A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

START names Amy Pate its new executive director


START names Amy Pate its new executive director

'Exceptionally versatile, informed, empathetic and skilled leader'

March 27, 2019Jessica Rivinius

Dr. Amy Pate has been selected as START’s new executive director. A political scientist specializing in international relations and comparative politics, Pate has been working with START since the center was founded, first through her work on the Minorities at Risk Project and later as a START researcher. Most recently, she has served as START’s research director, a role she will maintain in her new position.

“START is very fortunate to have Amy in this position,” said Braniff, who most recently held the executive director role before becoming director. “She has been a graduate student with START, a project coordinator, a researcher, a primary investigator, an acting director of administrative services, an acting education director and our research director.  When you combine her work ethic with all of these experiences, you get an exceptionally versatile, informed, empathetic and skilled leader for the organization.”

As a dual-hatted executive director, Pate will continue to provide guidance for START researchers from proposal development through project implementation and submission of final deliverables, while also working with Braniff to run day-to-day operations as well as craft long-term strategy.  

Serving as START’s research director since 2014, Pate has led multiple efforts within the center to cultivate funding for new and existing projects, as well as to create organizational structure within START to better support its faculty and staff. During her tenure as research director, START brought in more than $30 million in sponsored research awards and completed nearly 100 projects.  

“We have an amazing team of researchers and staff at START, who have built an environment of mutual respect and support,” Pate said. “My priority is to enable our team to carry out rigorous research and translate that research to a variety of audiences. We aim to advance scholarly, policy and public understanding of terrorism and responses to terrorism. I want our researchers and staff to feel their work is meaningful and personally fulfilling.” Pate said.

Pate has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator on projects totaling more than $9 million, and has provided quality control on research deliverables – reports, data, codebooks, etc., – for more than 50 projects. She is PI of the recent $3 million award from the Department of Defense to enhance datastreams for counterterrorism, as well as a $500,000 award from the State Department to build capacity for countering violent extremism in Malaysia.

"START is a critical resource for national security, especially as related to understanding terrorism,” Pate said. “Working with our research teams, START’s leadership has sketched out an exciting vision for the next 10 years, focused on improving core datasets to inform policy makers and building a research agenda on counterterrorism. I’m privileged to help see that vision into fruition."

Internally at START, Pate has played a key role in developing standard operating policies and procedures to support and provide professional development opportunities for faculty and staff. She was the lead author on START’s appointment, evaluation, and promotion (AEP) policy for professional track faculty, and currently chairs the AEP committee.

Pate also teaches “Terrorist Motivations and Behaviors” as part of START’s Global Terrorism Minor Program and she was among the top-rated faculty in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences based on Fall 2018 undergraduate course evaluations.

She is frequently called upon to present at conferences and provide lectures for practitioners within numerous government departments and agencies including the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Strategic Multilayer Assessment office, the Department of Homeland Security, AFRICOM, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, European Institute of Peace, Department of Justice, United States Institute of Peace and United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.

Pate first began working with START through the Minorities at Risk Project, where she served as its project coordinator. The project, based in the Center of International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland, focused on analysis of violent versus non-violent behavior by organizations representing an ethnic constituency. After finishing her doctorate in 2007, Pate remained as a full-time researcher, jointly affiliated with CIDCM and START, furthering MAR’s work on organizational behavior. She transitioned to a research position with START’s Special Projects Division in 2011, where she was instrumental in growing and solidifying a relationship with the Strategic Multilayer Assessment office within the Department of Defense.

Pate earned her doctorate and master’s degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland in 2007 and 2005 respectively, and her B.A. in Political Science, History, and Russian from Miami University (Ohio) in 1998.

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