Alice Hill

Research Fellow
Research Team: 
Biography: 

Alice Hill has an uncommon blend of experience—as a federal prosecutor, judge, special assistant to the president, and senior director for the National Security Council. At the White House, she led the development of policy regarding national security and climate change, building climate resilience considerations and capabilities into international development and other federal initiatives, and developing national risk-management standards for the most damaging natural hazards. Currently she serves as a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, addressing risks, consequences, and responses associated with catastrophic global events, including the cascading failure of infrastructure and social systems.

Early in her legal career, Hill served as chief of the major frauds division in California’s central district of the US Attorney’s Office, supervising over thirty prosecutors handling white-collar crime involving losses in the billions of dollars. She was honored with the Department of Justice’s highest accolade, the John Marshall Award for Outstanding Legal Achievement. Then as judge and supervising judge within the Los Angeles Superior Court, she was elected by her fellow judges to the committee responsible for overseeing all LA County court operations—600 courtrooms, 2.7 million case filings a year, and an annual budget of $900 million.

In 2009, Hill was asked to serve as Senior Counselor to the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), helping guide senior leadership of DHS agencies, briefing Congress, and leading and establishing key programs. She led the review of policy regarding creation of the cybersecurity workforce, sexual assault in the military, and legal requirements for terrorism protection; and she founded and led the internationally recognized anti-human trafficking initiative, Blue Campaign. Other accomplishments include overseeing the realignment of DHS international presence in forty-two countries and the development of strategic plans and policies regarding catastrophic biological and chemical incidents ranging from pandemics to weapons of mass destruction.

For three years beginning in 2013, Hill served in several positions for the National Security Council in the White House. With top-secret security clearance, she managed a team of eight National Security Council Directors and developed Federal policies regarding national preparedness for all hazards of global consequence, including climate. She was honored with the Meta-Leader of the Year award from Harvard University’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative.  

Alice Hill joined Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in December 2016 as a research fellow, conducting and publishing research, providing expert testimony, convening public policy leaders, and building the public conversation around catastrophic global threats and our responses. She was honored for her work with the President’s Award from the National Institute of Building Sciences and has been published in Axios, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, The Hill, LawFare, CNN, The Bulletin, and other media. She led development of the Hoover/Stanford Woods Institute/Wilson Center Partnership as well as the Hoover/Aspen Institute Roundtable on Climate and National Security. She serves as a life member on the Council of Foreign Relations, and she expects to publish a new book on climate resilience with Oxford University Press in 2019.

Hill earned her BA in history and economics from Stanford University, followed by a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Hill is a Member of Boards of Directors and Audit Committees of the domestic subsidiaries of Munich Re Group and is Chair of the Board of the National Cathedral School in Washington, DC. She is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, founding board member of the Council on Strategic Risks, and a member of the advisory board of One Concern.

Alice Hill currently resides in Washington DC, also having enjoyed living and working in France, Japan, and Indonesia.

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Recent Commentary

Essays

Governance Challenges to Infrastructure and the Built Environment Posed by Climate Change

by Alice Hillvia Governance In An Emerging New World
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii sits two miles above sea level and over 2,200 miles from the nearest continent. For decades, scientists in this government laboratory have collected data on the atmosphere. In recent years, the world’s eyes have been fixed on a particular set of numbers coming out of Mauna Loa—readings of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), a key heat-trapping gas associated with climate change. Since the late 19th century, CO2 emissions have grown to unprecedented levels. In 2013, the daily average concentration of CO2 surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time in modern history. Emissions of CO2 continue to rise, reaching the largest amount ever recorded in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency. Greenhouse gas emissions have resulted in an increase of average global surface temperatures of approximately 1°C since the 1880s.

