Job Location: Atlantic Council Headquarters – Washington, DC
Position Type: Full-Time
Job Category: Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security


The Atlantic Council seeks an intellectual entrepreneur to co-lead and build the New American Engagement Initiative (NAEI), an exciting new effort to challenge conventional foreign policy thinking, question tired assumptions in particular regarding military engagement, and help US government policy-makers to manage risks in decision-making and resource-allocation in a manner that fits the times and is at the same time thoughtful and provocative.  The new initiative is housed in the Foresight, Strategy and Risks (FSR) Initiative in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security.  The program is being built to provide the wherewithal to deepen the Atlantic Council’s work on strategy and America’s role and engagement in the world, one of the six defining challenges that the Council laid out for itself to tackle.

The NAEI will be composed of a five-person team with a new Co-Director – alongside FSR Director Mat Burrows – whose mission will be to question core assumptions, while producing policy and strategy papers that are unconventional, non-mainstream, and deliberately and productively provocative.

Job Responsibilities

The Co-Director will be specifically responsible for:

  • Intellectual Leadership. Play a leading role in developing the non-mainstream intellectual and policy frameworks that help advance the Council’s core mission and programming of working together with allies and partners to secure the future.  This will be done through written work and speaking opportunities within and outside the Council; the Co-Director will develop select issues in which the incumbent maintains a profile and is respected in the policy community for her or his thought leadership.
  • Programmatic Design and Oversight. Develop programming designed to influence policy and impact the public debate on U.S. foreign policy and international relations in a changing world.  Oversee implementation of multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Business Development. Generate programmatic ideas for NAEI, independently craft proposals for funding, and generate financial support for new and existing lines of programming. Working with the Council leadership and Office of External Relations, continue to build the Initiative’s funding base by sustaining current financial support and pursuing additional support from corporations, government, international organizations, foundations, and individuals.
  • Management. Manage and develop a team, including senior/junior scholars and interns and assist in staff recruitment when required. Manage relationships with Board members, members of the Council’s networks, and donors.
  • Outreach/Communications. Represent the Atlantic Council externally with the administration, Congress, the diplomatic community and foreign governments, donors, media, etc., as well as at public and private events, international conferences, etc.
  • Financial Management. Serve as a reliable and faithful steward of program and Council funds. Oversee expenses and revenues, management of budgets, and anticipated fundraising, and ensure program solvency.

The successful candidate will have both private and public sector experience and a proven track record in understanding and explaining U.S. foreign policy and international relations, how to galvanize debates, and frame strategies, policies and solutions required to maximize opportunities while minimizing risks of this exciting but also challenging period of rapid change.  The Director will have a proven track record of superior written and oral communications capability and advanced management and leadership skills.

The NAEI will work collaboratively alongside others in the Scowcroft Center under the general oversight of the Center’s Director, and also with the Council’s other regional and functional programs and centers through dynamic outreach to and engagement with government, industry, foundation and academic leaders.  The Co-Director will be responsible for building out the intellectual foundation for the new Initiative and growing it into a cutting edge, world-class program.  

As the founding Co-Director of the Center, the ideal candidate will have proven, robust experience in project and talent management and business development. S/he will be hands-on and entrepreneurial and possess a vision and an ambition for building a new Initiative that provides unique insights and non-mainstream policies and strategies for U.S. foreign policy, taking into account the rapidly changing global landscape. 

The successful candidate will have an established network of both geopolitical thinkers and practitioners in the U.S. foreign affairs arena, particularly U.S. government, academic and think tank analysts and decision-makers and a desire to continue to build this network. Executive and legislative branches of government experience is helpful.

The Co-Director will be responsible for managing with Mat Burrows two senior scholars and two junior scholars and standing up the new Initiative.  NAEI will provide counterarguments in real time to traditional policy proposals and offer side-by-side refutation of the assumptions underlying conventional policies.  The initiative also will offer unconventional thought leaders outside the Atlantic Council’s current network the ability to publish their work and over time to participate in conferences, workshops, and task forces.  In coming years, the initiative will hold conferences and workshops on a regular basis in Washington, DC for policymakers, scholars and their students, and the media, establishing the Atlantic Council as the “go-to” place for questioning the conventional, asking the difficult questions, and proposing concrete, real-world alternatives.

The position is located in Washington, DC, and requires occasional domestic travel.

Qualifications & Experience

The successful candidate should possess:

  • A minimum of ten years of significant work experience on thinking, speaking and publishing on non-mainstream ideas in U.S. foreign policy and international relations;
  • Extensive experience in program management and development, preferably in a nonprofit or entrepreneurial environment;
  • Excellent writing, editing, and briefing skills; must be able to write policy-like documents under tight time constraints. A dossier of published work is highly desirable;
  • A strong and current bipartisan network in the executive and legislative branches of the federal government in Washington and experience in engaging with other domestic audiences;
  • A demonstrated track record in budget management and forecasting, responding to government grant solicitations, and fundraising to include solicitation from individuals, foundations, and corporate sources;
  • Excellent organizational and management skills; and
  • A proven ability to build networks and initiate effective partnerships among expert analysts, government leaders, and non-governmental organizations, international institutions, and business executives.
  • A Master’s degree or Doctorate in a relevant field is required.

Personal Characteristics

The successful candidate should be:

  • An expert coalition builder. Superb people skills and the ability to work well with a wide range of constituencies ranging from senior government officials and major donors to corporate sponsors and interns.
  • A consummate communicator. As the public face of the NAEI, someone with the ability to define and articulate the new Initative’s mission and work to diverse audiences.
  • A respected leader. Someone with a recognized ability to build and garner respect from policy leaders, the Board, and Council staff.
  • A strategic thinker. Someone who can envision and identify ways for the NAEI to propose non-conventional strategies to defend and advance U.S. interests in the world; and who can develop a unique niche and then market that effectively.
  • An entrepreneur. Someone who can use natural ingenuity to build up the NAEI from scratch. 
  • A non-mainstream thinker with deep experience in debating the future course of U.S. foreign policy.  Someone who is passionate about and familiar with trends in U.S. foreign policy.   
  • A “hands-on” implementer. Someone who is eager to work with a team in order to execute projects they envision. 
  • A team player. Someone whose ego is in check and who will enthusiastically share credit and the spotlight and thrive in the collaborative culture of the Council.
  • A flexible work style. Someone that can work easily with ambiguity in a fast-paced environment with tight time lines and constrained funding.
  • Above all, someone who is passionate to the core about the mission of the Atlantic Council, the Scowcroft Center, and the NAEI.