Mitchell B. Reiss became the 27th president of Washington College on July 1, 2010 and served until the summer of 2014. As a scholar and a diplomat, he is a leading expert on American foreign policy and is internationally recognized for his negotiating skills during the Northern Ireland peace process and the North Korean nuclear crisis.
Prior to assuming the presidency of Washington College, Reiss was Diplomat-in-Residence at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
He held a number of leadership positions there, including Vice Provost for International Affairs, Dean and Director of the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies; he also held appointments in the School of Law and the Government Department. From 2003-2005 he served as Director of the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, where he provided Secretary Colin L. Powell with independent strategic advice and policy recommendations. In December 2003, he was asked to serve concurrently as the President’s Special Envoy for the Northern Ireland Peace Process with the rank of Ambassador; in January 2005 Secretary Condoleezza Rice asked Reiss to continue in this position, which he did until February 2007. During this period, Northern Ireland registered historic progress towards ending “the Troubles” and realizing the full promise of the Good Friday Agreement. For his efforts, he received the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Award for Public Service.
Prior to his William & Mary experiences, in 1999 Reiss helped manage the start-up and operations of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), a multinational organization designed to deliver $6 billion of energy (500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil/year and two 1,000 MW nuclear power stations) to North Korea. He led KEDO’s negotiations with the North Koreans and served as its first General Counsel.
Reiss was a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., where he started its nonproliferation and counterproliferation programs. He practiced corporate and banking law at Covington & Burling and served as Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor as a White House Fellow in 1988-89. He was a Consultant to the Office of the Legal Advisor at the State Department, the General Counsel’s Office at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the Los Alamos and Livermore National Laboratorie
Reiss has a law degree from Columbia Law School, a D.Phil. from Oxford University, a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy and a B.A. from Williams College. He has written three books on international security, contributed to eighteen others, and published over 80 articles and reviews. His newest book, Negotiating with Evil: When to Talk to Terrorists, was published by digital publisher Open Road Media in September 2010 as its first original e-book. Reiss has testified frequently before Congress, appeared on television and radio in the U.S. and overseas, and delivered numerous talks before academic, military, and civilian audiences around the world.
In the summer of 2014, President Reiss left Washington College to become the new President and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.