Patrick Quirk, Ph.D., serves as Vice President for Strategy, Innovation, and Impact at IRI. In this role, Dr. Quirk provides the leadership, management, and vision to ensure that IRI is addressing global challenges to democracy by developing innovative and evidence-based programs, tools, and resources. He leads IRI’s organization-wide strategic planning as well as oversees institutional efforts on monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning (MERL).

Dr. Quirk also oversees the Center for Global Impact, the 60-person team of thematic experts, researchers, and global project staff who help IRI monitor and develop innovative approaches to priority technical areas—from countering foreign authoritarian influence and combatting corruption, to strengthening political parties. Previously, he served as IRI’s Senior Director for Strategy, Research, and the Center for Global Impact.

Concurrent to serving at IRI, Dr. Quirk is a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. From 2019-2021, he was a Nonresident Fellow in the Foreign Policy Program of the Brookings Institution.

Before joining IRI, Dr. Quirk served on the U.S. Secretary of State’s Policy Planning staff in the Department of State as the lead advisor for fragile states, conflict and stabilization, and foreign assistance. Prior to Policy Planning, he served in State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) as Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy. In this capacity, he was the chief political scientist for and a lead author of the 2018 U.S. Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR). During his government service, Dr. Quirk received several Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.

Prior to joining the Department of State, he was a Research Fellow at the German Marshall Fund as well as designed and implemented conflict prevention and democracy strengthening foreign assistance interventions overseas. His analysis has appeared in The American Interest, American Purpose, Just Security, Foreign Policy, the Financial Times, The National Interest, NPR, and Real Clear Defense, among other outlets.

Dr. Quirk earned a B.A. in History from Bates College and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University.

Authored Content

Authored External Content

The National Interest

How the Biden Doctrine Should Tackle Fragile States

In many ways, pursuing cooperation on fragile states could be low-hanging fruit for beginning to…

The National Interest

The Next Push for Democracy Has to Be Different

The United States does a disservice to the places it seeks to help when it does not customize its approach to context.

American Purpose

As Democracy Goes, So Goes Climate

Working on the climate problem requires working on the undemocratic regimes that exacerbate it.

Just Security

Want the Summit for Democracy to Develop Solutions? Include Local Governments

The Biden administration has committed to organizing a “Summit for Democracy” to…


How the United States can select and work with nonstate armed actors as stabilization partners

From Central America to Mozambique, the Biden administration faces challenges emanating from fragile states.


Why and how the National Security Strategy should address fragile states

The Biden administration’s initial foreign policy priorities are coming into focus: combating climate change…

American Purpose

Grooming Autocrats

China is exporting more than infrastructure to Africa.

The Hill

How the United States can protect democracy from China and Russia

The administration has made bolstering democracy abroad a key foreign policy priority.


The Democracy Summit must be paired with a democracy strategy

The Biden administration has rhetorically placed strengthening democracy abroad at the center of its foreign policy.


Why supporting resilient political systems is key to a successful Biden democracy agenda

Strengthening democracy abroad is a priority for the Biden administration, evident in its commitment to hold a “summit of democracies” to galvanize…


How the Biden administration can get the Global Fragility Strategy right

The Biden administration will face a multiplicity of challenges on day one.


Strengthening citizen-centered governance should be a core element of the Biden administration’s democracy agenda

There are indications that President-elect Joe Biden intends to make supporting democracy a key element of his administration’s foreign policy.

American Purpose

Parties Onward

Political parties remain part and parcel of democracy, yet they are under stress in the West and farther afield. Two close observers offer a roadmap for supporting them.


A democracy assistance agenda for the Biden administration

The Biden administration will take office at a time when democracy is being tested across the world. 

Financial Times

U.S. Foreign Policy Will Put Governance Centre Stage

Janan Ganesh (“Biden’s foreign policy should steer clear of missionary idealism”, Opinion, November 25) misunderstands how the US and other allies support democracy overseas.

Financial Times

Coup Events in Africa are in Steady Decline

Like David Pilling (“Is the coup making a comeback in Africa?”, Opinion, August 28) we agree that the answer to the question is no.


Want to reduce global fragility? Empower civil society

COVID-19 is acting as an accelerant for instability and unrest worldwide.

Real Clear Defense

Want Better Strategists? Start With a Better Definition of Strategy

A strategy is a theory of success. Other definitions of strategy abound but are unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons.

American Interest

Winning the Great Power Competition Post-Pandemic

As the virus disrupts comfortable illusions and accelerates historical trends, the United States must lead the free world in shaping a more democratic global order.


Contested stabilization: Competing in post-conflict spaces

The COVID-19 pandemic is stressing health, political, and economic systems globally.


The global fragility strategy: Posturing the United States for a reshaping world order

The coronavirus pandemic is poised to exacerbate fragility and violence worldwide.

The Hill

Democracy will win this battle

A strategy is a theory of success. Other definitions of strategy abound but are unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons.


Stabilizing Cameroon requires a sustained solution for democracy, rights, and governance

As regional and international partners focus on countering Boko Haram in West Africa’s Lake Chad Region…


Creating a political strategy for stabilizing fragile states

The recently concluded Berlin Conference on the continuing civil war in Libya illustrates the drawback of current approaches to stabilization.

World Politics review

Why Fighting Corruption Is Key in a ‘New Era of Great-Power Competition’

The Trump administration is due to soon formally release its findings from a review of U.S. foreign assistance programs…

The Hill

Want to prevail against China? Prioritize democracy assistance

The United States is reshaping how it uses foreign aid in order to compete with China.

US Department of State

Stabilization Assistance Review: A Framework for Maximizing the Effectiveness of U.S. Government Efforts To Stabilize Conflict-Affected Areas

In early 2018, Department of State, USAID, and Department of Defense approved the Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR) as a new framework to best leverage our diplomatic…

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