Founder and Chair

Swanee Hunt is the Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy, founder of the Women and Public Policy Program, core faculty at the Center for Public Leadership, and senior adviser to the working group on modern-day slavery at the Carr Center for Human Rights, all at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

An expert on domestic policy and foreign affairs, Hunt is chair of Hunt Alternatives Fund, a private foundation working to support leaders of social movements, combat the demand for purchased sex, achieve political parity for women in high-level positions (in the US and globally), strengthen youth arts organizations, and increase philanthropy. She is also the founder and chair of the Washington-based Institute for Inclusive Security (including the Women Waging Peace Network), which conducts research, training, and advocacy to integrate women into peace processes.

Her seminal work in this area began when, as the US Ambassador to Austria from 1993 to 1997, she hosted negotiations and international symposia focused on stabilizing the neighboring Balkan states and encouraging women leaders throughout Eastern Europe. Building on her extensive work with US non-governmental organizations, she became a specialist in the role of women in post-communist Europe.

Raised in a corporate family in Dallas, Texas, Hunt made her mark as a civic leader and philanthropist in her adopted city of Denver, where for two decades she led community efforts on issues such as public education, affordable housing, homelessness, women’s empowerment, and mental health services for two mayors and the governor of Colorado.

Hunt is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; she has authored articles for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Huffington Post, et al. Her first book, This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace, won the 2005 PEN/New England Award for non-fiction. Her memoir, Half-Life of a Zealot, was published in 2006. Her third book with Duke University Press, Worlds Aparts: Bosnian Lessons for Global Security, was released in September 2011. She is currently writing Rwandan Women Rising.

Hunt has had more than a dozen one-woman shows of her photographs in five countries. Her musical composition, “The Witness Cantata,” for five soloists and chorus, has had nine performances in six cities. She holds two masters degrees, a doctorate in theology, and four honorary degrees. For 25 years she was married to international conductor and impressario Charles Ansbacher, who passed away in 2010. Her world includes their three children, and a menagerie of cat, parrot, horses, bison, and grandchildren.

By Ambassador Swanee Hunt:

We Are All Mothers

Ambassador Hunt recalls a turning point in her life when a Bosnian widow chose forgiveness in the aftermath of the Srebrenica massacre. The woman’s words — “We are all mothers” — also spurred Hunt’s thinking on women’s role in creating peace.