The democracy assistance community is mourning the passing of Lorne W. Craner, the longest-serving president of the International Republican Institute (IRI).
“Lorne embodied the vision of President Ronald Reagan, who founded IRI as part of the National Endowment for Democracy, and Senator John McCain, IRI’s Chairman of 25 years, that all people everywhere deserve the dignity that comes from political freedom,” said Daniel Twining, IRI President, whom Lorne hired as an IRI intern in 1994. “His lifelong commitment to values-based American leadership in the world helped millions enjoy the blessings of liberty.”
Lorne had a distinguished and impactful career, IRI adds:
Under his stewardship, IRI became a leader in advancing democratic development globally, including in the areas of political party strengthening, good governance, women’s political participation and fostering transatlantic partnership. He led the Institute to new levels of programmatic achievement, fundraising, financial accountability and monitoring and evaluation.
“This very sad news fills all of us with grief,” said NED President Carl Gershman. “Lorne was a core member of the NED family from the very beginning, a full decade before he went to IRI and then became its longest serving president.”
“He shared the vision of universal democracy that binds and inspires all of us, and carried it with him in all of his many public responsibilities,” he added. “Lorne was also an astute political analyst, and he helped shape some of the key institutional features that continue to influence the way NED, IRI, and the other core institutes carry out our common mission.”
Lorne began his career as the foreign policy legislative assistant to former Congressman Jim Kolbe, IRI adds.
“When I first came to Washington as a freshman Congressman, Lorne Craner served as my foreign affairs adviser,” said Kolbe, who serves on the IRI board. “He helped guide me through the thickets of international politics and his advice was always sound and measured. It was a precursor to a distinguished career spanning several decades and six presidents. He leaves an indelible mark on our country’s long-standing support for democracy and freedom around the world.”
Previously, Craner was assistant secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for Secretary of State Colin Powell, NDI adds. Among other accomplishments, he contributed to the conception and implementation of President Bush’s approach to democratization in the Middle East, sharpened the administration’s focus on human rights in Central Asia, initiated the first U.S. government programs to advance democracy in China, and helped construct the Millennium Challenge Account’s “good governance’ criteria.
“Lorne will be greatly missed, not only by his colleagues and friends, but by individuals in every region of the world who would not have had the opportunity to live in a free and democratic society without Lorne’s efforts,” said IRI board member Peter Madigan, who worked with Lorne for over 30 years. “He was a pioneer in the democracy business. IRI’s people, programs, and mission were his passion. He firmly believed that self-determination is a universal human right, and he lived his values.”