Washington, D.C. – The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and the Freedom Initiative will merge, forming a new organization dedicated to the pursuit of democracy, justice, and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), their boards of directors announced today. The Middle East Democracy Center (MEDC) will catalyze policy change to free the unjustly detained, counter authoritarianism, and champion democracy

MEDC will serve as a strategic hub for dedicated human rights defenders and democracy advocates, elevating the voices of the unheard, promoting human dignity, and countering failed policies to challenge the status quo. 

“This merger will create a bold and innovative new organization, combining the strengths and passions of POMED and the Freedom Initiative,” said Michele Dunne, chair of the board of POMED. “With more than 24 years of combined experience establishing relationships with Middle East democracy champions as well as with policymakers across the U.S. government, MEDC is ready to help reinvigorate a U.S. commitment to democracy and human rights at a time when it is badly needed.”

POMED and the Freedom Initiative have worked closely together for years and collaborated on many of their shared strategic goals. This merger will bring expertise from each organization under one roof and multiply long-standing relationships across the MENA region and with U.S. policymakers.

“This merger comes at a consequential moment in the history of the Middle East, priming us to rise to the occasion and address the evolving challenges of the region. It is an opening of a new chapter in the MENA human rights space,” said Anas Aljumaily, chairman of the board of directors of the Freedom Initiative. “MEDC is the natural evolution of the brilliant and impactful work of the Freedom Initiative and POMED. It is a union of strengths in the pursuit of freedom and democracy for the people of the Middle East. MEDC will become the world’s preeminent institution working diligently and relentlessly towards those ideals.”

Tess McEnery, who will lead the new organization as executive director, expressed similar optimism: “The time is now to catalyze action on democracy and human rights in the Middle East. We are issuing a clarion call that the Middle East must not be exempt from the global reckoning between democracy and autocracy. The lives of the unjustly detained and those most affected by authoritarian abuse are not an afterthought to global policy—they are the driving force for peace and justice in a rapidly changing world.” 

The Middle East Democracy Center will officially launch later this year.

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Media contact

Tess McEnery
Executive Director, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
tess.mcenery@pomed.org, +1-202-470-3952 

Andrea Prasow
Executive Director, The Freedom Initiative
andrea@thefreedomi.org, +1-917-842-5109