Zeenat Rahman, a national leader with extensive experience in civic engagement, inclusion and issues impacting young people, has been named the executive director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, effective July 1.
Rahman, AM’06, is currently director of the Inclusive America Project at the Aspen Institute, a program that promotes religious pluralism by supporting faith and civic leaders in that cause. She is also a globally recognized expert on the political, social and economic issues affecting disadvantaged communities throughout the world.
Rahman previously served at the U.S. Department of State as a special advisor on global youth issues to Secretaries Hillary Clinton and John Kerry; as acting director at the Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives at the U.S. Agency for International Development; and as director of policy at Interfaith Youth Core.
A native of the Chicago area and graduate of the University of Illinois, Chicago, Rahman earned a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies in 2006 from the University of Chicago. She served as a Pritzker Fellow at the Institute of Politics in 2015.
“I am thrilled to return to the University of Chicago at a time when we must all rededicate ourselves to the project of building an inclusive democracy. As a Pritzker Fellow, I witnessed firsthand the tremendous talent of UChicago students and their passion for solving some of our greatest challenges,” Rahman said. “I look forward to working with David, students and the IOP staff to advance our critical mission of inspiring the next generation of political and public service leaders.”
Rahman’s selection followed an exhaustive national search conducted by the Institute of Politics, in conjunction with the University of Chicago’s Office of the President.
“Zeenat’s remarkable life and career is a testament to the ability of committed people to make a difference,” said David Axelrod, the founder and director of the Institute of Politics, in announcing the appointment. “Her values, experience and splendid example make her the ideal choice to help lead the IOP into the future. We are thrilled to welcome her.”
Rahman succeeds Gretchen Crosby Sims, who served as executive director since 2018 and helped grow the Institute of Politics, even during the past 15 months when the COVID-19 pandemic forced all activities to be conducted remotely.