Reuben Earl Brigety II is a naval officer, educator, international humanitarian specialist, and diplomat. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 7, 1973, to Dr. Barbara and Dr. Rueben Brigety Sr. In 1965 his father became the first African American to graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Medicine.
Brigety is a distinguished midshipman graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1995. While in the Navy, he held several staff positions, including speechwriter and analyst in the Pentagon. He later won a scholarship to pursue a Master’s in International Relations at the University of Cambridge in England, which he earned in 1997 before returning to active duty. Upon deciding to return to pursue his doctoral degree in international affairs, Brigety received a discharge from the Navy in 2000 after which he returned to Cambridge where he earned his doctoral degree in 2003. During these early professional and educational endeavors, he honed his expertise in human rights issues and African affairs.
Dr. Brigety worked as a researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division, conducting field work in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 to 2003, followed by assistant professor postings at George Mason University and American University from 2003 to 2009. He also consulted with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Office of Emergency Operations’ Humanitarian Policy Unit, in 2004.
From 2007 to 2009, Dr. Brigety was special assistant to the assistant administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Simultaneously, he was director for the Sustainable Security Program at the Center for American Progress and a senior advisor for Civil-Military Affairs for the Joint Strategic Assessment Team at the U.S. Central Command in Washington, D.C., and in Doha, Qatar, from 2008 to 2009.
From 2009 to 2011, Dr. Brigety served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, supervising U.S. refugee programs in Africa, managing humanitarian diplomacy with international partners, and overseeing the development of international migration policy. In 2011 he went to the Bureau of African Affairs, serving as its deputy assistant secretary of state until 2013.
In 2013 President Barack Obama appointed Brigety the U.S. representative to the African Union (AU) with the rank of ambassador, and as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ambassador Brigety was responsible for leading U.S. efforts to work closely with the governments of the fifty-four-member states of the AU on critical continental and regional issues ranging from HIV/AIDS, humanitarian crisis, regional security, good governance promotion, conflict resolution, and private sector-led economic growth. Ambassador Brigety also led U.S.-AU efforts to address the outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014.
Ambassador Brigety left Addis Ababa in 2015 and accepted the post as dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Ambassador Brigety is married to Dr. Leelie Selassie. They have two sons, Roebel and Redda.