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WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Grzegorz Lewocki (Humphrey Fellow 2009-10)

eP Article: Extra Story Photo (copy) (copy)

Humphrey Fellow ('09-10) Grzegorz Lewocki with Justice Sonia Sotomayor


From Lewocki Oct. 31, 2010:
After his studies in Minnesota, Lewocki moved to Washington, D.C., for a few months. He researched use of technology (optical scannning, e-mail voting) in elections at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and developed a document on how nongovernmental organizations and individual citizens can bring petitions to the court at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He then moved to New York to work on justice, security, and accountability issues with the U.N. Development Program.

In September 2010, he returned to the Polish Department of Justice and his work as a human rights lawyer. At the request of the U.S. Department of State, he spoke at the Global Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., in October. He stayed to observe the Nov. 2 elections with the IFES and participate as a private guest of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a court session.

Lewocki says he learned that “networking is one of the fundamentals of leadership and success,” and he had the pleasure of meeting one-on-one with many U.S. leaders. Among them are Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie; Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Harley G. Lappin; former Security Adviser for President Jimmy Carter Zbigniew Brzezinski; and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Sonia Sotomayor. “I will always remember UMN, where I had a great time and met wonderful people,” Lewocki says. ”

Lewocki’s profile in Spring 2010 Perspectives, by Todd Melby:
When Grzegorz Lewocki was a child, his father read many books to him, including a series about the travels of a Polish boy named Tomek Wilmowski to faraway lands. “For me, it was like a beginning,” says Lewocki, 33, a native of Siedlce in eastern Poland. “I was feeling I need to see this.”

Accordingly, on graduating from secondary school in 1996, Lewocki grabbed a backpack and headed for Turkey by land. Over the next four years he ventured, mostly alone, to the United States, Tunisia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. There was also a 4,735-mile journey from Moscow to Beijing via the Trans-Siberian Railway. “This was like food for a hungry person,” says Lewocki, who to date has visited 67 countries.

During that time, Lewocki also managed to complete a law degree at Poland’s University of Bialystok. In 2001, he landed a job with the Polish government, writing environmental and infrastructure regulations. When that wasn’t challenging enough, he began studying human rights law at the nongovernmental Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

That led him to Ukraine to observe the historic Orange Revolution elections of 2004, in which hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Kiev’s Independence Square to demand true democracy. More observation missions followed, including trips to Yemen, Sierra Leone, Palestine to witness the election of Hamas in 2006, and Kenya to see the violent elections in 2007.

This spring has Lewocki watching a much less dramatic vote. After winning a Humphrey fellowship, he is serving as a Commissioner on the University of Minnesota All Campus Election Commission. “I like it,” he says. “I get to share my experience and learn about the logistics of setting up an election.”

Lewocki’s favorite Law School courses are on international human rights and foreign relations, but he’s also investigating subjects that will be helpful when he returns home. In his current Polish government job, he’s part of a team responsible for cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, prison reform, and crisis management, so he’s spending time in Minnesota touring prisons and quizzing local leaders on their response to the I-35W bridge collapse.“ I want to go back and share my knowledge and experience,” he says.