25 October 2017

Réka Szemerkényi to join CEPA

Experienced diplomat and policy expert becomes CEPA’s new executive vice president

WASHINGTON, DC, October 25, 2017 - The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) announces that Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi is joining the Center as executive vice president. Based out of CEPA’s Washington office, Szemerkényi will be responsible for expanding the Center’s policy outreach and stakeholder engagement in both the United States and Europe. She assumes the post immediately.

“I could not be more pleased that Réka is joining CEPA as our new executive vice president,” said CEPA President Peter B. Doran. “Réka embodies CEPA’s mission and vision as one of Central Europe’s leading Atlanticist voices, most recently as Hungary’s first female ambassador to the United States. And she is joining a world class team of American and European policy experts at CEPA.”

As executive vice president at CEPA, Szemerkényi brings to the organization a wealth of experience in U.S.-Central European relations, with over two decades of achievements in government, the private sector, and the expert policy community.  

“Réka has demonstrated a strong commitment to Atlanticism throughout her career,” said CEPA Chairman Larry Hirsch. “We are delighted to have Réka join the CEPA team, as I know she will continue to work tirelessly to promote a deeper, more enduring relationship between Europe and the United States.”

Previously, Szemerkényi served as Hungary’s ambassador to the United States. In her career spanning the public service and nonprofit sectors, she was instrumental in helping facilitate Hungary’s NATO accession process, in establishing alternative natural gas supplies for Central Europe, in strengthening energy policy cooperation among U.S. allies in the region, and in launching several initiatives designed to bolster American ties with Europe.

“Réka is a stalwart Atlanticist with deep expertise in all the areas that matter most, including energy security, defense, intelligence, and information warfare,” said CEPA Senior Vice President Edward Lucas. “I am delighted that we will be working together at CEPA.”

Szemerkényi holds a doctorate from the Pázmány Péter Catholic University of Budapest. She received a master’s degree in strategic studies from Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) in 1995. She also holds degrees from the European Institute of International Relations in France (1991) and Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest (1992). In 2017, she was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Marymount University for Promoting International Cooperation, and in 2016 she received an honorary doctorate from the Hungarian Public University. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Hungarian National Service Award for her contribution to Hungary’s NATO admission (1999); l’Ordre National du Mérite by French President Jacques Chirac (2001); the “Bene Merito” award by Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski (2010); and the Award for “Promoting Freedom and Security in Central Europe” by the Slovak Atlantic Commission (2013). She is an elected member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and serves as vice president of the Hungarian Atlantic Council.

CEPA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-partisan public policy research institution dedicated to the study of Central and Eastern Europe, with offices in Washington and Warsaw. CEPA’s mission is to promote an economically vibrant, strategically secure, and politically free Central and Eastern Europe with close and enduring ties to the United States. Through written analysis and public events, CEPA educates policymakers and the public on the need for sustained engagement, helps transatlantic businesses navigate changing strategic landscapes, and builds networks of future leaders.

Since its creation in 2005, CEPA has grown rapidly to become a leading voice for strengthening security and democracy in the countries of post-communist Europe. It has also provided a forum for scholarly research, writing and debate on key issues affecting the CEE countries, their membership in NATO and the European Union, and their relationship with the United States. CEPA has grown to become the premier source of expert analysis and policymaker attention on U.S.-CEE relations, defense and geostrategy.

“It is with great joy that I congratulate and commend you on your new position as Executive Vice President of the Center for European Policy Analysis. Your years of diplomatic and public service have placed you in an ideal situation to continue to promote a secure relationship between Central Eastern Europe and the United States, as well as to nurture enduring transatlantic economic sustainability.”
Dennis A. Ross, U.S. Congressman 
“Dr. Szemerkényi is a woman of merit, acumen, and rare distinction. Her depth and range of experience in Europe, the United States, and globally will serve her well as she helps leads CEPA and continues to champion Atlanticist ideals.
Marcy Kaptur, U.S. Congresswoman 
“I continue to be impressed at how CEPA attracts the best and the brightest. Ambassador Szemerkényi did a fantastic job during her tenure as Hungary's Ambassador to the United States—arriving at a particularly difficult time—and I have no doubt she will be just as effective at CEPA.”
Kurt Volker, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations
“CEPA is lucky to have Réka Szemerkényi join its ranks as executive vice president. The former Hungarian Ambassador to the United States brings Washington her experience as a top level diplomat and senior advisor to the Prime Minister of Hungary. She is a committed transatlanticist determined to strengthen the bonds binding America and Europe.”
Ian Brzezinski, Atlantic Council 
“Réka is both an experienced Diplomat and a superb Policy Expert. She brings a wealth of private and public sector expertise that will be invaluable to CEPA. As a colleague and friend, I couldn't be more delighted to see her in this new role.”
Max Teleki, Hungarian American Coalition
“Talent, knowledge, hard work, commitment to the values and principles we cherish, devotion to her country and to the place Hungary belongs to: the family of the Atlantic Alliance. This is the person I got to know in Réka Szemerkényi, having had the privilege to work with her for more than two decades. Lucky are those who will have the same chance and opportunity.”
János Martonyi, Former Hungarian Foreign Minister
“I had the privilege to work with Réka during my time at MOL. I always felt reassured when I could rely on her professionalism, integrity and keen sense of diplomacy. We strongly agreed that a deep strategic partnership with the United States is the cornerstone of solving energy challenges... A prestigious think tank dedicated to such cooperation could not have made a better choice.”
Laszlo Varro, International Energy Agency
“Congrats to CEPA for hiring one of the finest diplomats, and most experienced professionals in transatlantic diplomacy, security and energy affairs. Ambassador Dr. Réka Szemerkényi - glad to have you back in DC.”
Amos Hochstein, Former Special Envoy and Coordinator of International Energy Affairs 
Ambassador Dr. Reka Szemerkenyi will leave another indelible impression, and this time it will be in her new position as Executive Vice President at CEPA. As U.S. Ambassador to Hungary while she served as Hungary’s Ambassador to the U.S., Reka and I worked together to advance our bi-lateral cooperation. She is an effective and innovative leader with the skills necessary to unify under difficult circumstances. As a committed transatlanticist, I am confident she will continue to strengthen the bond between the United States and Europe.
Colleen Bell, U.S. Ambassador to Hungary 2014-2017