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.

Sergey Aleksashenko

Board Treasurer

Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, former Russian Deputy Minister of Finance and First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia

Dr. Sergey Aleksashenko is currently a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a position he’s held since 2015. Mr. Aleksashenko is a member of the Board of Directors of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom.

From 2008 – 2014, Mr. Aleksashenko was a Director of macroeconomic research at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and served as a member of the boards for Aeroflot-Russian Airlines, United Grain Company and United Aircraft Corporation.

From 2010 to 2013, Mr. Aleksashenko was a member of the PARNAS party’s Political Council. He was the President of the investment boutique Antanta Capital from 2004-2006, and from 2006-2008 he acted as the President and CEO of Merrill Lynch Russia.

During the 1990s, Mr. Aleksashenko served as a Senior Expert in the Commission on Economic Reform in the Government of the USSR, Deputy Minister of Finance in charge of budgetary planning and tax policy, and First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia in charge of monetary and foreign exchange policy and settlement system. While at the Central bank, he served as a member of the Board of Directors for Sberbank, VTB Bank, Mosnarbank (London) and BCEN-Eurobank(Paris).

After public service in Russia, Mr. Aleksashenko spent ten years in private business as a Managing director of Interros Holding, as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Power Machines and Open Investment and and as a member of the Board for Norilsk Nickel and Rosbank.

Mr. Aleksashenko graduated from Moscow Lomonosov State University in 1986 and spent four years in the Central Economic-Mathematical Institute, USSR Academy of Sciences where he earned his Ph.D.

Melissa Hooper

Board Secretary

The Director of the Human Rights and Civil Society program at Human Rights First

Ms. Melissa Hooper is a lawyer, a rule of law expert, and the Director of Human Rights and Civil Society program at Human Rights First.

Ms. Hooper was the Regional Director for Russia and Azerbaijan at ABA from 2011-2014, living in Moscow. She was the Co-Chair of the Human Rights Working Group of what was once the Bilateral Presidential Commission with Russian lawyer Natalia Taubina from 2011 to 2014. It later became the Rule of Law Working Group.

Ms. Hooper’s research focuses on Russia’s foreign policy strategies influencing and undermining democratic institutions, and the intersection between these strategies and anti-democratic trends in neighboring countries, most recently in Central Europe. She recently investigated Russia’s use of non-governmental organizations to spread anti-democratic ideas and disinformation in Europe; explored the link between Russian disinformation and hate speech in the European Union and the United States; and analyzed the proliferation of Russian-style laws and policies targeting independent institutions such as civil society, media, and the judiciary in Hungary and Poland.

Ms. Hooper is the author of Poland’s New Front: A Government’s War Against Civil Society (Aug 2017 report), The non-governmental sector: pro-Russia tools masquerading as independent voices (Foreign Policy Centre; Apr 2017), the issue brief Russian Influence in Europe: Six Ways (Other Than Hacking) Russia is Exploiting Divisions and the Rise of Xenophobia in Europe (Jan 2017), and Russia’s Bad Example, a description of Russian-style anti-free expression and anti-NGO laws (2016). She has undertaken extensive research and work experience in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. She has led a policy working group on combating Russian disinformation for the last couple of years.

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.