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Amb. Mark P. Lagon Named President of Freedom House

Mark P. Lagon

Ambassador Mark P. Lagon

Freedom House announced today that my dear friend and colleague, Mark P. Lagon, has been selected to be president of the respected human rights organization. The Freedom House press release explains:

Mark P. Lagon, a distinguished scholar of global politics and human rights, and former diplomat, will become president of Freedom House on January 2, 2015, the organization’s Board of Trustees announced today.

Lagon is Chair for Global Politics and Security at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service Program, and a former U.S. Ambassador at Large and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. He will succeed David J. Kramer, who has served as president of Freedom House since 2010.

“Mark Lagon has broad and deep experience in the field of democracy and human rights, and brings great passion to these issues,” said Kenneth I. Juster, chairman of the Board. “His appointment reinforces Freedom House’s commitment to address threats to freedom, wherever they may exist, through its unique combination of research, advocacy, and programs.”

At the State Department, Lagon served as U.S. Ambassador at Large, directing the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, from 2007 to 2009, and previously as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, with responsibility for human rights, humanitarian issues and United Nations reform. He is Adjunct Senior Fellow for Human Rights at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“The promise of freedom and the challenges it faces are central to our time,” Lagon said. “It will be a privilege to lead Freedom House, which sets the standard for analysis of political and civil rights, provides a clear voice for freedom around the world, and empowers frontline activists to uphold fundamental rights and advance democratic change.”

Lagon received a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown and an A.B. from Harvard University. He is the author of numerous articles on international affairs and co-editor of the recently released book Human Dignity and the Future of Global Institutions.

“The Board and staff are extremely grateful to David Kramer for his outstanding leadership,” said Juster, the board chairman. “No one could have been a more forceful or articulate advocate for our cause, for which we owe David sincere thanks.”

In a letter to the Master of Science in Foreign Service community sent earlier today, I shared these thoughts on my great friend and colleague:

It is impossible to overstate Ambassador Lagon’s signal contribution to Georgetown. For the past 4 years, his leadership and creativity have been evident in so many ways. He has worked diligently to reconceptualize and strengthen the Global Politics and Security curriculum, adding, among others, a new ethics course to the concentration. He has internationalized and diversified the faculty in his concentration, bringing in outstanding practitioner faculty with extensive experience in international affairs. He has worked tirelessly with students and alumni as a mentor, a career advisor, and colleague. Moreover, as the senior Concentration Chair,  Professor Lagon has been as a vital member of the MSFS leadership team. During his time at MSFS, he has served on the Admissions Committee, participated in on-line chats, and played a critical role in recruiting great new students.  He has organized substantive and career panels for DC Days, the New York Trip, and a host of other events. He has also played a major role in alumni relations and fundraising, travelling to China, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and elsewhere to connect with MSFS grads. And, of course, who can forget his Gettysburg presentation on General James Longstreet and the need to “speak truth to power.”

Needless to say, all of us at MSFS are truly excited about Dr. Lagon’s new role as President of Freedom House! We know that he will bring the same great energy, commitment, and innovation to Freedom House that he brought to MSFS and will continue to advance the promotion of human dignity in the world. We also know that he will continue to work with MSFS in a variety of ways in the future and are excited to announce that he has agreed to serve on the MSFS Board of Advisors.

On a personal note, let me say that Mark Lagon has been a dear friend and a trusted confidant throughout. He has been an inspiration to me and a great pleasure to work with. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in new and exciting ways.

As Professor Lagon departs, we are happy to announce that Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin, former President of the Legatum Institute, will be serving as Concentration Chair for Global Politics and Security for the Spring Semester, beginning on January 1. We will also be starting a search to fill the position beyond this and will be providing more information shortly.

So, with sadness and joy, I would ask all of you to join me in thanking Ambassador Mark P. Lagon for his great service to Georgetown and beyond and in wishing him tremendous success as President of Freedom House!

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.