Professor of Practice and Director of Engagement
Dr. Shannon Smith serves as a professor of practice and director of engagement at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. In this capacity, she leads the Africa Center’s efforts to develop its alumni network and to engage the broader policy community focused on African security issues. Her areas of expertise include U.S.-Africa policy, East Africa, global health and development policy, and the role of Congress in foreign relations.
Prior to joining the Africa Center, Dr. Smith served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa, where she oversaw U.S.-East Africa policy (and previously Southern Africa) and spearheaded Africa Bureau efforts on Sudan and South Sudan, global health, and the environment. She led diplomatic missions, developed bilateral and multilateral policies, engaged with key interlocutors, and represented the State Department in a variety of national and international forums, including before Congress.
Dr. Smith spent a number of years on Capitol Hill, where she was the senior policy adviser for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Africa for global health, peacekeeping, and conflict issues. She also served as the national security adviser for the assistant majority leader of the Senate. As a Senate staffer, she shepherded successful legislation on HIV/AIDS, war crimes, and global climate change, among other issues. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University where she was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities.
Areas of Expertise
East Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, peacekeeping, global health and development policy, U.S.-Africa policy, the role of Congress in foreign relations