Major Fellowship Activities: Blankenship worked on PSR’s Energy Security program, the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository project and other nuclear non-proliferation initiatives by PSR and the wider CSO community, as well as coordinated PSR’s student chapters for their work on both non-proliferation and climate change. She attended Congressional hearings and conferences as well as meetings with NGO staff focusing on domestic and international non-proliferation issues and participated in several dozen Senate and House staff educational meetings alongside other organizations, representing PSR and voicing its concerns over the health and security risks. Her writings on non-proliferation consisted of a number of factsheets that were published online and distributed at meetings, including “Dealing With Spent Nuclear Waste,” “A New Level of Hazardous Risk,” and “Bringing Hiroshima Home: Concerns for the Transport of Nuclear Waste”; further, her analysis of transportation risks associated with commercial waste at Yucca Mountain was submitted into the official record for the Supplemental Yucca Mountain Repository EIS scoping report to the Department of Energy.
Within PSR’s wider Energy Security program she wrote “Oil’s Impact: The Role of Oil in Health and Security,” a report on the health and security consequences of continued oil dependency, continuing a project started by a former PSR Scoville Fellow. This was followed by a second report exploring some of the wider security implications of global oil dependency, focusing on issues such as resource conflict, petroviolence, anti-democratic movements and climate change. In her additional role as the National Student Coordinator Blankenship managed the PSR national student campaign entitled “Prescription for a Secure and Healthy World,” which focused on nuclear proliferation issues, global warming and energy security for 30 student chapters. She created resource materials including factsheets and presentations, recruited speakers, distributed materials, helped coordinate events in nine states, and helped start new Student PSR chapters in Iowa, Missouri, New York, and Wisconsin.
Upon completion of her fellowship Blankenship was hired to stay on at PSR as an energy and security analyst and the national student coordinator in order to continue the work with emphasis on Iran, energy security, foreign policy, non-proliferation, and global warming. At the same time she interned with both the Alliance for Peacebuilding and Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs looking at Early Warning mechanisms, Track II Diplomacy, the Global Peace Index with the first, and Middle East security, nuclear non-proliferation and natural resource conflict with the latter – including publishing a paper on water conflict (“Kashmiri Water: Good Enough for Peace?”, 2007).
Current Activities: Blankenship is the Regional Peace and Conflict Advisor with the UN World Food Program covering the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. Based in Cairo she provides technical support and guidance to 19 countries on peace, conflict and emergency preparedness, ranging from political and security analysis to ensuring conflict sensitivity across programs and operations, to strategic risk forecasting and developing contingency plans for conflicts and other emergencies. In a part-time capacity she is also a Conflict Analyst and Humanitarian Access Advisor with the Centre for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (INDOPACOM, DOD), supporting CFE to develop new content and training in advanced Civilian-Military engagement and operational planning for conflict zones and complex emergencies. She develops and delivers training to the U.S. military and allied forces on operating in complex emergencies, and conducts in-depth research and scenario forecasting for conflict-linked emergencies in the Asia Pacific in conjunction with senior military leadership. Finally, she is the Co-Founder and Director of Programs of Equal Playing Field, a non-profit challenging gender inequality in and through sport at grassroots and elite levels. Since 2017 they have set five Guinness World Records in soccer, engaged 8000 girls and women through local camps, and are represented by female athletes, coaches, trainers, referees, and leading women in sport from 32 countries across six continents.
Before assuming her current jobs with WFP and CFE, she spent 2016-2019 as the Regional Analyst for the International NGO Safety Organisation’s Syria program, assessing geopolitical, Whole-of-Syria and crossborder conflict and security dynamics in order to advise 168 humanitarian NGOs on safety and access at operational and strategic levels. Based in Jordan she also worked in Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon.
During 2015 and 2016 she worked in Timor-Leste for Social Impact (DC) to evaluate 10 policing and conflict prevention programs for the US, Australian and New Zealand governments as the team’s Conflict Mitigation and Management Specialist. She also worked with Wildlife Conservation Society’s Global Intelligence Director to map and profile international criminal syndicates in Asia, Africa and Europe involved in wildlife trafficking, using social determinants of terrorism modelling and broader political economy analysis to support national and international law enforcement agencies’ counter-trafficking operations. The role also involved direct support to the WCS Indonesia Trafficking Unit and publishing two reports co-authored with Dr. Timothy Wittig. In 2015 she was also accepted as an Associate for Europe Conflict and Security Consulting, Ltd (ECAS), an association of conflict and security specialists who work globally at the intersection of security, development and corporate investment to provide services in armed violence reduction, stabilization and prevention, training, analysis and evaluation in fragile and war-torn countries. Her expertise here focused on conflict-sensitive extractives in Afghanistan and comparative economies.
From 2010 to 2014 Blankenship worked for a range of local and international non-governmental and development organizations in Afghanistan as a researcher, program manager and overall conflict specialist. At the Peace Training and Research Organisation (PTRO) she managed projects related to the disarmament and reintegration of insurgents, peacebuilding, grievance resolution and formal-informal justice mechanisms; conducted risk assessments; and evaluated other NGO and agency programs. Levant 7/Sayara Strategies she managed projects and advised on conflict, security and political dynamics; stabilization (atmospherics and strategic communications); policing and local governance; and natural resources / extractives issues including counter-narcotics. With Altai Consulting her work centred on sub-national governance, conflict and rule of law, managing two programs on election monitoring and powerbroker mapping/political economy analysis. While in Afghanistan she also took on technical consultancies for the UN Environmental Program on natural resource conflict management and peacebuilding (paper published in 2013); Mercy Corps to conduct the final evaluation of a three-year resource management project; and Oxfam America researching aid effectiveness in conflict zones–whose paper was published as part of Oxfam’s Backgrounder Series and presented at the International Humanitarian Studies Conference on Human Security in Istanbul in October 2013.
Between graduate school and Afghanistan she worked for Janusian (Risk Advisory Group) in the UK, as a research analyst in political risk and terrorism. She monitored global terrorist activity, counter-terror operations and threat indicators, analyzed the material and distilled the meaningful intelligence for senior analysts and clients including government ministries. She was responsible for writing the relevant briefs and reports, as well as managing the central database and all of the interns related to the Terrorism Tracker project. On request she also translated recordings in Spanish for the Business Intelligence branch of the company as part of their due diligence investigations.
Blankenship received two MAs with honours from the War Studies Department and the School of Law at King’s College, University of London in 2008 and 2009 in Conflict Security and Development, and International Peace and Security respectively. Her first dissertation focused on the impact of water insecurity and climate change on sub-regional instability, while the second was on the intersection of terrorism and organized crime as transnational security threats which involved three months of field research in the Balkans. She was awarded a King’s graduate scholarship for partial tuition coverage. During her graduate studies she interned at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London where she worked in the Non-proliferation Programme primarily focused on North Korean and Middle Eastern nuclear programmes.
She is a member of Women in International Security and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, and was elected to the Advisory Board of Spirit of Football in 2020 (Germany/Global).