Kristin M. Lord

Kristin M. Lord

President and CEO
Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe & Eurasia, Middle East & North Africa

Kristin Lord is president and CEO of IREX, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to building a more just, prosperous, and inclusive world by empowering youth, cultivating leaders, strengthening institutions, and extending access to quality education and information.

Since joining IREX in 2014, she has led significant organizational transformation and growth, and worked with colleagues across the organization to increase impact. Signature initiatives include the development and execution of the IREX 2020 (PDF, 1.6 MB) and IREX 2025 (PDF, 2.5 MB) strategic plans; major new efforts focused on youth, leadership, and countering disinformation; enhanced measurement, evaluation, and learning; a complete rebranding; and geographic expansion into more than 100 countries. Within IREX, she has led a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative since 2017; partnered with the board to transform board membership and governance; and built leadership capacity at every level.

Prior to joining IREX, Kristin served as acting president and executive vice president of the United States Institute of Peace, a Congressionally created organization that prevents, mitigates, and resolves violent conflict worldwide. While at USIP, she oversaw the launch of an online education initiative, the creation of the PeaceTech Lab, the expansion of programs on Africa and South/Central Asia, and the development of a five-year strategic plan.

From 2009 to 2013, Kristin was executive vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security, where she oversaw the Center’s research and served as one of three members of the Center’s leadership team. She served as editor-in-chief of 110 CNAS publications during that period and authored significant studies on diplomacy and development, cybersecurity, U.S. global engagement, and violent extremism. Prior to joining CNAS, Kristin was a fellow at the Brookings Institution, where she directed the science and technology initiative of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World and authored studies on human development in the Arab world and U.S. public diplomacy.

From 1995 to 2008, Kristin held leadership roles at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, including associate dean for strategy, research, and external relations and associate dean for management and planning. During her tenure, she launched three master's programs, ten certificate programs, a global network of university partnerships, the school's skills curriculum, and numerous educational programs for students, diplomats, and midcareer professionals from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. A member of the faculty, she taught courses on U.S. public diplomacy, U.S. foreign policy, and the causes of war. She received an international affairs fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations, enabling her to serve as special advisor to the under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs from 2005 to 2006.

Kristin is the author of Perils and Promise of Global Transparency: Why the Information Revolution May Not Lead to Security, Democracy, or Peace (SUNY Press, 2006), Power and Conflict in an Age of Transparency, edited with Bernard I. Finel (Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), and numerous book chapters, policy papers, and articles. In 2019, she coauthored (with George Ingram) a widely read Brookings Institution study on the changing global development landscape: "Global Development Disrupted: Findings from a Survey of 93 Leaders." Her articles have appeared in Foreign Policy, The National Interest, International Studies Quarterly, Washington Quarterly, World Politics Review,, Columbia Journal of International Affairs, USA Today, Defense News, Joint Force Quarterly, Roll Call, The Hill, Science, Foreign Service Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Politico,, and Huffington Post, among other outlets. She has appeared on NPR, BBC Radio, VOA, PBS, and MSNBC and provided expert commentary to the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and other news outlets.

Kristin is a member of the board of directors for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a member of the board of directors at InterAction, and cochair of the Alliance for International Youth Development (a position she also held from 2015 to 2017). She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former trustee of the American University in Cairo. She received her MA and PhD in government from Georgetown University and her BA in international studies from American University.