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William Powers

Senior Fellow

Project: What's Your 12x12? A World Policy Institute Project on Smart Consumption

Expertise: Post-conflict humanitarian intervention; food aid; climate change and deforestation; ecological tourism; green trade; Bolivia; Liberia; West Africa; indigenous peoples; globalization.

William Powers' most recent book, Twelve by Twelve (New World Library) was released in May 2010 and already is in its second printing. He also is the author of two critically-acclaimed books from Bloomsbury/Macmillan. Blue Clay People: Seasons on Africa’s Fragile Edge, an on-the-ground account of Powers’ two years in Charles Taylor’s civil war Liberia, was a bestseller at Harvard’s bookstore and a Publisher’s Weekly notable book of 2005. Whispering in the Giant’s Ear: A Frontline Chronicle from Bolivia’s War on Globalization (2006) has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and in Newsweek and is now in its second printing. 

For over a decade Powers has led development aid and conservation initiatives in Latin America, Africa, and Washington, D.C. From 2002 to 2004 he managed the socio-economic components of a project in the Bolivian Amazon that won the Roy Family Award for environmental partnership from Harvard's JFK School of Government.

His essays on global issues have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, The Sun, and the International Herald Tribune, and have been syndicated to three hundred newspapers around the world and translated into a dozen languages. Powers has appeared on programs such as NPR’s Living on Earth, Fresh Air, The Leonard Lopate Show, West Coast Live, Left Jab, World Vision Report, and Book TV. He has been keynote speaker/ presenter / panelist at dozens of events throughout the U.S. and in South America.

Powers has worked as a Fellow at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.; Head of Programs for Catholic Relief Services in Liberia; Chief of Party of a major USAID / Conservation International rainforest conservation program in Bolivia; and Facilitator of the DFID / IUCN-World Conservation Union forest law-enforcement, governance, and trade dialogues project in Liberia.

B.A. (honors) Brown University
M.S. (honors) Georgetown University School of Foreign Service

Fluent in Spanish; near-fluent in German.

New World Library, 2010
"While there are no easy answers to be found in such an extreme experiment, Powers’ eloquent memoir reveals the breadth of this conflict and the depth of one man’s commitment to himself and his community."
-Carol Haggas for Booklist Online
Bloomsbury USA, 2004
Bloomsbury USA, 2006
Interviewed by KGW Newschannel 8 (NBC Portland) about his book "Twelve by Twelve", November 15, 2010.
Spoke on the opening edition of "World Policy on Air" about carbon ranching, July 12, 2010.
William Powers was on the faculty of the 2009 Ann Arbor Book Festival and spoke about his Liberia book Blue Clay People at this year’s Breakfast with the Author event, May 15-16, 2009.
William Powers spoke on carbon ranching, poverty reduction, and Amazonian cultural survival at the “Climate Change Forum,” hosted by Synergos & the Institute for Philanthropy, May 5, 2009.
A list of William Powers' selected work can be viewed at
"Finding Enough: Confessions of a Secular Missionary," World Policy Journal, Summer 2011.
"Fairly Trading the World's Timber," World Policy Institute-Demos Policy Paper, July 2011.
"All Smoke, No Fire in Bolivia," The New York Times, May 6, 2006.
"Fighting for the Rainforests," Newsweek International Edition, March 26, 2006.
"Bolivia, the Poor Little Rich Country," The New York Times, June 11, 2005.
"Seeing the Forest for the Peace," The New York Times, January 10, 2005.
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