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Jan Erik Surotchak

Regional Director, Europe

Jan Surotchak first joined IRI in 1994 and currently serves as regional director for Europe.  In this position he oversees IRI programming in the Baltic States, Central and Southeastern Europe, and Turkey, as well as outreach efforts to partner parties in Western Europe and institutions at the European Union level.

Since 2003, Surotchak has served as director of IRI’s regional program for Central and Eastern Europe, based in Bratislava, Slovakia.  The program works in 17 countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia) to strengthen political parties and government institutions.  In this role, he manages IRI’s Leadership Institute for Central and Eastern Europe, European Political Party Foundation and Institute Network and Citycraft Institute.  Surotchak is also responsible for IRI’s European Partnership Initiative, through which the Institute develops relations with political parties in the European Union, in particular with the European People’s Party and its member organizations.

From 2002-2003, Surotchak led an election-related grant-making program in Slovakia for Freedom House, after directing donor relations for the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation in Pennsylvania for two years.  From 1995-2000, he directed the Foundation for a Civil Society’s Democracy Network Program in Bratislava, which provided support to Slovak nongovernmental organizations engaged in public policy formation and implementation.  Prior to that, he served as coordinator of Washington programs for the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and as legislative assistant to U.S. Representative Don Ritter (PA-15).

Surotchak has taken part in numerous election observation missions and political assessments around the world for IRI, among others in Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, China, Honduras, Jordan, Nigeria, Somaliland and Turkey.  He co-edited IRI’s study Why We Lost:  Explaining the Rise and Fall of the Center-Right in Central and Eastern Europe, 1996-2002.  

Surotchak is serving his fifth term on Borough Council in his home town of Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, having last been re-elected in 2011.  He earned a master’s in law and diplomacy degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1987 and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Lehigh University in 1984.  He also won a Fulbright Fellowship for the study of the political parties formed by refugees and expellees at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, in 1984-1985.   Surotchak speaks, reads and writes German and Slovak and reads Czech and Russian.  He is married and has a son and daughter.