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Rima Kawas

Director of Governance and Collaborative Learning

Rima Kawas is the Director of Governance and Collaborative Learning at the International Republican Institute (IRI) focused on creating innovative program interventions, piloting new approaches, and leveraging and building thematic expertise such as in anti-corruption and preventing violent extremism. In this capacity, Rima leads a team overseeing IRI’s Communities of Practices, Innovation Lab, and the global Democratic Governance Practice focused on working with governments to implement transparent and accountable governing practices while promoting citizen-centered government decision-making.

Prior to her work with IRI, Rima worked in the private sector at Target Corporation where she led an extensive public policy portfolio and advised company leaders on key public policy priorities. In addition to her private sector experience, Rima has extensive government experience working at all levels of government including as the Director of Legislative Affairs and Strategic Planning for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and as a Senior Policy Advisor on public safety, judicial, elections, and transportation public policy to former Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Rima is passionate about civic engagement both in her local and global community and serves on the Humphrey School Alumni Board and the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) Board of Trustees.She has represented the United States as part of four separate ACYPL delegations, traveling to Algeria, Jordan, Peru, and Burma. In addition, she served as the American mentor to YSEALI Professional Fellows and as a host for visiting international delegations. In addition, she was an active volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Global Village, volunteering in Cambodia and Chile and as a group leader to Bangladesh.

Rima has a master’s of public affairs from the University Of Minnesota Humphrey School Of Public Affairs with a concentration in global policy and received a Thomas H. Swain Fellowship in Public Leadership. In addition, she was a Humphrey School Policy Fellow. 

Rima has visited over 45 countries – she loves to explore the outdoors with her husband by hiking, camping, biking, and being on the lake - both in the winter and summer!