After nearly two decades as an elected public official in Washington, centrist Rep. Jane Harman, D-CA, said Tuesday she would promote a bipartisan dialogue at her new job as head of a think tank.

The Center's nature provides the flexibility and access to leaders in government, industry and academia to promote a bipartisan, national dialogue on the day's most pressing foreign and domestic policy matters, she said in a statement announcing her appointment to the Woordrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Washington-based center helps scholars and policy makers interact.

Harman, 65, who once called her self the best Republican in the Democratic Party during an unsuccessful campaign for California's governorship in 1998 said soon thereafter she was proud to be a Democrat.

Harman was re-elected in November last year, having served as Representative of California's 36th Congressional district since 2000. She served from 1993 to 1999 in the same district, putting her career as a lawmaker on hold for the governor's race.

While she expressed thanks to constituents, staff and colleagues on Tuesday, she said the opportunity to lead and shape the direction of the Center is a thrilling next step for me.

Harman was named the head of center by its Board of Trustees. She is set to start on February 28.

The time is right for a new challenge, and this is the right challenge, Harman said.

Harman will act as the public face and voice of the center, said the Center's chairman Joseph Gildenhorn. He said Harman brings high level leadership and has a strategic vision to promote the Center's mission.

Harman's appointment comes after the Center's search committee considered several candidates over several months to replace outgoing leader and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who guided the center for 12 years prior to stepping down last November.