Fred Kempe has held the position of president and chief executive officer of the Atlantic Council since December 1, 2006. His latest book, BERLIN 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth  (foreword by Gen. Brent Scowcroft) was published by Putnam May 10, 2012 and is a New York Times bestseller.
Under his leadership, the Council has achieved significant growth while considerably expanding its staff, work, and influence in areas that include international security, business and economics, energy and environment, and global issues of transatlantic interest ranging from Asia to Africa.
He comes to the Council from a long and prominent career at the Wall Street Journal, where he won national and international recognition while serving in numerous senior editorial and reportorial capacities. He is the author of four books, and a regular commentator on television and radio both in Europe and the United States.
Mr. Kempe left the Journal following more than a quarter century of distinguished work. His last position with the paper was in New York, where he served as assistant managing editor, international, and "Thinking Global" columnist. Prior to that, he was for seven years the longest serving editor and associate publisher ever of the Wall Street Journal Europe, simultaneously functioning as European editor for the Global Wall Street Journal from 2002 to 2005. During this time he managed six news bureaus, several satellite offices, a Brussels news desk operation, and he oversaw European and Middle Eastern reporting.
Throughout his tenure as editor and associate publisher, the newspaper won a number of awards including the prestigious Harold Wincott Award as UK Business Journal of the Year, the Media Tenor Award as the top international paper in Europe, and multiple "Business Journalist of the Year" prizes from the World Leadership Forum in London. His teams participated in two Pulitzer Prizes.
In 2002, the European Voice, a leading publication following European Union affairs, selected Mr. Kempe as one of the 50 most influential Europeans, although he is American, and one of the four leading journalists in Europe. He has been a frequent television and radio commentator for, among others, CNBC, the BBC, and German radio and television. As managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe from 1992–1997, he founded and managed the Central European Economic Review (CEER), which covered the countries of the former Soviet bloc. In 1993 he also co-founded Convergence, a magazine on Europe’s digital economy.
Mr. Kempe joined Journal in 1981 in London before opening the paper's Vienna bureau in 1984. He transferred to Washington, DC in 1986 as chief diplomatic correspondent, and in 1990 opened its Berlin bureau. As a reporter, he covered a number of significant stories, including the rise of solidarity in Poland and the growing resistance to Soviet rule, the coming to power of Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia and all his summit meetings with Ronald Reagan, war reporting in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon in the 1980s, and the American invasion of Panama. He also covered the unification of Germany and the collapse of Soviet communism.
Mr. Kempe has written three books that have been published in several languages: Divorcing the Dictator: America's Bungled Affair with Noriega; Siberian Odyssey: A Voyage into the Russian Soul; and Father/Land: A Personal Search for the New Germany. His fourth, Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev and the World’s Most Dangerous Place, was released May 10, 2011 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons and was a New York Times hardback bestseller.
Mr. Kempe is a graduate of the University of Utah and has a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he was a member of the International Fellows program in the School of International Affairs. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Maryland University College and from Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina and is a visiting fellow at Oxford University's Said School of Business. He has won the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism's top alumni achievement award and the University of Utah's prize for the top young alumnus.
He serves on a number of boards of directors, including the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, and is on the advisory board of the Transatlantic Policy Network as well as the international advisory council of Atlantik-Bruecke e.V. in Berlin. He also serves on the Senior Advisory Group of Admiral James Stavridis, Commander, US European Command (EUCOM). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Kempe speaks German and is the son of German immigrants who came to the United States before World War II. His wife, Pamela Meyer, is the CEO of Simpatico Networks. They live with their daughter, Johanna, in Washington, DC.
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