Kenneth Wollack Elected New Chairman of NED Board of Directors

Top (left to right): Minxin Pei, Ambassador Kelley Currie, Stephen Biegun, and Ambassador Reuben Brigety. Bottom (left to right): Roxanne Brown, Scott Taylor, Jessica Adelman, and Chairman Kenneth Wollack.


On January 8, 2021, the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) elected a new Chairman, Kenneth Wollack, as well as seven new members to its Board of Directors:  Jessica Adelman, Stephen Biegun, Roxanne BrownAmbassador Reuben Brigety, Scott Taylor, Ambassador Kelley Currie, and Minxin Pei.

Representative Karen Bass, and former Representatives Peter Roskam and David Skaggs will serve as Vice Chairs of the NED Board of Directors. Michele Dunne will serve as Treasurer, and Jayne Kurzman as Secretary.

“The NED Board will greatly benefit from the leadership of Ken Wollack during this important time of transition for both our government and for NED,” said NED president Carl Gershman. “Ken’s extensive knowledge of the democracy assistance field, and the NED family of institutions in particular, is unmatched. I have greatly benefited from his support and guidance for many years and it gives me great confidence to know that he will be guiding the Board during the critical period ahead.”

Kenneth Wollack, Chairman of Board of Directors

Actively involved in foreign affairs, journalism, and politics over the past five decades, Wollack was a long-time president of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a nongovernmental organization dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide, and one of the NED’s four core institutes. He retired in September 2018 after 32 years at the Institute.  He also serves as co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Mr. Wollack, a current NED Board member, succeeds Andrew H. Card, Jr., who served as Chairman of NED’s Board of Directors from 2018 – 2020. “I am deeply grateful to Andy Card for his outstanding service as NED Chairman,” said Gershman. “His dedication to NED and its mission are strong, and I know we will continue to benefit from his commitment to the Endowment and our grantees.”

Gershman also recognized the enormous contributions of three departing Board members: Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Fred Redmond, and George Weigel, each of whom served on the Board for three terms, totaling nine years. “NED is extremely grateful to Marilyn, Fred, and George, who each served with distinction and greatly strengthened our mission and work,” said Gershman. “Their expertise and leadership on the Board will be missed.”

The new members bring diverse skills and experiences to the current Board of Directors: Anne ApplebaumMarlene ColucciScott CarpenterAmbassador Eileen DonahoeAmbassador Daniel FriedBarry JacksonSenator Tim Kaine (Honorary), the Honorable Mel MartinezDayton OgdenMarc PlattnerSenator Ben Sasse (Honorary)Dr. Nadia SchadlowLiz Schuler, Representative Elise StefanikAmbassador Rich VermaAmbassador Melanne Verveer, and Elliott Abrams.

About the National Endowment for Democracy: 

NED was established in 1983 as an independent, nonprofit grant-making foundation with a mission to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts. With an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, the NED Board makes almost 2,000 grants each year to support projects in 100 countries that promote political freedom and participation, human rights, social and economic inclusion, a strong civil society, free media, technology, and the rule of law.  Four independent organizations serve as core institutes of the Endowment. They are the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Solidarity Center, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

About the New Board Members:

Jessica Adelman is the Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Global External Communications for Mars Wrigley North America and is a Senior Fellow at the Conference Board Marketing and Communications Center.  She previously served as Group Vice President of Corporate Affairs for The Kroger Co. and as President of two Kroger charitable foundations. She graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College as a Russian Area Studies major and lived in the Former Soviet Union for several years in the 1990s. She speaks both Russian and French.

Stephen E. Biegun was the Deputy Secretary of State until 2021, following 15 years as a corporate vice president at Ford Motor Company. Previously he served as chief of staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and national security advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Mr. Biegun was an advisor and deputy to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as the Executive Secretary of the White House National Security Council. From 1992-1994, Mr. Biegun also worked as the Resident Program Director in the Russian Federation for IRI, one of NED’s core institutes.

Roxanne Brown serves as International Vice President-at-large for the United Steelworkers (USW). On behalf of USW members, Brown has testified before the U.S. Congress, the International Trade Commission, and state legislatures. She represents USW at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and with other global policymakers. Brown was a founding Steering Committee member of the BlueGreen Alliance and is a member of the Democratic National Committee and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. She serves on the boards of Georgetown University’s Institute of International Economic Law and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Direct Air Capture Advisory Council.

Ambassador Reuben Brigety is the Vice Chancellor and President of the University of the South, Sewanee, and adjunct Senior Fellow for African peace and security issues at the Council on Foreign Relations.  From 2015 to 2020, he was dean of the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. From 2013 until 2015. Amb. Brigety served as the United States Ambassador to the African Union and Permanent Representative of the United States to the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa. Prior to these appointments, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs with responsibility for southern Africa and regional security affairs.

Ambassador Kelley Currie served as the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and as the U.S. Representative at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Prior to her appointment, she led the Department of State’s Office of Global Criminal Justice in 2019, and she worked under Ambassador Nikki Haley as the U.S. Representative to UNESCO and Alternative Representative to the U.N. General Assembly from 2017-2018. Previously, she held senior policy positions with the Department of State, the U.S. Congress, and several international and non-governmental human rights and humanitarian organizations, including the International Campaign for Tibet and IRI.

Minxin Pei is the Tom and Margot Pritzker ‘72 Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at the Claremont McKenna College, and a non-resident senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He is the author of China’s Crony Capitalism and has written many articles for the Journal of Democracy, which can be read here.  In December he delivered the 17th Annual Lipset Lecture on “Totalitarianism’s Long Dark Shadow over China.”

Scott Taylor is the inaugural Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he is also a professor. From 2007-2020, he served as Director of Georgetown’s African Studies Program. A political scientist, Dr. Taylor is the author of numerous articles and four books, including The Cultures of Business in Africa: From Patrimonialism to Profit. He has consulted widely on issues of governance, elections and political economy for bilateral and multilateral development institutions, corporations, and non-profit organizations, and has observed multiple elections across Africa since 2001.


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