Mitchell Reiss

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Mitchell Reiss
Mitchell Reiss.jpg
U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland
In office
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byRichard N. Haass
Succeeded byPaula J. Dobriansky
Personal details
Born (1957-06-12) June 12, 1957 (age 61)
CitizenshipUnited States
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Elisabeth Reiss
Alma materThe Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Williams College
Columbia Law School
Oxford University

Mitchell B. Reiss (born June 12, 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 played an important role in the Northern Ireland peace process. 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 became openly critical of Reiss. When asked about this matter, 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 becoming the 8th President of Colonial Williamsburg in October 2014, Reiss has focused on Colonial Williamsburg's financial health and fulfilling its educational mission.[5] 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."[6]

As Colonial Williamsburg President & CEO, Reiss manages $1.1 billion of assets, including 88 original and approximately 500 reconstructed buildings across 301 acres, the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, 67,000 American and British antiques and works of art, 60 million archaeological artifacts, six hotel properties, 11 restaurants, a spa, three golf courses, and 18 retail stores.[7] He administers an annual budget of $200 million, leads 2,000 employees and 1,000 volunteers, and stewards over 110,000 donors.

In his first three years at Colonial Williamsburg, Reiss worked to restructure the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's business operations.[8] Results have included increased revenue, reduced endowment draw, reversing a decades-long decline in ticket sales, attracting a record number of new donors, and setting new fundraising records.[9] In 2017, Reiss secured Colonial Williamsburg's reaccreditation with the American Alliance of Museums, and Colonial Williamsburg was named to Forbes list of America's Best Mid-Size Employers.[10] In 2018, Colonial Williamsburg received the USA TODAY 10 Best's "Best Virginia Attraction" award,[11] and the Williamsburg Inn earned the Forbes Fifth Star as well as AAA's Five Diamond Award.[12]

Reiss was also Governor Mitt Romney's national security advisor during his 2008 and 2012 presidential bids.

Mitchell is married to Elisabeth Reiss; they have two adult children.


  • 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

External links[edit]

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


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Washington College: Office of the President". 24 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  3. ^ "MEP Board of Advisors". 30 November 2010. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  4. ^ Adams criticises Bush's NI envoyBBC News article, 16 March 2006
  5. ^ "Reiss begins leadership tenure at Colonial Williamsburg". Making History. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  6. ^ "Colonial Williamsburg's website hack attributed to ISIS terror group". 2015-03-11. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Culture Gap Podcast". Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  9. ^ "Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 2016 Annual Report". Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  10. ^ "Colonial Williamsburg Foundation on the Forbes America's Best Midsize Employers List". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  11. ^ "Williamsburg Inn - Williamsburg Hotels - Williamsburg, United States - Forbes Travel Guide". Forbes Travel Guide. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  12. ^ "Williamsburg Inn gets 'Five Diamond' designation". WTOP. 2017-11-21. Retrieved 2018-03-28.