(Washington, D.C.) The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) Board of Directors has unanimously selected Lise Grande to be the Institute’s new president and CEO. Grande, a senior American UN official who has spent most of her career in conflict zones, will be the sixth president in the organization’s 36-year history.
“The USIP Board of Directors is pleased that Lise Grande will lead USIP during this period of significant global change,” said USIP Board Chair and former National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley. “USIP has never been stronger as an institution, and its mission has never been more critical. We are confident that Lise’s experience and leadership will help the Institute rise to the many challenges that lie ahead.”
Grande is currently the head of UN humanitarian and development operations in Yemen, where she coordinates one of the UN’s largest operations globally.
Grande has 25 years of continuous overseas experience leading, managing, and coordinating large-scale, complex operations for the United Nations. She has held leadership positions in humanitarian, stabilization, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and development operations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Caucasus.
“I’m honored to join the extraordinary team at the U.S. Institute of Peace,” said Grande. “USIP is one of the world’s preeminent institutions dedicated to peace. I’ve long admired USIP’s work and the essential role it plays in preventing conflict and building peace in the world’s most volatile regions. I’m proud to join an organization known for making a tangible difference.”
In its search for a new president and CEO, the Board identified expertise in peacemaking, peacebuilding, conflict management, and conflict resolution as well as extensive field work internationally as the top two qualifications desired in a candidate. Other important qualifications included experience leading a complex organization; a deep and demonstrated commitment to the values and mission of USIP, including a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion; exceptional communications skills; and strategic thinking.
“Lise Grande fully embodies the qualifications we set out to find in the next president and CEO of USIP,” said USIP Board Vice Chair Ambassador George Moose. “She brings a wealth of on-the-ground field experience in conflict zones, a deep knowledge of the peacebuilding field, and a proven record as a leader.”
Prior to her assignment in Yemen, Grande was responsible for the UN’s humanitarian, stabilization, and development operations while serving as deputy head of the UN’s political mission in Iraq during the campaign against ISIS. She was instrumental in facilitating one of the largest managed evacuations of civilians from a war zone in recent history and led the UN team that helped stabilize more than 20 cities liberated from ISIS control.
“Lise Grande’s fierce determination, pragmatic and far-sighted vision, and hands-on leadership got literally millions of internally displaced Iraqis home in record time after their cities and villages were liberated from ISIS,” said Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, U.S. ambassador to the Arab Republic of Egypt and former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. “As an American working for the UN, she has reflected great credit on the U.S.”
Grande was also responsible for the UN’s humanitarian and development work in South Sudan in the lead-up to independence and during the first year of statehood. She has headed UN operations in India and Armenia and served in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Tajikistan, Sudan, and Haiti.
“Lise Grande has devoted most of her life to supporting people living in countries wracked by conflict,” said the Right Honorable Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and former administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. “I can think of no better person to be appointed as CEO at the U.S. Institute of Peace.”
Grande is a skilled, compassionate leader known for her commitment to the mission and the ability to get things done. Importantly, Lise has successfully managed large organizations with ethnically, racially, nationally, and religiously diverse staffs.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with both USIP and Lise Grande over many years. I can’t think of a more inspired leadership choice,” said Brett McGurk, former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. “Lise is a rare talent: courageous, innovative, and dedicated to making the world a better place. This is a perfect match.”
Grande will assume the position of president and CEO later this fall upon her departure from UN service. USIP Chief Financial Officer Joe Lataille will continue to serve as acting president in the interim. Grande succeeds Nancy Lindborg, who completed her tenure at USIP in August.
“Lise Grande’s frontline experience in tough, complex conflicts makes her a terrific choice to lead USIP,” said former USIP President and CEO Nancy Lindborg. “Importantly, she understands that intersection of humanitarian, development, security, and political issues that come together at USIP.”
Grande has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a master’s from the New School for Social Research.