James M. Roberts' primary responsibility as The Heritage Foundation's lead expert in economic freedom and growth is to produce the Index of Economic Freedom. An influential annual analysis of the economic climate of countries throughout the world, the Index is co-published by Heritage and The Wall Street Journal.
Roberts also studies economic and political issues in Latin America and Europe, contributing to policy debates on issues ranging from development assistance and nation-building to corporate social responsibility and global economic governance.
Before joining Heritage in 2007, Roberts served in the State Department for 25 years. As a Foreign Service Officer, he completed tours of duty at U.S. embassies in Mexico, Portugal, France, Panama and Haiti. He also worked on a wide variety of international trade issues and helped to coordinate major U.S. assistance programs, including efforts to reform Eastern Europe economies and to reconstruct Iraq.
Roberts earned the Secretary of State's Career Achievement Award. He also received four Superior Honor Awards and three Meritorious Honor Awards in recognition of his performance in responding to a variety of foreign economic policy challenges.
Roberts served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1982 to 1993 and was a congressional fellow of the American Political Science Association. He is fluent in Spanish and also speaks French and Portuguese. Before entering public service, he worked as a financial analyst at Ford Motor Co.
Roberts is pursuing a doctorate in public policy at the Alexandria campus of Virginia Tech. He received a master’s degree in international and development economics from Yale University and also holds a master of business administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He received a bachelor's degree in international affairs from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.
A native of Pittsburgh, Roberts currently resides in Fairfax Station, Va., with his wife. They have two grown children.