Toomas Hendrik Ilves is an Estonian politician who served as the fourth President of Estonia from 2006 until 2016. Ilves worked as a diplomat and journalist, and he was the leader of the Social Democratic Party in the 1990s. He served in the government as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1996 to 1998 and again from 1999 to 2002. Later, he was a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2006.
He acquired his education in the United States – he graduated from Columbia University in New York City in 1976 and received his Master's degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978.
1984 he moved to Europe, to work at the office of Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany, first as a researcher and foreign policy analyst and later as the Head of the Estonian Desk.
From 1993 to 1996 Toomas Hendrik Ilves served in Washington as the Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States of America and Canada. During this time he initiated with education minister Jaak Aaviksoo the Tiger Leap initiative to computerize and connect all Estonian schools online. From 1996 to 1998, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs. After a brief period as Chairman of the North Atlantic Institute in 1998, he was again appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, serving until 2002.
From 1996 to 1998, he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. After a brief period as a Chairman of the North Atlantic Institute in 1998, he was again appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, serving until 2002.
From 2002 to 2004, Mr. Ilves was a Member of the Estonian Parliament; in 2004 he was elected a Member of the European Parliament, where he was Vice-president of the Foreign Affairs Committee. As a MEP, he initiated the Baltic Sea Strategy that later was implemented as official regional policy of the European Union. He also served as the standing rapporteur on the Association agreement with Albania.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves was elected President of the Republic of Estonia in 2006. Ilves was re-elected for a second term in office in 2011.
During his presidency Toomas Hendrik Ilves has been appointed to serve in several high positions in the field of ICT in the European Union. He served as a Chairman of the EU Task Force on eHealth from 2011 to 2012. From 2012 to 2014, at the invitation of the European Commission, he was Chairman of the European Cloud Partnership Steering Board. From 2014 to 2015 president Ilves was the co-chair of the advisory panel of World Bank's World Development Report 2016 "Digital Dividends" and from June 2014-to May 2016, the chair of World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Cyber Security.
His interest in computers stems from an early age – he learned to program at the age of 13, and he has been promoting Estonia's IT-development since the country restored its independence. During recent years, president Ilves has spoken and written extensively at integration, trans-atlantic relations, e-government, cyber security and other related topics.
In 1995, while he was the Estonian Ambassador to the USA, Toomas Hendrik Ilves initiated a ground-breaking project for the promotion of e-skills in his native country. Ilves is regarded as the father of the so-called “Tiger Leap Program,” which was the springboard for a series of large-scale digital projects that aimed at developing the internet as the standard medium in all areas of society. Young people were the first to benefit from the “Tiger Leap Program”: schools were connected to the internet, issued with the necessary hardware and software, and the teachers received appropriate training. The second stage of the process was to establish e-learning as a daily fixture in the timetable at Estonian schools. The program was extended to include universities, and a national online learning platform, which is available to all pupils, parents and teachers.
In 2016 he received the Digital Freedom Award in recognition for fostering the digital freedom and raising awareness of opportunities and challenges the digital revolution can bring.
President Ilves has published many essays and articles in Estonian and English on numerous topics ranging from Estonian language, history and literature to global foreign and security policy and cyber security. His books include essay collections in Estonian, Finnish, Latvian, Hungarian and Russian.
Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Co-chair of the WEF’s Global Future Council on Blockchain
Memeber of Munich Security Conference Advisory Board
Toomas Hendrik Ilves has four children: son Luukas Kristjan (1987), daughters Juulia (1992) and Kadri Keiu (2003) and son Hans Hendrik (2016). He is married to Ieva (Kupce) Ilves.
1978 – Pennsylvania University (USA), MA in psychology
1976 – Columbia University (USA), BA in psychology
2017 – Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover Institution, Stanford University
2017 – Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Freeman-Sprogli Institute for International Studies
2006-2016 – President of the Republic of Estonia
2004-2006 – Member of the European Parliament, Vice-president Foreign Affairs Committee
2002-2004 – Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Estonia
1999-2002 – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Estonia
1998 – Chairman, North Atlantic Institute
1996-1998 – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Estonia
1993-1996 – Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States of America, Canada, and Mexico
1988-1993 – Head of the Estonian desk, Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany
1984-1988 – Analyst and researcher for the research unit of Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany
1983-1984 – Lecturer in Estonian Literature and Linguistics, Simon Fraser University, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Vancouver, Canada
1981-1983 – Director and Administrator of Art, Vancouver Arts Center, Canada
1979-1981 – Assistant Director and English teacher, Open Education Center, Englewood, New Jersey, USA
1974-1979 – Research Assistant, Columbia University department of Psychology, USA
Currently Co-chair of World Economic Forum Blockchain group
Currently Board member of Munich Security Conference advisory board
2014-2016 – Chairman of World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Cyber Security
2014 – Chairman of World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Cyber Security
2014-2015 – Co-chair of the advisory panel of World Bank's World Development Report 2016 "Digital Dividends"
2013 – Chairman of the High-Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms convened by ICANN
2012-2014 – Chairman of the European Cloud Computing Steering Board at the invitation of the European Commission
2011-2012 – Chairman of the EU Task Force on e-Health
2017 – World Leader in Cybersecurity Award by Boston Global Forum
2017 – Reinhard Mohn Prize by the Bertelsmann Stiftung
2016 – Knight of Freedom Award by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation
2016 – Digital Freedom Award by the Digital Freedom Festival
2015 – Aspen Prague Award by the Aspen Institute
2014 – Freedom Award by the Atlantic Council
2013 – NDI Democracy Award by the National Democratic Institute
1995 – Member of the Estonian Students Society (Eesti Üliõpilaste Selts)
2004-2006 – Member of the Trilateral Commission
2005 – Member of the Board of Trustees of think-tank Friends of Europe
2002 – Founder of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute (Eesti Välispoliitika Instituut)
2002 – Honorary Member of the Latvian Students Society "Austrums"
2002 – Member of the Board, Viljandi County Municipal Fund
2004-2006 – Board of Trustees, Estonian Academy of Arts
1997-2004 – President of the Estonian Special Olympics
1996-2003 – Member of the Board of Trustees of Tartu University
1999-2004 – European Movement Estonia (EME) Member of the Board, Founding Member
2006 – Honorary Member of the Estonian Society in Belgium