Former President of Estonia and Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Stanford University
Toomas Hendrik Ilves was educated in the United States, receiving a degree from Columbia University and a master's degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1984 he moved to Munich, Germany, to work at the office of Radio Free Europe, first as a researcher and foreign policy analyst and later as the head of the Estonian Desk.
From 1993 to 1996 Ilves served in Washington as the ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States and Canada. During this time, he launched the Tiger Leap Initiative to computerize and connect all Estonian schools online with Education Minister Jaak Aaviksoo. He then served as minister of foreign affairs until 2002 with a brief period as chairman of the North Atlantic Institute. He went on to become a member of the Estonian Parliament and in 2004 he was elected a member of the European Parliament, where he was vice-president of the Foreign Affairs Committee. As an MEP, he initiated the Baltic Sea Strategy that was later implemented as official regional policy of the European Union.
Ilves was elected president of the Republic of Estonia in 2006 and was re-elected for a second term in office in 2011. During his presidency, Ilves was appointed to serve in several high positions in the field of ICT in the European Union. He served as chairman of the EU Task Force on eHealth and was chairman of the European Cloud Partnership Steering Board at the invitation of the European Commission. In 2013 he chaired the High-Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms convened by ICANN. From 2014 to 2015 Ilves was the co-chair of the advisory panel of the World Bank's World Development Report 2016 "Digital Dividends" and was also the chair of World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Cyber Security beginning in June 2014.
Since 2016, Ilves co-chairs The World Economic Forum working group The Global Futures Council on Blockchain Technology. In 2017 Ilves became an advisory council member of German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy. The same year, he joined Stanford University as a Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He is also a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
Ilves has published many essays and articles in Estonian and English on numerous topics ranging from Estonian language, history, and literature to global foreign and security policy and cyber security. His books include essay collections in Estonian, Finnish, Latvian, Hungarian, and Russian.
2013 NDI Democracy Award by the National Democratic Institute
2014 Freedom Award by the Atlantic Council
2015 Aspen Prague Award by the Aspen Institute
2016 Knight of Freedom Award by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation
2017 John Jay Award by Columbia College
2017 Reinhard Mohn Prize by Bertelsmann Stiftung
2017 World Leader in Cybersecurity Award by Boston Global Forum