Ayotte, Cotton and Carpenter Join IRI Board

IRI welcomes Senator Kelly Ayotte, Senator Tom Cotton and Scott Carpenter, director of free expresion at Google Ideas, to the Institute’s Board of Directors.

Washington, DC – IRI today announced that Senator Kelly Ayotte, Senator Tom Cotton and Scott Carpenter, director of free expresion at Google Ideas, have joined the Institute’s Board of Directors.

“In these challenging times when democracy is under assault by autocrats and dictators around the world, we are honored that Kelly, Tom and Scott are joining our efforts to advance global freedom as members of IRI’s leadership team,” said Senator John McCain, chairman of IRI’s Board of Directors.  “Their commitment to the great mission of IRI and the energy and experience they bring will be invaluable to the Institute and its staff.”

Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire is one of the Senate’s leading voices on national security and an effective advocate for America’s international leadership and engagement.  She believes the rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence—the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—are not only self-evident, but universal.  Ayotte believes it is in America’s national security interests to pursue policies internationally that reinforce democratic values, advocates and governments.  Such policies both further the universal values that America stands for and help bring about democratic, free-market nations populated by people more likely to enjoy a peaceful and stable relationship with the United States and other democracies.  Senator Ayotte believes the United States should speak out on behalf of political prisoners and persecuted religious and racial minorities. 

Since arriving in the Senate in 2011, Ayotte has been a leading proponent for U.S. development and diplomacy programs that prevent more costly conflicts tomorrow.  She believes programs that promote stability, expand trade, improve human rights, enhance governance and reduce corruption abroad are important components of a successful U.S. national security strategy.  

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Ayotte believes that America’s continued freedom, security and prosperity depend on the maintenance of American military supremacy.  As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, Ayotte focuses on ensuring America’s service members have the equipment, training, and support they need to accomplish their missions and return home safely.     

Senator Tom Cotton was elected to the United States Senate in November 2014 where he serves on the Armed Services Committee; Select Committee on Intelligence; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; Joint Economic Committee; and Select Committee on Aging.  Prior to taking his Senate seat, Cotton represented the Fourth Congressional District of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Born and raised in Yell County, Cotton is a sixth generation Arkansan and a native of the congressional district he represented.  The 9/11 attacks occurred during Cotton’s final year in law school, and after a brief time as a law clerk with the U.S. Court of Appeals and in private practice, Cotton joined the United States Army where he served as an infantry officer.
Cotton served nearly five years on active duty, completing two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In Iraq, he served with the 101st Airborne, where he led an infantry platoon in daily combat patrols.  Between his two combat tours, Cotton served as a platoon leader with The Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.  He then served in Afghanistan as the operations officer for a Provincial Reconstruction Team.  Cotton’s military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantry Badge and Ranger Tab.  After leaving active duty, he worked as a management consultant for McKinsey and Co.

Scott Carpenter is the director of free expression at Google Ideas where he drives implementation of the team’s overall strategy to make online repressive censorship irrelevant.  Prior to joining Google, Carpenter founded and directed Project Fikra as the Keston family fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he remains an adjunct scholar.

Previously, Carpenter served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Near East Affairs where he helped conceive of and launch the Middle East Partnership Initiative before being named coordinator for the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative.  His other roles in government include director of governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Human Rights, Labor and Democracy.

An IRI alum, Carpenter established and served as co-director of the Institute’s Central and Eastern Europe regional office in Bratislava, Slovakia, overseeing programming in 10 countries from the Baltics to the Balkans, including Turkey.  Carpenter is member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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