Alumni Profile: Douglas Harden’s Journey from SPIA to the DOE

By Marli Collier


“I definitely had a moment a few years ago when I was downtown and walked outside the Department of Energy Headquarters building, known formally as the James V. Forrestal building, and I could see the Washington Monument and part of the Mall,” describes Douglas Harden, “and I said to myself, ‘Well I guess I’ve made it somewhere in life.’”

To many SPIA students, Harden is living the dream as a policy, compliance, and classification officer for the Department of Energy. Harden says a typical work day includes getting deep in the weeds of energy policy with other federal agencies and analyzing reports from national laboratories around the country. “The majority of the work subject matter-wise deals with classification and policy questions. The government loves rules and regulations so we try to de-conflict those when they come up, but also focus on the spirit and intent of certain overarching regulations with classification and national security,” says Harden.

Harden says the most exciting part of his job is “being at the center of the storm,” meeting with CIA or National Security Council staff to discuss classification policy and protection. He’s meeting with leadership from the Navy next week at the National Archives.

Harden graduated from SPIA in 2005 with a degree in international affairs. What he loves most about University is the “history and tradition of UGA being the first state-charted institution in the nation and the birthplace of public higher education. The University has persevered through social and economic change and international conflicts. I’m just impressed and inspired by that history and tradition.” While at UGA, Harden earned an academic achievement award from Dr. Thomas P. Lauth, the founding dean of SPIA. He says some of his favorite classes were Strategic Intelligence and American Foreign Policy with Dr. Loch Johnson.

Harden knew he always wanted a job in national security, working at Robins Air Force Base and the Department of Defense before being promoted to his current job at the Department of Energy.  On getting to where he is in his career, Harden says modestly, “I’ve been fortunate and blessed. I’ve certainly had my fair share of mentors and folks along the way that encouraged me like Dr. Jeff Berejikian and Dr. Markus Crepaz. I guess it was something I saw initially as a young man, but I didn’t have all the details to it. I worked hard along the way and made good decisions and there’s probably some luck involved in there as well.”