About the Woodrow Wilson Fellow

Major General Mike Lehnert

Retired Marine Corps Major General Mike Lehnert was commissioned in 1973 as a combat engineer after his graduation from Central Michigan University. 

He participated in combat operations in Panama, Kuwait, and Iraq. In 2003, he led 5,000 Marines and Sailors during the initial invasion of Iraq in support of the 70,000 Marines who formed the I Marine Expeditionary Force.

During his 37 years active duty, he has held 13 separate commands from platoon commander to Joint Task Force Commander. He was the Chief of Staff Joint Task Force Panama charged with overseeing the turnover of the Panama Canal, Joint Task Group Commander in Guantanamo Bay Cuba during the Cuban migrant crisis, and Commander Joint Task Force 160 to build and run detention facilities for Al Qaida and Taliban terrorists. He commanded Marine Logistics Group Commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His last assignment on active duty was regional commander for the seven Marine bases west of the Mississippi.

He was the subject of Karen Greenberg's book, "The Least Worst Place," which is used in many military and law schools as a study in ethical decision making. In 2010, the National Conflict Resolution Center honored him as their 2010 National Peacekeeper Award recipient.

Major General Lehnert serves as the Vice Chairman of the board for the Student Veterans of America. SVA is a national veterans’ organization including more than 800 active chapters throughout all 50 states and in three countries. It was formed in 2008 to ensure that student veterans achieve their educational goals in universities and achieve their academic potential. 

He has been recognized by numerous environmental groups including the Sierra Club for his work recovering endangered species while still on active duty. Today he serves on the eleven person board of the Endangered Species Coalition. The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of more than 440 conservation, scientific, education, religious, sporting, outdoor recreation, business and community organizations working to protect our nation’s disappearing wildlife and last remaining wild places.

General Lehnert and his wife Denise live near Traverse City Michigan. They have two sons: Brendan received his neuro-science PhD from Harvard Medical School and works in China as a Luce Fellow, and Erik will receive his PhD from Stanford in bio-genetics in June 2013.

Past Fellows

Kathleen O'Neil:

Kathleen O'Neil Fellow Kate O'Neil earned a BS in economics John Carroll University, MBA in Finance from Wharton at UPenn. She is the President/CEO of Liberty Street Advisors which offers public and private companies around the world executive insight on corporate governance, risk management and strategy development.


Prior to creating Liberty Street Advisors, O'Neil was G.M. of Global Financial Markets Infrastructure for IBM. She also spent over 20 years at the Fed in NY in many senior roles — Executive V.P., COO, and CFO.



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