Rima Kawas is a Senior Advisor at the International Republic Institute (IRI) where she provides technical advice to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) division and to IRI’s President on private sector engagement.  

Prior to this, Rima was the Deputy Regional Director of MENA Division where she provided leadership to IRI’s country offices and a multi-million dollar portfolio focused on citizen-responsive governance, women’s political leadership and gender equality, legislative strengthening, and civil society capacity building throughout the MENA region.  

With more than 15 years of governance experience, including her role as Director of Governance and Collaborative Learning at IRI, Rima’s public and private sector expertise is wide-ranging.  She worked at a Fortune 50 company in government relations where she led an extensive public policy portfolio and worked at many levels of government, most notably as a Senior Policy Advisor to former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.  

Passionate about civic engagement both in her local and global community, Rima serves on the Humphrey School Alumni Board at the University of Minnesota and the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) Board of Trustees. She has represented the United States as part of four separate delegations traveling to Algeria, Jordan, Peru, and Burma. In addition, she was a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Global Village, volunteering in Cambodia and Chile and 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.  She was a recipient of the Thomas H. Swain Fellowship in Public Leadership scholarship and was a 2009-2010 Humphrey School Policy Fellow

Rima has visited and implemented programs in over 50 countries. She has spoken at many global conferences including the Open Government Partnership Global Summits and published in various outlets including the Diplomatic Courier and Modern Diplomacy. 

Authored Content

Corruption = Uprisings

Last month, Transparency International released its 26th annual Corruption Perceptions Index – the leading indicator of public sector corruption across…

Authored External Content

modern diplomacy

Using the Private Sector to Spark Investment for Change in Latin America

The Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and their neighbor Mexico are some of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Diplomatic Courier

Women are Key to Solving the UN SDGs

Lifting legal limitations on women’s access to the workforce – which still exist in 74 countries – will not only boost recovery from the pandemic, but is critical if the world is to fulfill the UN’s SDGs

Diplomatic Courier

The Path to Achieving International Commitments

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically highlighted the need for effective international cooperation in a globalized world, where country-level solutions cannot effectively address transnational challenges.

Diplomatic Courier

To Address the Global Migration Crisis, We Need A Political Approach to SDG16

Global forced migration has reached unprecedented levels, with 68.5 million people uprooted by conflict, persecution or human rights violations at the end of 2017.

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