Dr. Alyssa Ayres assumed her duties as Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia in August 2010. Her portfolio includes India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives. She joined the Department of State from McLarty Associates, the Washington-based international strategic advisory firm, where she led the India and South Asia practice.
Her previous experience in the State Department, a term as an International Affairs Fellow on staff of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, focused on South and Central Asia. Prior to that, Dr. Ayres worked in the nonprofit sector, also focused on South Asia: at the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania; at the Asia Society in New York; and as an interpreter on mission with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Dr. Ayres is a cultural historian by training. She received an AB magna cum laude from Harvard College, and an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago, where her dissertation was defended with distinction. Her book on nationalism, culture, and politics in Pakistan, Speaking Like a State, was published worldwide by Cambridge University Press in 2009. It won the 2011-2012 American Institute of Pakistan Studies junior book prize (for a first book). She has also co-edited three books on India and Indian foreign policy, including the recently published Power Realignments in Asia: China, India, and the United States.
A fluent speaker of Hindi and Urdu, Dr. Ayres has lived in both India and Pakistan. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.