Ambassador-at-large for the former Soviet Union (1997-2001); George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

Ambassador Stephen Sestanovich

About the Speaker

Stephen Sestanovich is the George F. Kennan senior fellow for Russian and Eurasian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis professor of international diplomacy at Columbia University. He is the author of Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama, published by Knopf in February 2014. His areas of special expertise are Russia and the former Soviet Union, Caucasus and Central Asia, and U.S. foreign policy.

From 1997 to 2001, he served as special advisor to the secretary of state and ambassador-at-large for the New Independent States. In this capacity, he was the State Department's principal officer responsible for policy toward Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union. Prior to joining the State Department, Ambassador Sestanovich worked at two of Washington's leading public policy research organizations. From 1994 to 1997, he was vice president for Russian and Eurasian affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. From 1987 to 1994, he was director of Soviet and East European studies (later Russian and Eurasian studies) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From 1984 to 1987, Ambassador Sestanovich served as senior director for policy development at the National Security Council. He was a member of the State Department's policy planning staff from 1981 to 1984 and senior legislative assistant to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan from 1980 to 1981. Before coming to Washington, DC, he was assistant professor of political science in the graduate faculty of the New School for Social Research (1978–80) and visiting assistant professor of political science at Columbia University (1979–80).

Ambassador Sestanovich received his BA summa cum laude from Cornell University and his PhD from Harvard University. He comments frequently on international issues for radio and television, and has written for Foreign Affairs, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, American Interest, New Republic, Politico Magazine, National Interest, and other publications. He is a member of the board of directors of the National Endowment for Democracy.