Board of Trustees: Member Biographies
Freedom House's non-partisan Board of Trustees is comprised of prominent business and labor leaders, former diplomats and senior government officials, scholars, and journalists. They all share a steadfast commitment to the mission of Freedom House and to the belief that the promotion of democracy and human rights is essential for international peace.
Michael Chertoff, Chair
Michael Chertoff is the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of The Chertoff Group, a global advisory firm that provides business strategy, risk management, and mergers and acquisition (M&A) advisory services to clients seeking to secure and grow their enterprises. From 2005 to 2009, Mr. Chertoff served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he led the federal government’s efforts to protect our nation from a wide range of security threats, including blocking would-be terrorists from crossing our borders or implementing their plans if they were already in the country. Earlier in his career, Mr. Chertoff served as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.
Goli Ameri, Vice Chair
Goli Ameri is the Co-Founder and CEO of StartItUp. She is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs and Under Secretary for Humanitarian Diplomacy at the International Federation of Red Cross. Ms. Ameri was a Representative to the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and served as a Public Delegate to the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
Peter Bass, Vice Chair
Peter Bass is Chairman & CEO of Quberu, a global trade and payments platform for businesses. He worked for more than 10 years in senior positions at the State Department and the White House, including as executive assistant to the national security adviser. He also served as deputy assistant secretary of State for Energy, Sanctions, and Commodities. He was later a managing director of Promontory Financial Group, where he advised global financial institutions on governance and compliance matters. Immediately prior to joining Promontory, Mr. Bass was a vice president at Goldman Sachs, where he was chief of staff to the firm’s President and co-Chief Operating Officer.
Robert Keane, Treasurer
Robert Keane is the CEO of Cimpress, a global company with over 11,000 employees and approximately $2.5 billion of annual revenue. Cimpress’ proprietary internet-based mass customization technology enables the company to produce branded apparel, signage, promotional products and printing in very small individual orders. The company produces approximately 50 million custom product orders annually. Robert founded Cimpress in 1995 in Paris, France.
Monde Muyangwa, Secretary
Dr. Monde Muyangwa is the Director of the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center where she leads the Center’s work to address the most critical issues facing Africa and U.S.-Africa relations in the areas of conflict prevention and peacebuilding; good governance; trade, investment and sustainable development, and Africa’s evolving role in the global arena. Prior to this, she served as Academic Dean at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies where she oversaw all curriculum and programs including in the areas of Security Studies, Transnational Threats, and Conflict Management. She also served as Vice President for Research and Policy at the National Summit on Africa and served on the Advisory Council of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, a project of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
Carol C. Adelman
Dr. Carol C. Adelman is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Global Prosperity at the Hudson Institute where she lectures and consults on economic growth, foreign aid, global philanthropy, and international healthcare issues. She developed the annual Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances and the Index of Philanthropic Freedom, comprehensive guides to the sources and amounts of global private giving and comparative rankings of countries' incentives and barriers to philanthropic freedom throughout the world. Dr. Adelman is also a visiting professor at Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She served as a career foreign service officer and presidential appointee with USAID in charge of aid to Asia, the Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe when the Wall fell. As president of an executive leadership training company, she teaches at corporate conferences and universities, including the Wharton Business School and Arizona State University. Her non-profit boards include UNICEF, Capital Partners for Education, American Shakespeare Center, Atlantic Council, and membership in the Council on Foreign Relations.
Zainab Al-Suwaij is a co-founder and Executive Director of the American Islamic Congress, a non-religious civic organization that challenges negative perceptions of Muslims by advocating responsible leadership and interfaith understanding. Previous to this she was teaching at Yale University. The granddaughter of a leading cleric, Ms. Al-Suwaij was one of the few women to join the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein. She fled Iraq and eventually became an American citizen. Among other awards, Ms. Al-Suwaij was named an “Ambassador of Peace” by the Interreligious and International Peace Council. She has co-authored a guidebook for policy makers in the Middle East and US on how to efficiently push for women rights in the Middle East.
David E. Birenbaum
David Birenbaum retired as a partner from the law office of Fried, Frank after more than thirty years with the firm and upon his retirement became of counsel. He served for two years as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN for UN Management and Reform, was a public member of the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Conference on Human rights in Geneva, served as Associate General Counsel of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, and was a Senior Scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He founded the Emergency Coalition for U.S. Financial Support of the UN and served as its chair for more than ten years. He also serves on the International Advisory Council of the United States Institute of Peace.
