Press release

Freedom House Welcomes Four New Trustees

WASHINGTON—Freedom House is pleased to announce that Deborah A. Cowan, Conrad Kiechel, Félix Maradiaga, and Bill Reichblum are joining its board of trustees.

“At a time when democratic freedoms and personal liberties are under threat around the world, we are fortunate to welcome this accomplished new cohort of trustees to help Freedom House maintain a smart, nonpartisan path forward,” said Wendell L. Willkie II, co-chair of the Freedom House Board of Trustees.

The four new trustees join 32 other highly regarded leaders from the academic, corporate, political, communications and media sectors on the Freedom House board. Trustees advise on the overall direction of Freedom House, support its mission and needs, and assist with the general promotion of the organization.

“I’m proud to co-lead the Freedom House board with Wendell, and to welcome a diverse group of new members who are as passionate about the mission as we are,” said co-chair Jane Harman, a former nine-term Democratic member of Congress from California.

New trustees

Deborah A. Cowan is a retired media industry C-suite executive, an accomplished for-profit and nonprofit financial leader, and an experienced board member. She brings over 35 years of financial leadership experience in media and business. She retired from National Public Radio (NPR) as its chief financial officer and treasurer, and previously served as senior vice president of finance at Urban One (formerly Radio One). She oversaw financial operations, accounting processes, internal controls, financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, treasury operations, and planning and analysis at both organizations. She is currently a director on the board of Consumer Reports and has previously served on the boards of several nonprofits.

Conrad Kiechel is the executive director of global programming and events at the Milken Institute and publisher of the Milken Institute Review. A veteran of journalism and public relations, he was international editorial director of Reader’s Digest, overseeing more than 40 international editions. As a principal with a prominent New York strategic communications firm, he worked with a Fortune 500 energy company on its public outreach as well as with public-sector organizations and companies in the technology and health care sectors. A director of the World Press Institute, Kiechel has also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Félix Maradiaga is a Nicaraguan activist, political figure, and academic, and serves as the president of Fundación para la Libertad de Nicaragua. On February 28, 2021, he announced his candidacy for the presidency of Nicaragua as the nominee of the Blue and White National Unity Movement. In June 2021, he was arrested and held in solitary confinement in Nicaragua by the regime of Daniel Ortega, later receiving a sentence of 13 years’ imprisonment for the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity." In February 2023, he was released from captivity—along with 221 other political prisoners from Nicaragua—and flown to the United States, where he was reunited with his family.

Bill Reichblum is the publisher of Liberties, a publication of the Liberties Journal Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C. “devoted to educating the general public about the history, current trends, and possibilities of culture and politics.” Reichblum, a theater director and producer, was also the founder and president of KadmusArts, an arts and technology company. Earlier in his career, he was the resident director and dramaturge for new works at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, California; artistic director of the Pacific Jewish Theatre in Berkeley, California; and associate artistic director of Theatre for a New Audience in New York, New York.

Founded in 1941 on the core conviction that all people should be free, Freedom House marshalled support among policymakers and a broadly isolationist American public to engage in the fight against Nazi Germany and the fascist threat to American security and values. In the decades since, and with strategic guidance from the Board of Trustees, the organization has worked diligently in pursuit of its mission. Through its advocacy, programs, and research, Freedom House informs the world about emerging threats to freedom; mobilizes decision-makers to respond to those threats; and provides support to human rights defenders around the world.

You can find a full list of current Freedom House trustees here.

Freedom House is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to create a world where all are free. We inform the world about threats to freedom, mobilize global action, and support democracy’s defenders.