Tamara Cofman Wittes Appointed President of the National Democratic Institute

Monday, January 22, 2024

Washington, D.C. - The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Tamara Cofman Wittes as its new President, effective March 15, 2024. 

Wittes, a highly regarded expert in foreign policy and national security, brings a wealth of experience to NDI's mission of advancing democratic values worldwide, including having served on the Board from 2014-2022. Dr. Wittes has a long record of engagement in democratic development, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. Following in the footsteps of former NDI Chair Madeleine K. Albright, she also has devoted her energies to promoting trailblazing women leaders in politics and policy.

Dr. Wittes joins NDI at a critical moment in history, when the world faces unprecedented challenges to democracy. With her expertise and deep commitment to democratic principles, she will lead NDI in its efforts to support democratic processes and institutions, empower citizens, and foster transparent and accountable governance across the globe.

“The defense and promotion of democracy is one of the defining issues of the 21st Century. I am honored to join this incredibly talented team working on the frontlines supporting and defending democracy for four decades in over 150 countries,” Dr. Wittes said. “At a time when democratic societies face challenges both within and outside their borders, I seek no higher calling than this essential work." 

Dr. Wittes will join NDI after leaving the Department of State, where she has been serving as Director of Foreign Assistance. She previously led the Russia sanctions effort for the State Department's sanctions coordination office, and served as a senior fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs during the Obama Administration, coordinating U.S. policy on democracy and human rights in the Middle East during the Arab uprisings. Dr. Wittes is a founder of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations as well as Women in International Security.

"In this crucial year, when nearly half of the population in the world is heading to the polls, we are thrilled to have Tamara Cofman Wittes as the new President of NDI,” said NDI's Board Chair, Tom Daschle. “Her exceptional knowledge, experience and passion for democratic values make her the perfect leader to tackle the evolving challenges we face today. Under her guidance, NDI will remain at the forefront in defending democracy, countering authoritarian aggression and fostering citizen engagement worldwide."

In her new role as President of NDI, Dr. Wittes will oversee the organization's strategic direction, ensuring the effective implementation of programs focused on strengthening democratic institutions, promoting women's political participation, enhancing citizen engagement, and working with local partners to support open and transparent governance, credible elections and democratic rights for all.


NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that works in partnership around the world to strengthen and safeguard democratic institutions, processes, norms and values to secure a better quality of life for all. NDI envisions a world where democracy and freedom prevail, with dignity for all.


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