Skip to:

Former Presidential Envoy to Defeat ISIS Named Payne Distinguished Lecturer

The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University is pleased to announce that Brett McGurk has been appointed the next Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer. He will spend the next two years at Stanford working with FSI’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

McGurk served as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan under President George W. Bush, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Special Presidential Envoy under President Obama, and for the last two years as President Trump’s Special Envoy helping to oversee the Global Campaign to defeat ISIS and leading a Coalition of 75 countries and 4 international organizations, the largest of its kind in history. McGurk resigned from this most recent post in light of policy disagreements related to Syria.

He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Distinguished Honor award, bestowed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the Distinguished Service Award, bestowed by Secretary of State John Kerry, both the highest Department awards for exceptional service in Washington and overseas assignments.

“Brett McGurk brings nearly two decades of distinguished service and expeditionary diplomacy across Republican and Democratic administrations,” said FSI Director Michael McFaul. “His unique real-world and bipartisan experience, particularly in the Middle East, will be a tremendous asset to our global policy community.”

Condoleezza Rice, Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Senior Fellow by courtesy at FSI, added: “Brett McGurk is the consummate professional diplomat. He has served on the front lines across three administrations, and handled some of the most difficult assignments for me and President Bush in Iraq during the surge. We are thrilled to welcome Brett to Stanford.”

Before joining the Bush administration’s national security team, McGurk served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was at the Supreme Court during the attacks of September 11, 2001, an experience that led to his practice of foreign affairs at the highest levels in Washington and on the front lines overseas.

“I am excited to join the Stanford community and work alongside the distinguished faculty at FSI,” McGurk said earlier today. “I hope to translate my experience in Washington and overseas into challenging courses to prepare a new generation of public servants, as well as enhance public understanding of the serious issues our nation confronts, and how we might better address them.”

As an experienced commentator on major news programs, such as Meet the Press, Face the Nation, PBS Newshour, and CBS This Morning, McGurk is well-suited to fulfill the Payne Lecturer’s goal of raising public understanding of global policy issues.

He and his wife, Gina, have an 1-year old daughter, Leia. We look forward to welcoming them to the Stanford community in March.