IFES President and CEO Announces Intent to Step Down by End of 2018

Bipartisan Search Committee Led by Board of Directors Will Identify a Successor
Publication Date: 
8 Dec 2017

News Type:

ARLINGTON, VA — The president and CEO of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), William “Bill” Sweeney, announced today his decision to step down from his current role by December 31, 2018. He has been IFES’ top executive since June 2009 and shepherded a number of significant changes to the organization, making IFES a more competitive and dynamic contributor to the democracy building movement. A bipartisan Board panel, comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats and led by former U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Peter McPherson, will oversee the recruitment process for Sweeney’s successor.

“Throughout my tenure, I have benefited from the counsel, friendship and guidance of the IFES team as we’ve all worked together to make the organization a leading provider of technical elections assistance,” said Sweeney. “Together, we have significantly enhanced the reputation and quality of IFES’ contributions to the practice of election administration, and contributed to the global debates about democracy and governance.”

“Bill’s dedication to the cause of democracy is demonstrated by his decades long work with IFES, going back to his time on the Board of Directors, and his tireless efforts to promote the right to vote as a fundamental human right,” noted IFES Board Co-Chair Don Sweitzer. “During Bill’s tenure as president, IFES has made tremendous strides as an organization, from diversifying its funding sources to raising the organization’s profile as a leader in the democracy and governance space. The whole IFES family is grateful for the work he has done,” added IFES Board Chair Ken Blackwell.

During Sweeney’s tenure, IFES’ funding sources were diversified with increased support from the governments of Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, among others, in addition to continued support from the United States government and the private sector. IFES’ programming in the areas of disability rights, women’s empowerment and youth engagement was substantially enhanced with the hiring of leading professionals in these areas and an innovative cross-functional approach to election assistance. The organization’s thought leadership and brand are well established and its knowledge management system and monitoring and evaluation efforts continue to grow.

Prior to joining IFES, Sweeney was vice president of Global Government Affairs for Electronic Data Systems (EDS), where he managed relations with governments and policy organizations around the world. Before joining EDS in 1991, Sweeney founded Washington Resources and Strategy, a public affairs management company that provided counsel to associations and corporations in the U.S., Asia and Europe. He has also served on the IFES Board of Directors from 1993 to 2001 and was chairman from 1999 to 2000. Sweeney has observed elections in the Philippines (1986), Russia (1994), Nicaragua (1996), Jamaica (1997), Mexico (2012), Kenya (2013), Pakistan (2013), Ukraine (2014), Indonesia (2014), Myanmar (2015), Guatemala (2015), Jordan (2016) and Georgia (2016).


IFES supports citizens’ rights to participate in free and fair elections. Its independent expertise strengthens electoral systems and builds local capacity to deliver sustainable solutions. As the global leader in democracy promotion, IFES advances good governance and democratic rights by providing technical assistance to election officials, empowering the underrepresented to participate in the political process and applying field-based research to improve the electoral cycle. For the past 30 years, IFES has worked in over 145 countries – from developing democracies, to mature democracies.


Daniela Colaiacovo, dcolaiacovo@ifes.org, +1 (202) 350-6802

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