Todd Lester

todd lester

SENIOR FELLOW

EXPERTISE

Africa
Conflict prevention
Human Rights
Immigration and Asylum
Media
Natural Disaster Response
 
Southern Caucus
Middle East
Art and Culture
Refugee Services
Humanitarian Response

BIOGRAPHY

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.

Todd Lester is currently the Executive Director of Global Arts Corps, an organization that creates theatre to advance reconciliation in societies emerging from violent conflict. Previously, he founded freeDimensional, an organization that supports activists and artists-in-distress by providing safe haven in artist residencies. Todd has worked in advocacy and strategic communications positions with Reporters sans frontiers and the Astraea Lesbian Justice Foundation, both in New York, and the International Rescue Committee in Sudan during the height of the Darfur crisis and signing of the country’s North-South Peace Accords. 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.

EDUCATION

Rutgers University
Master of Public Administration, International Public Service, January 2002
 
The New School
Diploma in Film Production, Media Studies, May 2004
 
University of Oxford
Institute on Forced Migration, Refugee Studies Centre, 2007
 
American University in Cairo

Gerhart Center for Philanthropy & Civic Engagement, Fellow; Center for Migration & Refugee Studies, Fellow

University of Osnabrück

Summer School on the Cultural Study of the Law, Institute for English & American Studies, 2009

AFFILIATIONS

Member, 21st Century Trust and Think Tank 30 of the Club of Rome

Waldzell Institute ‘Architect for the Future’

Keynote speaker at TPAM / Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama on the theme of “What is an ‘Accident’ of a Nuclear Plant? An Analysis & Forecast on new modes of sharing,” February 13-19, 2012. 

Spoke on a panel about Partnerships & Models at the “GlobalPerformance, Civic Imagination and Cultural Diplomacy Convening” at Georgetown University between  June 14-16, 2012. 
 
Panel Convener on “Conditions that put Artists in Danger” at the Radius of Art / Heinrich Boell Foundation Conference, February 8-9, 2012. 
 
Moderated “Expression and Exile in Burma: A Discussion and Reception with Chaw Ei Thein” at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, June 8, 2011.