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Ready For Tomorrow: Seven Strategies For Climate-Resilient Infrastructure

by Alice Hill, Douglas Mason, Joanne R. Potter, Molly Hellmuth, Bilal Ayyub, Jack W. Bakervia Analysis
Friday, April 19, 2019

As the impacts of climate change are felt more forcefully around the globe, decision makers are asking, with increasing urgency, how they can make their communities and businesses more resilient. One obvious place to start is infrastructure. To address this, the Hoover Institution convened a yearlong collaboration with leading experts and practitioners in development banks, government agencies, universities, private firms, non-governmental organizations, and professional associations. It drew on diverse perspectives to the challenges of resilience, including physical and social science, engineering, policy, finance, and education. The resulting paper lays out seven strategies for developing more climate-resilient infrastructure. 

Analysis and Commentary

It's Not Just The Military That Needs Help To Prepare For Climate Change

by Alice Hillvia The Hill
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Climate change is a formidable enemy. It has burned our forests, stormed our coastal communities and dropped “rain bombs” across the nation. Just this past month, inland flooding deluged a key U.S. military base in Nebraska that serves as headquarters for the nation’s nuclear deterrent forces.

Analysis and Commentary

Bridging The Gap With The Science For Climate Action Network

by Alice Hill, Richard Moss, Bilal Ayyub, Mary Glackin, Katharine L. Jacobs, Jerry Melillo, T. C. Richmond, Lynn Scarlett, Dan Zarrillivia EOS
Thursday, April 4, 2019

A new report identifies missing support that is slowing progress in limiting and adapting to climate change. The Science for Climate Action Network aims to provide it.

Analysis and Commentary

The Resilient Design Imperative: A Call For Action

by Alice Hillvia Taylor and Francis Online
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Ellicott City, a historic patch of Maryland nestled between the Tiber and Patapsco rivers, regularly endures catastrophic flooding. Since the city’s official founding in 1772, severe floods have struck fifteen times, disrupting daily life and posing a constant challenge. One flood in 1768 even destroyed a grist mill built by one of the area’s first settlers along the banks of the Patapsco (Preservation Maryland 2016 Preservation Maryland. August 4, 2016.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Area 45: The Trillion-Dollar Storm With Alice Hill

interview with Alice Hillvia Area 45
Monday, March 25, 2019

How can the US plan for and build resilience for catastrophic natural disasters?

Analysis and Commentary

How Disaster Aid Leaves The Disadvantaged Even Further Behind Economically

by Alice Hillvia The Hill
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Actions have consequences, often unintended ones. When government policies carry unintended consequences, wreckage may follow. Take Prohibition, it didn’t stop drinking, but it did cause a massive drop in tax revenues while boosting organized crime. Or Smokey the Bear, the fire-suppression campaign led to the accumulation of dried timber and other fuels within our forests, fuels that have contributed to unprecedented wildfires. 

Analysis and Commentary

Trump's New Climate Panel Is A Waste Of Time And Money

by Alice Hillvia CNN
Saturday, March 2, 2019

Imagine an ordinary courtroom scene. The judge sits above the crowd wearing a black robe while one of the lawyers questions a witness. The witness gives an answer, but it's not the one the lawyer was looking for. So, the lawyer asks the question again, but the witness gives the same answer. When the lawyer asks a third time, the attorney for the other side rises to her feet and exclaims, "Objection! Asked and answered!" The judge agrees and, in a voice dripping with irritation, tells the first lawyer to move on to another question.

In the News

The $1 Trillion Storm: How A Single Hurricane Could Rupture The World Economy

quoting Alice Hillvia Vice
Saturday, March 2, 2019

Climate change and a potentially vulnerable insurance market could cause a disaster that starts in South Florida but spreads over the entire globe.

Analysis and Commentary

The Part Of The Green New Deal We Should All Support

by Alice Hillvia CNN
Friday, February 15, 2019

The nation got its first chance to digest the details of the Green New Deal when Democrats proposed a nonbinding congressional resolution last week. Reading the 14-page document feels a bit like scanning a multipage menu in search of a satisfying meal. If you are a progressive, you feel overwhelmed by all there is to savor, and if you are a conservative, you struggle to find something you can stomach.

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