Kirsten Fontenrose

Director, Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, Atlantic Council

Kirsten Fontenrose is director of the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council, where she leads the security pillar within the Middle East programs. This effort focuses on the Middle East and North Africa’s ongoing security challenges, geopolitical competition, and the transatlantic community’s role in promoting security and stability to allow for political and economic development.

Fontenrose has 20 years of experience working with the national security apparatuses of countries in the Middle East and Africa from positions within the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of State, White House, private industry, and nonprofit sector. She served as senior director for Gulf affairs at the National Security Council, leading the development of U.S. policy toward the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan. Most recently, she was senior vice president for global relations at the Sonoran Policy Group.

Previously, Fontenrose led the Middle East and Africa team in the interagency Global Engagement Center, built relationships with military officers and diplomats from the Middle East and South Asia for the Near East Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, which she helped establish. Her career began in the nonprofit sector at the National Council on US-Arab Relations and in the private sector working on U.S.-Arab business projects with Arthur Houghton Associates.

Fontenrose’s editorials have been published in The Washington Post and Al-Anba. She has been interviewed on CNN, Fox News, BBC, MSNBC, PBS Newshour, NPR, and Voice of America and has been quoted in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among many others. She holds a BA in Middle East studies from the College of William and Mary, an MA in Middle East studies from Indiana University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.