CEDAR RAPIDS — After 10 months as ambassador to the Asian Development Bank in Manila, Philippines, Marion resident Swati Dandekar is back in familiar territory — both geographically and professionally.
Dandekar, a former member of the Linn-Mar school board and of the Iowa House and Senate, has joined a former Clinton administration official as a partner in a Washington-based market research and intelligence firm serving businesses, political campaigns, public interest groups and nonprofits. She and Marc Silverman, who worked for the National Economic Council in the White House on energy, telecommunications and environmental issues, formed Thirty-Ninth Street Strategies in July. Mark Pritchard, a member of the United Kingdom Parliament, is an international adviser.
Dandekar was ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, where she dealt with 60 countries in Asia and the Pacific Rim on energy, telecom, water and transportation issues, as well as helping the bank develop infrastructure projects in many of these countries.
Dandekar, 66, returned to Marion in February after the new presidential administration recalled ambassadors.
“I’m proud of what I did in 10 months,” Dandekar said about her work with the regional development bank that was established in 1966.
One of her priorities was on how contracts were awarded, basing them on life-cycle costs rather than simply on the lowest bid. She believes she helped build bridges between the United States and other countries.
When she left Manila, Dandekar said the bank’s president, Takehiko Nakao, paid her a compliment, saying, “I now know what ‘Iowa nice’ is.”
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In her new role, Dandekar said she is drawing on her experience as an ambassador and as a former member of the Iowa Utilities Board dealing with energy and telecommunications issues. She is doing market research, writing policy papers and working on international licensing agreements.
Dandekar used Silverman as a pollster in her past campaigns. Among the firm’s clients are Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
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