She holds a doctoral degree from Benedictine University, Master of Science degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Air University, and a Bachelor of Science from Penn State University. In 2003, she was a National Defense Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. where she immersed herself in a year-long study of the nexus between organized crime and international terrorism. Her resulting book won the 2004 Air Force research prize and was published by AU Press. She is also a 2006 alumnus of the Harvard Senior Executive Fellows program.
Since her retirement in 2007, Dr. Hesterman continued serving as a cleared professional, studying international and domestic terrorist organizations, transnational threats, and organized crime. She is one of very few analysts specializing in the terror-crime nexus, detecting the liaising, sharing or mirroring of operational tactics and financing methods between groups. Dr. Hesterman performs operational research on terrorist exploitation of the Internet through social networking, nonbank, Internet auction and Dark Web sites. She is also a consultant on soft target vulnerabilities and hardening tactics for schools, churches, hospitals and malls. Dr. Hesterman instructs and designs courses for federal government law enforcement and security organizations and serves on the ASIS Crime School Security Council. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, serving on the Homeland Security and Emergent Threats panel.
An academic author for Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, her recent book, Soft Target Hardening: Protecting People from Attack, was selected by ASIS as the Security Book of the Year for 2015. She also authored The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus: An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups (Taylor and Francis/CRC Press, 2013) and Soft Targets and Crisis Management: What Emergency Planners and Security Professionals Need to Know (Taylor and Francis/CRC Press,2016). Dr. Hesterman is a sought after speaker, with thirty-five keynote and guest speaking events since 2007, including several venues abroad. She recently returned from a two-year assignment in the Middle East.