Rebuilding Democratic Momentum

8 December 2021  12:30 - 13:30

Virtual Event | Organised by National Endowment for Democracy | Held in USA in English
Contact details: [email protected]
Defending against authoritarianism
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On the eve of the Summit for Democracy, the National Endowment for Democracy will convene a dynamic forum featuring some of the world’s most important voices from the frontlines of the democratic struggle, including this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa.

Activists from Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Russia will also discuss global challenges to democracy in conversation with US Legislators. Some of America’s most dedicated and experienced democracy advocates will share their insights and expertise on how to rebuild democratic momentum. Former heads of government who helped lead their countries through democratic transitions will reflect on how to sustain democracy after a democratic transition.

We hope you will join us virtually on December 8 for what is sure to be a thought-provoking and energizing prelude to the Summit for Democracy.


  • Maria Ressa is the CEO, president, and co-founder of Rappler, the top digital only news site that is leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines. Ressa has endured constant political harassment and arrests by the Duterte government. Rappler’s battle for truth and democracy is the subject of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival documentary, A Thousand Cuts. In October 2021, she was one of two journalists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
  • Kenneth Wollack is the chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy. Wollack is co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, a member of the advisory committee for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the George W. Bush Institute’s Advisory Council on Human Freedom. He is also a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. For more than 25 years, he served as president of the National Democratic Institute.
  • Madeleine Albright is a professor, author, diplomat, and businesswoman who served as the 64th Secretary of State of the United States. Dr. Albright received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in 2012. She also chairs the National Democratic Institute, serves as the president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation, and is Honorary Co-Chair of the World Refugee Council. In 2021, she was appointed Chair of the Defense Policy Board.
  • Senator Dan Sullivan represents the state of Alaska. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Sullivan served as Alaska’s Attorney General, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. Sullivan is an infantry officer and Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. In 2004, Sullivan served as a staff officer to the Commander of U.S. Central Command and in July 2013, he served with a Joint Task Force in Afghanistan. Senator Sullivan was appointed chairman of the International Republican Institute board in 2018.
  • Greg Lebedev currently serves as Chairman of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). CIPE’s mission is to promote free-market institutions and economic reform throughout the world. Lebedev is a member of the Board of Directors of the United States Chamber of Commerce, the largest business federation in the world, and a member of the Board’s Leadership Council. He is also Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Robertson Foundation for Government.
  • Elizabeth Schuler is president of the 57 unions and 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO. A visionary leader and longtime trade unionist, Shuler believes the labor movement is the single most powerful vehicle for progress and that unions are a central force in leading lasting societal transformations. She is committed to busting myths about labor, leveraging the labor movement’s diversity for innovative approaches to social justice and making the benefits of a union voice on the job available to working people everywhere. Schuler currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Solidarity Center.
  • Berta Valle is a Nicaraguan journalist, human rights activist, and vocal critic of the Ortega regime. She is married to pro-democracy activist and presidential candidate, Félix Maradiaga, who was imprisoned by Ortega’s regime in an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition in Nicaragua. Valle is currently in exile and campaigning to bring international attention to the regime’s abuses, including the unjust imprisonment of her husband and more than 140 political prisoners in the country.
  • Senator Rick Scott was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 and is currently serving his first term representing the state of Florida. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Rick Scott served two terms as the 45th Governor of Florida. In the U.S. Senate, Scott serves on the committees on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Armed Services; Budget; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and the Special Committee on Aging.
  • Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian politician, author, and historian. He was a candidate for the Russian Parliament and served as deputy leader of the opposition People’s Freedom Party. Kara-Murza played a key role in the adoption of targeted Magnitsky sanctions on Russian human rights violators. In 2015 and 2017, Kara-Murza was poisoned and left in a coma; a subsequent media investigation identified Russia’s Federal Security Service behind the poisonings. He was the founding chairman of the Nemtsov Foundation and served as vice president at Open Russia and the Free Russia Foundation. Kara-Murza is a senior advisor at Human Rights First, and a senior fellow at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.
  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the first woman in U.S. history to be elected both a Governor and a United States Senator for New Hampshire, is a trailblazer with a reputation for working across the aisle to get things done.  She has served in the Senate since 2009 and is a member of the Senate Committees on Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Appropriations, Small Business and Entrepreneurship and the Select Committee on Ethics.
  • Nathan Law is a young Hong Kong activist, currently in exile and based in London. During the Umbrella Movement in 2014, Law was one of the five representatives who took part in the dialogue with the government. Law, Joshua Wong and other student leaders founded Demosistō in 2016 and ran for the Legislative Council election. Law was elected and became the youngest Legislative Councilor in history, yet his seat was overturned in July 2017 following Beijing’s constitutional reinterpretation. He was later jailed for his participation in the Umbrella Movement, sparking global concern over Beijing’s crackdown on human rights and democratic movement in Hong Kong.
  • Senator Ben Sasse was elected in 2014 to represent the great state of Nebraska.  Senator Sasse serves on the U.S. Senate Committees on the Judiciary; Select Intelligence; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; and the Joint Economic Committee. Senator Sasse currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Endowment for Democracy.
  • DJ Switch (Obianuju Catherine Udeh) is a Nigerian disk jockey, musician, and creative producer. In addition to her mainstream musical success, she has gained recognition for using her music to draw attention to social and political issues in Nigeria. In June 2020, she launched the social media campaign #RenovateNigeria to call attention to misplaced budget priorities and corrupt practices. After livestreaming the Nigerian army’s violent repression of peaceful protesters from the #EndSARS movement in October 2020, DJ Switch has faced death threats and calls for arrest. DJ Switch also serves as a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow.
  • Ricardo Lagos served as president of Chile from 2000 to 2006. During his term, Lagos was known for aggressively pursuing free-trade agreements, improving health care and education legislation, and addressing the crimes of Augusto Pinochet’s military regime. Lagos founded and is president of Fundación Democracia y Desarrollo (Foundation for Democracy and Development).
  • José Ramos-Horta is the former President of East Timor. During the 24-year occupation of his country by Indonesia, Ramos-Horta worked in exile as a leading voice of the East Timorese independence movement. He worked through grassroots and diplomatic channels to promote peaceful dialogue between Indonesia’s government and the East Timorese people as they struggled for self-determination, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 largely in recognition of this work. Currently, Ramos-Horta serves as Chairperson of the World Movement for Democracy Steering Committee.
  • Mikuláš Dzurinda serves as president of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies. Dzurinda served as prime minister of Slovakia (1998-2006) and introduced far-reaching reforms which enabled Slovakia to become a member of the EU and NATO in 2004. Dzurinda has also held the positions of Minister of Transportation and Minister for Foreign Affairs. From 2012 to 2016, he was a member of the Slovak Parliament. In 2007, he was awarded the F.A. Hayek International Prize for reforms and his fight against bureaucracy.