Chayes's trajectory led her from reporting for National Public Radio in Paris to running a soap factory in downtown Kandahar in the midst of a reigniting Afghan insurgency. Tapped to advise the topmost levels of the U.S. military, she served as special adviser to two commanders of international forces in Afghanistan and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before a five-year stint at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Her work has uncovered the unrecognized reality that severe and structured corruption lies at the root of many international crises, from extremist violence to political uprisings that spin out of control. Her findings have sobering implications for the United States, which she will discuss.
Chayes is author, most recently, of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, winner of the LA Times Book Prize, and is working on a new book which explores kleptocracy in America.