The Atlantic Council seeks a dynamic, non-mainstream intellectual entrepreneur to staff 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 initiative is housed with the Foresight, Strategy and Risks Initiative (FSR) in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security.  The program gives us the wherewithal to deepen our 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 is composed of a five-person team under Christopher Preble – 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.

The successful candidates for this position will have an interest and experience in explaining US 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 Senior Fellow will have substantial records of deep expertise, demonstrated superior written and oral communication capability and advanced leadership skills, as well as a strong background in the study of US foreign policy and international relations and a commitment to publishing op-ed’s and articles aimed at questioning mainstream views.

Successful candidates should have established networks of geopolitical thinkers and practitioners in the US foreign affairs arena, particularly US 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 are helpful.   

The NAEI works collaboratively alongside others in the Scowcroft Center plus the Council’s other regional and functional programs and centers through dynamic outreach to and engagement with government, industry, foundation, and academic leaders.  The NAEI team is responsible for building out the intellectual foundation for the new Initiative and growing it into a cutting-edge program.  

NAEI will provide counterarguments in real-time to traditional policy proposals and offer a side-by-side refutation of the assumptions underlying conventional policies.  The initiative also would offer unconventional thought leaders outside the Atlantic Council’s network the ability to publish their work and participate in conferences, workshops, and task forces.  The initiative would 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.

Job Responsibilities

  • Intellectual Leadership. Play a leading role in developing the non-mainstream intellectual and policy frameworks that still advances the Council’s mission and programming through written work and speaking opportunities within and outside the Council; 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. Help in developing programming for influencing policy and impact the public debate on US foreign policy and international relations in a changing world.  Oversee implementation of multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Business Development. Contribute programmatic ideas for NAEI, helping to craft proposals for funding that can generate financial support for new and existing lines of programming. Working with the Co-Directors and Office of External Relations, build the Initiative’s funding base by sustaining current financial support and pursuing additional support from corporations, international organizations, foundations, and individuals.
  • 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.

Qualifications & Experience

The successful Senior Fellow candidates should possess:

  • A minimum of 6-10 years of significant work experience on thinking, speaking and publishing on non-mainstream ideas in US foreign policy and international relations. 
  • 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. 
  • Demonstrated track record in responding to government grant solicitations, and fundraising to include solicitation from individuals, foundations, and corporate sources;
  • Excellent organizational 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 Initiative’s mission and work to diverse audiences.
  • A leader. Someone with a recognized ability to build and garner respect from domestic 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 US 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 help build NAEI’s profile. 
  • A non-mainstream thinker with deep experience in debating the future course of US foreign policy.  Someone who is passionate about and familiar with trends in US foreign policy.   
  • A “hands-on” implementer. Someone who is eager to work with others in the 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 timelines and constrained funding.
  • Above all, someone who is passionate about the mission of the Atlantic Council and the NAEI.

Explore the program

The New American Engagement Initiative, housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, challenges prevailing assumptions governing U.S. foreign policy, particularly those involving the military and the use of force, and offers real-world solutions to urgent problems that deploy the full range of American diplomatic, economic, and other capabilities.

Please note: The Atlantic Council is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, non-disqualifying physical or mental disability, national origin, veteran status, or any other legally protected characteristics covered by applicable law. The Atlantic Council is committed to working with and providing reasonable accommodation for all qualified individuals and bases all employment decisions on qualifications, merit, and business need. The Atlantic Council believes that diversity and inclusion amongst our team members are critical to our success as a global organization and seek to recruit, develop, and retain the most talented people from a diverse candidate pool. Thank you for your interest in the Atlantic Council. For more information, check out our Talent DEI Statement or connect with us at [email protected]. #strongwithallies