Fatema Sumar Photo
Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy
Assistant: Linda Almeida

Fatema Z. Sumar is the Executive Director of the Harvard Center for International Development (CID) and an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

Fatema has a distinguished career as a practitioner in the US government and civil society.  She served as a presidential appointee in the Biden-Harris administration as Vice President of Compact Operations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), with the rank of Assistant Secretary. In this role, she oversaw the agency’s compacts in Africa, Asia, and globally to reduce poverty through economic growth.  She managed MCC’s regional and technical divisions on infrastructure, environment, private sector, gender and social inclusion, human and community development, agriculture, procurement, financial management, strategic partnerships, and contracts and grant management. She was previously MCC’s Deputy Vice President for Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America.

Fatema also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia at the US Department of State leading efforts on regional economic and energy connectivity and as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF). In Congress, she worked for three Senators including as a Senior Professional Staff Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and the broader region.

In civil society, Fatema was the Vice President of Global Programs at Oxfam America where she oversaw regional development and humanitarian response to fight the injustice of poverty. Early in her career, she worked at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Fatema is the author of the book, The Development Diplomat: Working Across Borders, Boardrooms, and Bureaucracies to End Poverty. She sits on Advisory Boards for Princeton and Cornell universities, Muslim Americans in Public Service (MAPS), and Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development (W3D); the Board of Directors of Blumont; and on Harvard Kennedy School’s Sustainability Leadership Council. She has been published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, The New Republic, The Hill, Devex, and other outlets. She is a frequent guest speaker and has testified before the US House of Representatives and Senate.

Fatema graduated with a MPA from Princeton's School of Public and International Affairs, where she received the prestigious Stokes Award, and a BA in Government from Cornell University. She has an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She studied abroad at the American University in Cairo.

Mailing Address

Harvard Kennedy School
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138