Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, a New York Times best seller published in March 2011 by HarperCollins, about a young entrepreneur who supported her community under the Taliban.
Gayle is a contributor to The Atlantic’s DefenseOne site, writing regularly on national security and foreign policy issues. In October 2013, she wrote the first story about how the military could not pay death benefits to fallen soldiers killed in Afghanistan during the government shutdown. As a contributing editor at Newsweek Daily Beast in 2011, Gayle wrote the first Tina Brown Newsweek cover story on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s push to put women at the center of U.S. foreign policy.
Gayle began her career as a journalist in Washington. From 1997 to 2004, she covered presidential politics and public policy issues for the ABC News Political Unit and served as an editorial producer during the first year of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
In 2004, she left ABC News to pursue her interest in international development and began MBA study at Harvard. After business school, she served as a vice president at the global investment firm PIMCO, where she worked in the executive office and in emerging markets.
Gayle has reported on Afghanistan since 2005, when she made her first trip to the country. She has written about the country’s politics and economy, the evolving roles of Afghan women, and the small but important class of young entrepreneurs, for publications including The New York Times, The Financial Times, Fast Company, The Christian Science Monitor, and Newsweek Daily Beast.
Writing regularly on entrepreneurship, with a focus on fragile states and developing economies, Gayle has consulted for the World Bank and co–wrote a 2008 report on “Doing Business in Africa.” She is also the author of Entrepreneurship in Postconflict Zones, a CFR working paper on arguing for comprehensive, long–term, collaborative approaches to help entrepreneurs in conflict and postconflict countries overcome challenges in accessing capital, markets, networks, and business–skills training. In December 2013, she published a policy innovation memorandum titled “Banking on Growth,” making the case for why the United States should support the creation of an American development bank to invest in small and medium–size businesses in the world’s toughest economies. In 2010, she was featured on the cover of the Harvard Business School alumni magazine for her work on entrepreneurs in conflict and postconflict zones.
In addition to her work on foreign policy and the fight to end child marriage, Gayle has written a number of pieces about women and girls for The Atlantic, including “We Need to Tell Girls They Can Have It All (Even If They Can’t),” which is mentioned in Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. She has also written about the lessons she learned growing up in a community of single mothers.
Gayle regularly appears on a number of broadcast networks, including PBS, MSNBC, CNN and National Public Radio, to discuss foreign policy issues. In December 2011, she gave the opening talk at TEDxWomen, which focused on why investing in women can make the difference for the global economy. Her presentation was named a “TED Talk of the Day.”
Gayle graduated summa cum laude from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She received an MBA from Harvard, as well as the 2006 Dean’s Award for her work on women’s entrepreneurship. She served as a Fulbright scholar in Spain and a Robert Bosch Foundation fellow in Germany. She speaks Spanish, German, and French, and is conversant in Dari. She serves on the boards of Mercy Corps and the International Center for Research on Women and is a member of The Bretton Woods Committee.
Her second book, Ashley’s War was released on April 21, 2015 and is now available to order on amazon.