Expertise: Africa; Conflict Prevention; Human Rights; Immigration and Asylum; Media; Natural Disaster Response; Southern Caucasus; Middle East; Art & Culture; Refugee Services; Humanitarian Response
Todd Lester has worked in leadership, advocacy and strategic communications roles at Reporters sans frontiers, the Astraea Lesbian Justice Foundation, and most recently as the Executive Director of the Global Arts Corps, an organization that creates theatre to advance reconciliation in societies emerging from violent conflict. He founded freeDimensional & the Creative Resistance Fund, an organization that helps activists-in-distress by providing safe haven in artist residencies.
He has dedicated periods of his career to work on microfinance in Cameroon, refugee rights in Egypt, post-genocide reconciliation in Rwanda, Track II diplomacy in the Southern Caucasus, at-risk youth engagement in Brazil, and the North-South Peace Accord in Sudan working with organizations such as CARE, International Rescue Committee, Carter Center, Peace Corps, Population Services International, Dutch Refugee Council, and the United Nations.
Todd holds a Masters of Public Administration from Rutgers University and diplomas from the Summer School in Forced Migration at Oxford University and Film & Media Studies at the New School. Todd received the Peace Corps Fund Award for founding freeDimensional; was named Architect of the Future by the Waldzell Institute; and serves as a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute where he leads the Arts-Policy Nexus initiative. His new project, Lanchonete, is a 5-year experimentation of artistic witnessing focused on a neighborhood in the center of São Paulo.
Honors & Affiliations:
Member, 21st Century Trust and Think Tank 30 of the Club of Rome
Waldzell Institute 'Architect for the Future'
Gerhart Center for Philanthropy & Civic Engagement, Fellow – Fall 2008 Center for Migration & Refugee Studies, Fellow – Spring 2008
Summer School on the Cultural Study of the Law, Institute for English & American Studies, 2009