International Forum for Democratic Studies Research Council Member

Michael Shifter

Inter-American Dialogue

Michael Shifter is president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based forum on Western Hemisphere affairs. Since 1994, he has played a major role in shaping the Dialogue’s agenda, commissioning policy-relevant articles and reports as well as implementing the organization’s program strategy in relation to the Andean countries. Since 1993, Mr. Shifter has also been adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he teaches Latin American politics.

Mr. Shifter writes and speaks widely on U.S.-Latin American relations and hemispheric affairs and is regularly interviewed on CNN and BBC. His recent articles have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Current History, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Journal of Democracy, Harvard International Review and other publications. His writings on democratic governance, multilateralism, drug policy, security issues, and politics in the Andean countries have also been published in many Latin American newspapers and magazines. He is co-editor, along with Jorge Domínguez, of Constructing Democratic Governance in Latin America, published by Johns Hopkins University Press and now in its third edition. Mr. Shifter has lectured about hemispheric policy at leading universities in Latin America and Europe.

He has consulted for the Ford Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, Agency for International Development, Oxfam America, and the Swedish International Development Agency. In 2000, Mr. Shifter directed an independent task force on U.S. policy towards Colombia, organized by the Dialogue and the Council on Foreign Relations and co-chaired by Senator Bob Graham (D-Fl) and former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft. Since 1996, he has testified regularly before Congress about U.S. policy towards Latin America.

Prior to joining the Inter-American Dialogue, Mr. Shifter directed the Latin American and Caribbean program at the National Endowment for Democracy and, before that, the Ford Foundation’s governance and human rights program in the Andean region and Southern Cone, where he was based, first, in Lima, Peru and then in Santiago, Chile. In the mid-1980s, he was a representative in Brazil with the Inter-American Foundation, where he also worked in the Office of Research and Evaluation.

Mr. Shifter is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Latin American Studies Association and is a contributing editor to Current History. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Washington Office on Latin America and on the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch/Americas Division, and the Social Science Foundation of the Graduate School of International Relations at the University of Denver.

Mr. Shifter graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Oberlin College and has a Master’s Degree in Sociology from Harvard University, where he also taught Latin American development and politics for four years.

Forum Events

“Latin America’s Changing Political Landscape,” International Forum for Democratic Studies (Feb. 2, 2011)

Forum Publications

“Latin America: A Surge to the Center,” Journal of Democracy (Jan. 2011)