James Patton

International Center for Religion & Diplomacy


James Patton

James Patton is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD).

Mr. Patton is experienced in the fields of international development, conflict transformation and social reconciliation, having lived and worked over two decades in more than a dozen countries on three continents, building networks, consensus and programs with the entire range of social and political actors in complex conflict environments.

Mr. Patton began his overseas work as a Peace Corps volunteer, conducting sustainable development programs in rural Paraguay. His subsequent work ranged from assessing the impact of drug policies and military responses on indigenous communities in Bolivia to training Buddhist communities in Cambodia on what they could do to address the enormous post-conflict and human rights challenges they were facing. Based in Colombia, he coordinated human rights and conflict transformation efforts throughout the Andean region as Deputy Regional Director for Latin America for the American Friends Service Committee; and as a Foreign Affairs Officer for the US Department of State, he led stability operations teams in South Sudan, before, during and after their referendum for Independence in 2011.

As EVP/COO of ICRD, Mr. Patton explores the relationship between religious motives and religious actors and key areas of instability worldwide, seeking ways in which this central source of inspiration for many people can play a constructive role in reducing conflict and violence. He is actively expanding the reach of ICRD’s work by exploring ways in which shared values in Abrahamic religious traditions and indigenous spiritual traditions in Latin America can be brought into collaboration in addressing the challenges of violent conflict. In Colombia, for example, he is working to bring together women leaders, indigenous Shamans, and other established religious leaders in support of the stable reintegration of former combatants.

Mr. Patton holds a Master of Law and Diplomacy degree from The Fletcher School of Tufts University and a Master of Divinity degree (focused on social justice theology) from Harvard Divinity School, where he received awards for preaching. He has spoken in a wide range of forums, including with US Government leaders, foreign Militaries, foreign government Ministries, the United Nations and many Universities. He has also has shared his work through the arts, including producing photography exhibitions and consulting on a PBS WideAngle documentary on the Bolivian coca conflict. He is fluent in Spanish, with practical experience in a number of other languages.

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