It was with deep sadness the Board and staff of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) learned of the passing of our long-time colleague and friend Nadia Diuk. Nadia, who had served the Endowment for 32 years, most recently as Senior Advisor and previously as Vice President for Programs, died at home on January 23, 2019 after a long illness.
National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman spoke for all who knew and worked with Nadia, saying, “Nadia blessed us with her work, her dedication, her brilliance, and her friendship. We loved her deeply, and she will be missed by us all. May her soul rest in peace.”
The daughter of Ukrainian refugees who fled to Great Britain during World War II, Nadia dedicated her life and work to the advancement of freedom and democracy not just in Ukraine, but throughout the entire region that had been dominated by, and later liberated from, the Soviet Union.
Nadia came to NED as a program officer in 1987, three years after the Endowment’s founding, and went on to lead the NED’s grant making in Europe and Eurasia, providing crucial support to countless civil-society groups throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Later in her career, she added Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa programs to her NED portfolio.
On January 22, 2019, a day before her passing, Nadia received The Order of Princess Olga (III degree), one of Ukraine’s highest state honors, from the President of Ukraine in recognition of her life’s work in furthering democracy and supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Marc Plattner, the co-editor of NED’s Journal of Democracy and first Director of Programs, and who worked closely with Nadia throughout her tenure at NED, reflected that “Nadia was deeply committed to her Ukrainian heritage, but she was no less committed to freedom and democracy–not only for the people of Ukraine, but for peoples everywhere. She will be sorely missed by all who witnessed her unrelenting labors in support of democracy in the former Soviet bloc and around the world.”
A historian by training, Nadia’s work was informed by her deep knowledge and research about the diverse peoples of the Soviet Union and the “Captive Nations.” She co-authored two books, the Hidden Nations (1990), and New Nations Rising (1992), detailing the struggles of these populations for freedom and self-determination. In 2012, she authored a third book, The Next Generation in Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan.
Barbara Haig, NED’s Deputy to the President for Policy and Strategy, who worked hand in hand with Nadia for decades, said, “Nadia’s contribution to NED, Ukraine, and the democracy world writ large cannot be measured. With her calm grace she fought the good fight, finding and nurturing younger generations of democratic activists throughout Eurasia, and helping them to define and find constructive ways to work toward achieving their dreams.” On a personal note, Barbara added that Nadia “loved to walk the side streets of cities in Eastern Europe, tracking down the best historical maps of Ukraine and the borderlands in small dusty shops, and was a dedicated member of the choir at her church and at NED Holiday parties. She demonstrated so much courage these last two years of struggle — she uplifted and inspired us all. We loved her and will miss her.”
Read NED President Carl Gershman’s eulogy delivered at Nadia Diuk’s memorial service.
Share a memory of Nadia or send condolences to her family
Nadia was one of my oldest friends. We arrived at St. Antony's College, Oxford, the same day in October 1978. We shared the same house together with four other graduate students and studied East European affairs together until we completed our doctorates. Nadia spent substantial time in Warsaw during the Solidarity period and came back full of excitement and enthusiasm. Here in Washington we have worked together on Ukraine in so many ways. Nadia was immensely knowledgeable about Ukraine and its history and fully committed to its happy future. She also sang in the Ukrainian choir. She was a good person. Rest in peace!
I am deeply saddened by the death of Nadia. During her life, she demonstrated a rare synergy of a vocational call and her desire to pair ideas with action in the hope of being able to serve a good cause. For many years, she was an important source of insightful commentary on Ukraine, Russia and other post-Soviet states for the Russian Service of Voice of America. Deepest sympathy to Nadia’s family during this time of loss. She had such an impact on the region we cover that we posted an article about her life and career on Golos Ameriki:
Выражаю свои соболезнования всем близким Нади и её коллегам. В семье НЕД это большая потеря. Надя, была очень хорошим человеком и другом демократов Узбекистана. Мы потеряли друга. Прощай Надя!
Nadia was the one to embrace my region's fight for freedom wholeheartedly and from the very beginning of my term as Lithuanian ambassador in Washington DC. She will be remembered by all freedom fighting nations - millions of people fighting everyday for their dignity. Even if her name will not be known by everyone she will stay forever as our Angel of freedom, humanity and dignity.
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights grieves over the loss of Nadia Diuke. We lost our old partner, but first of all our friend. And a friend of all free-thinking people. Rest in peace, Nadia ..
Nobel’s Svetlana Alexievich signed her new book to Nadia just a couple days ago. Her support to democracy in Belarus is remembered with worm moving words by Siarhej Navumchyk and Vintsuk Viačorka in the obituary at Radio Free Europe website https://www.svaboda.org/a/29729252.html
I am received this news with great sadness. Nadia was so kind to me I arrived to NED for my fellowship. I will remember her as someone I really learned a lot from. She was inspiration. Her book stays with me as a memory of her kindness, knowledge and inspiration.
Condolences to the family.
On behalf of myself and colleagues at YIAGA Africa, we commserate with the Endowment for the lost. May the Lord give the family she left behind the strength to bear the lost. She will always be remembered for her good work in promoting freedom.
May her soul rest in peace.
Deeply saddened to hear the news of Nadia’s passing. Her
life’s work contributed to the growth and nurturing of many solid democratic movements around the world. It was always a pleasure and honor to see her and discuss the latest news, her views, and to exchange ideas on the many programs throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Her calm and delightful ways won over and continued to encourage those fighting against the worst forms of repression all over the world.
She was always a friend to those she knew could help change the course of history and she was a big part of it. May you Rest In Peace dear Nadia.
Nadia was a great Ukrainian-American (and UK-Ukrainian) who contributed so much to the independence and progress of former communist countries under continued threat from Russia. She taught many Washingtonians how to think about the risks and problems of the post-Soviet period. She inspired and informed youth movements and journalists across half the globe and in many ways advanced the beliefs and principles of Sen. John McCain. In the last few years she never faltered in recognizing the need to continue to defend freedom and democracy against their still-strong enemies, even —and especially—when such views were out of fashion. She was intellectually brave and a woman of action, not to mention charming and funny. We will miss her, we will miss her beautiful singing voice, and we will miss her friendship. Our deepest condolences to her family. Vichna ii Pam’yat.
I will always remember you as a great supporter of human rights and democracy movement in post-soviet countries. Your kindness to your colleagues and counterparts was one of your remarkable qualifications.
I will miss for our conversations! Rest in peace dear friend!
I have known Nadia since the early 90s when she was supporting work that my colleagues and I at NFF/Freedom House were doing in Eastern Europe. I was so impressed by her expertise, commitment, and professionalism and remained so through the many years I worked with in her role at the NED. She did so much for the cause of democracy and for so many individuals. I know she had her struggles but always carried them with grace. My heart is with her family and her many friends and colleagues around the world.