Member of SIF Interim Leadership Team, and Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for the Seattle International Foundation.
His primary responsibility is to oversee the Foundation’s engagement with the DC-based policy community. He also provides strategic policy advice to the Foundation’s Central American partners on priority issues such as promoting rule of law and good governance, ending forced migration and displacement, ensuring equity, and strengthening civil society.
He oversees SIF’s Anti-Impunity Project and Independent Journalism Fund. In addition to his work with SIF, Olson is a Wilson Center Global Fellow. He served as the Mexico Institute and Latin American Program’s Deputy Director for 11 years. He has published numerous articles and books including, “Crime and Violence in the Northern Triangle: How U.S. policy is helping, hurting, and can be improved.”
Prior to his arrival at the Wilson Center he worked with the Secretariat for Political Affairs at the Organization of American States as a Senior Specialist on Good Governance; at Amnesty International USA as Advocacy Director for the Americas; and at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) as Senior Associate for Mexico. He also worked for Augsburg College’s Center for Global Education and Experience in Mexico, and in Honduras as an economic development specialist. He began his career as a legislative assistant for a Member of Congress from Minnesota.
Originally from Minnesota, Olson has spent over 30 year living and working in Latin America including Venezuela (where he grew up), Honduras, and Mexico. He has traveled extensively in Central America and the region. He holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the American University’s School of International Service, and a Bachelor’s degree in Education and History from Trinity College in Deerfield, IL.
I spent two formative years living in Honduras in the mid-80s. Since then I’ve devoted my life to promoting human rights, justice, and equity for Central Americans. It is a gift to find a team at the Foundation that shares these goals.