Sara Shah

Sara Shah

Sara Shah

  • Master's in International Policy Class of 2024


Sara is a Master’s in International Policy candidate at Stanford, where she focuses on global tech policy and online harm through work with the Stanford Internet Observatory and Stanford HAI. She most recently served in the Biden-Harris administration as Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. At DHS, Sara played a central role in the Department’s efforts to support the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and prepare the nation’s cyber defenses in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Her portfolio included national security, cybersecurity, foreign policy, privacy, civil rights and civil liberties, influence operations, child sexual exploitation and abuse online, and international migration. 

Prior to her time in the Biden-Harris administration, Sara worked for several years at the Council on Foreign Relations and Albright Stonebridge Group. 

Sara holds a BA in international studies from Johns Hopkins University, where she sang a cappella and studied voice at the Peabody Institute of Music. Her thesis exposed cleavages within ISIS’ global female recruitment strategies on social media. She speaks barely passable Arabic, Gujarati, and Hindi and enjoys film, pop culture, and the works of Ocean Vuong.

In The News

U.S. Marshals work with the NCMEC during Operation We Will Find You, in 2023 (U.S. Marshals Service photo by Bennie J. Davis III,; CC BY 2.0 DEED,

Challenges in the Online Child Safety Ecosystem

How to improve the system for reporting child sex abuse material online. Originally published in Lawfare.
cover link Challenges in the Online Child Safety Ecosystem
abstract illustration of people holding phones

Common Abuses on Mastodon: A Primer

Decentralized social networks may be the new model for social media, but their lack of a central moderation function make it more difficult to combat online abuse.
cover link Common Abuses on Mastodon: A Primer