Free Russia Foundation’s Board of Directors

Hon. David J. Kramer

Board Chairman

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and current Senior Fellow at the Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy at Florida International University’s Green School of International and Public Affairs

Hon. David J. Kramer joined Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs as a Senior Fellow in the Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy in May 2017. Before moving to Miami, Kramer worked in Washington, DC for 24 years, most recently with the McCain Institute for International Leadership as Senior Director for Human Rights and Democracy; he remains an Affiliated Senior Fellow with the McCain Institute. Previously, he served for four years as President of Freedom House. Prior to that, he was a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Kramer served eight years in the U.S. Department of State during the administration of President George W. Bush, including as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus affairs as well as regional non-proliferation issues); Professional Staff Member in the Secretary’s Office of Policy Planning; and Senior Adviser to the Undersecretary for Global Affairs. He also was Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in Washington. He is author of the recent book, Back to Containment: Dealing with Putin’s Regime.

Hon. Paige Alexander

Board Vice Chair

Executive Director for European Cooperative for Rural Development, former USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia and former USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East

Hon. Paige Alexander is Executive Director (Amsterdam and Brussels) for European Cooperative for Rural Development (EUCORD), a non-profit organization that strives to increase farmers’ capacity to sustainably grow quality crops matched to the commercial needs of the food and feed industry. Ms. Alexander has served in numerous senior positions in the US government, including USAID Assistant Administrator for two Regional Bureaus covering 25 USAID missions and development programs from Europe and Eurasia through the Middle East and North Africa. She draws upon 25 years of experience working in international development, both in the field and in Washington, DC. Paige’s other notable positions include senior vice president at IREX, associate director of Project Liberty at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and as a consultant to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Open Society Institute in Prague. She currently sits on the Global Advisory Board for World Learning and the Global Advisory Council for IREX, is on the board of trustees for the Romanian American Foundation and holds volunteer positions with War Child Holland and Free Press Unlimited.

Natalia Arno

Board Member (ex officio)

President, and Founder of the Free Russia Foundation

Natalia Arno is the founder and President of Free Russia Foundation, created in 2014 after she was exiled from Russia for her pro-democracy work. As a result of having to deal with the personal tragedy of losing her homeland, Ms. Arno used her first-hand experience to build an organization that would speak out in Western capitals for those facing repression back home, and to offer her support and guidance to those working toward a free and prosperous Russia. In forced exile since 2012, she became aware that the regime of Vladimir Putin had pushed out hundreds of thousands of talented, educated Russians who shared her vision for a free and democratic Russia, upholding human rights and seeking to rejoin a global community of respected nations.

Ms. Arno has more than 17 years of experience in providing organizational support, training and advocacy on behalf of pro-democracy Russians. Prior to founding Free Russia Foundation, Ms. Arno planned and executed countrywide programs in the fields of education, grassroots organizing, civic education, party building, women and youth leadership, civil society development, and local governance during her tenure as the Russia Country Director for the International Republican Institute where she worked from 2004 to 2014. In 2008, she was appointed the IRI Country Director for Russia, the post she held until 2014.

Ms. Arno was born in a Siberian region of Buryatia where she attended college, graduating from the Buryat State University with a master’s degree in Linguistics in 1998 (Diploma Cum Laude). Between 1998 -1999 she worked as Professor of English at Buryat State University. In 1999, Ms. Arno moved to Moscow to pursue postgraduate studies at the Institute of Russian Language of the Russian Academy of Science, and between 2000-2003 she worked as a Linguistics Professor at the Modern Humanitarian University in Moscow.

Ellen Bork

Board Member

A Visiting Fellow at the Project 2049 Institute

Ms. Ellen Bork writes about American foreign policy with an emphasis on democracy and human rights.

She is a visiting fellow at the Project 2049 Institute, and previously held positions on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Department of State, Freedom House and the Foreign Policy Initiative.

Ms. Bork has published opinion and other articles in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, The American Interest, the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, and World Affairs Journal.

