Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) at NDI
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) at NDI

DEI Aspiration Statement:

In order to contribute to a world where all citizens have an equitable opportunity to shape their political, social and economic futures by participating in democratic processes and institutions, NDI must ensure through our culture and efforts that our people, partnerships, and programs fully embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion.

This aspiration guides us in our: 

  • Hiring and professional development;

  • Organizational culture, transparency, and accountability; and

  • Program design and partner empowerment.

NDI Former Chair Madeleine Albright's Message on DEI

As Chair of the National Democratic Institute, I am committed to doing everything possible to ensure that NDI fully embraces diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of its culture and operations.

As an organization founded on a belief in human dignity and the intrinsic value of each person, NDI’s commitment to DEI principles must be broad and deep. It is not enough for NDI to defend these values in the countries where we operate, we must live by them every day and incorporate them throughout the organization.

For that reason, I strongly support the work that the DEI Council has undertaken, in close consultation with the NDI Board of Directors, to develop and disseminate NDI’s new statements of vision, mission and values. These statements must now be translated into a reality across NDI, and the Board of Directors stands firmly behind the ongoing work of the DEI Council to realize this vision.

A more inclusive, diverse and equitable NDI will be an even stronger force for good in the world, and an organization that will make us even more proud.

President’s Message on DEI

Since its founding in 1983, the National Democratic Institute has worked to amplify the voices and experiences of our partners around the world. Central to our mission has been the idea that every individual deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and that the institutions responsible for protecting their interests are subject to accountability. 

As we continue to conduct essential global activity to promote a more just, equitable, and democratic future, NDI recognizes it must not avoid turning a critical eye inward.  

In the aftermath of citizen activism in the United States around the Black Lives Matter movement in summer 2020, NDI opened a discussion with our global team on the meaning of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for the Institute’s internal operations and global work. 

To support this effort, we established a DEI Council, and an ad hoc committee of NDI Board members to serve as mentors.  

We incorporated DEI principles into our new Vision, Mission, and Values statements, and began to integrate these principles into our daily work and operations.  

Going forward, we will conduct periodic staff surveys, engage in regular expert consultations, and sponsor DEI-related training to allow us to better understand the concerns of our workforce; evaluate our policies, practices, operations, and conduct - internal and external; and enable us to better mentor, cultivate, and retain diverse talent.

We are clear-eyed about the task ahead.  Implementing our DEI vision in the many complex, diverse contexts of our country offices around the world will be challenging.  Legacies built up over years, if not centuries, will not be overcome overnight. Hard conversations are likely.

But we are committed to taking on these challenges however long it takes.  The reason is simple: the same way we know that communities that treat everyone with equal dignity make for stronger, more secure, more stable, and ultimately, more successful societies, we recognize the same is true for organizations – including NDI. 

Consistent with NDI’s overall work ethic, we will move forward with humility but firm resolve.  As we continue this work, we welcome the support and understanding of all our friends, partners, and staff, who ultimately make all our efforts possible.


Derek Mitchell


DEI Council

In July 2020, NDI established a high-level permanent DEI Council that meets biweekly in order to advise senior leadership on DEI initiatives. The DEI Council is led by Co-Chairs Chris Fomunyoh and Judith Johnson. The Council includes participants from head office (Washington, DC) and from country offices around the world. For the 2020-2021 period, the Council has established the following priorities: 

  • Development of a charter to guide the Council’s work (link)

  • Standardizing the approach to DEI initiatives within regional and functional teams

  • Development of Guidance on External Delegations and Public-Facing Events (link)

  • Mainstreaming DEI approaches into program design and implementation

  • Instituting a Distinguished Speakers’ Series as a platform for bi-monthly discussions on DEI for all NDI staff and high-level experts and practitioners in this area.

    • Recent speakers include:
      • Ambassador Gina Ambercombie-Winstanley, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, US Department of State.  who shared "How DEI is Changing the State Department and Posts Around the World"
      • Dr. Fanta Aw, Vice President of Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence at American University - who shared "How the "I" in DEI is Evolving
      • Dylan Mathews, CEO, and Shannon Paige, PeaceBuilding Fellow from Peace Direct who will share an overview of their report "Time To Decolonize Aid".

Board of Directors DEI Ad Hoc Committee

At the same time, NDI established an ad hoc committee of the Institute’s Board of Directors to ensure that DEI principles are being raised at the highest level of the organization’s governance. Members of the Ad Hoc Committee are:

Donna Brazile

Johnnie Carson

Lionel C. Johnson

Rob Liberatore

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