Who Is Nina Jankowicz? Head of Joe Biden's Disinformation Governance Board

Nina Jankowicz is President Joe Biden's pick to serve as executive director of the Department of Homeland Security's new Disinformation Governance Board—and her appointment has already met with some controversy.

Jankowicz has been a global fellow at the nonpartisan Wilson Center and an author whose research has focused on disinformation as well as Russia and the treatment of women online.

According to the Wilson Center, she studies "the intersection of democracy and technology in Central and Eastern Europe" and she was an adviser on strategic communications to the government of Ukraine during her time as a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship.

Jankowicz is the author of How To Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict and most recently How to Be a Woman Online: Surviving Abuse and Harassment, and How to Fight Back., which was published this year.

She has made frequent contributions to the media, publishing articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and elsewhere. She has also appeared on TV and radio to discuss disinformation as well as Russian and Eastern European issues.

Before her work advising the Ukrainian government, Jankowicz managed democracy assistance programs for Russia and Belarus at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. She holds an MA in Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Jankowicz tweeted on Wednesday that she was "Honored to be serving in the Biden Administration @DHSgov and helping shape our counter-disinformation efforts."

She shared her new official photo in a subsequent tweet and wrote: "a HUGE focus of our work, and indeed, one of the key reasons the Board was established, is to maintain the Dept's commitment to protecting free speech, privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties."

However, there has already been controversy about Jankowicz'sf new role as some conservative news outlets have pointed to previous statements she's made regarding a laptop believed to belong to President Biden's son, Hunter Biden.

Jankowicz had previously supported the idea that the controversial laptop story that emerged in October, 2020 could be part of a disinformation campaign carried out by Russia. No evidence subsequently emerged to support that conclusion.

During a presidential debate on October 22, 2020, Jankowicz tweeted: "Back on the 'laptop from hell,' apparently- Biden notes 50 former natsec officials and 5 former CIA heads that believe the laptop is a Russian influence op. Trump says 'Russia, Russia, Russia.'"

Critics have jumped on the tweet, with some Twitter users accusing Jankowicz of spreading disinformation. She appeared to respond to those criticisms on Wednesday when retweeting the 2020 post.

"For those who believe this tweet is a key to all my views, it is simply a direct quote from both candidates during the final presidential debate. If you look at my timeline, you will see I was livetweeting that evening," she wrote, sharing a link to a webpage that contained links to a transcript and video of the debate.

Jankowicz has also made similar statements about the Hunter Biden laptop story that have garnered renewed attention since her new role was announced.

Newsweek has asked the White House for comment.

In an article for The Washington Post published on January 22, 2022, Jankowicz argued that the west has become "savvier" about Russian disinformation.

"Today, Western policymakers seem to finally recognize not only that the Kremlin instigated and continues the war in Ukraine, but that the Kremlin treats the information ecosystem as an active front in any conflict," she wrote.

Nina Jankowicz Poses for an Official Photo
Nina Jankowicz appears in an official portrait she shared to Twitter on Wednesday. Jankowicz has written about Russian disinformation and advised the Ukrainian government. Nina Jankowicz/Twitter