Ambassador Maria Leissner, Secretary General
Maria Leissner was elected Secretary General in April, 2012, being the first Secretary General of the Community of Democracies. Prior to that, she was Sweden’s Ambassador at large for Democracy, and led the CD Working Group on Governance that proposed the recent reforms of the CD.
Maria Leissner has been Member of Parliament in Sweden from 1985 – 1991, after having led the Swedish Liberal Youth organisation both as Secretary General and as President. As an MP, she served on the Foreign Affairs Committee and was party spokesperson for refuge- and immigration issues. In 1995, she was elected leader of the Liberal Party in 1995, being the first woman leader of her party.
Maria Leissner joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2000 and was Ambassador to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Costa Rica in 2000 - 04. From 2006 she has served as Sweden’s Ambassador-at-large for democracy. She led a governmental delegation for Roma issues in 2006 – 2010, including the production of a state investigation of the situation of the Roma minority in Sweden. She was chair of the board of the University College of Borås in 2007 – 2010.
Maria Leissner has also served internationally as Director for NDI’s Governance program in Iraq 2004 – 2005 and as Senior Adviser for Human Rights at AMM (EU/ASEAN peace monitoring mission) in Aceh, Indonesia in 2005 – 2006. She has participated in a large number of election monitoring and other short term democracy related missions with SIDA, The Scandinavian Institute for African Studies, NDI etc.
She chaired the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (development NGO in Afghanistan) in 1991 – 94, and the Swedish women’s organisation ”Kvinnor Kan” in 1991 – 94, and is currently chair of the advisory board of the Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Södertörn.