After decades of trying to solve some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, I’ve come to believe that bringing people together around a common table may be a better way to build peace than other forms of intervention. In fact, I believe the kitchen is the new venue of foreign policy.– Johanna Mendelson Forman
Through her wide-ranging career in international affairs, Johanna Mendelson Forman has built a reputation for addressing longstanding issues with new perspectives and innovative ideas. By recognizing the nexus between food, war and civic engagement, she has become one of the leading voices in the emerging movement of Social Gastronomy.
Johanna’s frontline experience as a policy maker on conflict and stabilization efforts drove her interest in connecting the role of food in conflict, resulting in the creation of Conflict Cuisine®: An Introduction to War and Peace Around the Dinner Table, an interdisciplinary course she teaches at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC.
As an Adjunct Professor leading this ground-breaking curriculum, Johanna challenges her students to explore new ways of looking at diplomacy, conflict resolution and civic engagement and how food, as a form of Smart Power, can drive these issues in the 21st Century. In establishing this link between food and conflict, Johanna developed a new interdisciplinary platform examining why food is central to survival and resilience in conflict zones. She is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center, where she heads the Food Security Program.
The Expertise to Lead the Dialogue on Food and Conflict
An expert on post-conflict transition and democratization issues, Johanna has regional expertise in the Americas, with a special focus on the Caribbean, Central America and Brazil.
She also has extensive field experience with the U.S. Government on transition initiatives in Haiti, Iraq and Sub-Saharan Africa, having served as a Senior Advisor for Humanitarian Response at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) where she helped establish the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI).
Johanna’s previous positions include serving as the Director of Peace, Security, and Human Rights at the United Nations Foundation; Senior Advisor the United Nations Mission in Haiti, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Program on Crisis, Conflict, and Cooperation and service with the World Bank’s Post Conflict Unit.
She holds a J.D. from Washington College of Law at American University, a Ph.D. in Latin American history from Washington University, St. Louis, and a Master’s of International Affairs, with a certificate of Latin America studies from Columbia University in New York and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Les Dames D’Escoffier.
Author & Guest Expert
Johanna has written extensively about food and conflict and Latin America and her work has been published in a wide range of publications including, the Miami Herald, Washington Post, Americas Quarterly, The Globalist, VOXXI, Estadao, El Universal and World Politics Review and has been cited in NPR’s The Salt, LeFigaro, Salon, Italia Oggi and This Week. She frequently appears on national media including National Public Radio, Univision and CNN.
Additionally, Johanna has lectured on food-related topics at the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program, Johns Hopkins University Bologna Campus, New York University’s Washington Program and at the United States Pavilion of the 2015 World Expo in Milan, Italy.