Shawn Powers serves as the Agency’s Chief Strategy Officer, leading its interagency engagement, strategic planning, strategic initiatives, and partnerships with key international stakeholders. He oversees the Agency’s Office of Policy and Research (OPR), Office of Policy (VOA), and its Internet Freedom and circumvention programs. Powers also serves on the Executive Committee of the Association for International Broadcasting, the not-for-profit, non-governmental trade association that supports international broadcasters all around the world. He has a Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California (USC) and more than a decade of experience working at the nexus of public diplomacy, technology, and national security.
Previously, Powers served as USAGM’s Senior Advisor for Global Strategy and Innovation from July 2018 through November 2019, where he focused on strategic planning, innovation, research and evaluation, and policy coordination for USAGM, as well as positioning the agency within the broader U.S. government and with key stakeholders. From 2016-2018, Powers was the Executive Director of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, a body authorized by Congress to oversee and promote U.S. Government activities that intend to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics. He led the Commission’s efforts to understand and utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities in the strategic communication space and helped forge a research and learning agenda and culture among public diplomacy practitioners. Prior to that, he was a tenured professor of Global Media at Georgia State University, where he founded and led its Center for Global Information Studies. Powers has also served as an adjunct Professor-practitioner at Oklahoma State and Syracuse Universities.
As an academic, Powers researched the geopolitics of information and technology and published (with Michael Jablonski) the award-winning The Real Cyber War: A Political Economy of Internet Freedom (The University of Illinois Press, 2015). He has over 40 publications in academic and mainstream outlets, including The Washington Post, Guardian, and Huffington Post.
His research has been supported by grants from the British Council, Department of Defense, Department of State, European Commission, Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundation, and U.S. Institute of Peace, and he’s received fellowships from the London School of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Oxford, and Central European University.
Powers received B.A.’s in International Affairs and Communication from the University of Georgia before earning his M.A. and Ph.D. from USC. He has been invited to speak at the Al Jazeera Forum, Austrian Diplomatic Academy, British Broadcasting Corporation, Council on Foreign Relations, SXSW, United Nations, World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, and over 40 universities.