Washington Insiders

Allyson Solomon, Carl Woog, and Sharon Burke are profiled.

National Journal/Chet Susslin

Allyson Solomon
National Guard Youth Foundation

After more than 30 years in the Maryland National Guard, Allyson Solomon took a related leadership role in October, as president of the National Guard Youth Foundation. The nonprofit raises money and awareness for the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, which mentors 16- to 18-year-old school dropouts. “I look at us as the place that tries to add support to the Challenge Program that the federal and state money doesn’t provide,” Solomon, 55, says. Before joining the foundation, Solomon, a native of Trinidad and Tobago who grew up in Baltimore, rose to assistant adjutant general in the Maryland Air National Guard. Solomon was the first woman and first African-American ever to reach that rank. She served in that role for almost seven years.
(Photo by Chet Susslin)

Chet Susslin


Carl Woog
Defense Department

In his five years at the Defense Department, Carl Woog has served under all four of President Obama’s Defense secretaries. He started his latest job in October, as a senior adviser to secretary No. 4, Ashton Carter. The 33-year-old Woog describes his job as having a broad mandate, including helping Carter “manage the day-to-day and think about the future,” mindful that the administration has barely a year left in its tenure. Woog also helps the secretary with his forays beyond the Pentagon, such as Carter’s recent trip to Silicon Valley to discuss defense technology and rebuild the tech industry’s trust after Edward Snowden’s national security leaks. Woog, who hails from Phoenix, Arizona, previously served as deputy assistant to the secretary of Defense for communications. He got his start in politics working for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004.
(Photo by Chet Susslin)

Chet Susslin


Sharon Burke
Pew Charitable Trusts

After four years with power over the Defense Department’s energy costs, Sharon Burke is bringing what she learned to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Burke, 49, joined Pew in June as an adviser for the think tank’s project on national security, energy, and climate. She is conducting research to help DOD think about how the environment affects its military mission—the impact of climate change on coastal bases, for example. “DOD is a business at the end of the day, and it’s a very big business,” Burke says. “Energy is a variable cost, and it’s a cost to be managed.” At DOD, Burke was the assistant secretary for operational energy, where she reviewed the defense budget and declared it acceptable—or not—in terms of its energy costs. The Los Angeles native also works as a senior adviser at the New America Foundation, a D.C. think tank.
(Katye Martens/Pew Charitable Trusts)