To IWF’s Funders and Friends:
I am thrilled to announce that IWF has completed its search and that Michelle D. Bernard will assume the position of president and CEO on Jan. 2, 2006, when she returns from her maternity leave. (As of this writing the baby hasn’t yet hatched, but is expected at any moment.)
We are delighted that Nancy Pfotenhauer will continue to serve as president and CEO until that time, and thereafter will participate actively as a member of IWF’s board, working with fundraising and, of course, media.
Michelle’s appointment culminates a thorough search for the best candidate to lead IWF into the future. I want to thank Ricky Silberman, Carol Crawford and Nancy Pfotenhauer for constituting such an excellent, thorough, and professional search committee.
After winnowing the field of applicants, our first round of interviews presented us with eight serious candidates. The caliber of these applicants demonstrates that the strategic importance of IWF to the greater public-policy debate is broadly appreciated. And it is also a testimony to Nancy Pfotenhauer’s leadership. Thanks to Nancy, IWF is on solid footing financially, has reestablished its institutional presence, has focused and strenghtened its strategic vision, and presents today an organization filled with talented, dedicated people.
Nancy has consistently gone beyond the call of duty, committing herself to IWF’s well being and always acting with professionalism, courtesy, and grace. IWF would not be where it is today, nor would it be in a position to attract the field of candidates that it did, without Nancy’s selfless devotion and determination to see IWF through the bumpy times.
Michelle Bernard stood out clearly among those superb candidates as the person best able to lead IWF in the future. Michelle came to IWF in February 2004 as a senior fellow with an impressive resume: former partner at Patton, Boggs, LLP; CEO of her own law and lobbying firm, Bernard International; and chairman of the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency. She quickly demonstrated a capacity for leadership, trenchant policy analysis, as well as articulate media appearances. Eight months after arriving at IWF, Michelle was named senior vice president. Since joining IWF, she has focused on judicial, legislative and foreign policy matters.
The board was particularly influenced by Michelle’s outstanding work on IWF’s Iraqi Women Leaders Program, the Iraqi Women’s Educational Institute (IWEI), a joint project of IWF, the American Islamic Congress and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Michelle was instrumental in the conception of this initiative, which has successfully cultivated a nationwide, influential group of pro-democracy Iraqi women leaders and activists who are committed to working to strengthen and sustain democratic institutions in Iraq and assume leadership positions in political, economic, and decision making processes at the national and local levels. Michelle led IWF’s efforts in being selected as one of six grantees in the U.S. Department of State’s $10 million Iraqi women’s democracy initiative and is the project administrator of the entire project. In April 2005, IWEI held a five-day conference in Jordan for 150 pro-democracy Iraqi women leaders on the principles and practice of democracy. Joined by two Congressional delegations, faculty and speakers from around the world, the conference was a great success.
Several delegations of Iraqi women visited the United States for training on issues ranging from micro-enterprise to women’s human rights and the Iraqi constitution. Michelle and IWF have won rave reviews on the project, which is ongoing.
This past summer, when Nancy took a partial leave, Michelle’s leadership skills came to the fore. As we looked at her work over the past two years and her dedication to the institution and to her colleagues, it was clear to all of us that IWF is extremely fortunate to have found a president whom we know we can rely on in the years ahead.
As we have the great fun of building IWF into the strategic force it can be, it is my hope that you will join with us and we will do it together.
Heather R. Higgins