Joseph L. Votel
Freedom House trustee
Joseph L. Votel is a former US Army four-star officer and, since January 2020, president and chief executive of Business Executives for National Security. His last military post was as commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for US and coalition military operations in the Middle East, the Levant, and Central and South Asia. During his 39 years of military service, he commanded special operations and conventional military forces at every level, including combat in Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Prior to his assignment at CENTCOM, Votel served as commander of US Special Operations Command and the Joint Special Operations Command. His service has been recognized by the Atlantic Council, the National Medal of Honor Society, the Lead the Way Foundation, and the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. He serves in various capacities at the CFR, the Middle East Institute, the Sierra Nevada Corporation, Noblis Corporation, Service to School, Minnesota Wire, and Digital Force Technologies, among others. Votel also lectures and advises at some of the nation’s leading academic institutions, including the Belfer Center of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Votel is a 1980 graduate of the US Military Academy and earned master’s degrees from the US Army Command and Staff College and the Army War College.