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Perry World House recently announced that Marie Harf will be the institute's next executive director (Photo from Perry World House).

Marie Harf has been selected as the next executive director of the Perry World House starting Feb. 5. 

PWH — Penn’s center for global policy and engagement — announced the appointment on Jan. 16. Before coming to Penn, Harf served as the executive director of external relations and marketing at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and previously worked for United States Secretary of State John Kerry.

As executive director, Harf will assume several responsibilities, including leading programming, overseeing administration, and managing PWH’s finances and operations. She will advance PWH’s research agenda through collaboration with the faculty director, as well as increase the impact of PWH in policy communities worldwide. 

Harf’s new role marks her return to Penn, where she previously co-taught a course in 2019 on religion and global affairs. In a Q&A following her appointment, Harf said that her experience teaching the course alongside Steven Weitzman — the Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies — influenced her decision to come to Penn. 

“I look forward to helping the University community navigate this unsettling global moment in thoughtful, constructive ways through PWH’s programming and research,” Harf said.

Since 2017, Harf has worked as a contributor of political and national security analysis to Fox News Channel. She has held roles as senior advisor and deputy spokesperson for Secretary John Kerry at the U.S. Department of State, foreign policy director on Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and Middle East analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Harf said in the Q&A that she was most proud of her role in the public side of negotiations between the U.S., Iran, and international partners over Tehran’s nuclear program. She pointed to “unprecedented inspections and transparency” introduced in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 agreement that ensured Iran's peaceful nuclear program. 

“Too much of U.S. foreign policy is dictated by inertia; in order to solve big problems, you have to be willing to break some of those molds that helped entrench these challenges to begin with – and that’s what we did,” Harf said.

Associate Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Amy Gadsen previously served as the institute’s interim executive director. PWH Director Michael Horowitz has been on a leave of absence since April 2022, when he began his federal service as inaugural director of the Emerging Capabilities Policy Office within the Department of Defense. In August 2023, Horowitz took on a new role within the department as ​​deputy assistant secretary of defense for force development and emerging capabilities.