Capital Conversations: Speaker Biographies

Week Three: Federal Budget Insights

The Honorable Lucian Niemeyer

Lucian Niemeyer '87 is currently detailed to the Office of Management and Budget overseeing policy and programs for the Department of Defense, National Nuclear Security Agency, and Intelligence agencies. He was most recently involved with the development of a future DoD budget framework to support the administration’s release of an updated Navy shipbuilding plan.  Over the last two years he has also focused on the convergence of 5G and operational technology cybersecurity for the Nation.

Prior to his assumption of responsibilities at OMB, Lucian Niemeyer served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy and Installations (2019-2020) to include oversight and policy for Navy and Marine Corps facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization; military construction; acquisition, utilization and disposal of real property and facilities; environmental protection, planning, restoration and natural resources conservation; and safety and occupational health.

In August 2017, he was appointed by the President and confirmed by Congress as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment. In this role, he provided budgetary, policy and management oversight of the Department of Defense’s real property portfolio, which encompasses 28 million acres, over 500 installations with over 500,000 buildings and structures valued at a trillion dollars. Upon successful integration of the EI&E portfolio into the newly created Sustainment portfolio, Secretary Niemeyer served the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment as a Strategic Advisor. His specific focus was on Defense energy resilience and cybersecurity programs responsible for enhancing the Department’s planning, programs, and military capabilities to provide mission assurance through installation and operational energy and cybersecurity resilience policy development, and execution of initiatives for domestic and overseas installations.

Prior to his appointment, Secretary Niemeyer worked in the private sector from 2014 to 2017 as the founder of The Niemeyer Group, LLC. From 2003 to 2014 he served on the professional staff of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services where he was responsible for a wide portfolio of national security programs, including military installations, world-wide basing, energy programs, privatization initiatives, military budgets, industrial base, and environmental issues. He also provided oversight for military logistics and sustainment programs as well as Air Force and Navy acquisition programs.

Secretary Niemeyer is an Air Force veteran, retiring in 2008 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with 15 years of active and five years of Virginia Air National Guard service working within the installation engineering and military plans community. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture, from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Business Administration from The George Washington University, and a Master of National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

Week Four: An Introduction to Federal Agencies


John Shoaff '91 is the Director of the Office of Air Policy and Program Support (OAPPS) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  He got his start in state government at the California Air Resources Board before moving to Washington and joining U.S. EPA in its pollution prevention program and Office of Chemical Safety. He has also served as a Commissioner with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and Prince George’s County Planning Board contributing to local smart growth and regional sustainability plans. He majored in Business Management and Public Service at the University of Notre Dame and obtained a concentration in Environmental Law while attending the University of Maryland School of Law.

Kate O'Scannlain

Kate S. O'Scannlain '99, '05 J.D. is the Solicitor of Labor. President Trump announced his intent to nominate Ms. O'Scannlain on September 28, 2017, and her nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 21, 2017.

Before joining the U.S. Department of Labor, Ms. O'Scannlain was a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where she worked for 12 years. Her practice focused on employment and labor law, including commercial litigation on behalf of clients in federal and state court, providing regulatory advice, and counseling on mergers, acquisitions, restructuring, and private equity.

Ms. O'Scannlain has wide experience in complex commercial and class-action litigation matters, including contract disputes, insurance disputes, fraud and fiduciary duty claims, defamation claims, securities fraud, bankruptcy, and pension and retirement law. She also provided pro bono representation to a variety of clients on diverse matters ranging from child-custody disputes, to helping Iraq War veterans obtain combat-related special compensation, to employment-related claims and issues. She has served as a regular volunteer with the Catholic Charities Legal Network Clinic.

Ms. O'Scannlain grew up in Portland, Oregon, and received her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, cum laude, and her J.D. from Notre Dame Law School, where she serves on the Notre Dame Law Association Board.

Ms. O'Scannlain lives in Maryland with her husband and their four children.

Week Five: Department of Defense & Department of State

Mat Winter

Mat Winter is the President of Winter Strategic Solutions, LLC, a Small Business firm conducting Leadership and Motivational speaking forums and providing technology and business advice to senior defense, private sector companies, non-profits and academic leaders.

He retired as a U.S. Navy Vice Admiral, having served as the 24th Chief of Naval Research/Director of Innovation and as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program Director where he ran the Defense Department’s largest acquisition enterprise in history with $30 billion dollars annual budget. Prior Flag leadership roles also include the Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, as well as the Commander for Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division.

Mat serves on the Boards of Directors for the Support Our Aging Religious (SOAR!) and the Billy Fiske Foundation, as a Trustee to the Board of Directors for the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and as a member of the ACTIVZ Global LLC Advisory Board. He maintains full membership in the National Association of Corporate Directors.

Prior to establishing Winter Strategic Solutions, Mat had a 35 year military career which encompassed three distinct leadership phases: Operational tours of duty as a naval aviator flying the A-6 Intruder carrier-based attack jet; Numerous Navy systems acquisition tours as chief engineer, chief tester and major program manager; and Seven executive-level command positions in large acquisition organizations where he managed multi-billion dollar portfolios and thousands of personnel capitalizing on his program management expertise and effective leadership.

Mat has a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Notre Dame, and a Master of Science degree from the Naval Post Graduate School in Computer Science and another from the National Defense University in National Resource Strategy. He maintains (lifetime) memberships with the Army Navy Club, Air Force Association, American Society of Naval Engineers, Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Association of Old Crows, Center for Creative Leadership, Military Officers Association of America, Navy League, National Defense Industrial Association, Surface Navy Association, The Tailhook Association and the United States Naval Institute.

He is an ardent “Teacher Leader,” who fosters a culture of success through positive empowerment, bold moral leadership and personal ethical accountability. He continues to serve through several volunteer and non profit organizations to include his personal commitment to supporting local, State and National Veterans organizations.

Peter Quaranto

Peter J. Quaranto, a 2006 Notre Dame graduate, is an adjunct associate teaching professor in the Keough School of Global Affairs. He serves as an instructor, with George A. Lopez, for Policy Approaches to Violent Conflict, a new course that provides students with practical skills for understanding and promoting international policies for peace.

Quaranto has extensive experience shaping and implementing US foreign policy toward fragile and conflict-affected states as an activist, non-governmental advocate, congressional staffer, and government official. He currently works in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, where he leads a team supporting US diplomacy to anticipate, prevent, and respond to violent conflict across sub-Saharan Africa.

Quaranto previously worked in the State Department’s Office of US Foreign Assistance Resources, where he oversaw efforts to enhance how the United States uses foreign aid to stabilize conflict-affected areas and prevent violent conflict in fragile states. Quaranto has also held positions in the State Department’s Bureaus of African Affairs and Counterterrorism as well as the US Special Envoy for Sudan.

From 2008 to 2010, Quaranto worked as a foreign policy staffer for the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs and its then-Chairman Senator Russ Feingold. He oversaw the senator’s work on the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act and the Congo Conflict Minerals Act, both of which were signed into law in 2010. Prior to that, Quaranto—alongside fellow Notre Dame alumni Michael Poffenberger and Alison Jones—co-founded Resolve (previously the Uganda Conflict Action Network), an advocacy organization committed to raising public awareness and support for policies to end violence by armed groups in central Africa.

Quaranto graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame with a BA degree in political science and international peace studies. As an undergraduate, he was awarded the university’s John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award and the Kroc Institute’s Yarrow Award in Peace Studies (shared with his spouse Jess (Collado) Quaranto). As a Marshall Scholar, he earned an MA from the University of Bradford and an MSc from the University of Oxford.