Ambassador Dana Shell Smith


Former U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar and Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs 

Ambassador Dana Shell Smith is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at Georgetown University and the CEO of Decibel Strategy, an international strategy firm she founded to advance business and professional ties between the United States and the Middle East. Before founding Decibel Strategy, Ambassador Smith spent 25 years as a diplomat, working throughout the Middle East and in Asia.

Dana served as the U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar from 2014-2017. During her tenure, Dana successfully advocated for billions of dollars in U.S. business and investment opportunities in Qatar, and Qatari investment in the U.S. to over $70 billion. She negotiated base access for the international coalition fighting ISIS and furthered partnerships in the fields of education and culture. She stepped down from the Foreign Service upon departure from Qatar in June 2017.

As Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs from 2011 to 2014, Dana managed State Department strategic communications, global media relations and crisis communications for Secretaries Clinton and Kerry.

In a career spanning the tenures of Secretaries Christopher, Albright, Powell, Rice, Clinton, Kerry and Tillerson, Dana served as a spokesperson and public affairs officer in Dubai, Taipei, Amman, Gaza, Tel Aviv and Cairo.

She speaks fluent Arabic and was proficient in Chinese, Hebrew and Spanish. A mother of two, wife of a Diplomatic Security Special Agent, and mentor to many, Dana published her thoughts on work and life in “How to Have an Insanely Demanding Job and Two Happy Kids”, for The Atlantic, June 2012.

Dana has a degree in Political Science, Middle East Studies and Women’s Studies from the University of California, San Diego and an honorary doctorate from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and sits on the boards of Hostage US, Foreign Policy for America, and LA2028, among other pursuits.