Mitchell Reiss

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Mitchell Reiss
Mitchell Reiss.jpg
27th President of Washington College
In office
January 17, 2010 – January 19, 2014
Preceded byBaird Tipson
Succeeded byJack S. Griswold
United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland
In office
August 27, 2003 – January 11, 2007
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byRichard Haass
Succeeded byPaula Dobriansky
Director of Policy Planning
In office
August 27, 2003 – January 20, 2005
Preceded byRichard N. Haass
Succeeded byStephen D. Krasner
Personal details
Born (1957-06-12) June 12, 1957 (age 64)
Alma materWilliams College (BA)
Tufts University (MA)
Columbia University (JD)
University of Oxford (D.Phil)

Mitchell B. Reiss (born June 12, 1957) is an American diplomat, academic, and business leader who served as the 8th President and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the 27th president of Washington College and in the United States Department of State.[1]


Reiss earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College, a Master of Arts from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School, and a D.Phil from the University of Oxford.[2]



Reiss served as Director of Policy Planning at the United States Department of State from 2003 to 2005. He also concurrently served as the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, with the title of Ambassador, from 2003 to 2007. He was also selected to be a White House Fellow and was assigned to the National Security Council, where he worked both as Special Assistant for Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell.

As a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, he worked closely with the British and Irish governments to persuade the political parties representing Northern Ireland’s two “traditions” to finally end the “Troubles” and restore local government. Reiss was instrumental in the denying of 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.[3]

From 1995 to 1999, he was Chief Negotiator in the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, an organization established 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 State Department, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and has consulted for 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.

In 2016, the UK Government appointed Reiss as its representative to the four-person International Reporting Commission to help end paramilitary activities in Northern Ireland.


Reiss practiced general corporate and banking law at Covington & Burling from 1989 to 1992.

Reiss also served as a national security advisor to then-Governor Mitt Romney during his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

Reiss was the 27th President of Washington College from 2010 to 2014, where he internationalized the student body, raised SAT scores and lowered the discount rate, created an innovative three-year pathway to graduation to reduce student and family debt, and balanced the budget for four straight years.

Reiss was the 8th President and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, America’s largest living history museum, from October 2014 until October 2019, where he focused on restoring the institution's financial health and fulfilling its educational mission. Reiss managed $1.1 billion of assets, led 2,000 employees and 1,000 volunteers, and stewarded over 100,000 donors. He generated profitable commercial operations for the first time in Foundation history, achieved four straight years of record fund-raising, won reaccreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, and recruited and retained the most diverse leadership team in Foundation history. [4]

Personal life[edit]

Mitchell is married to Elisabeth Reiss. They have two children.[5]


  • Negotiating with Evil: When to Talk to Terrorists, ASIN B003MZ14OQ
  • Bridled Ambition: Why Countries Constrain Their Nuclear Capabilities, ISBN 0-943875-71-4
  • Without the Bomb: The Politics of Nuclear Non-proliferation, ISBN 0-231-06439-X
  • Nuclear Proliferation after the Cold War (co-editor/author), ISBN 0-943875-64-1
  • The Nuclear Tipping-Point (editor), ISBN 81-7049-227-0


  1. ^ "Washington College: Office of the President". 24 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  2. ^ "Mitchell B. Reiss". Retrieved 2020-03-07.
  3. ^ The U.S. State Department awarded him the Foreign Affairs Award for “exceptionally distinguished service” in April 2007. Adams criticises Bush's NI envoyBBC News article, 16 March 2006
  4. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Department Of State. The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs. "Reiss, Mitchell B." Retrieved 2020-03-07.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Haass
United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Paula Dobriansky