Fulbright Announces Thomas Dougherty as New Executive Director

Fulbright Executive Director Thomas Dougherty

The Australian-American Fulbright Commission Board of Directors today announced the appointment of U.S. Ambassador (ret.) Thomas Dougherty as the new Executive Director of the Commission. Mr. Dougherty brings with him an extensive background in foreign relations, public affairs, diplomacy, and international education.

Announcing the appointment, effective 15 August, Chair of the Board Professor Don DeBats said: “Mr Dougherty is uniquely qualified with over 25 years of Foreign Service experience, exceptional knowledge of the Australian-American binational relationship, and a great enthusiasm for the Fulbright program and its educational aims. Given his wealth of experience, I am confident he will make a significant contribution to the Commission.”

A career diplomat, Mr Dougherty served in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Australia, and Washington. He was U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso from 2010-2013, and most recently was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra from 2013-2016. He directed Fulbright programs in several countries, including the very large program in Iraq where he served as Minister-Counsellor for Public Affairs in 2009-2010. Prior to joining the U.S. Foreign Service, Mr. Dougherty worked in international schools in Belgium and Switzerland, and was a Fulbright grantee himself in Indonesia and Singapore in 1988.

Speaking today in Canberra, Mr. Dougherty said: “After three years at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, I very much welcome the chance to continue working to expand people-to-people exchanges between Australians and Americans. For almost seven decades, the Australian-American Fulbright Commission has been unexcelled in promoting academic excellence and in fostering mutual understanding.”

Professor DeBats also announced the appointment of Dr Ruth Lee Martin as Deputy Executive Director of the Commission, and thanked her for her outstanding service as Acting Executive Director for the past six months. Prior to her joining the Commission in 2012, Dr Lee Martin was Head of Musicology at the Australian National University School of Music and is also a composer for film and television.

The Australian-American Fulbright Commission, established in 1949, is jointly funded by the U.S. and Australian governments with additional financial support provided by key sponsors, alumni donations and endowments. Approximately 5,000 Australians and Americans have participated in the Fulbright Program, one of the largest international exchange opportunities in the world. Created in the wake of World War II with funds from the sale of surplus war materials channelled into academic scholarships, the Fulbright Program transformed swords into cultural and intellectual ploughshares.