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Judy Van Rest

Executive Vice President

Judy Van Rest was appointed executive vice president for IRI on August 2, 2004.  She also is a member of the Women’s Initiative Policy Advisory Council at the George W. Bush Institute and served on the board of the United States Institute of Peace from 2007-2013.

From April 14, 2003, to July 1, 2004, she served as senior advisor for governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Baghdad, Iraq.  In that capacity, she conducted outreach programs for Iraqi women to assist them in participating in the democratic development of their country.  She also served as CPA’s director of the office of democratic initiatives, coordinating programs ranging from election administration, civic education, political party building, women's leadership training, and nongovernmental organization development to local government, media infrastructure building, and transparency in government and civil society.

Van Rest was appointed to the Peace Corps as associate director for management and chief information officer in September 2001 and was responsible for formulating policies and implementing operation plans for both domestic and overseas Peace Corps missions.  She became regional director for the Europe, Mediterranean and Asia region on May 13, 2002, and managed a broad range of operational, policy, and procedural issues in support of more than 1,800 volunteers and several hundred staff in 21 countries.

Prior to the Peace Corps, Van Rest served as regional director for the Commonwealth of Independent States programs for IRI (1994 to 2001), one of the core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy.  In that position, she directed nonpartisan democracy-building programs in, and traveled extensively to countries of the former Soviet Union including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Azerbaijan.  She also participated in observer missions for national and local elections in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Mongolia and conducted political party seminars in Russia, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic.  She served as acting IRI president in summer 2001.

Van Rest was chief of staff for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management from 1989 through 1992, and assisted in the direction of the agency that sets personnel policy for the federal civilian work force.

In addition, she held management positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Smithsonian Institution and the Republican National Committee.  She was deputy to the special assistant to the president for White House intergovernmental affairs in1981.  She also worked in a variety of communications positions, including as editor of Commonsense, a quarterly political journal, and general assignment reporter for an Oklahoma daily newspaper, the Lawton Constitution/Morning Press.

Van Rest was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism, the University of Kansas, Lawrence.