Zeenat Rahman

Expert on Youth, Entrepreneurship and Interfaith Engagement


Zeenat Rahman is an expert on youth movements, economic development, entrepreneurship, and interfaith and diversity engagement, with a geographic focus on the Middle East and North Africa.

She has more than a decade of experience identifying and implementing innovative solutions working across sectors to achieve concrete outcomes that improve people’s lives. Her experience spans public, private, and social sectors, allowing her to effectively bridge the gap between policy and community solutions.

Zeenat was most recently a Presidential Political Appointee, serving as Special Adviser to Secretaries Clinton and Kerry on Global Youth Issues at the U.S. Department of State.

In this position, she encouraged foreign governments to respond to youth issues through policy change. She developed private sector partnerships focused on youth employment and skills development, worked with U.S. embassies to create an extensive network of more than 75 Youth Councils worldwide, and built global entrepreneurship programs to support nascent entrepreneurs in emerging economies.

As Secretary Kerry’s appointed representative to the multilateral No Lost Generation campaign on Syrian youth, she advocated for U.S. policy that aimed to provide young people affected by the conflict in Syria with the chance to shape a more stable and secure future.

Prior to this appointment, Zeenat served as Acting Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the United States Agency for International Development. In this role, she led external engagement efforts with faith based and community organizations to build support for USAID priorities including Feed the Future and the Child Survival Call to Action.

Zeenat is a frequent speaker and commentator who has spoken at venues such as the United Nations, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, and the White House and appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and many international news outlets. She is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, a Truman National Security Fellow, and a Next Generation Project Fellow. She received a master’s degree in Middle East studies from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Illinois.

BASED IN: Washington DC, US