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Faculty Bio: Dr. Stephen Epstein

Dr. Epstein has worked in the State Department for 18 years, starting as a AAAS Fellow in the Democracy and Human Rights Bureau.  He spent a year with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives and almost nine years on the Iraq and Iran Desks.


He is now a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.  In this capacity he served a detail as an advisor to General John Allen, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, served as Deputy to both the Senior Advisor for Mujahedin-e Khalq Resettlement and the Special Envoy for Libya, and negotiated agreements with Near Eastern countries to block the importation of looted antiquities into the United States. Currently, he is working to reconcile the conflicting interests of American Jewish organizations and the Iraqi government regarding the so-called “Iraqi Jewish Archive.”  


Before coming to Washington, Dr. Epstein was the Associate Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; taught anthropology and archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and Rider University; conducted archaeological excavations in Ireland, Belize, Peru, West Texas, and New Mexico; and published articles in Science, Nature, and Special Warfare.


Concurrently, he spent 30 years in U.S. Army Reserve, retiring as a colonel after civil affairs deployments to Saudi Arabia for DESERT STORM, Iraqi Kurdistan as mayor of a Kurdish refugee camp during PROVIDE COMFORT, to Haiti with the UN blue helmet force before the U.S. intervention and then again after the intervention as Advisor to the Minister of Education, and finally to Bosnia to stand up and command the SFOR ministerial support team.


Dr. Epstein received a BA and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in the UK from Bradford University’sPostgraduate School of Studies in Physics, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College.


He holds the State Department’s Superior Honor Award, the Army’s Legion of Merit, and is a Distinguished Member of the Civil Affairs Association.