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Wilson Center Launches Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition to Shape Conversations and Reforms in Era of Great Power Competition


Contact: Ryan McKenna

Phone: (202) 691-4217

February 1, 2023



WASHINGTON – The Wilson Center has announced the establishment of a new cross-cutting initiative aimed at shaping conversations and proposing meaningful policy reforms to strengthen American leadership in the era of great power competition. Named the Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition, or WISC, the new initiative was made possible by a generous transformational multi-year commitment from the Wahba Foundation. 

Sadek Wahba, PhD, is a member of the Wilson Center’s Global Advisory Council and National Cabinet, and will serve as Chair of WISC’s Steering Committee. A member of President Biden’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council, Wahba earned a doctorate degree in economics from Harvard University and began his career as an economist for the World Bank. Former Congressman, businessperson, and university leader Mark Kennedy will serve as WISC’s Director. 

"With the competition between America and its allies and authoritarian rivals playing an increasingly central role in foreign policy, WISC is a natural extension of the Wilson Center’s long-term mission and work,” said Ambassador Mark A. Green, Wilson Center President and CEO. “We are deeply appreciative of Sadek’s support, and are confident his experience and insights will help WISC make an important contribution in this crucial area of foreign policy.”

“With the US facing rival powers seeking to bend the global order, it is important that we engage in the coming era of strategic competition grounded in the international rules-based system the world fought so hard to develop and maintain,” said Wahba. “We should seek to cooperate whenever possible, but compete vigorously when we must.”  

WISC will foster collaboration across the Wilson Center’s well-known programs, and offer analysis and recommendations to help policymakers create strategic opportunities in areas such as technology, trade, infrastructure, energy, and global supply chains. WISC scholars will also offer ideas on ways to strengthen international collaboration and economic security. 

“Succeeding in strategic competition is the animating imperative of our time and the goal of  WISC,” said Mark Kennedy, the Director of the new program. “It is an honor to lead such meaningful work in partnership with the many scholars and experts of the Wilson Center.” 

Kennedy brings a unique mix of skills and experience. He is a President Emeritus of the University of Colorado and an appointed civic leader supporting the Secretary of the Air Force. He served as a US Congressman for Minnesota, a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, and a senior executive at one of America’s largest retailers. 


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Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition

The Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition works to shape conversations and inspire meaningful action to strengthen technology, trade, infrastructure, and energy as part of American economic and global leadership that benefits the nation and the world.  Read more