Elizabeth A. Stanley, PhD

About Liz


Award-winning Author. Veteran. Pathfinder.

I’m a professor at Georgetown University who teaches about international security. My passion is understanding the social structures that drive human behavior—especially during stress, trauma, uncertainty, and conflict.

This has led me to teach, speak, and write about a wide range of topics:

  • Why are wars so difficult to end?
  • Why does technology often exacerbate uncertainty?
  • Why do features of the post-9/11 military make suicide and psychological injury more likely?
  • Why do some of our society’s most common coping habits undermine our resilience?

Integrating insights from many different fields, I explore how we can change social structures to create better outcomes. I help people learn how to access choice, even during the most challenging situations.

I used to be a firm believer in “powering through.” A U.S. Army veteran with a PTSD diagnosis who thought it would be cool to pursue two graduate degrees simultaneously, I was a pro at it—or so I thought.

It took losing my eyesight for me to finally understand that there’s an easier way.

I’ve spent fifteen years studying the neurobiology of stress, trauma, and resilience—initially as a way to save myself and then to help others heal, too. There’s nothing I teach that I haven’t learned from personally in my own mind and body.

Along the way, I developed an evidence-based approach to resilience called Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT)®.  I collaborated with neuroscientists and stress researchers to test MMFT’s efficacy in four research studies. I’ve taught these tools to thousands in high-stress environments, including first-responders, healthcare workers, corporate leaders, and combat troops.

Growing up as an Army brat, I moved ten times before college, mostly overseas. After an ROTC scholarship at Yale, I served as an Army intelligence officer in Asia, Europe, and on two Balkans deployments. A Harvard-trained political scientist, I also have an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School, focused on technology strategy and organizational behavior. After several years of clinical training, I became a certified practitioner of Somatic Experiencing, a body-based trauma therapy. I’ve also ordained as a Buddhist nun in Burma.

In addition to longtime yoga and awareness practices, I enjoy running, hiking, gardening, creating art, and spending time in nature with my rescue dog, Chloe. We love to commune with the animals and host friends at a Virginia farm, featured in photos on this website.


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