Hear from a Board Member: An Interview with William Taylor


An organization is only as strong as its members and supporters, and TAYP is proud to have a board of directors with a wide range of professional experience and expertise. I had the opportunity to speak with William Taylor, the current acting president at the United States Institute of Peace, and discuss the US- Tunisian strategic relationship and TAYP’s role in facilitating greater economic growth in Tunisia.

1. What is your background and current position?

I currently serve as acting president of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and previously served as the Vice President of the Middle East and Africa division at USIP. From 2011 to 2013, I was the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions in the US State Department, where I helped to coordinate assistance and support to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria. It was at this time that I developed an interest and appreciation for Tunisia and its people’s efforts following the revolution.

2. What sparked your interest in serving as a TAYP board member?

I have seen firsthand the work TAYP has done, both in Washington DC and in Tunis. I had the opportunity to meet members of the TAYP community, as well as other board members, and really appreciated their expertise and valuable insights.

3. What role will the US play in Tunisia’s post-election political and economic development?

The United States has a strong role to play in supporting Tunisia’s economic and political development. This can be in the form of diplomatic support on the international stage, support for the reform of Tunisia’s security services, and greater economic investment for entrepreneurs. Right now, Tunisia is showing the way forward and has become a model for other countries in the region, so it is critical that the country receives the support it needs.

4. What is TAYP’s role in facilitating greater US involvement in Tunisia? In what areas can TAYP have the greatest impact in supporting Tunisian economic growth? 

TAYP has the opportunity to let people know about Tunisia. They can demonstrate that Tunisian entrepreneurs are successful and that they have a lot to offer to US investors and entrepreneurs. In return, the US can introduce new markets for goods and services and provide pathways to investment. In addition, TAYP has an educational role to play. American decision makers need to understand what Tunisia represents in the region. Tunisia’s story needs to be told to ensure continued US support.

5.  What would you like TAYP to achieve in the coming year?

I would like TAYP to focus on educating people about Tunisia and driving economic relationships between Tunisia and the United States. TAYP can show decision makers how Tunisia can work by highlighting the success stories of Tunisian entrepreneurs currently based in the United States, and the group can also highlight the dynamism of the Tunisian economy, society, and young people. TAYP should use its members to demonstrate the critical role the US can play by supporting security service reform, economic development, and investment, through initiatives including the Tunisian American Enterprise Fund.

6. What is your favorite aspect of serving as a TAYP board member? 

I have really enjoyed the opportunities to sit with Tunisians and learn more about the country’s challenges, opportunities, and successes, and brainstorm about what still needs to be accomplished. There is still a lot more to be done, and it is rewarding to get valuable insight from Tunisians living both in the United States and in Tunisia.

Courtney Joline

Washington, DC, USA