Samar Ali’s career has taken her across the globe through her work at the White House, the South African Constitutional Court, the State of Tennessee, and today at a multi-national corporation and law firm. As a White House Fellow in President Barack Obama’s Administration, Mrs. Ali worked closely with US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. In this position, she focused on foreign and domestic policy issues relating to national security. The White House Fellowship is where Samar’s passion for her current career path took shape--she realized her desire to make a positive difference in America and an impact around the world through government, economic development and international relations. Following this appointment, Samar joined President Jimmy Carter on an International Election Monitor Delegation to the 2012 Egyptian Presidential Elections.
After Mrs. Ali’s time working in federal government, she returned to her home state, Tennessee, to serve as Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs to Governor Bill Haslam, managing Tennessee’s global relations. In late 2013, Samar returned to the private sector and co-founded Lodestone Advisory Group, a multi-national consulting firm specializing in internationalization, investment advisory and strategy. Through Lodestone, she also serves as Senior Advisor to GSIS in Washington D.C., and as a mediator on the Syrian conflict through her law practice with Bone McAllester Norton PLLC. Building on her time in the public sector, she continues to focus her energy on the intersection of national security and economic development. As a result, through various channels, she works on countering self-radicalization and ideological extremist narratives that prey upon vulnerable Muslim youth both domestically and internationally.
From 2007 to 2010, Samar was an associate with Hogan Lovells US LLP; she worked in Washington, D.C. and the United Arab Emirates and established the firm’s first Middle East presence in Abu Dhabi. During her time at, and after graduating from Vanderbilt Law School, Samar clerked for The Honorable Gilbert S. Merritt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and for The Honorable Edwin Cameron, now of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, respectively. Through the initial invitation of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa is where Mrs. Ali‘s dedication to conflict resolution, dialogue, and mediation took shape as she developed an understanding of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from the Archbishop. During this time, she also worked extensively on editing South African Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron’s book, Witness to AIDS. Over the past decade, Samar has continued her work in South Africa. Currently, she is working with Justice Cameron and Justice Albie Sachs on sustaining the Constitutional Court of South Africa’s Art Collection and she is also working closely with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.
Samar currently lives between Washington, D.C. and Nashville, TN and serves on the following boards: The White House Fellows Capital Campaign for the 50th Anniversary; the Foundation for Society, Law and Art in South Africa; Aljeel; the St. Thomas Medical Center; NPR’s Nashville affiliate, Nashville Public Radio; the Vanderbilt Alumni Board, and the Vanderbilt Law School Board of Trust. In 2012, she served as a US delegate to the US-Italy Young Leaders Summit. Nashville’s Tennessean also most recently chose Samar as one of Nashville’s top entrepreneurs and she is currently serving as a member of the Transition Team for Nashville Mayor-Elect Megan Barry.
Samar is an Adjunct Professor at her alma mater, Vanderbilt University, where she teaches courses in international relations. She received her B.S. in political science with honors from Vanderbilt, where she was the school’s first Arab-American elected as Student Body President. She graduated with her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School.