Mitchell Reiss

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Mitchell Reiss
Mitchell Reiss.jpg
U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland
In office
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Richard N. Haass
Succeeded by Paula J. Dobriansky
Personal details
Born 1957
Citizenship United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Elisabeth Reiss
Alma mater The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Williams College
Columbia Law School
Oxford University
Religion Judaism

Mitchell B. Reiss (born 1957) is a senior American diplomat who is now the President and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia.[1] Immediately prior to this post, he served a tenure of four years as the 27th president of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.[2] He served as Director of Policy Planning at the United States Department of State under Colin Powell. He also served as the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, with the diplomatic rank of Ambassador, until stepping down in 2007. He has degrees from Williams College, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Columbia University Law School and Oxford. He was also selected to be a White House Fellow and was assigned to the National Security Council, where he worked both for Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell.

He was Chief Negotiator in the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, an organization set up by the United States, South Korea, and Japan to implement the Agreed Framework on preventing nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula. He has served on the National Security Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Ford Foundation, the Cambridge Institute for Applied Research, the State Department, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Previously, he was Vice-Provost for International Affairs, Professor of Law at the William and Mary Law School, and Professor of Government in the Department of Government at the College of William and Mary. He is a member of the Mission Essential Personnel Board of Advisors.[3]

As a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, he has played an important role in the Northern Ireland peace process. However, after Reiss denied Gerry Adams a visa to the United States to spur the endorsement of policing and justice in Northern Ireland by Adams and his political party, Sinn Féin, Adams criticized Reiss on March 16, 2006 saying, "I don't have high regards for Mitchell Reiss's input into this process" and "If it is he who is advising the president, it's very very bad advice." Reiss responded "We try very hard to be an honest broker. I think if you look at the record, it demonstrates quite clearly that we don't play favorites - that we call it as we see it... We try to keep our eye on the main objective here - which is moving the peace process forward and keeping the focus on the people of Northern Ireland." Less than a year later, in January 2007, Sinn Féin formally endorsed policing and justice, thereby paving the way for the historic power-sharing arrangement with Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party on March 26, 2007.[4]

Since his arrival at Colonial Williamsburg, Reiss has introduced many new initiatives to attract families and engage children in order to communicate the town's significance in American history. These include allowing young guests to fire the three-pound cannon, establishing an archaeological dig activity, and illuminating landmark buildings at night.[5][6][7] In March 2015 Reiss said, "At Colonial Williamsburg, we well know that a nation’s past is a foundation for its future. It was here that the idea of American independence was first established, where our founding democratic institutions were conceived, and where our foundational values of human dignity and religious and economic liberty were first given voice. All that we are today—and hope to be tomorrow—started here.”

Reiss was also Mitt Romney's national security advisor during his failed bid to be the Republican candidate in the 2008 Presidential Election.[8]

Mitchell is married to Elisabeth Reiss.


External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Washington College: Office of the President". 24 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  3. ^ "MEP Board of Advisors". 30 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  4. ^ Adams criticises Bush's NI envoyBBC News article, 16 March 2006
  5. ^ "Colonial Williamsburg to Offer Guests Chance to Shoot Guns, Pet Live Animals". Retrieved 6/8/15.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. ^ Connolly, Gregory. "Colonial Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings". Retrieved 6/8/15.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ Connolly, Gregory. "Colonial Williamsburg Puts Kids in Control of Daily Cannon Firings". Retrieved 6/8/15.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. ^ The National Interest