2002 Emerging Leaders

Mark Jacobson

Impacted the nation’s defense policies while acting with a great sense of commitment and professionalism.

Mark Jacobson is a rising star, bringing fresh and innovative ideas to the federal government. The Defense Department Foreign Affairs Specialist has consistently demonstrated a level of dedication and professionalism rarely found at any level, let alone someone just beginning their career.

In addition to his civilian service, Jacobson served as a US Army Reserve psychological operations Specialist and later achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant. His highly decorated Army career included service in Bosnia in 1996 and 1997. He was commissioned as an Intelligence Officer in the US Naval Reserve in 2001.

Jacobson’s civilian service began with his 1998 selection to serve in the prestigious Presidential Management Intern (PMI) Program. He was chosen for one of the highly competitive positions within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). His enthusiasm and fearlessness have made him a candidate of choice when managers are deciding who will handle the toughest assignments.

During the 1999 Kosovo crisis, Jacobson was handpicked to serve in a Defense Department “red cell,” that developed a critical analysis of strategic options for decision-makers at the US Government’s highest levels. Following that, he was selected to lead a review of Defense Department support to the FBI during the 1993 incident at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Jacobson’s exhaustive assessment led to the complete exoneration of the Department of any illegal activities. His contribution was recognized when he became first OSD representative to be awarded the Joint Civilian Achievement Award.

Jacobson also served in the Counternarcotics directorate of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, where he strengthened Department efforts to stem the flow of illegal narcotics into the US from Latin America. Recognized for his complete command of a complex and sometimes contentious issue, Jacobson was invited to serve as panel moderator for a conference on Plan Colombia sponsored by the Army War College and the University of Miami.

Jacobson now works as a Special Assistant to the Under Secretary and the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, where he manages all matters related to legislative action and interest within the Office of the Under Secretary for Policy. His close attention to the details of the congressional process and his extensive relationships on Capitol Hill allow him to identify and modify redundant and cumbersome legislation that may hinder the ability of the Department to achieve its goals.

Jacobson is also active in civic affairs outside the building. In 2001 he was elected as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and speaks regularly to the National Youth Leadership Forum Seminar on Defense, Intelligence, and Diplomacy. In his spare time is completing his Ph.D. dissertation in military history at The Ohio State University.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, he has also worked hard to offer his insights and experience to the university’s undergraduates interning in Washington, DC. He founded the University of Michigan Public Service Mentoring Program that matches interns with experienced University alumni to broaden and enrich their internship experiences. He also mentors new PMIs by providing sage counsel on the internal workings of the organization and freely offers advice on career development to his peers.

People who know Jacobson say his counsel is a valuable and sought-after commodity. Simply put, Jacobson knows how to make things happen in the Department of Defense – and for the country.