Born in Somerville, Massachusetts, Judy Ansley graduated from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and, in 1981, joined the professional research staff at the Congressional Research Service in the foreign affairs division. In 1983 she was offered a position as a research assistant for the majority staff of the Committee on Armed Services, chaired by Senator John Tower of Texas. For more than 20 years, Ansley worked on national defense and intelligence issues, including preparing the annual National Defense Authorization bill. With the exception of a few years in Senator John Warner’s personal office, Ansley spent her Senate career as professional committee staff, eventually earning appointment as the committee’s Republican staff director, the first woman to hold that position. Ansley recalls Congressional delegation (CODEL) trips with Senator Warner, the effect of bipartisan cooperation among senators on committee staff operations and legislation, and Senate debates over the Authorizations for the Use of Military Force for Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. She also reflects on being a national defense expert at a time when the field was dominated by men. Ansley left the Senate in 2005 to serve on President George W. Bush's National Security Council.
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