Through its democrats at risk activities, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has always supported individuals who have put their lives or liberty on the line. The need for such support has grown dramatically in recent years as authoritarianism has surged globally—and recent events in Afghanistan and elsewhere bring into especially sharp relief the grave risks faced by advocates struggling on the front lines of democracy.
NED President and Chief Executive Officer Damon Wilson announced the creation of the Gershman Fund for Democrats at Risk at the events celebrating the legacy of NED’s founding President Carl Gershman and his 37 years of service on September 21, 2021.
“The Gershman Fund will help build the capacity, renew the energies, and expand the influence of courageous democracy advocates, with a special focus on those targeted by repressive governments for their democracy and human rights work,” said Wilson. “Put simply, the Gershman Fund expands our ability to defend democrats at risk and help them get back on their feet and back out on the front lines of advancing democracy.”
The fund was created to honor Gershman, who feels a special kinship with these courageous individuals, and to recognize his enormous contribution to defending and supporting imperiled democratic activist one facet of his of his lifelong commitment to advancing democratic values, institutions, and ideas worldwide.
The new fund will be a multiyear effort to address critical, unmet needs and expand NED’s ability to support democracy advocates worldwide. It will be housed in NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies.