As a foreign affairs officer, Rita Stephan is the Syria and Lebanon analyst at the United States Department of State. She is also a visiting researcher at the Center Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University and a senior demographics fellow at the Arab American Institute. Before joining the State Department, she was a survey statistician with the Ethnicity and Ancestry Branch of the Population Division at the United States Census Bureau where she worked primarily on the Arab American and Middle Eastern American population. Her previous posts include a lecturer of Sociology and Women's Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, a research associate at the Lebanese Emigration Research Center at Notre Dame University in Lebanon, a research fellow at American University of Beirut and an analyst in the office of former Texas Governor George W. Bush.
Dr. Stephan received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin with a Portfolio in Women's and Gender Studies. Her dissertation topic The Family and the Making of Women's Rights Activism in Lebanon earned her a P.E.O. Scholar Award and an American Association of University Women's Dissertation Fellowship. She earned a Master's degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution and a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Jewish Studies, both at American University, Washington, DC.
She has a forthcoming article on "War and Gender Performance: The Evacuation of Lebanese-American Women in the 2006 War" in the International Feminist Journal of Politics and an entry in the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures on "Arab Women in the United States" (edited by Suad Joseph and published by Brill). Her publications on Lebanese women's movement, social movements, social networks, and Arab-Americans include articles such as "Arab Women's Solidarity Association-United and Cyberfeminism" in the Journal of Middle Eastern Women Studies (2013); "Couple's Activism for Women's Rights in Lebanon: The Legacy of Laure Moghaizel," in Women Studies International Forum (2010); "Lebanese-Americans' Cultural Identity and Political Behavior," in Palma (2009); "Arab Women Writing Their Sexuality," in Hawwa, Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World (2006); and "Arab Women Cyberfeminism" in Al-Raida (2007); and book chapters on "Women's Rights Movement in Lebanon" in Mapping Arab Women Movements: A Century of Transformation from Within, edited by Nawar Al-Hassan Golley and Pernille Arenfeldt (American University of Cairo Press, 2012); "Leadership of Lebanese Women in the Cedar Revolution" in Muslim Women in War and Crisis, edited by Faegheh Shirazi (University of Texas Press, 2010); and "Virtue and Sin: An Arab Christian Woman's Perspective," in The Veil: Women Writers on its History, Lore, and Politics, edited by Jennifer Heath (University of California Press, 2008).