Distinguished alumna takes ‘atypical path’ to CFR lifetime membership

Nation and World

SUMMARY: Jamie Jones Miller's ('99) many years of work, education, volunteerism, travel and networking helped her secure a place among the Council on Foreign Relations' more than 5,000 nationwide members.

Jamie Jones Miller (’99) recently received a lifetime membership in the Council on Foreign Relations — an exciting achievement that builds on the interests and experiences she has pursued throughout her career.

With a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs, Miller said it’s her many years of work, education, volunteerism, travel and networking that helped her secure a place among the CFR’s more than 5,000 nationwide members. “I was encouraged by some women in my professional network to apply, and I did. And I was pleasantly surprised,” she said, “because of that atypical path.”

Miller, 45, is the inaugural dean and CEO of Northeastern University’s Arlington, Virginia, campus, which opened in January as one of 14 campuses in the university’s global network. The campus is focused on the intersection of technology, innovation and security and is home to Northeastern’s Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security.  

She began her career in government relations before spending 13 years on Capitol Hill, first as legislative director for former Rep. J. Randy Forbes, then as chief of staff to Rep. Robert J. Wittman. She subsequently served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for U.S. House affairs and principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs at the Department of Defense. There, she focused on building bridges between the department and members of Congress to ensure a common understanding of the department’s direction and mission. In 2020, she was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Miller moved into higher education after her husband, Tim (’96, ’00M), was named JMU’s vice president for Student Affairs in June 2018. For three years, the couple rented a house close to campus, while Miller continued to work her “dream job” at the Pentagon and come home to Harrisonburg on weekends.

Then, they found a house in Rockingham County, where she currently splits her time while working in Northern Virginia. “[It’s] definitely the best of both worlds,” she said.

Miller credits her Madison Experience as well as her upbringing in Latin America — her father is retired from the Air Force and her mom is a former civilian in the Department of Defense — with fueling not only her passion for national security and international affairs, but also the vast, lived experience that aided her application process to join the CFR.

She looks back on her time at JMU with gratitude for the real-world, practical experience and team-participation skills she learned in her studies, as a varsity basketball player and as a member of Alpha Sigma Tau.

“What spoke to me about JMU was the sense of community there,” she recalled. “And that the faculty and the staff were very invested in student success. … Looking back now, I can appreciate that.”

There are two ways to join the CFR, either as a five-year term member or a lifetime member. Term membership focuses on young, up-and-coming leaders in international affairs who are elected when they’re between the ages of 30 and 36 as of Jan. 1 of the year in which they apply. According to its website, lifetime membership is for seasoned professionals who demonstrate “intellectual achievement and expertise,” along with a “degree of experience, interest and current involvement in international affairs; promise of future achievement and service in foreign relations; potential contributions to CFR’s work; desire and ability to participate in CFR activities; and standing among peers.”

CFR members include top government officials, scholars, lawyers, journalists, educators, religious leaders, nonprofit professionals and business executives. The council looks for quality, diversity and balance in its membership, and new members are elected twice a year by the Board of Directors.

President Jonathan R. Alger is a lifetime member of the CFR, a fact Miller said speaks highly of JMU’s ability to prepare its students, faculty and staff for greatness.

The application process for a lifetime member requires a primary nominator, three seconders and 10 additional references — all from within the current membership. Many members apply more than once. Miller was elected on her first try.

Heavily involved in promoting women’s philanthropy at JMU as chair of Women for Madison’s Executive Advisory Council, Miller plans to speak at the Women Who Amaze Summit, May 19-20, on “What It Means to Be a Woman for Madison.”

She is also the 2020 recipient of the Ronald E. Carrier Alumni Achievement Award.

“I really do believe that JMU has provided me the foundation and the ongoing outlet to give back in areas that I’m passionate about,” Miller said. “I think that is really the heart of the work I’m doing to build the talent pipeline into public service and national security and I’m grateful for what I have learned at JMU as a student and as an alumni volunteer.”


Back to Top

by Josette Keelor

Published: Friday, March 31, 2023

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Related Articles