Zeinab Abdelkarim, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa

Zeinab Abdelkarim currently serves as the Regional Director of the Middle East and North Africa department at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), providing technical and programmatic guidance to IFES’ operations in the region. She has more than two decades of experience as a legal practitioner in the field of democratization and elections management. Abdelkarim is a seasoned election trainer dedicated to improving the delivery of public services. She is a certified trainer on the global training curriculum Building Resources for Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE), a comprehensive professional development course for election administrators, key decision makers and electoral stakeholders involved in elections administration and management throughout the world.

As the lead expert for IFES on Middle East affairs, Abdelkarim has served as part of IFES needs assessment missions across the region to assess the prospects for open, competitive and credible elections based on input from a wide spectrum of local stakeholders.  Of special note are the assessment missions she led to Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia in 2011 after the popular revolutions that spread across the region.  She has also authored and contributed to numerous briefing papers, publications and papers related to the electoral legal framework in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Abdelkarim previously served as Deputy Chief of Party for IFES’ program in Yemen from 2004-2007 and as the Deputy Director for IFES’ Middle East programs from 2007-2009 overseeing programmatic activities in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Yemen and the Maghreb. Prior to IFES, Abdelkarim practiced law in Khartoum, Sudan and served as Human Resource Director for the Arab-American & Chaldean Council in Michigan.

 Abdelkarim received her Bachelor of Law degree with honors from the University of Khartoum Law School in Sudan, as well as a Master of Law from Wayne State University Law School in Michigan.



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