VICS Welcomes Our Keynote Speaker

The Keynote Speaker for VICS XXV is still being confirmed, but for the past four years, VICS has been honored to host Mr. Charles Blaha as the keynote speaker to open VICS.

Charles Blaha is the Director of the Office of Security and Human Rights in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. From 2013 until January 2016 he was Director of the same Bureau’s Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Prior to that, Mr. Blaha served in the Department’s International Organizations Bureau’s Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Office, and as Counselor for the Political and Specialized Agencies Section of the U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva, where he worked primarily on issues related to the UN Human Rights Council.

Mr. Blaha entered the Foreign Service in 1991. Overseas, in addition to Geneva, he has served as Political-Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Prague and as Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. He also served two tours in Turkey, two tours at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, and at the U.S. Embassy in Panama. In Washington, Mr. Blaha served in the State Department’s Executive Secretariat from 2001 until 2002, advancing travel and assigning and coordinating taskings for Secretary of State Colin Powell. He also served in the State Department’s Western European Affairs Office from 2002 until 2003.

Before joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Blaha was a trial attorney with the Milwaukee Office of the Wisconsin State Public Defender for ten years. Mr. Blaha holds a B.A., magna cum laude, from Duke University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He speaks Spanish and Turkish, and has studied Czech.