Ambassador (ret) W. Robert Pearson, of Tennessee, is a Fellow at Duke University’s Center for International and Global Studies Rethinking Diplomacy Program, a non-resident Scholar at The Middle East Institute in Washington, President of American Publishers Inc., a digital journal on American foreign policy published in cooperation with the University of North Carolina, and a partner at Spectrum Group, a Washington consulting firm. He is a local leader for the Equal Justice Initiative in North Carolina.
He is a frequent speaker on American diplomacy and foreign affairs,Turkey and its place in the world, the Middle East, and international development. He has published numerous articles and opinion pieces and has appeared on BBC, CNBC, MSNBC, NPR, Voice of America, Al-Jazeera, I24 TV, and TNT Global among other networks.
He served from 2008 to 2014 as president of IREX, an international development NGO based in Washington focused on education, civil society development and independent media, spearheading its expansion to 125 countries worldwide.
His last assignment on active duty was as Director General of the Foreign Service winning two national awards for the Department of State. He was the United States Ambassador to Turkey in Ankara from 2000 to 2003. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission to France and served twice at NATO – once as Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.S. Mission during the Balkan crisis and NATO’s enlargement – and once as chair of NATO’s Political Committee. He was the Executive Secretary of the Department of State under Secretary James Baker and Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Security Council. He served in Beijing, China as a political officer and began his Foreign Service career with a 2-year assignment in Auckland, New Zealand in 1976.
He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University (B.A) and the University of Virginia Law School (LLB), where he was Editor in Chief of the Virginia Journal of International Law. He speaks French, Chinese and Turkish.