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Distinguished Speaker Series - Trygve Olson - "Belarus: The long road to freedom."

  • December 07, 2021
  • 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Registration is closed

The San Diego World Affairs Council presents the
"Distinguished Speaker" Series

Trygve Olson

Founder of Viking Strategies LLC


"Belarus: The long road to freedom." 

Tuesday, 7th December 2021 

Trygve Olson spent over a decade working on behalf of the International Republican Institute* (IRI), with a focus on repressive and closed societies. IRI, established in 1983, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to advancing democracy and freedom. It is often funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), as was the case for Belarus. From 2001 to 2007 Olson was based in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he worked as director of IRI's Belarus program. Over two decades of working with IRI, he trained 1000’s of democratic activists in over forty countries on five continents. Olson developed all aspects of IRI's Belarus program that provided assistance to pro-democratic groups in the country. He managed the program from startup with a budget of just over $500K in funding and no staff, to over ten staff and a $2 million annual budget by 2007. Through Olson, IRI provided on the ground assistance, training, and tactical support for programs in a number of other countries including those throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

In Belarus, some of the results included devising a strategy to increase awareness and support for democratic forces in Belarus through international media outreach and shaping; pursuing a strategy to create a coordinated U.S. and E.U. policy approach towards the Belarusian government; and developing opportunities for Belarusian opposition leaders to meet with EU and US leaders including President Bush and Speaker Hastert, leaders of EU member states such as Merkel, Sarkozy, Tusk, and Blair, and top officials of the European Commission including Barroso and Solana. Additionally, Olson provided strategic advice, public opinion polling analysis, and tactical training to the leadership of the democratic opposition forces of Belarus.

In 2009, Trygve served as a consultant to the European People's Party in their successful European Parliamentary campaign. In 2008, 2012, and 2016 he was retained to organize and host the International Visitor's Programs at the Republican National Conventions. 

Trygve Olson is the founder of Viking Strategies LLC, which provides clients around the world with cutting-edge public affairs, political consulting, and political risk assessment services. Mr. Olson focuses on devising successful strategies to navigate Washington, DC, and capitals around the world through the implementation of cutting-edge tactics. He has worked on elections, or with political parties, in over forty countries, aided some of the largest corporations on global, national, and state-level public affairs efforts, and provided governmental risk assessments for private equity on three continents. 

A former top advisor to both Senator Rand Paul and the Karl Rove lead group American Crossroads, Trygve occupies a unique place at the nexus between the conservative grassroots and the Republican establishment. Mr. Olson has served in senior leadership positions on two Presidential campaigns, has worked on numerous Congressional Elections, and done work for the Republican National Committee. In 2014, he was a Senior Advisor to both American Crossroads and Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, the main outside PAC supporting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's reelection bid. In 2020 he served as a Senior Advisor to the Lincoln Project focusing on rising extremism and illiberalism in the United States. 

On the public affairs side, Mr. Olson focuses his practice on the technology, telecommunications, and investment sectors. His clients have included significant trade associations and several of American's largest corporations. Typically, his work on behalf of these clients includes activating non-traditional grassroots groups, issuing education programs via digital communications, and leveraging research to earn media buzz. Most recently he has helped manage a broad conservative coalition in leading the opposition to the Marketplace Fairness Act. He also provides counsel on political risks to the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform focusing on the European Union and for a group of foreign investors who had assets seized in Latin America. 

Trygve Olson makes his home in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife and two daughters.

* What is IRI: IRI links people with their governments, guides politicians to be responsive to citizens, and motivates people to engage in the political process. 

IRI encourages democracy in places where it is absent, helps democracy become more effective where it is in danger, and shares best practices where democracy is flourishing. It’s a 501(c)(3) and receives funding through grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. State Department, the National Endowment for Democracy, a number of European foundations and aid agencies, and other Western countries, and the United Nations.  Less than one percent of IRI’s funding comes from private donations.  We do not receive any money from the Republican Party or any other U.S. partisan entity.  IRI is not affiliated with any political party. 


Mailing Address

San Diego World Affairs Council (SDWAC)

PO Box 34010

San Diego, CA 92163


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