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Shelly Kassen of Westport, Connecticut, Elected Institute President

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Shelly Kassen, a longtime philanthropic and community leader, was elected president of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the organization announced today.

A longtime supporter of The Washington Institute and a member of the Board of Directors since 2008, Ms. Kassen most recently served as Institute vice president and chair of its Development Committee.

"It is an honor and a privilege to serve as president of The Washington Institute," said Ms. Kassen. "With the Middle East in upheaval and a new U.S. president set to take office in January, this is a critical moment for U.S. policy in the region. I believe that the Institute is well-positioned to make a positive impact."

"Throughout her years as an Institute leader, Shelly has demonstrated great vision and the ability to make that vision a reality," said Martin J. Gross, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. "I am certain that the Institute will flourish and grow under her leadership."

Ms. Kassen succeeds the late Richard S. Abramson, who passed away in January 2016.

A former CPA and private industry controller, she received an MBA from Harvard Business School. Ms. Kassen has an extensive record of community involvement, including serving from 2005-13 on the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Westport, Connecticut; as treasurer of Pink Aid, Inc., an organization that helps breast cancer patients in financial need; and as treasurer of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, which aims to close the achievement gap among Connecticut students.

Ms. Kassen is also past president of The Conservative Synagogue of Westport. She and her husband Michael have three adult daughters and one grandson.

About the Washington Institute: The Washington Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research institution funded exclusively by U.S. citizens that seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Drawing on the research of its fellows and the experience of its policy practitioners, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.

Media Contact: Ian Byrne, 202-452-0650, [email protected]