Louise I. Shelley

Photo of Louise I. Shelley
Titles and Organizations

Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy, University Professor; Director, Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center

Contact Information

Phone: 703-993-9749
Fax: 703-993-8193
Mason Square, Van Metre Hall, Room 714
3351 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
MSN: 3B1


Louise Shelley is the Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair and a University Professor at George Mason University. She is in the Schar School of Policy and Government and directs the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) that she founded.

Shelley is a leading expert on the relationship among terrorism, organized crime, and corruption as well as human trafficking, transnational crime, and terrorism with a particular focus on the former Soviet Union. She also specializes in illicit financial flows and money laundering. She was an inaugural Andrew Carnegie fellow. While on the Carnegie Corporation and Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio fellowship, she wrote the book, Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy is Threatening our Future, on illicit trade, the new technology, and sustainability, published by Princeton University Press in November 2018.

Her previous books include Dirty Entanglements: Corruption, Crime and Terrorism, published by Cambridge University Press, and Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective (Cambridge 2010). She has also authored Policing Soviet Society (Routledge, 1996), Lawyers in Soviet Worklife, and Crime and Modernization, as well as numerous articles and book chapters on all aspects of transnational crime and corruption. She is also an editor (with Sally Stoecker) of Human Traffic and Transnational Crime: Eurasian and American Perspectives.

From 1995-2014, Shelley ran programs in Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia with leading specialists on the problems of organized crime and corruption. She has also been the principal investigator of large-scale projects on money laundering from Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia and of training of law enforcement persons on the issue of trafficking in persons as well as wildlife trafficking She has testified before the House Committee on International Relations Committee, the Helsinki Commission, the House Banking Committee, the House Financial Services Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Task Force on Terrorist Financing on transnational crime, human trafficking and the links between transnational crime, financial crime, and terrorism. Shelley served on the Global Agenda Council on Illicit Trade and Organized Crime of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and was the first cochair of its Council on Organized Crime. She is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She has spoken at various international fora and at many universities both in the United States and abroad on transnational crime, terrorism, human trafficking, illicit trade, and corruption. Additionally, she often appears on television and radio, including appearances on CNN, NPR’s Marketplace and Takeaway, PBS, A&E, the History Channel, C-Span, Tavis Smiley, Kojo Nnamdi and 60 Minutes as well as in the European media such as BBC, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Die Welt.

Shelley received her undergraduate degree cum laude from Cornell University in penology and Russian literature. She holds an MA in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania. She studied at the Faculty of Law of Moscow State University on IREX and Fulbright fellowships and holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. She held a Fulbright and researched and taught on crime issues in Mexico. She has also taught on transnational crime in Italy. She is the recipient of the Guggenheim, NEH, IREX, Kennan Institute, and Fulbright fellowships and received a MacArthur grant to establish the Russian Organized Crime Study Centers and completed a MacArthur grant studying nonstate actors and nuclear proliferation. In 1992, she received the Scholar-Teacher prize of American University, the top academic award of the university.

View Louise I. Shelley's CV

Areas of Research

  • Corruption
  • Eurasia
  • Human Trafficking
  • Illicit Trade
  • International Security
  • Terrorism
  • Transnational Crime