President & CEO of the National Endowment for Democracy
Damon Wilson is President and CEO of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an independent, nonprofit, grant-making foundation supporting freedom around the world.
Prior to joining the Endowment, he helped transform the Atlantic Council into a leading global think tank as its executive vice president. Previously, Wilson served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council helping to enlarge a Europe whole, free, and at peace; to secure freedom through NATO enlargement; to deter and counter Russian aggression; and to work with a united Europe as a leading US partner to support democracy in the world.
Mr. Wilson also served at the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq as the Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff, where he helped manage one of the largest US embassies during a time of conflict. Prior to this posting, he worked at the National Security Council as the Director for Central, Eastern, and Northern European Affairs from 2004 to 2006, helping to enlarge NATO, to partner with Germany, and to support a democratic Ukraine. From 2001 to 2004, Mr. Wilson served as Deputy Director in the Private Office of NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, playing a lead role on the Alliance’s response to 9/11 and its operations in Afghanistan and the Western Balkans.
Prior to serving in Brussels, 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 US Embassy in Beijing. Mr. Wilson began his service at the State Department as a Presidential Management Fellow helping to plan the Alliance’s 50th anniversary summit, first post-Cold War enlargement, and efforts to prevent genocide in Kosovo.
Mr. Wilson completed his master’s degree at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs during which he interned in the African Affairs Directorate of the National Security Council. From 1995-1996, 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 for the Unaccompanied Children in Exile refugee program in Croatia and Turkey.
Mr. Wilson has been decorated by leaders of Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland and the Slovak Republic for his efforts to advance transatlantic relations, and by the living governors of South Carolina for his contribution to the state. He is from Charleston, South Carolina; is married to David Van Lear; lives in Washington, DC; and helps maintain his family’s farm in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
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