J. Peter Pham

J. Peter Pham served as the first-ever U.S. Special Envoy for the Sahel Region of Africa with the personal rank of Ambassador from 2020-2021. The position was created as “the lead in shaping, devising, and coordinating U.S. strategy on the cross-border security, political, economic, assistance, and social issues arising in the Sahel as well as coordinating with both international partners and U.S. Government stakeholders to help return the Sahel to stability through programs to enhance security and support governance, political liberalization, social progress and economic development.”

He previously served as the US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa from 2018-2020, a mandate from the Secretary of State “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.”

Prior to serving in the Trump Administration, Pham was vice president for research and regional initiatives at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, and director of the Council’s Africa Center. Before joining the Atlantic Council in 2011, he was senior vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy in New York City, and editor of its bimonthly journal, American Foreign Policy Interests. Earlier in his career, he was 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.

From 2008-2017, 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 peer-reviewed quarterly Journal of the Middle East and Africa. He is the author of several books and more than 300 articles, essays and reviews on African politics, security, and economic issues.

Pham served on the Senior Advisory Group of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from 2008-2013.

J. Peter Pham is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council. Since 2015, he has been a member of the Board of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC, serving as Vice Chair from 2016-2021. He is currently also a Non-Executive Director of Africell Global Holdings and of Rainbow Rare Earths Limited as well as a Strategic Advisor to dClimate.

Pham is the recipient of numerous honors and awards from African countries in recognition of contributions made over the course of his career to strengthening relations between the United States and Africa, including Commander of the National Order of Mali, Commander of the National Order of Burkina Faso, Officer of the National Order of Merit of Niger, Commander of the National Order of Merit of Gabon, and Commander of the Order of Friendship of Peoples of Burundi.

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