For Immediate Release

August 23, 2022

Washington, D.C. — The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) announced today that Tess McEnery has been named the organization’s new executive director. Ms. McEnery will succeed Stephen McInerney (no relation), who has served as executive director since 2010. She will begin her position at POMED on September 6, 2022.

Ms. McEnery brings to POMED deep, senior-level experience in U.S. foreign policy and the promotion of democracy and human rights around the world, including the Middle East. Most recently, she led a team in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor advancing global strategies to defend democracy and counter authoritarianism. Ms. McEnery also served two tours as Director for Democracy and Human Rights on the White House’s National Security Council staff.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ms. McEnery as the new executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy,” said Michele Dunne, chairperson of POMED’s Board of Directors. “Her demonstrated commitment to advancing democracy, extensive policy experience, and management skills make her uniquely qualified for this role, and I look forward to working with her. On behalf of the Board, I’d also like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Steve McInerney for his unwavering support for democracy in the Middle East and North Africa and his strong leadership of POMED over the last 12 years. Steve has helped POMED grow in amazing ways, and we will all miss him.” 

“I am honored to join POMED and lead a team of experts championing democratic change-makers and human rights defenders across the Middle East,” Ms. McEnery said. “Given the serious threats to democracy around the world, it is more urgent than ever to build equitable and inclusive democracies that can solve the critical challenges of our time. I am excited to drive POMED forward with a clear-eyed vision that democratic development is vital for global, regional, and U.S. national security.”

Ms. McEnery has dedicated her career to standing up for a U.S. foreign policy that advances democracy, protects civic space, and defends universal human rights. She has significant expertise working on conflict prevention, stabilization, fragile states, elections, political transitions, and the strategic use of foreign assistance and foreign policy at the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Ms. McEnery has received numerous awards for her superior leadership and exemplary efforts to ensure that the United States “does the right thing” in democratic and human rights crises across the globe.

Ms. McEnery received her MA in public administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and her BA in political science from Guilford College.


POMED is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to examining how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East and how the United States can best support that process. Through research, advocacy, and civil society partnerships, POMED works to strengthen the constituency for U.S. policies that peacefully support democratic reform in the Middle East.