, the FBI and the National Security Staff, playing a key role in an interagency working group dedicated to the topic.
“We were very impressed by both Bill’s accomplishments and sustained intellectual curiosity over the course of his distinguished career,” LaFree said. “With his engaging leadership style, he will surely maximize the opportunities for START researchers to collaborate with and learn from one another, while informing the government and public about key research and findings.”
As executive director, Braniff will spearhead START’s efforts to inform the national and international debate and establish factual baselines that policy and practice can be built upon.
“START is an entrepreneurial place that educates as well as researches – that is a powerful combination,” Braniff said. “START already has a wonderful 21st century model that draws upon expertise from an extensive network of leading researchers. I see my role as one that will marshal and orchestrate what is already a great team so that we may achieve even more.”
A graduate of the United States Military Academy, Braniff has always had an interest in national security and became more interested in the study of terrorism when he was deployed to Kosovo. It was then that he began reading about national security issues in earnest, and the events of the last decade have ensured that he never stopped.
Following his company command as an armor officer in the U.S. Army, Braniff attended the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, where he received a master’s degree in international relations. Upon graduation, he worked in the nuclear counterterrorism field at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and as a research associate with the CTC Harmony Project at West Point.
Braniff is also heavily involved in public education. His speaking engagements include several “Council on Foreign Relations" and "World Affairs Council” events in cities around the country. In May 2010, Braniff took part in the National September 11th Museum and Memorial Speaker Series and is featured in the Museum’s educational webcast series. He has been interviewed on numerous occasions by National Public Radio, the Wall Street Journal and by a host of additional international, national and local print and radio media outlets.