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Patricia Karam

Regional Director, Middle East North Africa

Patricia Karam is Regional Director of the Middle East North Africa (MENA) Division at IRI. In this role she is responsible for the strategic oversight and leadership of the MENA Division, a multimillion portfolio with programs focusing on citizen-responsive governance, political party development, legislative strengthening, and civil society capacity building. The MENA division conducts programming in 10 countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and the Gulf, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia.

Karam has held senior managerial positions in non-government organizations over the past 15 years. She has worked at the nexus of problem analysis, policy formulation, and effective programming aimed at social and policy change in a range of complex, conflict-ridden settings across the globe. Karam has a track record of designing and leading field-based teams and programs with concrete implications on long-term, local institutional capacity, and resilience to instability and conflict. She has participated in organizational knowledge management and learning efforts, and has demonstrated a commitment to integrating monitoring and evaluation approaches to shape adaptive responses to complex problems.
Most recently, as MENA director at Natural Resource Governance Institute, Karam was responsible for over 30 projects in the region taking the form of research, advocacy, grant-making, technical assistance and capacity-building efforts targeted at government and non-government actors towards improving natural resource governance. She established and ran country offices, hiring, training, and supervising a 20-member team comprised of senior and junior staff. Under her leadership, the MENA budget quadrupled with the influx of over $11 million, leading to substantial increases in institutional and core funding.
Before NRGI, Karam served as deputy director of the Policymakers/Civil Society Unit at International Center for Transitional Justice, where she designed and oversaw multilingual educational and training, transitional justice-focused programs, including intensive courses focused on truth-seeking and memorialization. There, she also helped synthesize knowledge-management for capacity-building internally, as well as systemize organizational approaches. Karam also spearheaded the expansion and professionalization of the Documentation Affinity Group, a global network of action-oriented grassroots groups engaged in human rights documentation.
Karam has worked in a combination of programs development, management, fundraising, and grants-making roles at the US Institute of Peace, Iraq Foundation and the Iraq Embassy, and NYU’s Trauma Studies Program. She has contributed globally to conferences on international affairs, most recently on democracy and governance issues, including transitional justice and human rights challenges in Lebanon, Iraq, Tunisia, and Libya. She holds a dual BA from Brown University and an MSFS degree from Georgetown University. Her Ph.D. work at New York University’s Law & Society program revolved around identity politics and indigenous people's rights in Western Sahara.