Tissa Jayatilaka has served as the Executive Director of the bi-national United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission (US-SLFC) since 1989. The US-SLFC, established in 1952, administers the two-way education exchange programme between the two countries with a view to promoting mutual understanding between Americans and Sri Lankans. Jayatilaka is the author of publications as well as involved in translations, editing of journals and collections of essays. These include Peradeniya: Memories of a University (joint Contributory Editor), and A Garland for Ashley: Glimpses of a Life Celebrating the 75th Birthday of Ashley Halpe` and His 50 years of University Teaching (joint Editor). He was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, the Gratiaen Trust and a Member, Board of Directors of the Centre for Policy Alternatives. He has served as Chairman of the Jury for Presidential Awards for Sri Lankan Films and as a Member, the Panel of Judges of the Annual National Sinhala Drama Festival organized by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka. He currently serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, a Member, Council of Management of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies and as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Sri Lanka Foundation.
Jayatilaka has taught English and American Literature at several Universities since 1976 – in Sri Lanka at the Universities of Peradeniya, Kelaniya and Sri Jayewardenepura and in the United States at Wake Forest University, North Carolina and Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa. His interests include international relations, politics, literature and sports. He has a been a keen student of US-Sri Lanka relations since 1977 when he became Director of the American Cultural and Information Centre, Kandy, Sri Lanka. He has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Postgraduate Institute of Management of the Sri Jayewardenepura University of Sri Lanka, Master of Arts in English from Wake Forest University, North Carolina, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in American Studies from Smith College, Massachusetts.
He has been awarded scholarships to Cambridge University, U.K., and universities in the United States. Subsequent to several years of post-graduate study in the United States, he returned to Sri Lanka and worked for five years (1984-1989) as Special Assistant to the Director of the 26-member inter-governmental organization, The Colombo Plan for Economic and Social Development in the Asia Pacific. He has travelled widely in Asia, Western Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and Africa.