Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author most recently of the New York Times bestseller Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield (2015); as well as the New York Times bestseller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (2011), about a young entrepreneur who supported her community under the Taliban.
Lemmon began her career as a journalist in Washington. From 1997 to 2004, she covered presidential politics and public policy issues for the ABC News Political Unit and served as an editorial producer during the first year of This Week with George Stephanopoulos. In 2004, she left ABC News to pursue her interest in international development and began MBA study at Harvard. It was during this time that she began reporting from conflict regions.
Following her graduation from Harvard Business School, Lemmon served as a Vice President at the global investment firm PIMCO. At the firm, she served in the Executive Office, where she tracked Washington policy for the Investment Committee and credit team. She also served as an Emerging Markets Product Manager and focused on the firm’s Central Bank and Sovereign Wealth Fund clients.
She has reported on Afghanistan since 2005, when she made her first trip to the country. She has written about the country’s politics and economy, the evolving roles of Afghan women and the small but important class of young entrepreneurs for publications including The New York Times, The Financial Times, Fast Company, The Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek Daily Beast.
Writing regularly on entrepreneurship, with a focus on fragile states and developing economies, Gayle has consulted for the World Bank and penned working papers for the Council on Foreign Relations arguing for comprehensive, long-term, collaborative approaches to help entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict countries overcome challenges in accessing capital, markets, networks and business-skills training.
In 2011, Harper published The Dressmaker of Khair Khana. The former reporter spent years on the ground reporting the story of Kamila Sidiqi and the dressmaking business she started in her living room, which went on to create jobs and hope for 100 women in her Kabul neighborhood.
In addition to her work on foreign policy and the fight to end child marriage, Gayle has written a number of pieces about women and girls for The Atlantic, including “We Need to Tell Girls They Can Have It All (Even If They Can’t),” which is mentioned in Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
Lemmon is a contributor to The Atlantic’s Defense One site, writing regularly on national security and foreign policy issues. She regularly appears on a number of broadcast networks, including PBS, MSNBC, CNN and National Public Radio, to discuss foreign policy issues. . Her TED Talk on Ashley’s War and its all-women Special Ops team this past May has received more than one million views, following on her 2011 TED Talk on the importance of investing in global entrepreneurs.
Lemmon graduated summa cum laude from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She received an MBA from Harvard, as well as the 2006 Dean’s Award for her work on women’s entrepreneurship. She served as a Fulbright scholar in Spain and a Robert Bosch Foundation fellow in Germany. She speaks Spanish, German and French, and is conversant in Dari. She serves on the boards of Mercy Corps and the International Center for Research on Women and is a member of The Bretton Woods Committee.