Farah Pandith

Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Special Representative to Muslim Communities for President Obama

ISIS and Its Cousins

About the Topic

To date, over 30,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria. Extremists like ISIS are targeting Muslim millenials globally. The spread of their ideology is a critical national security threat. In order to build a safer, more stable world, we need to diminish the number of recruits to extremism, and that means helping Muslim youth solve their own identity crises. Winning the war of ideas is affordable and achievable with an integrated strategy of hard and soft power.

About the Speaker

Farah Pandith is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been a political appointee in the George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama administrations. Over the last decade she has served in various senior capacities focused on issues of countering violent extremism, democracy and Muslim youth. She left government at the end of January 2014 and is currently writing her first book and driving efforts to counter extremism through new organizations, programs and initiatives. She is part of the leadership team of The Counterextremism Project and a Strategic Advisor at the Risk Assistance Network and Exchange. In May 2015, Ms. Pandith was appointed to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). 

Ms. Pandith was appointed the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities in June 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Office of the Special Representative was responsible for executing a vision for engagement with Muslims around the world based on a people-to-people and organizational level. She reported directly to the Secretary of State. Ms. Pandith traveled to more than 80 countries and launched youth-focused initiatives including Generation Change, Viral Peace, the Transatlantic Leadership Network, and Hours Against Hate (a campaign that was a partner with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.)  

Ms. Pandith received a Master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she specialized in International Security Studies, Islamic Civilizations and Southwest Asia, and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. She concentrated on the insurgency in Kashmir.  She received an A.B. in Government and Psychology from Smith College, where she was president of the student body. She was awarded the Smith College Medal in February 2014 and the Distinguished Achievement Award by Tufts University in 2013.

She was born in Srinagar, Kashmir, India, and raised in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.