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Updated: 4:11 p.m.
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) officially accepted an appointment as the new president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Monday and will leave Congress at the end of the month.
Harman, who has represented Southern California’s 36th district for the last decade, is replacing former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.). She begins her new post Feb. 28.
“The privilege of representing the people of California’s 36th Congressional District will likely never be surpassed, and I am grateful to my constituents, staff, and colleagues in the House,” Harman said in a statement. “But the opportunity to lead and shape the direction of the country’s premier policy incubator — one with international reach and influence — is a thrilling next step for me.”
Harman has a special interest in national security and intelligence issues. She served as the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee from 2003 to 2006 and currently serves on the Energy and Commerce and Homeland Security committees.
In a statement, Ambassador Joseph B. Gildenhorn, chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s board, noted that Harman’s background made her an attractive pick to lead the think tank.
“Representative Harman is highly respected in the United States and internationally and will be the public face and voice of the Wilson Center, bridging, in the Wilsonian tradition, the worlds of policy and scholarship.”
On Monday, Harman sent a letter to her constituents and called Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to notify them of her decision to leave Congress. Her departure sets off the first special election of the 2012 cycle.
In a statement, Pelosi said that Harman “is a lifelong public servant, and a leading, authoritative voice on homeland security, counterterrorism, and foreign affairs. Her passion, her faith in American values, and her service to our home state of California will be missed.”
Correction: Feb. 8, 2011
An original version of this story indicated that Harman's resignation was effective immediately. Instead, she will leave at the end of February.