Washington, DC, - Today, September 4th, former Ambassador Derek Mitchell takes the helm as the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) new president. Now in its 35th year, the change in leadership comes at an important moment in NDI’s history.
NDI Chairman Madeleine K. Albright welcomed Ambassador Mitchell in his new role: “I am excited and pleased that Derek Mitchell has agreed to take the helm of NDI at this critical moment in the global struggle for democratic institutions and values. Throughout his varied and stellar career, Derek has been an innovator, a successful leader and an eloquent advocate for improved governance and larger freedom. No one grasps better than he the intimate connection between the health of democracy abroad and the security of America at home. He is a worthy successor to our distinguished outgoing President, Kenneth Wollack, and I am confident that he will guide our organization with boundless energy and clear vision for many years to come.”
In addition to serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar (Burma) from 2012 to 2016, Derek Mitchell is a democracy specialist who has held several strategic roles -- including Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; senior fellow for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from 2001 to 2009; and Special Assistant for Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1997 to 2001. He began his service in Washington from 1986 to 1988 as a foreign policy assistant in the Office of Senator Edward Kennedy.
Ambassador Mitchell’s selection as president of NDI represents a homecoming. For nearly four years, in the mid-1990s, he was a Senior Program Officer for NDI, first in Asia and then in the former Soviet Union. Upon his selection as NDI’s new president, Ambassador Mitchell commented: “The emerging challenge to democracy worldwide is a defining issue of our times and NDI’s mission has never been more important. I am honored after more than 20 years away to return to NDI, the gold standard in democracy work, to lead its first-rate team during this critical time. Over the years, I have never ceased to be proud of my association with the Institute, and have considered NDI staff to be among the most talented, dedicated, creative and committed group of professionals, top to bottom, I have ever worked with – inside or outside of government.”
NDI’s outgoing President Kenneth Wollak said: “The Institute will be fortunate to benefit from Derek’s leadership, experience and expertise. As a former NDI program officer, Department of Defense official, and as special envoy and later ambassador to Myanmar, he has always had a deep and abiding commitment to efforts that advance democracy globally -- efforts that reflect the values and serve the interests of the U.S. Under Derek’s capable leadership of a dedicated and talented staff, the Institute will be in a strong position to respond to new opportunities and challenges.”