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Farah Pandith

Adjunct Senior Fellow

Expertise

Countering Violent Extremism; Culture and Foreign Policy; Radicalism and Extremism; Terrorism and Technology; Millennial Muslims; Terrorist Organizations and Networks

Bio

Farah Pandith is a diplomatic entrepreneur, foreign policy strategist and former diplomat. Ms. Pandith has been a political appointee in the George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama administrations. She left government in early 2014 for Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government where she maintains an affiliation.  In 2015, Ms. Pandith was appointed to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) where she also chairs the HSAC subcommittee on countering violent extremism (CVE). She is a Senior Advisor and Commissioner on a CSIS CVE Commission to be released in late 2016.  She is writing a book on extremism and driving efforts to counter extremism through new organizations, programs, and initiatives.

She was appointed the first-ever special representative to Muslim Communities in June 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, serving under both Secretaries Clinton and John Kerry. The Office of the Special Representative was responsible for executing a vision for engagement with Muslims around the world based on a people-to-people and organizational level. She reported directly to the secretary of state. Ms. Pandith traveled to nearly one hundred countries and launched youth-focused initiatives. She is also the main architect of the Women in Public Service Project. In January 2013, she was awarded the Secretary's Distinguished Honor Award.

Prior to this appointment, Ms. Pandith was senior advisor to the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. This role was created for her in the context of the Danish Cartoon Crisis, and she built new State Department strategies for how U.S. embassies in Europe understood the Muslim demographic, the increase in foreign ideologies present on the ground, and how the United States could build resilience. From December 2004 to February 2007, Ms. Pandith served as the director for Middle East Regional Initiatives for the National Security Council. Prior to joining the NSC, Ms. Pandith was chief of staff of the Bureau for Asia and the Near East for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2004, she spent two months in Afghanistan developing a public outreach strategy. She also served at USAID from 1990–1993 on the administrator’s staff and as the special assistant to the director of policy. From 1997 to 2003, Ms. Pandith was Vice President of International Business for ML Strategies, LLC in Boston, Massachusetts, and served as a Commissioner on Governor Paul A. Cellucci’s bi- partisan Asian Advisory Commission.

 

She has been a consultant in the public, private, and non-profit sectors and has served in leadership positions on several boards with a focus on international affairs, women’s empowerment, education and cultural diplomacy including the Tribeca Film Institute, We Are Family Foundation, Women in Public Service Project and America Abroad Media.

Ms. Pandith received a Master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she specialized in International Security Studies, Islamic Civilizations and Southwest Asia, and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. She received an A.B. in Government and Psychology from Smith College, where she was president of the student body. She is currently a member of the Board of Overseers of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She was awarded the Smith College Medal in 2014 and the Distinguished Achievement Award by Tufts University in 2013.

She was born in Srinagar, Kashmir, India, and raised in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

All Publications

CFR Events

Meeting ⁄ NY: 50 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10065

Town Hall: Attacks in Paris

Speakers Steven A. Cook

Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Philip H. Gordon

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, Farah Pandith

Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, Graeme Wood

Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

DC Town Hall: Attacks in Paris

November 17, 2015 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m.


5:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Reception
5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. Meeting
*Please note special timing*

NY Town Hall: Attacks in Paris

November 17, 2015 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m.


5:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Reception
5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. Meeting
*Please note special timing*

Teleconference: Town Hall: Attacks in Paris

November 17, 2015 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

November 17, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

Read Watch

Meeting

Global Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism

Speakers Matthew Levitt

Fromer-Wexler Fellow and Director, Stein Program on
Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

, Peter Mandaville

Senior Advisor, Office of Religion and Global Affairs,
U.S. Department of State

, Farah Pandith

Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations


Moderator Deborah Amos

International Correspondent, National Public Radio

May 20, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

Listen Watch

Meeting

Countering Violent Extremism

Speaker Farah Pandith

Adjunct Senior Fellow, CFR; Former Special Representative to Muslim Communities, U.S. Department of State


Moderator Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

March 11, 2015 12:00–1:00 p.m. - (ET)

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Meeting

Reflections on the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism

Speaker Farah Pandith

Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Special Representative to Muslim Communities, U.S. Department of State


Moderator Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program and Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

March 4, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

Press/Panels

Video Interview

Marketplace Tech

Farah Pandith, Adjunct Senior Fellow at CFR, speaks about the role of technology in the search for identity and belonging, why and how ISIS is building their digital army, and how America can beat them.

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Radio Interview

Mourning And Solidarity: Local Reaction To Orlando Shooting

In an interview with Radio Boston, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Farah Pandith discusses the importance of scaling up local ideas to prevent extremist ideology in the wake of the Orlando, Florida shooting, and the just-released DHS Homeland Security Advisory Council report for a national CVE plan.