Ellen Blackler is Vice President, Global Public Policy at The Walt Disney Company. Prior to joining Disney, she was Executive Director, Public Policy at AT&T. Previously she was Special Assistant to the Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau at the FCC, worked at the New York Public Service Commission, and the New York State Legislature where she focused on energy policy issues, consumer protection, and the development of competitive telecommunications markets.
Dennis C. Blair
Dennis Blair is the Chairman and CEO of Sasakawa Peace Foundation, USA. He is the former U.S. Director of National Intelligence. He served 34 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in 2002 as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command. During his naval career he held commands afloat and ashore and served in budget and policy positions on major Navy staffs and the National Security Council. He has held academic research chairs in national security and was President of the Institute for Defense Analyses from 2003 to 2006.
Jørgen Ejbøl is Chairman of the Jyllands-Posten Foundation and Jyllands-Posten Holding. His distinguished journalism career includes his former position as Chairman of the Board of JP/Politiken Newspapers Ltd. as well as serving as editor-in-chief and managing director of various leading newspapers in Denmark. He previously served as a member of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Prize and was a co-founder of the prestigious European Press Prize.
Martin Etchevers is the Head of Communications of Argentinian media firm, Grupo Clarin, where he began his career in 1993, first as a journalist and later in Institutional Relations. In his current role, he oversees all institutional communication strategy for domestic and international institutions and is in charge of the Noble Foundation, named after the founders and major shareholders of Grupo Clarin. Mr. Etchevers holds a law degree from the University of Buenos Aires and an MBA from Universidad del CEMA. He is an active member of the board of several institutions related to freedom of expression, transparency, and accountability in Argentina and Latin America.
Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, was published in Sept. 2018. (FSI), Mosbacher Director of FSI's (CDDRL), and Director of Stanford's . He is also professor (by courtesy) of Political Science. Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues in development and international politics. His 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man, has appeared in over twenty foreign editions. His most recent book,
Jonathan Ginns is a Founder and Managing Partner of ACON Investments. Prior to co-founding ACON in 1996, Mr. Ginns was a Senior Investment Officer at the GEF Funds group. Previously, Mr. Ginns was a Management Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. Mr. Ginns often serves on the board of ACON fund/investment vehicle portfolio companies. Among his current positions, Mr. Ginns serves on the board of Sequitur Energy Resources. Mr. Ginns has also previously served on the Board of Directors of several public companies including Mariner Energy (NYSE:ME) and Northern Tier Energy (NYSE:NTI), each realized ACON fund portfolio companies, and Optimal Group (NASDAQ:OPMR).
Jim Kolbe is a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund. He is also an adjunct Instructor at the University of Arizona and a part-time strategic consultant with McClarty Associates. In September 2010, Mr. Kolbe was appointed by President Obama to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. Mr. Kolbe served 11 terms as Congressman representing Arizona’s 8th congressional district. While in Congress, he served on the Budget committee and the Appropriations Committee. For six years he was chair of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs.
Faith Morningstar is a developmental psychologist with a primary interest in respect. Her work has been around the creation and implementation of educational programs designed to increase children’s positive regard for both themselves and others. She spent two years in Azerbaijan, where, as the spouse of the U.S. Ambassador, she initiated the establishment of two networks: one in support of women entrepreneurs and the other in support of the empowerment of women and girls. Ms. Morningstar is, along with her family, established the Morningstar Award for Excellence in Teaching at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is a supporter of the Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program which encourages young people to engage in citizen leadership and promotes service as a strategy central to the health of democracies.
Sushma Palmer is the Chair and Director of CECHE, the Center for Communications, Health and the Environment, a non-profit she founded with her late husband, Ambassador Mark Palmer. Formerly, Dr. Palmer served as the Director of the US National Academy of Sciences’ Food and Nutrition Board, as Director of nutrition at the Georgetown University Child Development Center, and as Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She has over forty years of international experience in nutrition, public health policy, programs and research in the United States, India, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Ukraine.
