As Geographer of the United States, Lee Schwartz holds the position of the Director of the Office of The Geographer and Global Issues in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Dr. Schwartz is the State Department’s Geographer, a position that was established in 1921 and bears the statutory responsibility for providing guidance to all federal agencies on questions of international boundaries and sovereignty claims. He also oversees the Humanitarian Information Unit – a U.S. government interagency organization focused on unclassified data coordination for emergency preparedness, response, and mitigation. Prior to joining the Office of The Geographer, he was a member of the faculty of The American University’s School of International Service.
At the Department of State, he has directed research and analysis on global issues primarily related to complex humanitarian emergencies and has coordinated related fieldwork and applied geography projects overseas, in particular in the Balkans, Central Asia, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, South Sudan, Haiti, Syria, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines, the Caucasus, Mozambique, Ukraine, and Burma. His work has focused on ethnic conflict, refugee flows, peacekeeping operations, strategic warning, sustainable development, food and water security, infectious diseases, human and wildlife trafficking, and conflict mitigation and response – with an emphasis on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing information coordination. Lee is the Senior Agency Official for Geospatial Information, and his office serves as the Executive Agent for information sharing with international criminal tribunals. He also represents the Department as a member of the Climate Security Advisory Council. Current projects under his leadership focus on Participatory Mapping and Volunteered Geographic Information applications, and include MapGive, the Partnership for Mapping, and the Worldwide Human Geography Data Working Group.
Dr. Schwartz is a recipient of a 2018 Presidential Rank Award, won the State Department’s Warren Christopher Award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Affairs, and was a recipient of the Association of American Geographers’ Anderson Medal of Honor in Applied Geography. He was also awarded the James Cullum Medal from the American Geographical Society – in recognition of his distinguished service to the profession of geography; previous winners of the Cullum Medal include Neil Armstrong, Robert Peary, Prince Albert I of Monaco, and Rachel Carson. Lee earned his Ph.D. in geography from Columbia University and conducted his dissertation research as a Fulbright scholar in Moscow in 1981-82.