Engaging Practitioners: CSS hosts Ambassador Derek Mitchell

By Zoltan Feher

On October 24, 2019, Ambassador Derek Mitchell was the guest speaker of our Engaging Practitioners series.

Derek Mitchell is the third president of the National Democratic Institute. Mitchell has had a distinguished career in and out of the US government, in which he has witnessed the connection between democracy and international security. From 2012-2016, Mitchell served as US Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma). He was America’s first ambassador to the country in 22 years. From 2011-12, he served as the US Department of State’s first special representative and policy coordinator for Burma, with the rank of ambassador. Prior to this appointment, Mitchell served as acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mitchell received a master of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia.

At our Engaging Practitioners event that attracted a full house, Ambassador Mitchell spoke about the different stages of his career, elaborating on his service on Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and as Ambassador to Burma. He shared stories about his graduate studies at The Fletcher School and why he chose to focus on China in his thesis. Prompted by questions, he gave a detailed account of the political developments of Burma (Myanmar) in the past decades, as well as his views on China’s rise and the U.S.-China relationship. He talked at length about the democracy support activities in which the National Democratic Institute under his leadership engages.

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