Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

J. Brian Atwood

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Downloadable CV

J. Brian Atwood

Senior Fellow for International and Public Affairs


J. Brian Atwood is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution. He served as chair of Global Policy Studies and professor of public policy at the Humphrey School from 2012 to 2015. From 2010 to 2012, Atwood was the member-elected chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He was dean of the Humphrey School from 2002 to 2010, and was elected president of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs in 2009. He was also the chair of the University of Minnesota’s Deans’ Council and a recipient of the University’s Distinguished Service Award.

Atwood led the US Agency for International Development (USAID) during the administration of President William Clinton, serving as its administrator for six-and-a-half years. He earlier led the Clinton-Gore transition team at the State Department in 1992, and was under secretary of state for management prior to his appointment as head of USAID. During the Carter administration, Atwood was assistant secretary of state for Congressional relations. In 2001, Atwood served on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Panel on Peace Operations. He was legislative adviser for foreign and defense policy to Senator Thomas F. Eagleton (D–Mo) (1972 to 1977). Atwood was the first president of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) (1986 to 1993). He received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award in 1999. He was a career diplomat before joining Senator Eagleton and later became dean of Professional Studies and Academic Affairs at the Foreign Service Institute (1981-82). He is a frequent contributor of editorials and opinion articles on foreign affairs and has appeared numerous times as a speaker and on radio and television programs.

Talks & Media

April 14, 2016: "Europe Challenged" presented by J. Brian Atwood at Stonehill College

News|Recent News

Cheerleaders for war are still so wrong (co-written by Brian Atwood)

July 31, 2015 Star Tribune

Brian Atwood, senior fellow for international and public affairs, co-authors a commentary urging Congress to pass the Iran nuclear agreement and "recognize that this agreement has the potential to interrupt the downward spiral in the region, from conventional war and terrorism to nuclear conflict."