Paul McCarthy began his career at IRI in October 2004 in the Middle East and North Africa division.  After a number of postings in the Middle East and at IRI’s office in Washington, DC, McCarthy was named director of the Europe division in October 2018, where he is responsible for overseeing a diverse portfolio of regional and country specific programs.

McCarthy has worked in the field of democracy promotion for more than two decades and began his career focusing on the former communist states of Europe.  Prior to joining IRI, he worked in the National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) Europe and Eurasia division where he oversaw NED’s extensive program in the Balkans which provided assistance to independent media, civic organizations, think tanks, business associations and political parties during a critical period in that region’s turbulent history.  Due in part to his efforts, NED-funded programs had a significant impact in encouraging the democratic breakthroughs which occurred in ex-Yugoslav states at the early part of the 21st century.     

When McCarthy joined IRI’s Middle East and North Africa division in 2004, McCarthy was first posted to Jordan where he opened IRI’s office in Amman and launched programming in the Hashemite Kingdom.  As director in Jordan, he developed an innovative local governance and municipal polling program that has become a model for the Institute.  McCarthy was then asked to serve as IRI’s program director in Iraq where he managed a large and diverse program focusing on building the capacity of Iraqi national and local governmental institutions, political parties and civil society organizations.   

McCarthy returned to Washington, DC after eight years in the field to oversee IRI’s Syria and Lebanon programs which focused on providing support to political moderates facing increasingly radicalized forces on the ground. 

McCarthy studied European and Russian history at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a master’s degree in Russian studies from the London School of Economics.  

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