Ronak D. Desai is an Associate at the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute. A recognized scholar and practitioner in the fields of law and foreign policy, his work focuses on US-India relations, diaspora politics, anti-corruption, Congress, sanctions, and global governance.
An attorney in the private sector where he leads the India practice at a prominent international law firm, Ronak also advises clients on a broad range of complex investigative, regulatory, litigation, compliance, and public policy matters. He has extensive legal and policy experience in both the public and private sectors. From 2014-2016, he served as Democratic Counsel to the Select Committee on Benghazi in the United States Congress. His previous Capitol Hill experience also includes his time on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.
In 2006, Ronak was part of efforts to help secure Congressional approval for the landmark US-India civilian nuclear deal, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush that same year. He routinely advises Members of Congress on legal and foreign policy issues, particularly pertaining to South Asia.
Ronak is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Law & Security Fellow at New America, a Fellow at the Truman National Security Project, and an Asia 21 Leader at the Asia Society. He serves as General Counsel and Board Director of the Partnership for a Secure America, a foreign policy think tank based in Washington D.C., which promotes bipartisanship on Capitol Hill through its flagship Congressional Partnership Program.
In 2016, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Ronak to her Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). He was recently confirmed by the DC City Council for a second term. Ronak also teaches a popular course on U.S. foreign policy toward South Asia at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He is a regular contributor to a host of leading publications in both the United States and the Asia Pacific, including Forbes. From 2013-2017, Ronak was an Affiliate at the Belfer Center’s India and South Asia Program at Harvard University.
Ronak earned his undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa, and concurrent public policy and law degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School from which he graduated magna cum laude and received the Dean’s Scholar Prize.
He can be reached at Ronak.Desai@post.harvard.edu