John C. Whitehead has led an outstanding career as a financier, diplomat, philanthropist and public servant. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan appointed Whitehead deputy secretary of state under George Schultz. During his four-year tenure, he was instrumental in major diplomatic initiatives, including NATO expansion into Central and Eastern Europe. Upon leaving office, Reagan presented him with the Presidential Citizen’s Medal. He has served as chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Asia Society and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As the longtime former chairman and president of the International Rescue Committee, he traveled the world for the cause of political refugees and currently serves as the Chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
“John’s message on human rights was consistent, low-key, but absolutely firm,” said NED president Carl Gershman. “Its essence was that human rights are at the core of the American agenda. They’re part of what we are as a nation, and that if governments want relations with us, they’ll have to take that into account.”
Throughout his life, John Richardson has been a devoted public servant, dedicated to advancing freedom and international cooperation and understanding. He has served as CEO of Radio Free Europe, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational & Cultural Affairs, and was a founding staff member of the U.S. Institute of Peace, as well as a founding board member and chairman of NED. He has been a board member of many other educational and service organizations and currently sits on the board of the Council for a Community of Democracies, the International Rescue Committee, and the American Forum for Global Education.
Speaking of Richardson’s work that helped lead to the establishment of NED, Gershman said, “When in the late 1970s John Richardson first proposed to a group of Washington policy makers a ‘public-private foundation for freedom,’ he could not have known that such an organization would not only be established, but one day grow into a major international institution. What he clearly did know, however, is that if such an entity ever did come into existence, it would project the two values he had already spent most of his own life fighting for, freedom and democracy.”