Michelle Bekkering

Director of Global Initiatives and Senior Gender Advisor @ International Republican Institute
Director of Global Initiatives and Senior Gender Advisor , International Republican Institute

Michelle Bekkering is the Director for Global Initiatives and Senior Gender Advisor at IRI. A senior member of its Center for Applied Learning and Global initiatives, Bekkering provides technical leadership throughout the Institute, while managing global programs with a focus on legislative strengthening, political inclusivity for marginalized populations, people-to-people exchanges and leadership development initiatives. Bekkering also serves as the Institute’s senior gender advisor, providing strategic leadership, technical assistance and training for IRI’s women’s empowerment and gender equality initiatives, consulting with IRI’s Women’s Democracy Network and regional programs to mainstream gender in all Institute program activities. Bekkering joined IRI in 2005, providing leadership to Institute initiatives in Washington DC and abroad. Before joining IRI, Bekkering served in numerous positions within the U.S. government. She worked in the administration of President George W. Bush, serving in the European and Eurasian affairs directorate of the National Security Council led by Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

Prior to her time in the executive branch, she worked on Capitol Hill as an aide to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), participating in several congressional staff delegations to Asia and the Middle East. Bekkering is a member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL), a bipartisan organization dedicated to fostering relations among young political leaders and policy makers worldwide. A member of its Charter Alumni Council, Bekkering participated in ACYPL’s bilateral delegation to India and Pakistan in 2011. In recognition for her advocacy efforts for global women’s political empowerment, Bekkering was named a 2013 Top Global Woman by the Diplomatic Courier. She was also asked by the George W. Bush Institute to serve as a mentor for its Women’s Initiative fellowship program. Bekkering has served as guest lecturer for the Gender Equality Course at the U.S. State Departments’ Foreign Service Institute, and as a member of the U.S. State Department’s Speakers and Specialists Program, an initiative that is administered by Meridian International center.

A native of Iowa, Bekkering graduated from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. As part of her education, she studied at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 2015, Bekkering was named Dordt College’s Alumni of the Year.