Women’s History Month Spotlight: Anjali Zutshi, General Counsel

My parents were first generation immigrants, and instilled in me a strong work ethic and pride in my heritage, and always encouraged me to pursue a career path that was synchronous with my interest and values.

Anjali Zutshi
General Counsel

How do you support NNSA? 

I am an Attorney in the General Counsel’s office. I work in the general law group and advise my clients across several NNSA missions including  Defense Programs, Defense Nuclear Security, Counterterrorism and counterproliferation, Information Management, and other national security and intelligence matters. 

What is your personal background, and how has that shaped you and your approach to your career?  

I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. My father is a cardiologist, my mother is a homemaker, and my older sister is also a physician, specializing in rheumatology. My parents were first generation immigrants, and instilled in me a strong work ethic and pride in my heritage, and always encouraged me to pursue a career path that was synchronous with my interest and values.  I moved to Washington D.C. for college and fell in love with the history, culture, and pulse of the city. I studied international law and national security, and knew that I wanted a career that would allow me to work in these areas. 

What did you study in school and how did it impact you personally and professionally?

I received my B.A. in International Law, Ethics, and Organizations from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and also completed a dual degree program at American University where I simultaneously earned my law degree and Master’s degree in National Security.  My academic path was a passion for me, and strongly shaped my perspective of the world and my desire to effect change through my work.

What led you to a career in nuclear security?

Upon graduating law school, I was given an offer to join a large law firm where I worked as a general litigator. I accepted the offer mostly because it was highly competitive, well compensated, and I felt like I couldn’t turn it down.  However, within the year, I knew corporate culture was a not a good fit, and moreover, I wasn’t leveraging any of my academic background, which I had so heavily invested in.  A friend of mine sent me the job posting for NNSA, and the rest is history! 

What is the best part about your job?

The best part of my job is the job—in other words, I love my work. I am blessed to have a very engaging and impactful portfolio where I get to work on legal matters that are both intellectually challenging and also rewarding. I am also incredibly grateful for my amazing colleagues and management. It’s an extremely supportive and positive work environment, and I truly enjoy coming to work and being part of the General Counsel family!

The authority is now more important than ever, as we begin to implement counter-UAS systems across our sites, and I am proud to have played a small part in making it happen!

Anjali Zutshi
General Counsel

What is your proudest accomplishment while working at NNSA?

I helped draft the legislation that gave the Secretary the authority to mitigate threats from unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The legislation was passed in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, and we are working to further expand it this year. The authority is now more important than ever, as we begin to implement counter-UAS systems across our sites, and I am proud to have played a small part in making it happen! 

Tell us something interesting about yourself. 

I once had breakfast in Bali, lunch in Istanbul, and dinner in Singapore.  On a whirlwind trip through Southeast Asia,  I stayed up all night on New Year’s Eve in Bali; took a flight to Istanbul in the morning; spent 7 hours on a layover in the city center at the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque; and then met a college friend for dinner in Singapore, before arriving back home in Chicago, where I was living at the time. It was a day! 

Do you have any highlights from your time supporting NNSA? 

I received the Secretary’s Achievement Award both in 2019 and in 2023 for my handling of the legal matters on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Denuclearization Team and my legal counsel for the Mo-99 program, respectively. In 2022-23, I also received three Special Outstanding Achievement Rewards for my work with the Office of Nuclear Incident Response, my work for Defense Programs, and for my co-management of the Legal Internship program. Finally, I received an Achievement Award for my contributions to the stockpile stewardship program.  

What advice would you have for anyone interested in a career in nuclear security? 

Keep an open mind and expose yourself to as many different aspects of the field as possible.  Talk to subject matter experts and read, read, read! There’s so much information available to help you determine what specifically is of interest to you. 

Who is someone that inspires you and why? 

Hedy Lamarr is truly a muse! She was a glamorous Austrian-American actress during Hollywood’s Golden age, and who also happened to be a genius inventor. I am so inspired by her because she had an amazing mind, which was often overshadowed by her beauty, but she proved herself and really stood apart from women of her time.  She helped create a frequency hopping communication system to help guide torpedoes to their targets during WWII. She was the pioneer for the technology that forms the basis for today's WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth communication systems. 

How do you plan to celebrate/commemorate Women’s History Month?

I’m a mom to two little girls, 4 and 8 years old, and there are some great events in the city I am planning to attend with them.  We will also also read the “Rebel Girls” books, a series that they love, which highlights extraordinary women from the past and present that have achieved amazing things.