Marcia Wachs Dam

Marcia Wachs Dam, 1955

B.A., Denison University
M.A., Loyola University
Diplôme, Le Sorbonne (France)
Certificat, The Goëthe Institute (Germany)
Certificato Instituto Bilingue (Mexico)
Certificat, Pushkin Institute (Russia)

Director of U.S.A.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Citation awarded June, 2005

As senior vice president of the American support group for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USA for UNHCR), Marcia Wachs Dam was charged with raising the organization’s visibility in the United States. She did so through education and advocacy including successful study groups with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Brookings Institution, the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, the National Strategy Forum, and the United Nations Association—cultivating the business and academic communities, the media and local humanitarian agencies dealing with refugees.

As Chicago adviser to the NYC-based Council on Foreign Relations, her study groups included “US Foreign Policy after the Cold War” (for Robert Blackwill/Kennedy School at Harvard and Adele S. Simmons/MacArthur Foundation), “The Future of NAFTA” (for Bruce Stokes/CFR and Michael Moskow/President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago), and “United Nations Reform” (for Morton Halperin/CFR and George Soros/Soros Fund).

Until October 1992, Marcia was director of public affairs at the Institute for East-West Studies in New York, researching contemporary economic, political, security and foreign policy issues in Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. Her seminars brought together government ministers, academics, businessmen and journalists to discuss pressing contemporary issues. She also supported international conferences in Moscow, Frankfurt, Athens, Stockholm, Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, Bardejov (Slovakia) and Basel. From 2001-03, she ran the Washington office of the now renamed East-West Institute.

While living in Washington when her husband, Kenneth Dam, was Deputy Secretary of State (1982-85), Marcia earned certificates of fluency in Spanish, French, and Russian from the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State. Her areas of concentration were Mexico, French West Africa and the Soviet Union.

Marcia is an elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Council on Germany, the Council of the Brookings Institution, the Chicago Committee of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and Global Chicago. She serves on the boards of the Great Books Foundation, the U.S. Association for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Latino Cultural Centre of Chicago, and the Ivy Inter-America Foundation, supporting Peruvian orphans by marketing the work of Peruvian artisans. She has been a member of the Visiting Committee of the School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Michigan, a counselor and board member of the Meridian International Center in support of the diplomatic community, a board member of the Ford Theatre, and chairman of the Speakers’ Committee for the Foreign Policy Association in New York. She is also an active docent for the Chicago Architectural Foundation.

For the past 14 years, Marcia has been reaching back to Denison students as a career adviser.