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James Knight, former US ambassador to Benin and Chad, will speak at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 27, at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, as part of the Ashe Distinguished Lecture Series.

James Knight, former US ambassador to Benin and Chad.

Knight’s lecture, “Central Africa and International Terrorism,” is in the center’s Toyota Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Knight is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He was formerly the State Department’s director of the Office of East African Affairs after leading the Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team based in Mosul, Iraq. Before serving in Iraq, he was deputy chief of mission for the US mission to Angola and for Embassy Praia in Cape Verde.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Knight worked as a software developer in the private sector and was an economic development specialist for the US Agency for International Development in the African nation of Niger. Knight holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service as an infantry officer in the Vietnam War.

The Ashe Distinguished Lecture Series is part of UT’s Leadership and Governance Program and was established with a gift from former Knoxville mayor and US ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe. Ambassadors and mayors are invited to speak on a variety of public policy matters, including foreign relations, diplomacy, world affairs, and local government.


Elizabeth Woody (865-974-0931,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,