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Foreign Policy Think Tank




Dan Spokojny

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FP21 is a foreign policy think tank based in Berkeley, California. The group is largely nonpartisan and focused on organizational and methodological reforms in the U.S. Department of State and the diplomatic corps. However, FP21 supports left-wing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) reforms in the government.

FP21’s flagship publication, “Less Art, More Science: Transforming U.S. Foreign Policy through Evidence, Integrity, and Innovation,” argues for instituting reforms into the United States government foreign-policy bureaucracy to deemphasize subjective judgements and rely more on empirical data for decision-making. For instance, FP21 claims that American foreign policy exacerbated the civil war in Yemen in the mid-2010s; allegedly, rather than rely on treaty templates from successfully concluded Middle Eastern conflicts, the U.S. attempted to enforce improvised ceasefire agreements that consistently backfired. 1

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

FP21 advocates for the introduction of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles into the diplomatic corps of the United States government. In April 2021, FP21 published “The Road to Diversity: An Evidence-Based Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Agenda for the Department of State.” According to the report, the U.S. State Department needs “real political leadership” to “overcome a legacy of structural racism, sexism, and discrimination in the United States’ first executive agency.” 2

The FP21 report advocates implementing DEI principles through data collection and analysis, expanded minority recruitment, and establishing a “Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer” to oversee DEI efforts. The report gives a “questionable” evaluation of DEI training, “grievance procedures,” “accountability structures,” and reforms to employee evaluation systems. The report opposes diversity requirements for promotion. 3

In September 2022, FP21 commended the Biden administration State Department’s five-year strategic DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility) plan, particularly its reliance on empirical evidence that will ensure “diversity efforts have their intended effects, and, critically, that they do no harm.” However, FP21 suggested the next step for the U.S. State Department was establishing “clear metrics, timeframes, and responsibility structures” for instituting its DEIA goals. 4


Dan Spokojny

FP21 founder and chief executive officer Dan Spokojny has been a political science Ph.D. graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, since 2016. From 2009 to 2016, Spokojny worked as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State, during which time he served as an operations officer at the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilizing Operations, staff assistant for the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and held posts in Pakistan and Belarus. Spokojny started his career as a staffer in Congress, where he worked for over four years. 5

In August 2022, Spokojny donated $300 to the campaign of U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). 6

Thomas Scherer

Research director Thomas Scherer was a researcher at the University of California, San Diego. Prior, Scherer worked as a program officer of the U.S. Institute for Peace and as a coordinator at the Center for International Security Studies. 7

Sophia Brown-Heidenreich

Chief of staff Sophia Brown-Heidenreich previously worked as a research assistant for the Center for American Progress and at the University of California, Berkeley. Earlier, she interned at the Atlantic Council, the Hudson Institute, and the city of Berkeley. 8

Alex Johnson

Executive board member Alex Johnson has been the deputy director of U.S. foreign policy at the Open Society Foundations for over two years, and he previously worked as a senior policy advisor from 2017 to 2019. Johnson formerly served as chief of staff of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, as special advisor for Russia/Ukraine External Affairs at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as a staffer for U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL). 9


FP21 has been funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York ($55,000) 10, Schmidt Futures, and Building a Stronger Future. 11


  1. “Less Art, More Science.” FP21. Accessed January 31, 2023.
  2. “The Road to Diversity.” FP21. April 2022. Accessed January 31, 2023.
  3. “The Road to Diversity.” FP21. April 2022. Accessed January 31, 2023.
  4. George, Rachel; DeWalt, Beverli. “The State Department’s New Strategy Prioritizes Evidence-Based DEIA.” FP21. September 28, 2022. Accessed January 31, 2023.
  5. [1] “Dan Spokojny.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 31, 2023.
  6. “Donor Search: Dan Spokojny.” Open Secrets. Accessed January 31, 2023.
  7. “Thomas Scherer.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 31, 2023.
  8. “Sophia Brown-Heidenreich.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 31, 2023.
  9. “Alex Johnson.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 31, 2023.
  10. “FP21.” Carnegie Corporation of New York. Accessed January 31, 2023.!/grants/grants-database/grant/596626729.0/
  11.  “Our Donors.” FP21. September 8, 2020. Accessed January 31, 2023.
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  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2021

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    Berkeley, CA 94703-1610