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avatar for Maria Leissner

Maria Leissner

Community of Democracies
Secretary General
In April 2012, Maria Leissner was elected the first Secretary General of the Community of Democracies. In June 2014, she was re-elected for a second term. Previously, she served as Sweden's Ambassador at Large for Democracy and led the Community of Democracies Working Group on Governance, which proposed recent reforms to the Community.

Maria served as a Member of the Swedish Parliament from 1985-1991, after having led the Swedish Liberal Youth organization as Secretary General and President. As an MP, she served on the Foreign Affairs Committee and as the party spokesperson for refugee and immigration issues. In 1995, she was elected leader of the Liberal Party, the first woman to hold this position.

Maria was with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2000-2004, where she served as Ambassador to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, and Costa Rica. She has led a government delegation on Roma issues.

Maria has also worked with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Iraq and the Aceh Monitoring Mission in Indonesia. She has participated in numerous election monitoring and other democracy-related missions with Sida, the Scandinavian Institue for African Studies, and NDI.

Maria has chaired the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, the Swedish women's organization "Kvinnor Kan," the University College of Boras, and the Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Sodertorn.