Farah Pandith was appointed the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities in June 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Under the leadership of Secretary John Kerry, the Office of the Special Representative is responsible for executing a vision for engagement with Muslims around the world based on a people-to-people and organizational level. In the years since her swearing in, Special Representative Pandith has traveled to more than 80 countries and launched youth-focused initiatives including Generation Change, Viral Peace, the Transatlantic Leadership Network, and Hours Against Hate (a campaign that was a partner with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.) She is also a key architect of the Women in Public Service Project. In January 2013 she was awarded the Secretary's Distinguished Honor Award for "exceptionally outstanding service to the agencies of the US Government resulting in achievements of marked national or international significance." She reports directly to the Secretary of State.
Prior to this appointment, Special Representative Pandith was Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. In this role she focused on Muslim communities in Europe where she was responsible for policy oversight for integration, democracy, and Islam in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. She also worked on issues relating to countering violent extremism. Initiatives launched include The Cedar Network and Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE). Special Representative Pandith served as the Director for Middle East Regional Initiatives for the National Security Council from December 2004 to February 2007, where she was responsible for coordinating U.S. policy on “Muslim World” Outreach and the Broader Middle East North Africa initiative. She reported directly to the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy.
Prior to joining the NSC, Special Representative Pandith was Chief of Staff of the Bureau for Asia and the Near East for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). She worked directly for the Assistant Administrator for the bureau responsible for more than $4 billion in programs throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and Asia -- including Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza/West Bank. In 2004, she spent two months in Afghanistan developing a public outreach strategy. She also served at USAID from 1990 -1993 on the Administrator’s staff and as the Special Assistant to the Director of Policy. From 1997 to 2003 Special Representative Pandith was Vice President of International Business for ML Strategies in Boston, Massachusetts, and served as a Commissioner on Governor Paul A. Cellucci’s bi-partisan Asian Advisory Commission. She has been a consultant in the public, private and non-profit sectors and has served in leadership positions on several boards with a focus on international affairs. Special Representative Pandith is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Member of the Leadership Council of Women and Girls Lead, the recipient of various honors for her work in public service, and has been named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian Magazine. She is part of the Smithsonian’s The Network by artist Lincoln Schatz, a permanent exhibit at The National Portrait Gallery, and has appeared in print, radio, television and film from The New York Times to a documentary for the 9/11 Museum.
Special Representative Pandith received a Master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she specialized in International Security Studies, Islamic Civilizations and Southwest Asia, and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. She concentrated on the insurgency in Kashmir and has spoken on the subject in international and domestic forums. She received an A.B. in Government and Psychology from Smith College, where she was president of the student body. She has served as a Trustee of Smith College and Milton Academy, and is currently a member of the Board of Overseers of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Smith College President’s Council. She will be awarded the Smith College Medal in February 2014.
She was born in Srinagar, Kashmir, India, and raised in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts