Wilson Center Names Amb. James F. Jeffrey New Chair of Middle East Program
Contact: Ryan McKenna
Phone: (202) 691-4217
December 10, 2020
WASHINGTON— The Wilson Center is pleased to announce that Ambassador James F. Jeffrey will be joining the Wilson Center to serve as Chair of the Middle East Program.
Jane Harman, President and CEO of the Wilson Center stated, "I've worked with Jim in the past and appreciate his broad understanding of geopolitics in the Middle East and his wide acquaintance and hands-on experience in the region. This new role complements that of the able Merissa Khurma who is the Director of the program."
Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policy making, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Middle East Program combines the intellectual grounding of its scholars with the power of its convening space to generate practical ideas for policymakers around the world. Its balanced and nonpartisan approach to programming, written output, and web content has earned the Middle East Program a reputation for contributing content of the highest quality and integrity to public discourse about issues in the MENA region.
Ambassador Jeffrey recently retired from the U.S. Department of State where he served as Secretary of State Pompeo’s Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
In addition to his most recent U.S. State Department assignment, Ambassador Jeffrey has held many senior government positions in Washington, D.C. and abroad, including Deputy National Security Advisor (2007–2008); United States Ambassador to Iraq (2010–2012); United States Ambassador to Turkey (2008–2010); and United States Ambassador to Albania (2002–2004). In 2010, Jeffrey was appointed to the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service, Career Ambassador. From 1969 to 1976, Jeffrey was a U.S. Army infantry officer, with service in Germany and Vietnam.
Secretary of State Pompeo said in a statement at Ambassador Jeffrey’s retirement from the State Department, “In August 2018 Ambassador Jeffrey came out of retirement at my request to serve as my point person on Syria, and he assumed the additional role of Special Envoy in the global fight against ISIS in January 2019. He achieved remarkable results in each capacity, advancing our efforts toward a political resolution to the Syrian crisis and creating the conditions for an enduring defeat of ISIS.”
Haleh Esfandiari, Director Emerita, Middle East Program said, “Ambassador Jim Jeffrey is intimately familiar with countries and players in the Middle East. He will bring to the Middle East Program his deep knowledge of the issues and fresh insights into the problems of the region. Along with the new Program Director Merissa Khurma, he will enhance the Middle East Program’s solid reputation as the place to turn to for analysis and policy ideas for the region.”
The Wilson Center Middle East Program is also lead by Program Director Merissa Khurma. Khurma has served as director of the Office of Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein (2010- 2013) and as press attaché and director of the Information Bureau at the Embassy of Jordan in Washington, D.C. (2003-2010). She has worked on a number of USAID-funded development projects in the region with a focus on economic development, governance, refugees and gender. Khurma has a master of public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, a master of science in international security and foreign policy from Georgetown University, and a bachelor of art in political science from McGill University.
Notes to editors:
- The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.
- The Middle East Program at the Wilson Center combines the intellectual grounding of its scholars with the power of its convening space to produce actionable ideas for policymakers around the world. The Program offers a breadth and depth of programming on the prevailing economic, political, and social norms in the MENA region.
Middle East Program
The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Read more