National Endowment for Democracy Names Maju Varghese as Chief Operating Officer

Maju Varghese

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has named Maju Varghese as its new chief operating officer (COO). Mr. Varghese most recently served as deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Military Office, overseeing nearly 3,000 military and civilian personnel who ensure essential services for the daily and worldwide functioning of the presidency. He will join the NED staff on February 7, 2022.

“We are eager to welcome Maju Varghese to the leadership team at NED,” said NED President and Chief Executive Officer Damon Wilson. “His long track record of operational, managerial, and legal experience, and his demonstrated success working in complex, demanding, high-profile roles will be a great asset at a time of rapid organizational growth and change at the Endowment. Maju is a consummate professional who brings an inspiring integrity and a generous character to all his interactions. His experience as the son of immigrants from India, his proven leadership, and deep commitment to our democratic mission will be integral to NED’s efforts to support those struggling on the frontlines of democracy around the world.”

Prior to his time in the White House Military Office, Varghese served as chief operating officer and senior advisor for the Biden campaign, and then as executive director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. He held multiple roles during the Obama-Biden Administration, including assistant to the president for management and administration, and special assistant to the president and deputy director of advance. A lawyer by training, Varghese has also worked as a senior advisor at Dentons, chief operating officer at the Hub Project, and as an associate at Wade Clark Mulcahy, a law firm in New York. (Read more about Maju Varghese here.)

Varghese takes over for Barbara Haig, deputy to the NED president for policy and strategy, who has served as interim COO during a time of rapid organizational change. “I am so thankful to have had Barbara as my partner and interim COO as I began my role at NED,” said Wilson. “Our partners around the world, Board of Directors, and staff at NED are deeply grateful to Barbara for her unparalleled expertise and tireless work to guide and strengthen NED at this critical time. We will continue to rely on her insights and experience.” Haig will return to her responsibilities as deputy to the president for policy and strategy.


The NED is an independent, nonprofit, grant-making foundation dedicated to the development and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. NED, along with four core institutes—the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the Solidarity Center, and the Center for International Private Enterprise—provides assistance to strengthen democratic institutions and political processes, trade unions, free markets, and business associations, in addition to supporting a vibrant civil society that supports human rights, an independent media, and the rule of law. With an annual appropriation from Congress, NED funds more than 2,000 grants in 102 countries. NED’s grants program is augmented by the International Forum for Democratic Studies, a research center that publishes the Journal of Democracy, the World Movement for Democracy, and the Center for International Media Assistance.


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