President & CEO of the National Endowment for Democracy
Damon Wilson is the president and chief executive officer of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—an independent, nonprofit, grant-making foundation dedicated to the development and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world.
Prior to joining NED, Mr. Wilson was the executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, overseeing the Council’s strategy and managing its 14 centers and programs.
He worked at the National Security Council (NSC) as the director for Central, Eastern, and Northern European Affairs from 2004 to 2006, pushing to welcome more nations into NATO, strengthen relations with our allies and to support a democratic Ukraine. As special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs at the NSC from 2007 to 2009, he helped to advance a democratic and free Europe and to counter Russian aggression. After, as the executive secretary and chief of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Mr. Wilson was integral in the management of one of the largest U.S. embassies during a time of conflict. He also has served as deputy director in the private office of former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson
Previously, Mr. Wilson worked in the Department of State’s Office of European Security and Political Affairs, on the State Department’s “China desk,” and at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Mr. Wilson began his State Department service as a presidential management fellow, helping to plan the NATO 50th anniversary summit, first post-Cold War enlargement, and military engagement in the Kosovo conflict.
While completing his master’s degree at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs, Mr. Wilson taught an undergraduate class on NATO and also interned in the African Affairs Directorate of the National Security Council. From 1995 to 1996, he served as the first Hart Leadership Fellow, working in Rwanda for Save the Children’s Children and War Program. Mr. Wilson graduated summa cum laude from Duke University as a Benjamin N. Duke Leadership Scholar. He also studied at the University of Grenoble, France; conducted independent research on democracy in Estonia; and worked in Croatia and Turkey for the Unaccompanied Children in Exile refugee program.
Mr. Wilson has been decorated by leaders of Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, and Poland for his efforts to advance freedom and democracy, and by the living governors of South Carolina for his contribution to the state. He speaks French. Married to David Van Lear, Mr. Wilson grew up in North and South Carolina, lives in Washington, D.C., and maintains his family’s farm in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
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