Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia, received his B.A. in psychology from Columbia University in 1976 and his M.A. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. President Ilves started his academic career at Columbia as a research assistant in the Department of Psychology from 1974 to 1979. He also served as assistant director and English teacher at the Open Education Center in Englewood, New Jersey from 1979 to 1981. Prior to his one year appointment from 1983 to 1984 as lecturer in Estonian literature and linguistics at Simon Fraser University in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in Vancouver, Canada, Mr. Hendrik Ilves served as director and administrator of arts at the Vancouver Arts Center of Canada for two years.
Prior to embarking on his political career, Mr. Ilves was head of the Estonian desk of Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany from 1988 to 1993 and worked as analyst and researcher for the research unit of Radio Free Europe from 1984 to 1988.
From 2002 to 2004 he served as a member of the Parliament of the Republic of Estonia, after serving twice as the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Estonia from 1996 to 1998, and again from 1999 to 2002. Mr. Ilves served as chairman of the North Atlantic Institute in 1998 and Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States of America, Canada, and Mexico from 1993 to 1996. After serving two years as a member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2006, Mr. Ilves was elected President of the Republic of Estonia in 2006.
President Ilves founded the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute and was a member of the Executive Committee until 2002, as well as a founding member and member of the board of the European Movement Estonia from 1999 to 2004. In addition, Mr. Ilves served as president of the Estonian Special Olympics for eight years, from 1997 to 2004.
In 2006 the Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (Estonia) was awarded to Mr. Ilves. In 2001 Mr. Ilves was decorated with the Grand Commandeur Legion d’Honneur of the Republic of France.
President Ilves was born on December 26, 1953, in Stockholm, Sweden. He is married to Mrs. Evelin Ilves and has three children: Luukas Kristjan, Juulia Kristiine, and Kadri Keiu.