Campus & Community

Head of Ford Foundation to take wheel at KSG

4 min read

The head of the Ford Foundation’s South Asia operation, Gowher Rizvi, has been selected as director of the new Institute for Government Innovation at the Kennedy School of Government, Dean Joseph S. Nye Jr. announced earlier this week. Rizvi is scheduled to begin his new duties this month.

In his new post, Rizvi will assume the task of internationalizing the Innovations in American Government program that has been a hallmark of the Kennedy School since 1986.

Nye said he was proud to announce the recruitment of Rizvi into a program that has such a strong tradition of success.

“Gowher Rizvi has the stature and experience that will help the new Institute reach fruition in the coming years,” said Nye. “He has shown international leadership in the field of governance. With time, he will help make government innovation synonymous with the Kennedy School internationally.”

Rizvi said he was honored to assume the directorship at a time when confidence in government worldwide has been lagging. The Institute for Government Innovation was established through a $50 million endowment grant provided to the Kennedy School by the Ford Foundation last year.

“Serving as director of the institute will allow me to deal with the problems that are closest to my heart,” said Rizvi. “Governance is key to addressing the majority of the social problems plaguing this world. Unfortunately, there has been too much cynicism connected with governance in recent years. This is an opportunity to bring hope and optimism to people because ultimately governments are the real guarantors of social justice.”

A graduate of Oxford University (D.Phil., 1976), Rizvi taught for nearly two decades at several British universities, including Oxford University, the University of Warwick, and St. Anthony’s College. He also served as the region head of Asia-Pacific for the Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, an Oxford think tank that engaged in briefing the government and the corporate sectors on political, economic, and strategic issues. He is the founder-editor of Contemporary South Asia, an academic and public policy journal published at Oxford that worked to augment awareness of South Asia.

Rizvi said he believes passionately in the development of democracy throughout the world, has a keen interest in institution building, and is strongly committed to teaching and research. In his role at the Ford Foundation’s South Asia operation, he shifted the foundation’s work toward the disadvantaged sectors – women, the tribal populations, and the Dalits, the so-called “untouchables.”

Rizvi is charged with building on the success of the Innovations in American Government Program, a domestically focused competition that spotlights visionary government programs at the local, state, and federal levels. In addition to continuing this highly acclaimed awards program, Rizvi will lead the new institute in drawing together stakeholders worldwide – practitioners, students, scholars, educators, and journalists – who care about government innovation. The international network of innovators will share valuable information on the best practices, collaborate on research, and develop curriculum ideas and instructional materials suitable for widespread adoption. In the latter goal, the institute will draw on the Kennedy School faculty experience in teaching public management, organizational behavior, politics, public policy, and leadership.

Over the years, Rizvi has worked in various capacities in the international arena, serving as special assistant to the UN coordinator for Afghanistan from 1988 to 1990. Since 1986, he has worked to improve dialogue among South Asia opinion makers, including China, Taiwan, and South Korea. He has organized and participated in election monitoring in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Rizvi has authored several books including “South Asia in a Changing International Order,” “South Asia Insecurity and the Great Powers,” “Bangladesh: The Struggle for the Restoration of Democracy,” “Perspectives on Imperialism and Decolonization,” and “Lord Linlithgow and India.”