Margaret Peterlin

Margaret Peterlin serves as an Assistant Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, where she teaches Covert Action, Clandestine & Special Operations Law.

Margaret flexibly-transitions across industries and organizations, having served as a SVP at AT&T, following her senior leader position at the U.S. Department of State, when Chief of Staff to Secretary Rex Tillerson.  Previously, she was as a global executive at Mars, Inc, co-led a large, Federal Agency, worked for both the Speaker, and the Majority Leader, of the House of Representatives, clerked for a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, and served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.  Having served in all three branches of the federal government, and in two, global companies, she is finally spending time in academia, which was lingering on her list until now.

While Chief of Staff, Margaret managed the Office of the Secretary, for a department of 77,000 globally-distributed colleagues.  Diplomatically, she participated in engagements with 35+ heads of state and 100+ foreign ministers.  Organizationally, she introduced performance metrics for bureau work products and embedded essential approaches to policy-setting.  Serving 300M+ fellow American citizens, while working by, with, and through, our allies to diminish our enemies, was a marvelous opportunity.   Prior to this role, Mars, Inc depended on Ms. Peterlin to increase ROI for manufacturing technology.  As the Global Technology Strategy Officer, Ms. Peterlin developed the framework to identify and prioritize Mars, Inc.’s “Grand Challenges,” the tier-one risks and opportunities.  This corporate officer role included reshaping the Board’s Technology Committee.  As the lone lawyer on the global innovation leadership team, Ms. Peterlin relished the continuous learning opportunities.

At the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), Ms. Peterlin served as the Deputy Undersecretary for Intellectual Property (IP) and the Deputy Director of the USPTO.  As Deputy Director, Ms. Peterlin operated as the COO to provide strategic leadership to over 9,700 employees, 2,600 contractors, and management of a $2.1B budget.   It was a great organizational achievement, for the USPTO to achieve all quality and production metrics, during her tenure.   As Deputy Undersecretary, Ms. Peterlin advised the Office of the President and the Secretary of Commerce on IP, led US delegations abroad, and testified before Congress.

Before her shift to the Executive Branch, Ms. Peterlin served as a Policy Analyst and Counsel for Legal Policy for the Speaker of the House, eventually serving as his National Security Advisor.  As Senior Staff, Ms. Peterlin advised the Speaker and other House and Congressional Leaders on legislative policy and strategy, in a highly-matrixed environment.  Ms. Peterlin’s portfolio included Judiciary, Intelligence, Science, Armed Services, International Relations, Homeland Security, and Foreign Operations.   Ms. Peterlin’s first job on Capitol Hill was as the General Counsel and Policy Analyst for the Majority Leader.  During this time, she was the primary House negotiator for the creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security.   This was, in addition, to her role overseeing the work of the House General Counsel’s office, and oversight of national security, defense, intelligence, judiciary, and foreign relations matters for the Leader.

Ms. Peterlin proudly followed her dad’s example by beginning her career as a Commissioned Officer.   In the U.S. Navy, she served as a Satellite and Telecommunications Officer.  Ms. Peterlin achieved the highest Communications Ashore qualifications 1 year early, setting the Command standard, and graduated 1st in the Legal Officer Course.  Ms. Peterlin was selected to serve as a White House Social Aide (1 of 12 Navy-wide) and received Navy Commendation and Navy Achievement Medals.

Her formal education includes a bachelor’s degree from The College of Holy Cross on a four-year scholarship.  She earned her JD, cum laude, from The University of Chicago where she was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the The Chicago Journal of International Law.  Following graduation, she served as a judicial clerk for The Honorable Jerry E. Smith, for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Houston, Texas.  Margaret lives in Virginia, with some amazing people:  her husband, Dan, and their three, highly-energetic kids:  Silas, Ida Maeve, and Miles.