Richard Stengel is the longest serving Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in American history (2013-16). While at the State Department, he helped modernize State’s communications and led the department’s counter-disinformation efforts. He helped create and oversee the Global Engagement Center, the United States’ only stand-alone anti-ISIL messaging entity. He spearheaded the creation of the Sawab Center in Abu Dhabi, the first joint American and foreign counter ISIL messaging hub, which has become a template for others around the world. He also led department-wide efforts to counter the global rise of disinformation. In addition, the Under Secretary oversees all communications from the podium and beyond. He also oversaw the modernization of all embassies websites and pioneered the use of social media at the Department. He also led the creation of English for All, a government-wide effort to promote the teaching of English around the world and oversaw the departments extensive educational exchanges, including the Fulbright Scholarship.
Before coming to the State Department, Mr. Stengel was the Editor of TIME for seven years, where he oversaw all print, digital, tablet and marketing functions for the TIME brand. During his tenure, he redesigned, re-focused and reinvigorated the brand, and changed its publication date for the first time in its history. While editor, TIME won Magazine of the Year for the first time in its history as well as a number of other National Magazine Awards, including for general excellence. He won an Emmy award for executive producing a TIME documentary: “Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience.” Mr. Stengel had been a longtime writer and editor for TIME before becoming the magazine’s editor. He has written more than 25 cover stories for the magazine, including “The Case for National Service” in 2007, which helped launch the national service movement and contributed to the passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. He was also managing editor of TIME.com and remade the website in the early 2000s.
From 2004 till 2006, Stengel was President and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. He helped make the NCC a center for public debate around constitutional issues and helped start Constitution High School, a charter school; summer teacher institutes; and the Peter Jennings Institute, which p
rovided constitutional education for journalists.
In 1999, he was a senior adviser and chief speechwriter for Bill Bradley’s 2000 presidential run.
In 1998, he was the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton and taught “Politics and the Press.”
From 1992 through 1994, he collaborated with Nelson Mandela on the South African leader’s autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom.” Stengel later wrote “Mandela’s Way,” a New York Times best-seller, on his experience working with Mandela. He is the author of several other books, including “January Sun,” a book about life in a small South African town as well as “You’re Too Kind: A Brief History of Flattery.”
Stengel was a manga cum laude graduate of Princeton University, where he played on the 1975 NIT winning basketball team. He won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he studied English and history. He’s married to Mary Pfaff, a South African photographer whom he met while working on “Long Walk to Freedom” and has two teenaged sons.