Samar Ali

Research Professor, Vanderbilt Law School and Political Science, and President & CEO, Millions of Conversations

Samar S. Ali is a research professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, the founding president and CEO of Millions of Conversations, and co-chair of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy. Her work focuses on positive compromise through promoting conflict resolution best practices among people, communities and nations experiencing polarization due to the connection between violence and labeling. Ali began her legal career as a law clerk to Judge Gilbert S. Merritt Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and then clerked for Justice Edwin Cameron during his tenure on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. In 2007, she joined Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., where she helped establish the law firm’s Middle Eastern practice in the United Arab Emirates. In 2010, she was named a White House Fellow in President Barack Obama’s administration. During her fellowship, she worked closely with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on counterterrorism measures, conducting bilateral negotiations on behalf of the U.S. government. She later joined former President Jimmy Carter as part of an international delegation observing Egypt’s 2012 presidential election. After returning to Tennessee to practice law, Ali joined the administration of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam as the state’s assistant commissioner of international affairs, supporting Tennessee’s global relations. Ali is a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum, a term member with the Council on Foreign Relations, and a recipient of the White House Fellows IMPACT Award. She is also an adviser to the Aspen Institute initiative, “Who Is Us: A Project on American Identity,” and a New Pluralists Fellow.

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