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Don Oberdorfer Founding Chairman

Don Oberdorfer

Founding Chairman


The White House and Northeast Asia, and he spent 17 years as a diplomatic correspondent based in Tokyo.


Don Oberdorfer was a Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Adjunct Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. In September 2006, he was named Chairman of the US-Korea Institute at SAIS and later appointed Chairman Emeritus in July 2013.

Oberdorfer was a journalist for 38 years, 25 of them for The Washington Post. He has also reported for The Charlotte Observer, The Saturday Evening Post, and Knight Newspapers. His work has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence, including the National Press Club’s Edwin M. Hood Award for diplomatic correspondence (1981, 1988) and Georgetown University’s annual Edward Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting (1982, 1993). He retired from journalism in 1993.

From 1994-1996, Oberdorfer served as President of Overseas Writers, a professional association of American and foreign journalists who focus on U.S. diplomacy in Washington. From 1986-9 he chaired the advisory committee of the Washington Center of the Asia Society. He is a member of the Asia Society and the Council on Foreign Relations, and currently is Program Chair of the Washington Institute on Foreign Affairs, an organization of retired senior U.S. diplomats, military officers, and journalists.

Oberdorfer was a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Princeton University in 1952 and returned as a Visiting Professor in 1977, 1982 and 1986. In 1996, Princeton bestowed on him its Woodrow Wilson Award, given annually to an alumnus for exemplary service to the nation.


  • Senator Mansfield: The Extraordinary Life of a Great American Statesman and Diplomat (2003)
  • The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History (1997, 2001)
  • Princeton University: The First 250 Years (1995)
  • The Turn: From the Cold War to a New Era (1991, 1997)
  • Tet! (1997, 2001)