Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

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Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (born 1973 or 1974)[1] is a journalist and the author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, a New York Times best seller published in March 2011 by HarperCollins, of Child Brides, Global Consequences: How to End Child Marriage, published in 2014 by the Council on Foreign Relations, and of Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield, another New York Times best seller published in 2015 by HarperCollins. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributor to the Atlantic's Defense One site covering foreign policy and national security matters.[2]

Education and early career[edit]

Lemmon earned a BA in journalism summa cum laude from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. From 1997 to 2004, she worked in the ABC News Political Unit, where she served as producer in the first year of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." She graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS),[3] where she received the 2006 Dean’s Award for her work on women’s entrepreneurship. From 2006 to 2010, she worked in the executive office and in emerging markets at the global investment firm PIMCO. In 2010, she was featured on the cover of the HBS alumni magazine for her work on entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict zones. Lemmon is also a former Fulbright scholar and Robert Bosch Foundation fellow. She serves on the board of Mercy Corps and the International Center for Research on Women.[4] and is a member of The Bretton Woods Committee.[5]

Journalism and media appearances[edit]

Lemmon authored the first Tina Brown Newsweek cover on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's push to put women at the center of U.S. foreign policy. She has written extensively about entrepreneurs in Afghanistan (In the Heart of Afghanistan, Entrepreneurs Innovate for Peace) and in the Gulf states (Arab Women’s Tech Advantage).

In October 2013 she broke the first media story about how the military could not pay death benefits to fallen soldiers killed in action during the government shutdown. The story attracted the attention of the Pentagon and the White House and Fisher House eventually stepped in to fill the funding gap until the shutdown ended.

In addition to her work on foreign policy and the fight to end child marriage, Lemmon has written a number of pieces on women and girls for the Atlantic,[6] including We Need to Tell Girls They Can Have It All (Even If They Can't) which is mentioned in Sheryl Sandberg's 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, as well as on the lessons she learned growing up in a community of single mothers. Lemmon regularly appears on broadcast media to discuss timely foreign policy issues. In February 2014, she discussed the situation in Syria on PBS's Tavis Smiley show, and in April she discussed the Afghan elections. She also appears regularly on MSNBC, CNN and National Public Radio.

In December 2011 she gave the opening talk at TEDxWomen in 2011, which focused on why investing in women can make the difference for the global economy and was named the TED Talk of the Day.

Lemmon appeared on The Daily Show April 20, 2015.


Lemmon has reported on Afghanistan since 2005, when she made her first trip to the country. Her book, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, is about young entrepreneurs who supported their community under the Taliban. She has written extensively on the country's politics, business environment, midwives and its small but important class of young entrepreneurs for publications including the New York Times, the Financial Times, Christian Science Monitor, and Newsweek Daily Beast.

Entrepreneurship and the global economy[edit]

Lemmon writes regularly on entrepreneurship, especially in fragile states and developing economies. In 2008, she consulted for the World Bank and co-authored a 2008 report on Doing Business in Africa. She is also the author of Entrepreneurship in Postconflict Zones, a CFR working paper on arguing for comprehensive, long-term, collaborative approaches to help entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict countries overcome these challenges in accessing capital, markets, networks, and business skills training. In December 2013, she published a policy innovation memorandum, titled Banking on Growth, making the case for why the United States should support the creation of an American development bank to invest in small- and medium-businesses in the world's toughest economies.

She has also reported on entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict regions for the Financial Times, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Daily Beast, and Fast Company, as well as on Bloomberg, Politico, and the Huffington Post.

Child marriage[edit]

Lemmon has written extensively on the impact of child marriage on girls' educational and economic opportunities. In 2014, she authored two CFR working papers on the topic: "High Stakes for Young Lives," coauthored with Lynn ElHarake, surveys strategies to stop child marriage; and "Fragile States, Fragile Lives" examines the correlation between child marriage and state fragility.

She has reported on child marriage for a variety of news outlets, including Ms. Magazine, Medium, and NPR.

Women in the U.S. military[edit]

Lemmon's 2015 book, Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield tells the story of CST-2, a unit of women handpicked from across the Army to serve alongside Army Rangers in Afghanistan, and of the remarkable hero at its heart: First Lieutenant Ashley White. The book is being made into a film by Reese Witherspoon's production company, Pacific Standard. Lemmon gave a TED talk on the subject at TEDWomen 2015.[7]

Lemmon has written on the integration of women into combat roles, following the progress of the first co-ed class in Army Ranger School for outlets such as the Washington Post and Defense One. She has also reported on the challenges faced by female veterans.



  1. ^ Salisbury, Vanita (March 25, 2011). "Gayle Tzemach Lemmon Doesn’t Notice Whether Vegan Food Is Warm or Cold". New York. Age: 37 
  2. ^ The Daily Beast
  3. ^ "WVU to welcome TEDxWomen speaker and bestselling author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon at Festival of Ideas". WVU Today. March 9, 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Mercy Corps
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Gayle Tzemach Lemmon". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (May 2015). "Meet the women fighting on the front lines of an American war" (Video). TEDWomen 2015. 
  8. ^ Ricks, Thomas. "'Ashley’s War’: A look at the use of Cultural Support Teams in Afghanistan". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 

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