Maurice A. Perkins
Maurice A. Perkins is the Senior Vice President & Global Head of Government Affairs and Policy at the Transamerica Corporation. Prior to joining Transamerica (part of the Aegon Group), he served as the Head of Federal Government Relations at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). Mr. Perkins served as a professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs as well as the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He worked closely with senior officials from the U.S. Department of Treasury and U.S. Department of State and was responsible for legislation related to national security issues, foreign aid, and international financial institutions. His undergraduate degree is from Ithaca College and has a Masters Degree from Columbia University.
Andrew Prozes is the former Global CEO of LexisNexis Group, a position from which he retired in 2010. Since then, he has served as a director of for-profit companies, primarily those serving the legal, risk mitigation, and financial sectors. He is currently on the board of Ethoca, Synaptive, Corporate Risk Holdings, Cott Corporation, Transunion, Asset International, and Scribestar, Ltd. He has also served on non-profit boards including Atlantic Council, NESC, and Atlanta’s Carlos Museum’s Visiting Board.
Azita Raji is the former U.S. ambassador to Sweden. She writes on national security and foreign policy issues and serves as advisor to Foreign Policy for America. Raji is Senior Fellow at Institute of European Studies as well as Guest Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley. As a former investment banker, Raji held senior positions on Wall Street. She currently serves as Social Impact Fellow and advisory board member of Haas Business School’s Center for Responsible Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
Ian Simmons is Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, where he oversees a portfolio focused on investments that generate competitive financial returns and address social and environmental challenges. A champion and practitioner of impact investing for two decades, Ian advances Blue Haven's investment, research and policy strategies. He is particularly passionate about pursuing solutions to complex challenges, such as clean energy and affordable housing. Ian also advocates for policies that facilitate long-term investing and promote corporate and political transparency and accountability. Committed to initiatives and corporations that advance investing and strengthen democracy, Ian is the President of the Foundation for Civic Leadership and Chair of the Youth Engagement Fund. Ian serves on the board of directors of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, Social Finance, Issue One, Organizing for Action, the National Advisory Board for Public Service at Harvard College, and Karibu Homes, an affordable-housing company in Kenya.
Over the course of the past 25 years, Thomas P. Staudt has been associated with leading private equity firms in varying capacities from Chief Executive Officer for various portfolio companies to Executive Chairman. His experience has spanned the healthcare, financial and insurance services sectors with a focus on technology and B2B commerce. His executive role responsibilities have included companies and business units in the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. Tom is currently, Managing Partner and Founder of Island Peak Capital Partners. He also serves as an Operating Partner with the Intermediate Capital Group - Private Equity Solutions, a firm focused on the private equity secondary market. Thomas P. Staudt holds a Bachelor of Science in International Security Affairs from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and a Master of Business Administration from San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California. Staudt was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999.
In 2017, Anne Wedner founded Kent Road Strategies as a platform to bring her political organization, fundraising, and foreign service policy experience to selected political campaigns and policy organizations. Anne is currently a Commissioner of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, an Advisor to the Roosevelt Foundation at Harvard University and a Board Member of OrganizingCorps2020. She has had deep involvement in developing the grassroots in Illinois’ Tenth Congressional District races and has advised both Democratic and Republican candidates on policies and campaigns. Anne is a graduate of Harvard College and the Fletcher School at Tufts University and was posted in Paris, France and Caracas, Venezuela as a member of the Foreign Service early in her career. Subsequent to her public service she served in account and sales management positions in advertising and marketing. Anne lives in Miami, Florida with her spouse Marcus Wedner and their dog, Brody. Their two girls are all grown up.
Norman Willox is Managing Partner & Chief Executive Officer, Bluewater International, a leading information risk investment advisory firm. Mr. Willox founded Bluewater International in 2009 to provide societally needed and disruptive high growth risk advisory services. Prior, Mr. Willox co-founded Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions group in 2001; one of the fastest growing Portfolio Companies for Reed Elsevier during that decade. Mr. Willox also started several government initiatives, post 9/11 to immediately deal with rapidly needed information risk analytics platforms required by the emerging threat of global terrorism and cybercrime. Mr. Willox is an experienced board member and serves as director and investor to a number of risk analytics technology companies. He remains active in many professional expert organizations. Mr. Willox possesses a Top Secret Clearance.