Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations

Isobel Coleman is senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, where she focuses on the Middle East and South Asia. She is the director of CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative. She is also the director of CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy Program. Her areas of expertise include democratization, civil society and economic development, regional gender issues, educational reform, and microfinance.

In 2011, Newsweek named Isobel Coleman one of “150 Women Who Shake the World” in part because she served as a track leader for the Clinton Global Initiative. She is the author and co-author of numerous publications, including Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions, Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President, and Strategic Foreign Assistance: Civil Society in International Security. Her writings have also appeared in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, USA Today, and Christian Science Monitor, as well as online venues such as the and She maintains a blog, “Democracy in Development.” Dr. Coleman is a frequent speaker at academic, business, and policy conferences.

Prior to joining the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Coleman was CEO of a healthcare services company and a partner with McKinsey & Co. in New York. A Marshall Scholar, she holds a D.Phil and M.Phil in international relations from Oxford University and a BA in public policy and East Asian studies from Princeton University. She serves on several non-profit boards, including Plan USA and Student Sponsor Partners.

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