J. Peter Pham is the former vice president for research and regional initiatives and director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.
Since October 2018, Dr. Pham concurrently serves as the United States Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa at the US Department of State with a mandate from Secretary of State Pompeo “for coordinating the implementation of U.S. policy on the cross-border security, political, and economic issues in the Great Lakes region, with an emphasis on strengthening democratic institutions and civil society, as well as the safe and voluntary return of the region’s refugees and internally displaced persons.”
Dr. Pham was previously senior vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and editor of its bimonthly journal, American Foreign Policy Interests. He was also a tenured associate professor of justice studies, political science, and Africana studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he was director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs. He has served on the Senior Advisory Group of the US Africa Command since its creation.
Dr. Pham is the author of more than 300 essays and reviews and the author, editor, or translator of over a dozen books, including, most recently, Somalia: Fixing Africa’s Most Failed State (Tafelberg, 2013; coauthored with Greg Mills and David Kilcullen). Dr. Pham also contributes to a number of publications including The National Interest and Foreign Policy, and regularly appears as a commentator on broadcast and print media outlets including CBS, PBS, VOA, CNN, the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NPR, the BBC, Reuters, the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, USA Today, Newsweek, US News & World Report, the Times of London, New Statesman, Maclean’s, Le Monde, and Le Temps.
From 2008 to 2017 he also served as vice president of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), an academic organization which represents more than 1,300 scholars of Middle Eastern and African Studies at more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States and overseas, and was founding editor-in-chief of ASMEA’s Journal of the Middle East and Africa.
A staunch advocate of robust American engagement with Africa, Dr. Pham served as member of the USAID-funded International Republican Institute (IRI) delegation monitoring the national elections in Liberia in 2005. He also served on the IRI pre-election assessment (2006) and election observation delegations to Nigeria (2007, 2011) and Somaliland (2010). He is also a frequent guest lecturer on African affairs at the Foreign Service Institute, the US Army War College, the Joint Special Operations University, and other US government professional educational institutions. The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) for Defence and Security Studies, the Brenthurst Foundation, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation awarded Dr. Pham the 2008 Nelson Mandela International Prize for African Security and Development for his study ‟Imagining Congo Secure and Stable.”
In 2015, the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution elected Dr. Pham to the Board of the National Museum of African Art, of which he is presently vice-chair.