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Bill Richardson

bill-richardson-bio-photoBiography of Governor Bill Richardson

For more than 30 years, Bill Richardson has led a distinguished public-service career as a U.S. Congressman (1982-1996), U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1997-1998), and Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton (1998-2000).

In 2008, he sought the Democratic nomination for President, dropping out after Iowa and New Hampshire.  As a diplomat and Special Envoy, Richardson has received four Nobel Peace Prize nominations, and has successfully won the release of hostages and American servicemen in North Korea, Cuba, Iraq and the Sudan.

Since entering life as a private citizen in 2011, he has authored three books including “How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator,” which was published in fall 2013. He is active on the national and international speech circuit and appears frequently on numerous television news programs, ranging from CNN to FOX, Univision, Meet the Press, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Richardson has also served as a Special Envoy to the Organization of American States (OAS) and as a Special Fellow on Latin America at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. Richardson also sits on several nonprofit boards, including the World Resources Institute (WRI), Refugees International, and the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE). In addition, he serves on numerous for-profit boards, primarily in the renewable energy space, such as Abengoa International.

Richardson has also started two foundations: The Richardson Center for Global Engagement, focusing on conflict resolution and prisoner release, and the Foundation to Preserve New Mexico Wildlife with actor and conservationist Robert Redford, which has led the charge to protect wild horses and provide alternatives to horse slaughter.  Recently, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement played an instrumental role in the successful release of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi from prison in Tijuana, Mexico.

Before being elected Governor of New Mexico, Richardson was Chairman of Freedom House, a private nonpartisan organization that promotes democracy and human rights worldwide, and served on the boards of the National Resource Defense Council and United Way International. He has been an adjunct professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and has received several honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning that include Tufts University and the University of New Mexico. As Governor, he taught courses at the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University. Last fall, he was given the National Hispanic Hero Award by the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute.

As Governor of New Mexico, Richardson’s bold governing style moved New Mexico forward in several important areas, including clean energy, education, transportation, healthcare, immigration, environmental protection and $1 billion in tax cuts to New Mexicans. He vastly improved the state’s job numbers and improved economic development by bringing the movie industry to New Mexico, which resulted in more than 140 major film and TV productions. He also built a light-rail system from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, and partnered with Virgin Galactic to build a commercial spaceport.

During his administration, more than $1 billion was invested in public schools, including professional salaries to recruit and retain quality teachers. He also shifted education money away from the administration and into the classroom, and increased access to early childhood education. In 2010, he was named the “best education Governor” by the National Education Administration.

Few can match Bill Richardson’s wide-ranging experience and dedication to protecting and improving human rights, and improving the quality of life for the people of New Mexico, the United States and the world.

Richardson has been married to his high-school sweetheart, Barbara, for 43 years. He received a BA from Tufts in 1970 and an MA from Tuft’s Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in 1971.

The Richardson Legacy

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Peru (2011)

Former Governor Richardson went to Peru in June 2011 as a representative of the Organization of American States to help monitor the presidential runoff election.

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Cuba (2010)

Governor Richardson, during a follow-up trade mission to Havana, took the opportunity to press Cuban officials to free Alan Gross, an American telecommunications expert who was arrested under dubious charges.

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Cuba (2009)

During a trade mission to Havana in August 2009, Governor Richardson met with Cuban leaders to encourage dialogue between the communist government and the U.S.

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Columbia (2008)

Governor Richardson traveled to Bogata, Colombia to meet with President Alvaro Uribe, and later to Caracas, Venezuela to meet with President Hugo Chavez to discuss the prospects for the release of three Americans being held hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

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Sudan (2007)

Governor Richardson secured a commitment from Sudanese President Omer Hassan Al Bashir to agree to a 60-day cessation of hostilities in the Darfur region to allow for a new political process under the Darfur Peace Agreement and the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations.

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Sudan (2006)

Governor Richardson secured the release on humanitarian grounds of New Mexico journalist Paul Salopek and two colleagues following a meeting with Sudanese President Lt. General Umar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir.

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North Korea (2007)

Governor Richardson led a bipartisan delegation to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of the remains of six U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War. After escorting the remains across the demilitarized zone into South Korea, Richardson also received assurances from North Korean leaders that they would allow international monitors in the country to monitor the shutdown of its nuclear facility.

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North Korea (2010)

Governor Richardson returned to Pyongyang in December 2010 at a time when tensions between North and South Korea were boiling over. Both sides threatened war. While there, Richardson seized the opportunity to try to convince North Korean political and military leaders not to carry through with threats to fire on South Koreans as they conducted military exercises.

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North Korea (2005)

Richardson made his first trip to North Korea as Governor in October 2005, and made progress on several fronts, including diplomatic, humanitarian and arms control. While there, Richardson was invited to tour the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and he urged the North Koreans to shut down the facility.

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North Korea (2003)

Just nine days after being sworn in as New Mexico’s Governor, Bill Richardson was thrust into the middle of an international crisis. North Korean officials traveled to Santa Fe to deliver a message to Richardson that they wanted to talk to the U.S. But on the second day in Santa Fe, North Koreans in Pyongyang announced they were pulling out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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Afghanistan (1998)

Ambassador Richardson traveled to Afghanistan to attempt to broker a peace deal with the Taliban and convince its leaders to expel Osama bin Laden from the country.

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Zaire (1997)

As US Ambassador to the United Nations, Richardson is called upon to negotiate a peaceful transfer of power from Mobutu Sese Seko to Laurent Kabila, who led a rebellion to take power.

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Sudan (1996)

Congressman Richardson negotiates the release of John Early, a pilot for the International Red Cross, his co-pilot, an Australian nurse and five rebel soldiers who are taken hostage by a rival rebel group in Sudan.

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North Korea (1996)

Congressman Richardson returns to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of a young American man who swam across the Yalu River from China to North Korea.

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Bangladesh (1996)

Congressman Richardson negotiated the release of an American woman who was imprisoned in Bangladesh on drug-related charges.

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Cuba (1996)

Congressman Richardson secured the release of three jailed dissidents in Cuba after negotiating with Fidel Castro.

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Iraq (1995)

Congressman Richardson is called upon to negotiate with Saddam Hussein for the release of two American defense contractors who were arrested in Iraq.

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North Korea (1994)

During a trip to North Korea to discuss a nuclear arms agreement and other issues, Congressman Richardson was surprised to learn that a U.S. army helicopter was shot down inside North Korean airspace. Richardson was asked by President Clinton and Secretary of State Warren Christopher to stay in North Korea until he obtains the release of the crew of the downed chopper.

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Burma/Myanmar (1994)

Bill Richardson started a process to urge Burmese military leaders to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a popular, pro-democracy activist who was placed under house arrest in Rangoon for her political activities.

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Haiti (1994)

Bill Richardson traveled to Haiti on July 18, 1994, as an unofficial envoy to meet with Haitian General Raoul Cedras. The goal was to convince Cedras to step down from power or risk an invasion by the U.S.