Marsha McGraw Olive, PhD, is a development practitioner and scholar of Eurasian affairs. Since 2018 she has served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) as Adjunct Professor of European and Eurasian Studies, for which she received an Outstanding Excellence in Teaching Award in 2020. She was awarded a George F. Kennan Fellowship in 2022 to study Central Asia in the Shadow of Ukraine and Afghanistan at the Wilson Center.
Dr. Olive joined the World Bank’s Soviet team in 1991 and participated in its first mission to Central Asia in 1992. During a thirty-year career, including as a World Bank Manager and Senior Vice President of Eurasia Foundation from 1997 to 2002, she led strategic planning, multi-million-dollar investment portfolios, and small grant programs in Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Her World Bank service from 1988 to 2015 included Acting Country Director in Moscow and Country Manager in Tajikistan, with the rank of ambassador.
During her tenure in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, from 2011 to 2014 she conducted regional consultations on the Rogun Hydropower Project, coordinated the work of over 25 development agencies, and received a team award for participation in the CASA-1000 project. As Senior Vice President of Eurasia Foundation from 1997 to 2002 she managed the strategic planning process that led to establishment of independent indigenous foundations in the former Soviet Union.
In her early career, she served as the Soviet non-proliferation officer in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, as Associate Director of the Arms Control Association, and Legislative Assistant in the House of Representatives. She served under Madeleine Albright on the Mondale for President foreign policy team in 1984.
Her publications span a broad career focus on political economy and security studies. She is the author most recently of Owning the City: Property Rights in Authoritarian Regimes (2022, Agenda Publishing) as well as works on Central Asia and nuclear arms control in Europe.
Dr. Olive earned her Ph.D. (2015) and M.A. (1983) from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and B.A. (1975) at Duke University, where she delivered the Commencement Address. A mezzosoprano, she has performed in philharmonic choruses in Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and National Cathedral under leading conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Robert Shaw.