First Special Representative to Muslim Communities.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Farah Pandith, the first-ever US Special Representative to Muslim Communities, is leaving her current position with the Department of State to join the Harvard University Institute of Politics.
In a statement put out by the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Farah always places people above politics, and she has performed groundbreaking work since her appointment in June 2009 […] by my predecessor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
Kerry added that he is “deeply grateful for Farah’s invaluable contributions as our Special Representative to Muslim Communities and wish her and her family well as she pursues an exciting new opportunity.”
Originally from Kashmir in 1968, Pandith and her family immigrated to the US the following year. She earned her A.B. degree in government and psychology from Smith College in Massachusetts – an institution which is private and only for women – and her Master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, which she specialized in International Security Studies, Islamic Civilizations and Southwest Asia, and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.
Prior to working for the State Department, Pandith was employed by the National Security Council from 2004-2007, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2003-2004 (she also worked for the USAID from 1990-1993), and was vice-president of International Business for ML Strategies, LLC, a firm in Boston.
Her first job at the State Department was that of Senior Advisory to the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. She then ascended to her history-making position as the US representative to the growing domestic Muslim community. Her position was one of the most highly ranked in the entire Department, as she reported directly to the Secretary of State.
According to her staff page on the Department of State’s website, she has traveled to more than 80 countries and “launched youth-focused initiatives including Generation Change, Viral Peace and Hours Against Hate (a campaign that was a partner with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games.) She is also a key architect of the Women in Public Service Project.”
In January of 2013, Pandith was given the Secretary’s Distinguished Honor Award which is given for “exceptionally outstanding service to the agencies of the U.S. Government resulting in achievements of marked national or international significance.”
“Farah’s legacy is an extraordinary record of thoughtfulness, balance, and sheer guts and determination,” said Kerry. “Throughout her time in government, and in every position she’s held, Farah has left an indelible mark on the issues that mattered most to her […] For Farah, this isn’t just a career. It’s her life’s passion.”