February 4, 2021

Executive Director Alain McNamara retires after 26 years of outstanding service and leadership at the Binational Fulbright Commission

In the fall of 2019, Mr. Alain McNamara announced his plans to retire in the early Summer of 2020 after serving as the executive director of the Fulbright Commission in Jordan since its inception in 1994.

In the fall of 2019, Mr. Alain McNamara announced his plans to retire in the early Summer of 2020 after serving as the executive director of the Fulbright Commission in Jordan since its inception in 1994.  He established the Jordanian-American Commission for Educational Exchange, also known as the Binational Fulbright Commission in Jordan, created under a bilateral agreement in 1993.

His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal being greeted by Mr.McNamara at the Fulbright Commission launch in 1994

Mr.McNamara came to the Commission with extensive senior management experience in multicultural, international environments promoting and administering educational exchange and higher education development programs. He has been associated with Jordan’s development since 1976.

He left AMIDEAST, the American non-profit organization promoting cooperation and understanding between the Middle East and the United States, in 1994, as vice president and the organization's most senior field representative. In the early 1980s, Mr. McNamara had served as director of the AMIDEAST office in Amman and was their country director in Egypt immediately before returning to Jordan in 1994.

He has vast experience in managing human resource development programs for educational institutions, private businesses, with government agencies and international organizations, both in the Middle East and the United States. He has worked closely with many host governments in the Middle East and North Africa and with the US Department of State’s Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau and its various embassies in this region.

Mr. McNamara grew up in Morocco, Korea and the United States and has lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa. He is multi-lingual and received degrees from the University of Aix-en-Provence in France and from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is married to Kathy Sullivan, and has one daughter, Dunya.

Mr. McNamara in front of the Fulbright Commission in 1994


During his time at the Commission, Mr. McNamara has administered more than 700 awards given to Jordanians to gain academic degrees, teach or conduct research in the U.S., as well as welcomed more than 1,208 American grantees to Jordan under different programs. As envisioned by Sen. William J. Fulbright, these grantees have experienced another culture firsthand and established warm relationships in each other’s countries.

Over the past 25 years since Mr. Alain McNamara arrived to Jordan, we have become really good friends and professional colleagues, in my personal and professional communication with him, I was really impressed by his integrity, honesty, devotion, expertise and dedication to his job, with a real high sense of commitment and love for both countries that are involved in this partnership of the Fulbright program. During this time, Mr. McNamara made many good friends and helped so many people through this program, and I was very impressed by his devotion, his liveliness and good sense of humor. He worked very hard, he made many friends, and at the same time he kept very much interested in the program and making it a very successful one. With these unique characteristics my friend Alain did a magnificent job in bringing Jordan and the Unites States of America together, and in fostering mutual cooperation and understanding between our two countries. I really want to thank Mr. McNamara for what he did and what he has contributed to the cooperation between American and Jordanian universities and academic institutions.  While we will miss our friend Alain, we do wish him and his family happiness and a good future with health, prosperity and peace of mind.

– H.E. Dr. Marwan Kamal (Founding Fulbright Commission Board Chair and Chancellor of Philadelphia University)


The Commission and staff are saddened to see Mr. McNamara go, yet celebrate his well-deserved retirement. Due to the unexpected pandemic and related lockdown preventive measures, the Commission was unable to hold the planned events to honor Mr. McNamara and his family as they prepare to move back to the Unites States in the coming month.

When asked about his achievements during his time as Executive Director, Mr. McNamara looked back and shared the following:

Over the past 26 years as the executive director of the Binational Fulbright Commission, I had the privilege to foster the expansion of access that took place in the annual awards competitions in Jordan.These opportunities (for graduate study and research in the U.S.) were no longer limited to the major universities and city centers but were made accessible throughout the Kingdom. It was always our priority to maintain transparency and fairness as apart of a global mission of the Fulbright. We put certain policies and guidelines in place to ensure that the application and selection process for both Jordanian and American grantees reflected the highest standards and equal opportunity. Another achievement of which I’m proud was partnering with the Government of Jordan to establish an 8 million Jordanian Dinars endowment for Jordanian scholars and students that I hope will continue to be an investment in the people of Jordan for many years to come.
Over the years, we built a solid reputation setting higher standards with U.S. grantees and added new Fulbright grant categories and awards such as the Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship Program (FLTA) for Jordanians, and the English Teaching Assistant Award (ETA) for Americans and many institutional linkages between Jordanian and U.S. universities were established, developed and enhanced. We helped U.S. grantees find and participate in meaningful voluntary and cultural activities in Jordan – we saw many of them stay on to work here before going on to grad school or other jobs. This demonstrated their engagement with Jordan.
I am proud to see Fulbright alums leading in academia, government, culture and business in both countries. I wish them continued success!

As of May 2020, Dr. Issam Khoury who was appointed as the new Executive Director after Mr. McNamara will transition into his new role. Dr. Khoury is a Jordanian-American educator who has worked in the US, Europe, Middle East, and India.

Join us in thanking Mr. Alain McNamara for his service and the deep impact that he has had on this Commission, the Fulbright fellows and staff, and Jordan as a whole.

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