W. Robert Pearson

Ambassador (ret) W. Robert Pearson, of Tennessee, is a non-resident scholar at The Middle East Institute. He focuses on Turkey with particular emphasis on U.S.-Turkey relations. His areas of interest include Turkey’s relations with the EU, Russia, the Middle East, and Central and East Asia, in addition to the United States. He is a partner of The Spectrum Group, Alexandria, Virginia, a Washington consulting firm. He also serves on the Board of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation dedicated to support of the U.S. Foreign Service and on the Board of American Diplomacy, a digital magazine published since 1996 in cooperation with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences.

He served from 2008 to 2014 as president of IREX, an international development NGO based in Washington focused on education, civil society development and independent media, spearheading its expansion to more than 125 countries worldwide.

His last assignment on active duty was as Director General of the Foreign Service 2003 to 2006 winning two national awards for the Department of State. He was the United States Ambassador to Turkey in Ankara from September 21, 2000 through July 2003. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy to France from July 1997 to July 2000. He served twice at NATO, from 1993 to 1997 as Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.S. Mission during the Balkan crisis and NATO’s enlargement, and from 1987 to 1990 on the international staff as chair of NATO’s Political Committee. From 1991 to 1993, he was the Executive Secretary of the Department of State. He served as Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (1985-1987). He served in Beijing, China as a political officer (1981-1983), was staff assistant in the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau under Richard Holbrooke, and began his Foreign Service career with a 2-year assignment in Auckland, New Zealand.

Ambassador Pearson served in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps from 1969 to 1973, and graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1968, where he was Editor in Chief of the Virginia Journal of International Law. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and the Council on Foreign Relations. He speaks French, Chinese and Turkish.