Lisa Curtis



Lisa Curtis is Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. She is a foreign policy and national security expert with over 20 years of service in the U.S. government, including at the NSC, CIA, State Department, and Capitol Hill. Her work has centered on U.S. policy toward the Indo-Pacific and South Asia, with a particular focus on Afghanistan, U.S.- India strategic relations, Quad (U.S., Australia, India, and Japan) cooperation, counterterrorism strategy in South and Central Asia, and China’s role in the region.

Curtis served as Deputy Assistant to the President and NSC Senior Director for South and Central Asia from 2017-2021 under three successive National Security Advisors. During her tenure at the NSC, she coordinated U.S. policy development and implementation of the South Asia Strategy approved by the President in 2017 and was the NSC representative at several rounds of the U.S.-Taliban negotiations held in 2019 and 2020. She was also a key contributor to the Indo-Pacific Strategic Framework approved by the President in 2018. She coordinated policies designed to strengthen the U.S.-India defense, diplomatic, and trade partnership, resulting in a widely recognized elevation of the relationship. Curtis also coordinated development of the U.S. Strategy toward Central Asia, to include facilitating new partnerships with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Ms. Curtis received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service in December 2020 in recognition of her work at the NSC.

From 2006-2017, Curtis was the Senior Fellow on South Asia at The Heritage Foundation, where her responsibilities included research, writing, regular media appearances, and frequent Congressional testimony. She also served as Professional Staff Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, handling the South Asia portfolio for former Chairman of the Committee, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) from 2003-2006. Before that, she worked as a Senior Advisor in the South Asia Bureau at the State Department, where she developed and coordinated U.S. policy on India-Pakistan relations. In the late 1990s, she worked as a senior analyst on South Asia at the CIA, and from 1994-1998 served at the U.S. Embassies in Pakistan and India.

She has published commentary in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The National Interest,,, and other media outlets and made multiple appearances on CNN, Fox News, BBC, PBS, MSNBC, and C-SPAN. She has testified before Congress on Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and China’s role in the region on more than 20 occasions.

Ms. Curtis also currently serves on the Board of Directors of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.