Notable Alumnus Profile: Lucas Schleusener, AM'11
The DC Alumni Association will be recognizing notable, local alumni each month.
Luke Schleusener, AM ’11, serves on the speechwriting staff of Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter. An Obama Presidential Appointee, he’s written speeches for Secretary Panetta, Secretary Hagel, and Secretary Carter alongside serving in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. He has also served as the Defense Department representative to the White House LGBTQ Policy Kitchen Cabinet. He has received the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Award for Excellence and was a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy from 2015-2016. Before all of that, he campaigned for President Obama in the primaries and general election in 2008.
When contributing to Secretary Hagel’s remarks for the 2013 WINEP Soref Symposium, Luke drew on his coursework with Professor Orit Bashkin to compare earlier regional instability and current trends, to articulate changes to US Middle East policy following the Arab Spring, the end of combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rise of ISIL, and the expanding Syrian Civil War. When Secretaries of Defense have attended meetings of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) throughout his tenure, Luke has reread the copy of Kalila wa Dimna—Arabic Aesop’s Fables—he read for Professor Franklin Lewis’ Islamic Philosophy and Theology course, selecting and translating stories to illustrate changes in US policy and the value of the GCC to regional stability.
UChicago not only gave Luke the background material to communicate American national security policy clearly, but also the means to get there. Luke has said that the life of the mind has evolved to mean that, “as I increase my own knowledge and intellectual understanding, I incorporate a wide array of viewpoints and data, and return to personnel from all levels of national security policy to ask better questions.”
This has allowed Luke to push the boundaries of defense policy in a variety of ways, more smoothly aligning policies, such as those concerning sexual assault, with the rest of the federal government, integrating and advocating for gay and lesbian military families, framing the introduction of women into combat roles, and working to end the transgender service ban.
Outside of the Pentagon, Luke spends his time volunteering at Thrive DC, a homeless shelter in Mount Pleasant, and with No One Left Behind, a charity dedicated to helping Iraqis and Afghans receive their Special Immigration Visas and arrive in the US, where he still uses his Arabic language skills.
“Cut me, and I bleed Maroon,” Luke remarked. His brother, Max, is a graduate of the college, the law school, and the Booth School of Business. His sister, Anna, is a graduate of the college. His father, Professor Jay Schleusener, was Chair of the English Department. His mother, Emily Nicklin, (AB ‘75, JD ‘77), is a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago Medical Center. “Hyde Park is a great place to be from, and I’ve been so proud of what the University community has contributed to the Administration, and what the IOP is preparing young alumni to continue to do in public service.”