Before returning to the Forty Acres, Celeste Ward Gventer worked as a consultant on defense organization, management, and institution building in Eastern Europe and the Middle East while based in Italy and Germany from 2013 - 2018, and has continued to write and consult on a variety of defense and security issues. In particular she worked in the United Arab Emirates and with the Defense Institution Building (DIB) program in Ukraine. She played a leading role in a major redesign of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense with the RAND Corporation. She also worked in Moldova, Romania, Georgia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Iraq on a range of defense organization and management issues. She remains an adjunct analyst with RAND. In her spare time, she has recently launched a new venture, Grant Patton (www.grantpatton.com), which designs and manufacturers elegant military-themed accessories.
From 2007 to 2009, Celeste served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations Capabilities in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She joined the Defense Department after her second tour in Iraq, where she was the political-military advisor to the Multinational Corps-Iraq commander from 2005-2006. She also worked in Iraq in 2003 – 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority, where she assisted in the creation and stand-up of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and was an assistant to the Iraqi National Security Advisor.
Celeste has also worked as a Senior Defense Analyst at RAND, as Special Assistant to the Counselor of the State Department, as a Strategist in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as a Research Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and as a Defense Analyst at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office.
Celeste received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Stanford University, a Master of Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in History at UT. She is the recipient of the Global War on Terrorism Civilian Service Medal, the U.S. Army Superior Civilian Service Award, the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the Order of St. Joan D’Arc medallion, the Yellow Rose of Texas, and other public service, volunteer, and community awards. Celeste is married to a U.S. Army officer. She desperately hopes that the return to Texas will allow her to restart her age-group triathlon hobby after a too-long hiatus.