Dr. Frances Z. Brown is a senior fellow with Carnegie’s Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program, who previously worked at the White House, USAID, and in non-governmental organizations. She writes on conflict, governance, and U.S. foreign policy.
In her last role before leaving government, Brown served as director for democracy and fragile states on the White House National Security Council (NSC) staff, where she helped manage policy processes on democracy support, key political transitions, and post-conflict stabilization efforts. Serving under both the Obama and Trump administrations, she also convened a fragile states interagency committee, aimed at elevating comparative insights on conflict into policy deliberations.
Prior to the NSC, Brown served at the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Transition Initiatives, managing stabilization and political transition programs in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa from the field and Washington. Previous research roles include fellowships with the Council on Foreign Relations, Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, the U.S. Institute of Peace, as well as her doctoral work at Oxford, which examined donors’ bottom-up state-building and stabilization programs in conflict-affected states. Other experience outside of government includes two years in Beirut, Lebanon; a year at the Kabul-based Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit; consulting for the Quadrennial Defense Review; shorter project-management roles in Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Pakistan; and political risk forecasting.
She has published field research projects on Afghanistan stabilization and subnational governance with the U.S. Institute of Peace, on Syria stabilization with Carnegie, and shorter analyses in the American Interest, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere. On television, Brown has commented on U.S. foreign policy for BBC World News, ABC News (Australia), al-Jazeera, and elsewhere. She is a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project and a prior term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.