Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 01/17/2012

Xenia Dormandy, Class of 2000
Senior Fellow, Chatham House, the Royal Institute for International Affairs

“I was a member of the Academy’s Class of 2000; a decade later, my career has gone in directions I would never have thought possible.  Since then, I have crossed paths with other classmates from that year in ways that have been both professionally helpful and, often, enormously enjoyable.

After leaving Harvard’s Kennedy School, I joined the State Department as a Presidential Management Fellow.  Arriving just after 9/11, I soon found myself detailed to the Office of the Vice President, helping to set up his Homeland Security Office.  Over the next two years or so I rotated back to State to do a mix of nonproliferation, homeland security and South Asia work, and in 2004, I was detailed to the National Security Council as Director for South Asia.

Realizing that I now had, arguably, the best job in government, I knew that I would have to look elsewhere for the next challenge, and in late 2005 I became the Executive Director of Harvard’s Belfer Center and subsequently launched a new project there on India and the Subcontinent.  It was here that I started to cross paths with fellow Academy classmates with whom I had initially lost touch.  In 2009, I was given the enormous opportunity to launch a new peace-building foundation in Switzerland called PeaceNexus, where more old friends from the Class of 2000 appeared.  Last year, I returned to London to launch a new project at Chatham House on America’s international role in the world.

I came away from my Academy weekend in London with a number of good friends; people who are now peppered around the globe in jobs ranging from senior levels of the corporate sector (Bill Berrien, John Bartlett) to policy and politics (Neal Higgins, John Nagl).  While my classmates are perhaps the most memorable, other events also stand out: a black-tie late night discussion over cigars and brandy, speeches from Jeremy Irons and Salman Rushdie, and a bus journey in conversation with Zahi Hawass.  In the past ten years, I have crossed paths with many other Academy alumni, including those from other years.  If I have one regret, it is that I have not enjoyed the company of more.”

A graduate of Oxford University and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Xenia Dormandy worked for UNICEF in New York before joining the U.S. State Department. From 2005 to 2009, Ms. Dormandy was Director of the Project on India and the Subcontinent and the Executive Director for Research at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. In 2009, she became the first Executive Director of the PeaceNexus Foundation. Her articles and op ed pieces have appeared in The Washington Post, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor and International Herald Tribune; she has been interviewed on numerous radio and television programs, including those of NPR, CNN, Fox News, Al Jazeera and BBC World, as well as those of the PBS News Hour.

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