Christopher Kirchhoff is presently a Senior Advisor at Schmidt Futures after spending three years on the founding team designing and scaling philanthropic programs in technology, health, and national security.
Dr. Kirchhoff began his career on staff of the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation. After helping analyze the breakdown of safety culture inside NASA, he went on to write the U.S. government history, Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience, coined “The Iraq Pentagon Papers” by the New York Times.
During the Obama Administration, Kirchhoff served as an aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as Senior Advisor to Presidential Counselor John Podesta, and as Director of Strategic Planning for the National Security Council. He led both the Chairman’s Initiatives Team and the NSC’s Strategic Planning Small Group, working on issues ranging from how technology will change the future of security to Operation United Assistance, which deployed 3,000 U.S. service members to end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Kirchhoff authored both the White House Big Data Report and the NSC Lessons Learned Report on Ebola, widely credited as accurately presaging the COVID pandemic. He also created and led the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley Office, Defense Innovation Unit X, which harnesses emerging commercial technology for national security innovation. After the Administration, Kirchhoff taught on “Public Leadership in a Technological Age” at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and served as a special government employee at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.
He has been awarded the Civilian Service Medal for hazardous duty in Iraq and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Service. From 2011 to 2015, he was the highest-ranking openly gay advisor in the U.S. military.
Kirchhoff graduated with highest honors in History and Science from Harvard College and holds a doctorate in politics from Cambridge University, where he was a Gates Scholar.