2024 Tillman Scholar

Bethany Russell

Harvard University

“Over 4 billion people call the Indo-Pacific home and rely on continued stability in the region. By integrating public and private capabilities, I want to help guarantee that stability.”

Driven by a desire for public service, Bethany was the first in her family to attend West Point. She graduated from the Academy in 2017 with a B.S. in International Relations and Chinese. Wanting to better understand the US-China relationship, she received a Master’s Degree in Global Affairs from Tsinghua University through the Schwarzman Scholarship. As a Military Intelligence officer, Bethany explored the role of security policy in international affairs. 

She deployed to Baghdad in 2019 with a special operations task force. She then moved to Washington to focus on the Pacific region. She worked with the 1st Multi-Domain Task Force to analyze adversary capabilities in the Indo-Pacific and published on the security implications of Chinese economic activity. Throughout her service, Bethany has been committed to furthering gender equity in defense. She became the 71st woman to graduate from Ranger School in 2021, and she looks to continue campaigning to eliminate gender disparity throughout her career. Bethany left active duty to pursue a joint degree with Harvard Business and Kennedy Schools. 

She currently leads the Security of Taiwan research team with the Harvard Belfer Center’s Defense, Emerging Tech, and Strategy program. She intends to identify public-private opportunities in the US-China relationship and wants to work in the Department of Defense developing policies that leverage private sector capabilities. By better using private industries as elements of national power, she believes the United States can use economic avenues to counterbalance military competition and avoid conflict in the Indo-Pacific.