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Open Society Foundations President Names New Chief of Staff

Patrick Gaspard taps Nicole Wilett, a former U.S. Department of State and National Security Council official, to top role advising on advocacy and new programmatic initiatives

NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations are pleased to announce the appointment of Nicole Wilett as chief of staff to Open Society President Patrick Gaspard, effective August 20. In this newly created position, Wilett will lead the Foundations’ work on public policy and advocacy, and advise the president on new programmatic ideas and initiatives.

“I am thrilled to have someone of Nicole’s stature and experience joining the Foundations in this mission critical role,” said Gaspard. “The rising tide of authoritarianism in the U.S. and around the world has made the work of our staff and grantees more urgent than ever. I look forward to Nicole’s leadership in helping us rise to the challenge in the most effective, efficient, and creative ways possible. She will be an invaluable asset to me and our entire senior leadership team.”

Wilett has extensive experience in international democracy and governance, human rights, development, and security issues. She joins Open Society from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she worked as deputy director for program advocacy and communications, leading global strategies promoting gender equality and improved family planning policies. Previously, she served as senior vice president for Africa at the Albright Stonebridge Group and a senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She served twice as director for African affairs at the National Security Council during the Obama administration, and was senior advisor and chief of staff at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa as part of her long tenure at the U.S. Department of State. 

Before joining the State Department, Wilett worked for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. She has an MPA from Indiana University, where she also concentrated in African studies, and a BA from Syracuse University in psychology and women’s studies.

“It is an honor to join Patrick and the Open Society Foundations team at such a crucial juncture,” said Wilett. “This organization, its grantees, and partners do brave and transformative work around the world. I can’t wait to get started.”

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