Monica Vegas Kladakis has spent most of her career advancing democracy, governance and development globally. Currently, she is the senior advisor for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University, assisting with managing a Democracy and Human Rights Working Group of academic and think tank experts and practitioners seeking to elevate the importance of democracy and human rights issues in U.S. foreign policy. From 2010-2014, she served as senior advisor for governance at the International Republican Institute (IRI), strengthening democratic governance programs in order to institutionalize best practices and raise awareness of IRI’s work within the policy community. From 2009-2010, as senior advisor for evaluation, she led IRI’s impact evaluation initiatives and conducted research and writing for a civil society case study project. She first joined IRI in 1998 as Russia program officer.
Kladakis has also held numerous positions in both the executive and legislative branches of government. From 2005-2009, she served as managing director at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), where she was responsible for the MCC threshold program, designed to assist countries that are committed to undertaking the necessary policy reforms so that they may eventually qualify for MCC compact funding. From 2013-2015, she represented then-MCC board member Lorne Craner at interagency meetings as his “Plus One.”
Prior to joining MCC, Kladakis served in the White House as special assistant to the president and associate director for presidential personnel. She recruited, interviewed and recommended candidates to the president for political appointment to a range of national security agencies, including the U.S. Departments of State, Defense and Energy, as well as presidential boards, commissions and delegations. She first joined the Bush administration as deputy associate director for the Office of Presidential Personnel in January 2001, covering the national security portfolio.
From October 2001 to May 2003, Kladakis served as senior coordinator for democracy and human rights promotion in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. State Department. In this role, she developed and coordinated policy on a wide range of global human rights and democracy issues, as well as managed the administration of a grant program to promote democracy and human rights initiatives around the world.
Prior to joining the administration, Kladakis worked on Capitol Hill for more than seven years in various capacities including in the Majority Whip’s office as a floor assistant and as an Appropriations Committee aide, with responsibility for implementing the Majority Whip’s goals on foreign operations, defense, transportation and other appropriations matters.
Kladakis received a bachelor’s degree in linguistics, with minors in government and Russian, from Georgetown University. She speaks Spanish fluently, and Russian and French conversationally. She and her husband, Dr. Alex Kladakis, reside in Vienna, VA with their three children.