Ms. Bork has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

She is a member of the District of Columbia bar and holds degrees from Yale University and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Ralf Fücks

Board Member

Former President Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, former Co-President of the German national Green Party, and author

Ralf Fücks, a German national and politician, has focused his career on sustainable development, reshaping the welfare state, migration, and foreign policy. From 1996 to 2017, he and his colleagues rebuilt the Heinrich-Böll Foundation, which facilitates green ideas and projects, promotes democratic ideas, and supports immigration and gender equality. Fücks was largely responsible for the formation of the foundation’s domestic political education, the divisions of Europe and North America, and the German-Israeli-Relations.

Fücks began his career when he joined the Green Party in 1982 and in 1985 he was elected to the Bremen state parliament. He continued to work with the Green Party and served as Co-President in 1989 and 1990, during which he advocated for the reform of the Green Party and coalition governments with the social democrats. In 1991 he returned to the state Bremen government and served as the Deputy Mayor and as Senator for Urban Development and Environmental Protection until 1995. 

During his time at the Heinrich-Böll Foundation, Fücks co-authored the new party program for the Green Party which was adopted in 2002 and wrote his own book “Intelligent Wachsen – Die grüne Revolution” (Intelligent Growth – The Green Revolution). 

Toomas Hendrik Ilves

Board Member

Former President of the Republic of Estonia, former Member of the European Parliament, former Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States of America, Canada, and Mexico, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover Institution, Stanford University,  co-chair of World Economic Forum Blockchain group, board member of Munich Security Conference advisory board

Toomas Ilves is an Estonian politician, diplomat, and journalist who served as the fourth President of the Republic of Estonia from 2006-2016. Before his terms as President, Ilves served as Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States of America, Canada, and Mexico 1993-1996, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Estonia, 1996-1998 and 1999-2002, a Member of the Estonian Parliament 2002-2004, and as a member of the European Parliament where he was Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Committee 2004-2006. 

Throughout his career, Toomas Ilves has advocated and supported digital independence and security through his creation of large-scale digital projects that empowered the people of Estonia and his work in cybersecurity with the World Bank’s World World Development Report 2016, the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Cyber Security, and through his current position as a board member of the Munich Security Conference advisory board.

Ilves began his long and contributive career with teaching, researching, and writing for various groups and institutions such as Columbia University and Radio Free Europe. He has continued to publish and write, primarily in Estonian and English, but also Finnish, Latvian, Hungarian, and Russian. His works have been recognized and honoured by many groups and institutions; in 2017 he was awarded the World Leader in Cybersecurity Award by Boston Global Forum and earlier in 2014 he was awarded the Freedom Award by the Atlantic Council. 

Ilves received his Masters in psychology from Pennsylvania University in 1978 and his Bachelors in psychology from Columbia University in 1976. 

Ian Kelly

Board Member

Ambassador (ret.) in Residence at Northwestern University, former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia

Amb. Ian Kelly is Ambassador (ret.) in Residence at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He is a retired senior foreign service officer who last served as the United States Ambassador to Georgia, from 2015 to 2018. He previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from 2010 to 2013. Prior to his ambassadorships, Kelly held a variety of high-level roles at the U.S. State Department, including serving as the Department spokesman under Secretary Hillary Clinton and as Director of the Office Russian Affairs. Prior to joining the State Department, he earned a PhD in Russian Language and Literature from Columbia University.

Alina Polyakova

Board Member

President and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis

Dr. Polyakova is a recognized expert on transatlantic relations with over a decade of leadership experience and deep expertise on European politics, Russian foreign policy, and digital technologies. Before joining CEPA, she was the Founding Director for Global Democracy and Emerging Technology at the Brookings Institution. Previously, she served as Director of Research for Europe and Eurasia at the Atlantic Council, where she developed and led the institute’s work on disinformation and Russia.

Daniel Treisman

Board Member

Professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research

A graduate of Oxford University (B.A. Hons.) and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1995), he has published four books and numerous articles in leading political science and economics journals including the American Political Science Review and The American Economic Review, as well as in public affairs journals such as Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy.

His research focuses on Russian politics and economics as well as comparative political economy, including in particular the analysis of democratization, the politics of authoritarian states, political decentralization, and corruption.

