Masha Gessen is a journalist and the author of many books, including Perfect Rigor, Blood Matters, Ester and Ruzya, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, and most recently, Where the Jews Aren’t: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region. Her next book, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia will be published this fall.
As a journalist living in Moscow, Gessen experienced the rise of Vladimir Putin firsthand. In her 2012 bestselling book The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, she gave the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.
Gessen regularly contributes to The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, and Slate, among other publications. She lives in New York.
More information on Masha Gessen; Photo: Tanya Sazansky
ABOUT THE HONOREES:
Ambassador Richard Swett is Co-Founder and CEO of Climate Prosperity Enterprise Solutions, which is currently working with local partners in emerging economies in Ukraine and Africa along with international funding sources to develop tens of thousands of acres of fertile agricultural land as well as power from solar and other renewable sources. These micro grid sustainable economies are based on a successful model employing ownership from the ground up. This approach was first used successfully in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act . As an alternative energy entrepreneur, Swett has also built biomass power plants in New England and advocates for responsible climate change solutions as a member of the NH Clean Tech Council. Swett served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995 and U.S. Ambassador to Denmark from 1998 to 2001. During his service in Congress, Mr. Swett was a leading member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and brought a delegation of European Parliamentarians and US members of Congress to New Hampshire for their annual summit. During his service as the Ambassador to Denmark, he continued his focus on human rights, sponsoring major initiatives dealing with the problem of human trafficking in Europe. Ambassador Swett serves on the boards of several international organizations including the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, APCO Worldwide, the Norwegian Abildsø and Middle East Peace Foundation. Ambassador Swett is also part of a team working on innovative CVE ( Countering Violent Extremism) initiatives that will engage ISIS defectors in reaching out to would-be recruits through an innovative counter-terrorism platform.
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett serves as President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, established in 2008 in Concord to continue the legacy of her father, the late Congressman Tom Lantos. Under her leadership, The Lantos Foundation has rapidly become a distinguished and respected voice on key human rights concerns. Dr. Lantos Swett is the former Chair and Vice-Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and teaches Human Rights and American Foreign Policy at Tufts University. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the Board of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and the Budapest-based Tom Lantos Institute. Dr. Lantos Swett also serves on the Advisory Board of UN Watch, the annual Anne Frank Award and Lecture, and The Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership, and Public Policy. Lantos Swett earned a Political Science degree from Yale University, a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and a PhD in History from The University of Southern Denmark.