Wendy Chamberlin to step down as MEI president

President of The Middle East Institute (MEI), Wendy Chamberlin, has informed the Institute’s board of governors of her desire to step down in July 2018.

In her message to the board, Chamberlin said “next to my two daughters, the growth and success of The Middle East Institute over the past 12 years has been my greatest source of pride.” She said that it is gratifying to step down from MEI knowing that it is on an upward trajectory. Pointing to the strong board leadership, high quality of staff, and reliable donors, Chamberlin assured the board that she is confident that MEI will continue to grow.

The board chairman, Richard A. Clarke, said “The board and the entire MEI community are forever in Ambassador Chamberlin’s debt for the numerous, significant, and positive changes she has brought to the Institute over her nearly twelve years of leadership.”

“Transformation is an overworked word, but in this case it is precisely what Wendy has done: transformed MEI into a highly relevant, agile, and widely respected 21st century organization contributing to understanding in Washington, across America, and in the Middle East. She leaves MEI on solid footing and forever changed for the better. We can never sufficiently thank her for what she has done.”

Chamberlin led a period of significant growth for the Institute’s programs and facilities, culminating in a capital campaign that raised over $23 million to renovate and expand MEI’s historic headquarters in Washington, D.C. The building, scheduled to open in mid-2019, will feature a gallery for contemporary Middle Eastern art, state-of-the-art classrooms for language and regional studies instruction, and expanded event spaces.

Prior to joining MEI, Chamberlin led a distinguished 29-year career in the Foreign Service. As U.S. ambassador to Pakistan from 2001 to 2002 she played a key role in securing Pakistan’s cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after 9/11. She also served the U.S. government as ambassador to the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic; director of global affairs and counter-terrorism at the National Security Council; principal deputy in the Bureau of International Counter-narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; and assistant administrator in the Asia-Near East bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development, among other roles. Upon her retirement from U.S. government service in 2004, Chamberlin pursued her interests in international humanitarian affairs as deputy high commissioner of the United Nations Refugee Agency before assuming the presidency of the Middle East institute in 2007.

A board search committee, chaired by Clarke, has been formed to recruit a new president.

Senior Vice President for Policy Research and Programs Paul Salem will serve as acting president until a selection is made.

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