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Dr. Evelyn Farkas to Serve as McCain Institute Executive Director

Foreign policy expert and former Department of Defense official will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the McCain Institute

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The McCain Institute at Arizona State University (ASU) and ASU President Michael M. Crow are proud to announce Dr. Evelyn Farkas has been named the McCain Institute’s new executive director. Dr. Farkas will begin her new position at the Washington, D.C.-based McCain Institute on May 2, 2022.

“I am humbled and grateful to ASU and to the McCain Institute Board of Trustees for this opportunity. American leadership and a commitment to furthering human rights and democracy in the spirit of Senator John McCain is needed now more than ever, and I am excited to get to work alongside the McCain Institute’s talented and determined staff,” said Dr. Evelyn Farkas. “This is a critical time in our country’s history that calls on us to be unequivocal about the differences between democracy and autocracy. I look forward to helping advance character-driven leadership around the world.”

Dr. Farkas brings decades of American foreign policymaking to the McCain Institute. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she previously served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and executive director of the congressional Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, among many other senior national security positions in the U.S. government.

“We’re proud to welcome Evelyn Farkas to the McCain Institute and to Arizona State University,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Her area of expertise could not be more appropriate for this moment in time and the possibilities for this new chapter of the McCain Institute at ASU are truly exciting.”

The naming of Dr. Farkas as the McCain Institute’s new executive director follows an extensive search led by the McCain Institute’s Board of Trustees.

Dr. Farkas has long known the tangible differences between free and autocratic societies as the daughter of Hungarian refugees who fled in the aftermath of the failed 1956 Hungarian Revolution against the Communist leadership and occupying Soviet Union forces. Spending summers visiting her grandparents in Hungary as a child taught Dr. Farkas about the tyrannical alternative to democracy at an early age.

Dr. Farkas, a former Congressional candidate in 2020, is a frequent contributor on national news programs. She speaks fluent Hungarian and German and is conversational in a few others. View Dr. Farkas’ full bio here.

What They are Saying:

“Dr. Farkas is the right person to lead the McCain Institute during a time when its work is more vital than ever,” said former Senator Kelly Ayotte, McCain Institute trustee. “The bipartisanship that underpinned Evelyn’s career is a perfect tribute to Senator McCain and his legacy of working across the aisle to create solutions for the citizens of the United States and the world.”

“Evelyn is a true expert on many of the most challenging issues in foreign policy. Her principled voice on matters of national and international importance, and tireless advocacy for democracy will maximize the reach of the Institute’s work as it continues to advance the causes that Senator McCain fought for during his storied career as a public servant,” said former Senator Heidi Heitkamp, McCain Institute trustee.

“The addition of Dr. Evelyn Farkas to the McCain Institute’s leadership marks the next chapter of its critical work and the opportunities that lie before it,” said General David Petraeus, McCain Institute trustee. “She is one of the leading voices on Ukraine, Russia, North Korea, nuclear proliferation and a number of additional complex and pressing problems that face our nation today. I look forward to working with her to advance the critical work of the Institute and to keep the great Senator John McCain’s voice alive during a time when our world needs it most.”


About the McCain Institute at Arizona State University
Inspired by Senator John S. McCain and his family’s legacy of public service, the McCain Institute is fighting to secure democracy and alliances, defend human rights, protect the vulnerable and advance character-driven leadership, both at home and around the world.

About Arizona State University
Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American research university, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

Patrick McCann
[email protected]


Publish Date
April 26, 2022