Claire Sechler Merkel is the director of Arizona initiatives and human trafficking for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University. She served as director of friends and family and chief of staff to Mrs. Cindy McCain during the 2008 Presidential Election campaign, and worked for McCain for President 2000. Previously, she served as legislative assistant and special assistant to U.S. Senator John McCain and campaign coordinator for John McCain’s first U.S. Senate Campaign. Sechler Merkel was associate director in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs for President George H.W. Bush, senior intergovernmental officer at the U.S. Department of Labor and regional director for Eastern and Central Europe at the International Republican Institute.

Sechler Merkel served as PAC director for Congressman Jim Kolbe, associate director of surrogates, Bush/Quayle ’92, coordinator of volunteers at the 1988 Republican National Convention and director of volunteers for the public liaison for the 1989 Presidential Inaugural. She founded Sechler Merkel International to provide strategic advice to companies and foundations and focused on projects in the United States, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Russia. Prior to joining the McCain Institute for International Leadership, she lived for two years in Malmo, Sweden with her husband and children. Sechler Merkel holds a degree in public policy, with distinction, from Stanford University and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She now resides in Phoenix with her husband, David, and their two children.