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Sam LaHood

Director for Government and External Affairs

Sam LaHood is the Director for Government and External Affairs leading IRI’s communications and outreach to the United States Congress and other governmental stakeholders to share knowledge and expertise on the value of democracy and governance to America’s national interest and security.

LaHood joined IRI in August 2010 as the resident country director of the Institute’s Egypt program.  He was working in Cairo during the January 25, 2011 protests and remained throughout the revolution and resignation of Hosni Mubarak.  Throughout 2011, LaHood helped build the Egypt program into one of the largest at IRI, mentoring newly formed political parties and candidates for office, conducting extensive voter education and managing three international election observation missions for the parliamentary elections in 2011 and 2012. 

In March of 2012, LaHood transferred to Phnom Penh to direct the Institute's program in Cambodia, which focused on youth empowerment and public opinion research.  In April of 2013, he returned to the Washington D.C. office and served as a Program Officer and then Deputy Regional Director for Asia.

During his time with IRI, LaHood has frequently served as a trainer, often represents the Institute at donor and diplomatic events, has observed five elections in three countries and was trained to be an election judge in Maryland.  He has testified before Congress and conducted numerous print, radio and television interviews.

Prior to IRI, LaHood spent most of 2008 as a full-time staff member on the McCain presidential campaign.  In that role, he was a member of the traveling staff responsible for planning and organizing campaign events.  LaHood was a political appointee for the administration of President George W. Bush and served at the U.S. Mission in Baghdad from September 2005 until November 2006 where he was awarded the Department’s Meritorious Honor Award for his work on the crimes against humanity trial of Saddam Hussain.  Before Baghdad, LaHood was an appointee in Washington, D.C. with the office of Strategic Communications and Planning at the U.S. State Department and with the U.S. Department of Energy.

LaHood lives in Montgomery County, Maryland with his wife and three children.  When not chasing after a child he is probably running in Rock Creek Park in preparation for a race.  He is a graduate of St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and studied at the American University in Cairo and American University of Beirut.  LaHood has resided in eight countries and traveled to more than 55.