John Dempsey

Fellow, International Security Program

John Dempsey is a fellow in New America's International Security program, with a specialization in Afghanistan, South and Southeast Asia, and promoting rule of law, democracy, and security in fragile and developing states, with an emphasis on uses of new technology. He concurrently serves as a senior advisor to the U.S. Agency for International Development on elections, governance and rule of law in Afghanistan and South Asia.

Prior to his current roles, Dempsey was a senior law and policy advisor to the State Department's Office of Criminal Justice from 2016 to 2018. Before that, he served as senior advisor to Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke and his successors in the State Department’s Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he oversaw U.S. government rule of law and elections policy in the region from 2009-2016. He was a core member of Secretary John Kerry’s negotiating team that helped establish Afghanistan’s government of national unity in 2014. Dempsey previously served in various roles based in Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2003 and 2009, including with the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Asia Foundation, the International Rescue Committee, and the American Bar Association.  From 2000-2003, Dempsey was an attorney with Linklaters LLP based in New York City.  He began his career as a freelance journalist and teacher in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand in the mid-1990s.

Dempsey is also a screenwriter, having created and co-executive produced “White City”, a one-hour television pilot set in Afghanistan for AMC Networks, and he is currently writing and consulting on various series and podcasts.

Dempsey received a joint Juris Doctor and Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a B.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.