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Wilson Center Names William E. Pomeranz New Director of Kennan Institute

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Dr. William E. Pomeranz has been named by The Wilson Center as the next director of its Kennan Institute, which focuses on Russia, Ukraine, and other states in the region.

Dr. Pomeranz is an expert on US relations with the former Soviet Union states, and is particularly experienced in the legal complexities of Russia’s evolving political and economic landscapes.

“Will is well known to those who follow policy developments in Russia and the surrounding region,” said Ambassador Mark Green, the Wilson Center’s Chief Executive. “In recent months, he has been leading our very successful ‘Hindsight Up Front’ series on the war in Ukraine, and helping audiences to try to understand the dark ideology that drives Vladimir Putin’s actions.

“His insights are invaluable as policymakers consider the most effective way to respond to the Kremlin,” Green continued. “The community is fortunate to have his expertise—and the Wilson Center couldn’t be more proud of his contributions.”

Pomeranz most recently served as the deputy director of the Kennan Institute—a position he has held since 2007—while also leading the Wilson Center’s Rule of Law Initiative. Prior to joining the Kennan Institute, Pomeranz practiced law in Russia and in the United States, and served as a program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy from 1992-1999. Pomeranz is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and spent time as a visiting professor at the Catholic University of America.

He is the author of Law and the Russian State: Russia's Legal Evolution from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin (Bloomsbury, 2018). Pomeranz is frequently interviewed on TV and radio, and his analysis has appeared in journals and publications including the Russian ReviewSlavonic and East European ReviewKritikaReuters, and The National Interest.

The Kennan Institute was founded as a division of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in December 1974 through the joint initiative of Ambassador George F. Kennan, then-Wilson Center Director James Billington, and historian S. Frederick Starr. Named in honor of Ambassador Kennan's father, George Kennan "the Elder" (1845-1924), a nineteenth-century explorer of Russia and Siberia, the Kennan Institute is committed to improving American expertise and knowledge about the region. Through its residential scholarship programs, lecture and workshop series, and publication program, the Institute strives to attract, publicize, and integrate new research into the policy community.

“I stand on the shoulders of the intellectual visionaries who founded the Kennan Institute and the previous directors who have added to its legacy,” Pomeranz said. “I plan to stay true to the original mission of the Kennan Institute—to advance the knowledge of the region in all its complexities—especially during these challenging times.”

Media with questions should contact Ryan McKenna at or 202-691-4217.

Notes to Editors

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the national, living memorial honoring President Woodrow Wilson. 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. Created by an Act of Congress in 1968, The Wilson Center is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and supported by both public and private funds.

Related Program

Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the surrounding region though research and exchange.  Read more