The Democratic lawmaker announced Tuesday that she would be resigning her seat in the House near the end of the month to become the next president and chief executive officer at the nonpartisan Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She officially takes the helm on Feb. 28.
The Democratic lawmaker has served eight terms representing a suburban Los Angeles district. She is a leading voice for Democrats on intelligence and security issues.
Harman built a reputation as a moderate. She said at a press conference that she'll try to create a "safe political space" for former colleagues and members of the administration so that they can evaluate and discuss issues without fear of a backlash. The center's mission is to bring together policy experts and political leaders to debate the nation's most pressing foreign and domestic policy issues.
"I've said for years the best policy is made in the center," Harman said.
Harman said she was first contacted by a search committee after the November elections. She said nothing was finalized until an offer was made on Monday.
Several potential candidates have expressed interest in running for her seat. She did not rule out endorsing a successor prior to leaving office, but said that once she begins her new job, "my role in politics other than as a voter will diminish substantially."
President Barack Obama described Harman as a champion of national security who will use her new job "to advance the policies we'll need to keep America strong and prosperous."