A former lead editor of the American Political Science Review, he has served as associate editor or on the editorial boards of the journals Post-Soviet Affairs, Comparative Political Studies, Economics and Politics, Politeia, and the Russian Journal of Economics.

He has served as a consultant for the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and USAID. In Russia, he is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Higher School of Economics and a member of the Jury of the National Prize in Applied Economics.

He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution (Stanford) and the Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna), and has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the US and the Smith Richardson Foundation. At UCLA, he has served as acting director of the Center for European and Russian Studies.

His latest book, The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev (The Free Press, 2011) was one of the Financial Times’ “Best Political Books of 2011”. Since 2014, he has been the director of the Russia Political Insight Project, an international collaboration funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, to investigate political decisionmaking in Putin’s Russia. He is the editor of The New Autocracy: Information, Politics, and Policy in Putin’s Russia (Brookings Institution Press 2018).

Andrew Wood

Board Member

Former UK Ambassador to Yugoslavia, former UK Ambassador to Russia, Adviser on Russian affairs

Sir Andrew Wood is an expert on Russia and has acted as an adviser on Russian affairs to multiple enterprises since his retirement from the diplomatic service in 2000. From 1995-2000 he served as the British Ambassador to Russia and he had earlier served in Moscow from 1964-1966 and 1979-1982. Between two of his tenures in Russia, he served as the British Ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1985-1989. Wood is also an associate fellow of the Russia and Eurasia programme. 

Tom Firestone

Board Member

Tom Firestone is the co-chair of the firm’s White Collar & Internal Investigations practice and a member of the firm’s National Security/CFIUS/Compliance Practice Group. He specializes in complex transnational investigations and international risk management and represents companies and individuals before the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of Treasury and other U.S. agencies.  His matters often involve the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and other sanctions laws, the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and other anti-money laundering laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), and other federal criminal statutes related to business crime and national security. He regularly advises clients on the Russia/Ukraine crisis including helping them with issues related to sanctions compliance, obtaining OFAC licenses, and the risks of doing business in Russia. He has also represented individuals in proceedings before Interpol and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). He also regularly advises foreign governments on issues relating to anti-corruption and the rule of law. He also advises clients on risk and compliance in the cannabis industry.

Tom previously worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, where he specialized in the investigation and prosecution of transnational organized crime.  While with the Department of Justice, he also served as the Resident Legal Advisor and Acting Chief of the Law Enforcement Section at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and twice won the U.S. State Department Superior Honor Award.  He has testified as an expert before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and the UK House of Lords and is recognized by Best Lawyers in America in the area of white collar criminal defense.  He is fluent in Russian and reads Polish and Bulgarian.

Tom frequently comments on matters related to white collar crime and compliance. He also hosts The New Cold War: Risk, Sanctions, Compliance, a podcast explaining the convergence of national security and law enforcement through conversations with leading experts from the worlds of business, politics, journalism and academia. He has published and lectured extensively on the Russia/Ukraine crisis and anti-kleptocracy.

Sarah Mendelson

Board Member

Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy and Head of Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College in Washington, DC

Ambassador Sarah E. Mendelson served as the US Representative to the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations until January 20, 2017.

Confirmed by the Senate in October 2015, she was the USUN lead on international development, human rights, and humanitarian affairs. There she oversaw campaigns to get country-specific resolutions passed in the General Assembly and to get NGOs, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, accredited to the UN. She led efforts to elevate the issue of combating human trafficking and was senior lead for the President’s Summit on Refugees.

Prior to her appointment as Ambassador, she served as a Deputy Assistant Administrator at USAID from 2010-2014 where she was the Agency lead on democracy, human rights, and governance. A long time policy entrepreneur, she has spent over two decades working on development and human rights as a scholar and practitioner including in Moscow with the National Democratic Institute, on the faculty of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and over a decade as senior adviser and inaugural director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. There she also worked as a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Program where she over saw focus groups, public opinion surveys, and social marketing campaigns in Russia on a range of issues.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of over 70 scholarly and public policy publications, Ambassador Mendelson received her BA in History from Yale University and her PhD in political science from Columbia University.