Within the space of a week, New Jersey native Nina Jankowicz has gone from being a largely unknown academic to a social media superstar, featured in countless accounts since she was selected to head the newly formed Disinformation Governance Board of the United States Department of Homeland Security.
A former Hillsborough resident, Jankowicz is an internationally-recognized expert on disinformation and democratization but her appointment has Republicans calling it Orwellian and comparing it to the Ministry of Truth in the novel “1984,” a sentiment echoed by former Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
Despite such dire distortions of Jankowicz’s new role, the amount of ‘fake news’ and the efficacy with which it has undermined American unity, turned divisions into violence and even helped spread deadly disease, should underscore the national need to distinguish falsehood from fact.
“The fact is that disinformation that creates a threat to the security of the homeland is our responsibility to address,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Jankowicz is well suited for the new job. Her debut book, How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict, was named a New Statesman 2020 book of the year; The New Yorker called it “a persuasive new book on disinformation as a geopolitical strategy.”
Her next book, How to Be A Woman Online, an examination of online abuse and disinformation and tips for fighting back, will be published by Bloomsbury in Spring 2022.
Jankowicz’s expertise spans the public, private, and academic sectors. She has advised governments, international organizations, and tech companies; testified before the United States Congress, UK Parliament, and European Parliament; and led accessible, actionable research about the effects of disinformation on women, minorities, democratic activists, and freedom of expression around the world.
Jankowicz has extensive media experience, with writing published in many major American newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. She is a regular guest on major radio and television programs such as the PBS Newshour, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and Amanpour, the BBC World Service, and NPR’s All Things Considered.
Since 2017, Jankowicz has held fellowships at the Wilson Center, where she has been affiliated with the Kennan Institute and the Science and Technology Innovation Program.
In 2016-17, she advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on disinformation and strategic communications under the auspices of a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship. Prior to her Fulbright grant, she managed democracy assistance programs to Russia and Belarus at the National Democratic Institute.
Jankowicz holds a Master’s degree from the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is a proud alumna of Bryn Mawr College, where she studied Political Science and Russian and graduated magna cum laude.
She is fluent in Russian, and speaks proficient Ukrainian and Polish, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Eurasia Foundation.
In her spare time, Jankowicz enjoys acting in local musical theater productions and hiking. She lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband, dog, and cat.