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The Washington Institute for Near East Policy selects Michael Kelley as its first Regional Director of Development, Midwest

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The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and KEES are pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Kelley as its first Regional Director of Development, Midwest. Kelley will hold responsibility for a portfolio of donors and prospects in the states of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Nonprofit executive search firm KEES was appointed to lead the search last fall.

Kelley has secured Major Gifts to support internationally focused think tanks and higher education for more than 16 years. Based in Chicago, IL, he brings a robust understanding of issues that are important to philanthropists interested in the Middle East and international affairs.

In his previous role as Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Kelley served as the relationship manager for a range of foundation donors and corporate partners and secured organizational major gift support for key areas of the Council’s work, including the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. As Director of Development at Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a new public-private tech institute led by the University of Illinois System, Kelley built out a new advancement operation and managed over $22M in committed philanthropic support. While at DPI, Kelley managed the fundraising process for a $10M gift from the Pritzker Foundation to launch the Pritzker Tech Talent Labs; he drafted and revised the funding proposal, administered leadership conversations, and worked with DPI staff leads as well as external collaborators to scope out the Tech Talent Lab program goals, partnership agreements, and funding requirements. Prior to DPI, Kelley worked in fundraising at Northwestern University for 12 years; his final role at Northwestern was as Director of Development in support of select top university-level institutes, including the Buffett Institute on Global Affairs.

“We are delighted to welcome Michael to this inaugural Washington Institute Development role in the Midwest,” said Dan Heckelman, National Director of Development of The Washington Institute. “Michael brings an exceptional combination of fundraising experience and knowledge in international affairs, which will benefit The Washington Institute. We would like to officially welcome Michael to the team.”

“My entire career has been centered on building connections with philanthropists who seek to drive knowledge creation and application,” said Kelley. “The Washington Institute’s commitment to researching and advocating policies that benefit American interests in the Middle East resonates deeply with my professional and academic background. I am eager to contribute to the Institute’s impactful work and further its mission in the years to come.”

The Washington Institute competitively selected KEES, a premier executive search firm to spearhead this project. KEES is renowned for its successful placement of remote gift officers in new geographies. A comprehensive search was launched in the Fall of 2023. Kelley was ultimately selected from a passionate and talented pool of finalists. The Washington Institute’s search efforts were led internally by National Director of Development, Dan Heckelman.

Kelley holds both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in history from the University of Illinois. To additionally note, both history degrees are internationally focused. Kelley has also received a Certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations from Northwestern University.

“KEES was delighted to be selected as the search partner of choice for The Washington Institute,” said Laura Weinman, Vice President of KEES. “Collaborating with their dedicated team was truly a pleasure, and we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Michael on his well-deserved appointment. Congratulations all!”

About the Partners

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy is America’s leading research organization devoted exclusively to the study of the Middle East, from Turkey to Yemen and from Morocco to Iran. The Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank with an annual revenue of nearly $17M and is funded solely by American citizens. The Washington Institute’s mission is to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Since its founding in 1985, The Washington Institute has become a trusted source of expertise for policymakers with a variety of political experiences and perspectives in Washington and around the world. Now more than ever, The Washington Institute’s commitment to research, which then directly impacts U.S. foreign policy, is of paramount importance to people in and around the Middle East. To learn more, please visit


KEES (formerly Alford Executive Search) is a nonprofit executive search firm that builds diverse teams with dynamic leaders in the nonprofit and public sectors. A woman owned and operated firm, KEES offers a full array of nonprofit consulting services, including executive search, leadership development, interim staffing, and human resources support. For more information, please visit

An expert on partnering with organizations establishing new roles or adding additional geographic representation to their program and donor portfolios, KEES has successfully placed talented executives throughout the country. For client partners including Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Heifer International, The Salvation Army, Planned Parenthood, and others, KEES has helped place a network of talented Major Gift Officers responsible for connecting passionate supporters with organizational missions.

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Jamie Sheffler,


Anna Brown,, (202) 230-9550