For two decades, Knox Thames has promoted the rights of religious minorities and combated persecution, working at the intersection of global affairs, religion, and human rights.
An accomplished foreign policy expert with in-depth knowledge on a range of international affairs issues, his career has taken him to the State Department and two different U.S. government foreign policy commissions. Most recently, Knox served across two administrations as the Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South / Central Asia at the U.S. Department of State. The first to serve in this special envoy role, he received a civil service appointment in September 2015 to lead State Department efforts to address the situation of religious minorities in these regions.
Starting in July 2020, Knox left government to embark on a book writing project based on his experiences and joined the Institute for Global Engagement as a Senior Fellow. He is also a Visiting Expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace, contributing to the Middle East and Religion & Inclusive Societies teams. Both positions are possible thanks to the support of the Templeton Religion Trust.
During his 20-year career in government, Knox also served at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission), the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), AmeriCorps VISTA, and the U.S. Army War College as an Adjunct Research Professor.
Reflecting his expertise on a range of international affairs issues including the Middle East and South Asia, Knox has spoken in a variety of settings, such as before the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Organization of American States, the OSCE, the Atlantic Council, Wilton Park, and U.S. military war colleges.
Knox has written widely, including multiple contributions to ForeignPolicy.com, along with articles appearing in Newsweek, CNN.com, the Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Yale Journal of International Affairs, the Fletcher Forum, the Small Wars Journal, and the Georgetown Journal for International Affairs. And he literally wrote the book on religious freedom advocacy, being the initiator and lead author of a first-of-its-kind handbook, "International Religious Freedom Advocacy: A Guide to Organizations, Law and NGOs," published by Baylor University Press.
He received a Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown College (KY), a Juris Doctorate with honors from American University's Washington College of Law, and a Master's in International Affairs from the School of International Service at American University. In addition, he studied at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.