I have the leadership, vision and expertise to position IOM to meet the complicated challenges of international migration.

ken Isaacs  |  U.S. Candidate for Director General of IOM


Meet Ken Isaacs



Ken Isaacs is a senior executive leader with 34 years of experience providing emergency humanitarian and development assistance across the globe. As Vice President of Programs and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse, Ken Isaacs works to provide approximately $500 million annually in emergency assistance and development services to people of all faiths and backgrounds all over the world and has managed hundreds of millions of funds over the course of his career. His operational focus and expertise, and his experience building government relationships, has been instrumental in transforming Samaritan’s Purse into a global organization with thousands of field staff and the capacity to serve millions.

In 1988, Ken Isaacs moved to Ethiopia to establish clean water wells for people affected by the civil war. He built on his operational expertise as the head of Samaritan’s Purse’s international relief efforts from 1988 to 2004, responding to global emergencies resulting from wars, complex crises, famines, and natural disasters. He has designed and implemented emergency relief programs in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Honduras, El Salvador, Kosovo, Turkey, Afghanistan, Haiti, Japan, and the Philippines.

From 2004 to 2005 Ken Isaacs served as Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Ken Isaacs oversaw a budget of over $500 million as he led the U.S. government’s emergency relief responses to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and 2005 Pakistan earthquake. He also oversaw U.S. humanitarian relief efforts in Darfur and southern Sudan, Niger, and Ethiopia, and he remains a strong advocate for assistance in Africa.

Ken Isaacs returned to Samaritan’s Purse and, in 2014, he led the Samaritan’s Purse response to the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in Liberia. He was one of the first to sound the alarm to the media and international community, and he stood at the forefront of the international response to the disease, directing outreach efforts that have provided over one million Liberians with prevention awareness and other critical interventions.

During the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Ken Isaacs directed Samaritan's Purse to respond before any other United States agency and personally led a disaster response team of more than 350 people who provided shelter, water and medical care. Under Ken Isaacs' leadership, Samaritan's Purse routinely responds before any other agency and without any guarantee of partnership funding. As an organization that is led to respond on the frontlines, Ken Isaacs has cultivated a culture of service, response and innovation in order to reach more people and impact as many lives as possible. 

More recently, Ken Isaacs led the response in Nepal after the deadly earthquakes and efforts to assist Syrian refugees fleeing to Greece and throughout Europe. Under his leadership, Samaritan’s Purse deployed an emergency field hospital to the outskirts of Mosul as Iraqi Security Forces fought to regain control of the city. For that work, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the non- governmental organization Health Outreach to the Middle East (HOME).

Ken Isaacs has traveled and worked in more than 120 countries. He has testified before multiple committees of the U.S. Congress, and regularly speaks on international policy issues at universities, national and international conferences and to news media around the world.

Ken Isaacs has frequently worked with UN agencies, armed actors and governments on policies concerning status, location, accessibility and programming for migrating people in dozens of countries including Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Albania, Iraq, and Greece. 


"I seek to be your IOM Director General in order to be a powerful partner for all states in addressing your migration opportunities and future challenges. I want to lead the organization to a new level of success, building on the admirable legacy of Ambassador Bill Swing and the world-class IOM team, and enabling it to continue to save lives, give hope to the most vulnerable, and ensure the benefits of migration are available to every country and every migrant. I have dedicated my life to serving people of all backgrounds and would be honored to continue to do so at the helm of IOM."

-Ken Isaacs, US Candidate for Director General of IOM


  1. Prepare IOM for the future by building operational capacity and organizational excellence.

  2. Serve migrants and protect their rights while helping states manage their migration needs.

  3. Ensure IOM firmly establishes itself as the UN migration agency.

Ken Isaacs Mike Pence Endorsement

“Ken Isaacs is the type of leader we need at the helm of IOM."

Vice President of the United States | Mike Pence

Ken Isaacs: Notes from the Road

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Ken Isaacs met with Colombia's Vice Foreign Minister, Patti London, to discuss migration challenges and solutions in Colombia.

Ken Isaacs at the UNCA in New York


Ken Isaacs speaks to the United Nations Correspondents Association in New York. 

Ambassador Nikki Haley Welcomes Ken Isaacs to the UN


United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, welcomes Ken Isaacs to the US Mission to the UN. 

Ken Isaacs at a reception hosted by Nikki Haley


Ken Isaacs is introduced by US UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, at a reception in New York. 

Ken Isaacs Meets with the President of the UN General Assembly


Ken Isaacs meets with the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, in New York.

Ken Isaacs on Al Jazeera


Ken Isaacs spent the day being interviewed by Al Jazeera and EWTN on migration and his candidacy for Director General of IOM, before hitting the road and traveling to Europe. 

Ken Isaacs and the Pope


Ken Isaacs held a meeting with Vatican officials to discuss migration and had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis. 

Ken Isaacs and Luigi Maria Vignali


Ken Isaacs met with Luigi Maria Vignali, Director General for Italian Citizens Abroad and Migration Policies, to discuss migration.  

Ken Isaacs and Addis Ababa


Ken Isaacs met with U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mary Beth Leonard, and H.E. Amira El Fadil, the African Union Social Affairs Commissioner, while visiting the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. 

Dedicated to alleviating human suffering, one person at a time.

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“He has been tireless in fighting for oppressed and desperate people of every faith and complexion.”

Nick Kristof | New York Times Reporter