Isobel Coleman

Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations


Isobel Coleman is senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York, where she directs CFR’s civil society, markets, and democracy initiative and the women and foreign policy program. Her areas of expertise include democratization, civil society, economic development, regional gender issues, educational reform, and microfinance. She is the author and coauthor of numerous publications, including Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East (Random House, 2010), Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President (Brookings Institution Press, 2008), and Strategic Foreign Assistance: Civil Society in International Security (Hoover Institution Press, 2006).

Dr. Coleman's writings have also appeared in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, and Forbes, and online venues such as and She is a frequent speaker at academic, business, and policy conferences. In 2010, she served as the track leader for the Girls and Women Action Area at the Clinton Global Initiative.

Prior to joining the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Coleman was CEO of a healthcare services company and a partner with McKinsey & Co. in New York. A Marshall scholar, she holds a BA in public policy and East Asian studies from Princeton University and MPhil and DPhil degrees in international relations from Oxford University. She serves on several non-profit boards, including Plan USA and Student Sponsor Partners.

Blog Posts by Isobel Coleman

Research to Improve Women’s Economic Potential
The benefits of improving women’s economic opportunities are clear: when women control income, they invest it in their families, particularly in the health and education of their children, helping to break cycles of poverty.
October 26, 2012