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Radio Interview

America's Global Challenge

Farah Pandith, Adjunct Senior Fellow at CFR, comments on how America's next president should address the spread of ISIS inspired ideology.

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Panel

Leading the Response to Radical Extremism

Farah Pandith joins David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post, and Nicholas Burns, director of the Aspen Strategy Group for a discussion on how the United States should confront radicalism in the Middle East on the “Aspen Ideas to Go” podcast.

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Panel

What Is the Future for Women in Islam

Farah Pandith draws from her experience as the special representative to Muslim Communities under Secretary Clinton as she speaks on a panel on the future for women in Islam at the Women in the World New York summit.

Watch

Speech

Launch of CSIS Commission on Countering Violent Extremism

Farah Pandith speaks alongside former Prime Minister Tony Blair and commissioner Juan Zarate at the launch of the Countering Violent Extremism Commission hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (starting at 44:41). 

Watch

Article

Expert: Saudi aid for hate must end

Farah Pandith, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow, is quoted in the Boston Herald on Saudi Arabia's role in stoking extremism around the globe.

Article

How Moms Can Help Fight ISIS

CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow is quoted as saying that a mother's role in her child's education gives her a unique opportunity to help combat the ISIS narrative.

Article

YouTube's Battle Against ISIS

In an article in the Huffington Post, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Farah Pandith is quoted as saying that efforts to win the war of ideas against extremists will require more resources and time in order to produce results.

Radio Interview

Harvard EdCast: Learning to Love or Hate

As part of Harvard University’s Askwith Forum, "Religious Freedom: Inclusion, Exclusion, and the Role of Education," CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Farah Pandith spoke with the about the important role educators have in matters of inclusion.

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Article

Short take: Chattanooga and Ground Troops

In a CBS News article, Farah Pandith is quoted as saying that in order to prevent lone wolf attacks domestically, the U.S. must break ISIS's momentum abroad.

Article

To counter violent extremism, focus on the young

Farah Pandith, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow, is quoted as saying that empowering young people is a more effective strategy in countering violent extremism than the traditional government method of promoting its own narrative.

Panel

Women and Countering Violent Extremism Summit

Farah Pandith, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow, participated in the opening panel of the inaugural Women and Extremism summit, a part of the Women and Extremism initiative co-founded by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the State Department.

Also participating on the panel were Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan, Sasha Havlicek, chief executive officer of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, George Selim, director for community partnerships at the National Security Council, and Juan Zarate, senior adviser for CSIS.

Watch

Article

Can Hillary Clinton Move Beyond Benghazi?

Secretary Clinton's appointment of Farah Pandith as the State Department’s first-ever special representative for Muslim communities is discussed in this piece on Hillary Clinton in Newsweek.

Article

Chatham House: Interview: Farah Pandith

Farah Pandith, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow, discusses the identity crisis among Muslim youth that the self-proclaimed Islamic State is exploiting through Sheikh Google.

Video Interview

Bloomberg: Islamic State Is a Threat to the Entire World

Farah Pandith, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses President Barack Obama formally asking Congress to authorize military action against ISIS. She speaks with Bloomberg's Mark Crumpton on "Bottom Line."

Watch

Video Interview

CBSN: Fighting ISIS: Stopping the radicalization of millennials

Farah Pandith, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, joins CBSN to discuss Jordan’s vow of revenge against ISIS after a captured pilot was burned to death, and how to stop the radicalization of young adults around the world.

Watch

Radio Interview

Slate's "The Gist": The Five Second Story

Farah Pandith tells Slate's podcast "The Gist" that the solution to the jihadi narrative needs to come from civil society and the private sector, not from government alone.

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Video Interview

GVH: Extremists Recruit Children, Farah Pandith Weighs In

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in France and Nigeria, terrorist recruiting has come into focus. Why and how are groups like the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram are recruiting children and teenagers? Farah Pandith, the first and former Special Representative to Muslim Communities from the U.S. Department of State, believes that while Muslim millennials are getting recruited into these terrorist organizations, governments are trying to counter these efforts in the wrong way. GVH Live's Special Correspondent Siraj Hashmi has the full story.

Watch

Radio Interview

Here & Now: Young Muslims In Europe Struggle With Identity

Farah Pandith says that young Muslims are struggling to find their identity in France and across Europe. Pandith served in both the Bush and the Obama administrations, where she was in charge of outreach to Muslim communities worldwide.

She says while most of the Muslims she spoke with were proud to be French, they were still struggling to figure out what it means to be both Muslim and French. She discusses this with Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins.

Listen