Board of Trustees: Member Biographies | Freedom House

Board of Trustees: Member Biographies

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.


Peter Bass, Treasurer
Peter Bass is Chairman & CEO of Ember, Inc., an artificial intelligence firm, and a board member of Quberu, a global trade platform.  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.


Carol C. Adelman
Carol Adelman is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Global Prosperity at the Hudson Institute where she lectures, writes, and consults on economic growth, foreign aid, global philanthropy, and international healthcare issues as well as publishes an Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances which is the sole comprehensive source of private giving to the developing world. Earlier in her career, Dr. Adelman was a career foreign service officer with USAID. She also served as a consultant for the American Red Cross and served as assistant administrator at USAID in charge of all foreign aid programs to Asia, the Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe. Dr. Adelman is also president of an executive leadership training company and teaches leadership at the Wharton Business School.


Zainab Al-Suwaij 
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.


Goli Ameri
Goli Ameri 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.


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 
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
Jørgen Ejbøl is Chairman of the Jyllands-Posten Foundation. 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
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.


Alison B. Fortier
Alison Fortier recently concluded her 17-year career at Lockheed Martin where she was Vice President of Missile Defense and Strategic Systems at their Washington office. Ms. Fortier is a former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Legislative Affairs, National Security Council Staff and was Director of Congressional Affairs at the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. She began her career as a professional staff member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee working for the Special Subcommittee on Investigations and the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East.


Rebecca G. Haile
Rebecca Haile is the author of Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia, a memoir about her return to Ethiopia after her family’s forced exile following the 1974 revolution and twenty-five years in the United States. Ms. Haile is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was a member of the Harvard Law Review, and of Williams College.  After law school, she clerked for Judge Dorothy Nelson of the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and subsequently worked at law firms in Washington, DC and New York. She left the law to work as a freelance writer.  She is a member of Manhattan’s Community Board 6 and active in other community organizations.


Robert Keane
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.


Jim Kolbe
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.


Ross LaJeunesse 
Ross LaJeunesse's long career includes advancing human rights and economic development in the government, business and non-profit sectors.  Currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown's Walsh School of Foreign Service, Mr. LaJeunesse served as an advisor to US Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell and to Senator Edward Kennedy.  He also served as Chief of Staff to California State Controller Steve Westly and as Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has also served as Head of International Relations for Google, where he oversaw the company’s efforts to advance human rights and a free and open Internet around the world.  Long active in the LGBTQ community, Mr. LaJeunesse is a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute and also previously served on the board of the California Emerging Technology Fund, a multi-million dollar fund to expand broadband access in the state.


Faith Morningstar
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 has recently returned from two years in Azerbaijan, where, as the spouse of the US 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. 


Monde Muyangwa
Dr. Monde Muyangwa is the Director of the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. 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, Counter-Terrorism and 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.


Monica Oathout
Monica Oathout is a partner in the Houston office of Vorys, Sater Seymour and Pease LLP, an AmLaw 200 law firm, where she provides guidance and serves as counsel to clients ranging from small, single office employers to large, multi-national corporations on state and federal labor and employment matters and internal corporate investigations. Recognized by Chambers and Partners and Best Lawyers as a Leading Lawyer in employment law, she has authored articles and lectured on numerous topics including LGBTQ rights and religious liberties, workplace civility, minimizing sexual harassment liability and employment torts, which include defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, fraud, negligent supervision, negligent referral and negligent hiring. Ms. Oathout also serves on Vorys’ Strategic Opportunities and Planning Committee, the firm’s primary strategic planning group, where she assists in identifying and evaluating various growth opportunities for the firm, including lateral acquisitions, geographic expansion, and other client-facing initiatives.


Sushma Palmer
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
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.


Thomas Staudt
Thomas Staudt is currently Managing Partner and Founder of Island Peak Capital Partners. The firm provides a proven operating approach and investment capital for Financial Technology and Cybersecurity businesses seeking transformational growth and operational excellence. Over the course of the past 25 years, Mr. Staudt has been associated with leading private equity firms in varying capacities from Chief Executive Officer for various portfolio companies to Executive in Residence. His experience has spanned the healthcare, financial and insurance services sectors with a focus on B2B commerce. In the majority of these roles, the companies, which he has led, have required significant restructuring and strategic repositioning. Mr. Staudt was previously the CEO of GlobalCollect, BV, a Netherlands based financial services firm. The company had offices and served businesses throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. Prior to GlobalCollect, Mr. Staudt was also the CEO of Ruesch International, Inc, a leading provider of cross-border and other payments services serving clients throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Australia. 


Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Quiroga was the 76th President of Bolivia. He assumed this position after serving as Vice President. Since leaving office, he has been the primary leader in the Bolivian opposition and ran for the presidency in his own right in 2005 and 2014. He is currently serving as President of FUNDEMOS, a Bolivian public policy think tank. He is a member of the Inter-American Dialogue and serves as the Vice President of the Club of Madrid, an organization comprised of more than one hundred former presidents and prime ministers from around the world and created for the promotion of democracy.