Robert L. McKenzie, PhD, is a senior fellow at New America and the founding director of its Muslim Diaspora Initiative. McKenzie is a domestic and foreign policy analyst and scholar of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with fifteen years of applied research and work experience for the U.S. government, private sector, and academia. An anthropologist by training, McKenzie is an expert in displaced persons, refugee resettlement and integration, and Arab and Muslim communities in the United States and Europe. McKenzie is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and Georgetown University, and he has been a lecturer at Wayne State University (Detroit), a researcher at the American University in Cairo, and a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford.
Before joining New America, McKenzie was a visiting fellow and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he focused on Muslim communities in the West and the Syrian refugee crisis. In his most recent government position, McKenzie served as senior advisor for countering violent extremism (CVE) at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to that position, McKenzie was project director and responsible for establishing and launching the Hedayah Center in Abu Dhabi—the world’s first-ever international center on CVE. While at the Hedayah Center, McKenzie had oversight of an eight million dollar budget, project controls, and staffing; drafted the Center’s strategy and programmatic initiatives; and conducted stakeholder engagement with senior officials in 15 capitals across the MENA region and Europe.
McKenzie has written for, appeared with, or been cited by: Al Jazeera, the Baltimore Sun; Bloomberg View; The Brookings Cafeteria Podcast; CNN; the Detroit Free Press; Foreign Policy in Focus; the Guardian; the New York Times; Share Radio; the Washington Post; and the Washington Times. In his latest book project McKenzie explores humanitarian assistance and policy solutions to protracted refugee situations in the Middle East.
McKenzie was born and raised in the Greater Detroit area. He earned a bachelor's in economics from Michigan State University, a master's in security studies and a graduate certificate in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and a doctorate in anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.