Fontaine, who has served as a CNAS senior adviser and senior fellow, will take up the new post immediately.
“Richard is one of the most thoughtful and highly-respected foreign policy experts of his generation, known not only for his intellect but for his ability to work effectively with everyone,” said CNAS board member and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright in a statement.
While at CNAS, Fontaine has written or contributed to major studies on U.S.-India relations, Internet freedom and cybersecurity, the management of 21st-century diplomacy and American grand strategy.
The Center for a New American Security was founded in 2007 by Kurt Campbell and Michele Flournoy, who, under the Obama administration, went on to become assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and under secretary of defense for policy, respectively.
Before joining CNAS, Fontaine served as foreign policy adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) from 2004 to 2008 and to McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Before working for McCain, he was associate director for Near Eastern affairs on the National Security Council staff. He worked at the State Department in the office of former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage and in the Department’s South Asia bureau.
Fontaine succeeds John Nagl, who was named the Minerva Research Fellow at the U.S. Naval Academy in December.