Hilary Rantisi is the Director of the Middle East Initiative (MEI) at Harvard Kennedy School of Government's (HKS) Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. MEI advances public policy and builds capacity in the Middle East through the integration of research and policy analysis, education, and community engagement. Hilary has over a decade and a half of experience in institution building and leading this dynamic initiative at Harvard, which is now a hub for diverse scholarship. As Director of MEI she has expanded the diversity of voices from the Middle East that engage with the School at all levels, which has enhanced critical policy discussions. Humanizing issues that affect the daily lives of people throughout the Middle East has been an overriding principle that guides her work in prioritizing research, policy discussion, and institutional growth.

Hilary has launched several groundbreaking collaborations across Harvard during her tenure. These programs include: Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative with Harvard Divinity School (HDS), Emirates Leadership Initiative with the Center for Public Leadership, and an annual experiential learning course on humanitarian crisis management with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and the Chan School of Public Health (HSPH). Under her leadership, student representation at HKS has increased from five to 18 Middle Eastern countries with a 62% increase in enrollment in the last eight years.

In addition to her role as director of MEI, Hilary Rantisi is also a Senior Fellow with the Religious Literacy Project at HDS where she is a thought partner in shaping the Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative. She serves on Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies board, the advisory board of UNDP’s Human Development Report for the Palestinian Territories 2018-2019, and on the boards of three NGOs that work on research, education, and mental health in Israel and Palestine.

Hilary received her Master’s degree in Middle East Studies from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining HKS, she worked with civil society organizations in Israel-Palestine, which focused on religion, politics, and grassroots mobilization efforts in Jerusalem. In 1999 she co-edited the book Our Story, and has been an active public speaker on issues pertaining to the Middle East region. Hilary is a native Arabic speaker.

Last Updated: Sep 25, 2018, 1:45pm




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