Zeenat Rahman serves as Secretary Kerry’s Special Adviser on Global Youth Issues and Director of the Office of Global Youth Issues (J/GYI). Under her leadership, the office operates as a nexus between policy and practice, incorporating youth voices into critical debates that help shape global affairs. Through a variety of mechanisms, including private sector partnerships, and cooperation with an extensive network of over 50 Youth Councils worldwide, the office amplifies youth issues and supports youth-driven solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems.
The Office of Global Youth Issues has three primary objectives: (1) empowering young people as economic and civic actors through U.S. programs and policies, (2) encouraging governments to respond to youth issues through U.S. diplomacy, and (3) directly connecting with young people around the world to inspire positive change.
Prior to this appointment, Special Adviser Rahman 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 various faith based and community organizations to build support for USAID priorities. These priorities included President Barack Obama's Feed the Future food security initiative, Child Survival Campaign, and efforts to address the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa (2011). She also worked closely with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to expand partnerships with faith-based and nonprofit groups around the United States.
Prior to her government service, she was Director of Policy at the Interfaith Youth Core, where she worked closely with the White House and various federal agencies in order to advance programs related to youth, religious identity, interreligious engagement and interfaith service. During her career, she has built and managed international youth programs in over a dozen countries, traveling abroad frequently to speak about the importance of youth leadership in promoting civic engagement and harmony between diverse communities.
Special Adviser Rahman is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the British Council’s Transatlantic Network 2020, and a Truman National Security Fellow. She received a master’s degree in Middle East studies from the University of Chicago, where her thesis work focused on youth religious identity in the 21st century. She received a BA in psychology from the University of Illinois.