Dr. Ayres is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2010 to 2013, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia. At the State Department, Dr. Ayres covered all issues across India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, and Bhutan, providing policy direction and support for four US embassies and four consulates. She focused in particular on developing the US-India bilateral relationship and promoting greater economic integration throughout the region. Prior to that, Dr. Ayres was the founding Director of the India and South Asia practice at McLarty Associates.
A noted expert on India and South Asia, Dr. Ayres has been engaged with the region across the nonprofit, government, and for-profit sectors for more than twenty years.
Before moving to Washington she was Deputy Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania, and prior to that worked at the Asia Society in New York.
Her book on nationalism, culture, and politics in Pakistan, Speaking Like a State, was published worldwide by Cambridge University Press in 2009, and received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies book prize for 2011-2012. She has co-edited three books on Indian and Indian foreign policy, including Power Realignments in Asia, India Briefing: Takeoff at Last? and India Briefing: Quickening the Pace of Change. She directed the Asia Society task force on US policy toward India in 2009, and has written for a non-specialist readership in The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, Fortune.com, World Policy Journal, and YaleGlobal, among others. She is a regular contributor to Forbes.com.
Dr. Ayres has been awarded numerous fellowships, and during her time in government received four group or individual superior honor awards. She received an AB magna cum laude from Harvard College, and an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago, where her dissertation was defended with distinction. Dr. Ayres speaks fluent Hindi and Urdu.