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Press Release

Heather A. Conley Named Next GMF President

November 02, 2021

CSIS Senior Vice President Has Deep Transatlantic Ties, Experience

WASHINGTON (November 2, 2021)—The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) announces today that Heather A. Conley, currently Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), was voted by GMF’s Board of Trustees to serve as the organization’s next president.

Conley, who will become GMF’s sixth president in January 2022, replaces Dr. Karen Donfried, who joined the Biden Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia after leading GMF for seven years.

“We are delighted that Heather has accepted this offer,” said Robin West, Chairman of GMF’s Board of Trustees. “She is the enthusiastic and unanimous choice of our Board because she recognizes the many ways in which the world and the transatlantic relationship are changing.  Heather has the vision and the drive to put the German Marshall Fund at the forefront of shaping these changes on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Headquartered in Washington, DC, and with offices throughout Europe, GMF serves as the premier institution focused on strengthening transatlantic cooperation through policy analysis and convening, support for civil society, and cultivation of the next generation of leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.

Conley’s tenure as GMF president comes as the organization prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary and to mark the 75th anniversary of the Marshall Plan in 2022.

“The Marshall Plan was one of America’s most consequential foreign policy initiatives to advance the cause of freedom, security and prosperity,” Conley said.  “GMF was founded not only to honor that bold vision but to ensure that the transatlantic relationship remains America’s most essential and enduring relationship. This is the extraordinary legacy that inspires and animates all of GMF’s work, whether that is securing democracy, addressing climate and technological change, confronting strategic competition or leading the way on diversity, equity and inclusion. I am honored and thrilled to be part of the GMF family.”  

Conley’s appointment follows a nationwide search for the next GMF president.

Out of an extremely competitive field, she emerged with the most compelling vision—one that understands GMF’s historic role but also promises to be vigorous in innovation as we adapt to dramatically changing times and to new issues that occupy the transatlantic agenda.”

“We are pleased that our committee reached the unanimous consensus that Heather is the best person to lead GMF for years to come,” said GMF Board Member Amanda Bennett, who co-chaired the search committee with fellow Board Member John Harris. “Out of an extremely competitive field, she emerged with the most compelling vision—one that understands GMF’s historic role but also promises to be vigorous in innovation as we adapt to dramatically changing times and to new issues that occupy the transatlantic agenda.”

In addition to her role as a senior vice president at CSIS, Conley serves as the director of the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at the organization, which she joined in 2009. She previously served as executive director of the Office of the Chairman of the Board at the American National Red Cross. From 2001 to 2005, she served under Secretary of State Colin Powell as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs with responsibilities for U.S. bilateral relations with the countries of Northern and Central Europe.

From 1994 to 2001, Conley was a senior associate with an international consulting firm led by former U.S. deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage. She began her career in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, where also served as special assistant to the coordinator of U.S. assistance to the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. She has received two State Department Meritorious Honor Awards.

Conley frequently is featured as a foreign policy analyst and Europe expert on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, NPR, and PBS, among other prominent media outlets. She received her B.A. in international studies from West Virginia Wesleyan College and her M.A. in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

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The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a non-partisan policy organization committed to the idea that the United States and Europe are stronger together. GMF works on issues critical to transatlantic interests in the 21st century, including the future of democracy, security and defense, geopolitics and the rise of China, and technology and innovation. By drawing on and fostering a community of people with diverse life experiences and political perspectives, GMF pursues its mission by driving the policy debate through cutting-edge analysis and convening, fortifying civil society, and cultivating the next generation of leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. Founded in 1972 through a gift from Germany as a tribute to the Marshall Plan, GMF is headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices in Berlin, Brussels, Ankara, Belgrade, Bucharest, Paris, and Warsaw. www.gmfus.org

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