Samar Ali

Chief Executive Officer, Millions of Conversations

Samar S. Ali is a skilled mediator, a careful listener, and a compassionate teacher. Pulling up a chair to tables around the world, Ali engages in some of the most entrenched conflicts of our time, always with the intent of finding positive resolution through common ground.

In this pursuit, Ali is a Research Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University, the founding President and CEO of Millions of Conversations, and co-chair of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy with Jon Meacham and former Governor Bill Haslam.

Ali has nearly two decades of experience in international relations and national security. Working at the intersection of national security, human rights, and economic development, Ali served as a White House Fellow in President Obama’s administration and as Assistant Commissioner of International Affairs in Tennessee Governor Haslam’s administration. While at the White House, she worked closely with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, gaining experience in bilateral negotiations on behalf of the U.S. government. As a conflict resolution practitioner and mediator, Ali joined an international mediating team in Syria from 2013-2016.

Ali recently cowrote the opening ceremony on "Unity" for the 2022 World Cup with Laeta Kalogridis and Gregg Hurwitz, and co-produced the Heartland to Holy Land series in Bethlehem with music producer T Bone Burnett. Ali, T Bone Burnett, and Callie Khouri also co-produced “John Lewis Celebration of Life” at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in 2021.

Ali is currently working on a memoir, "Sweet Tea, Sacred Land", about one family's century-long quest for peace through belonging.

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