Ken Pope is the Chief Executive Officer at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Previously he had a 34-year career in the U.S. Army, consulting industry and academia. While in uniform, he served in a variety of Armored Reconnaissance, Special Operations and Russian Foreign Area Officer (FAO) assignments in Europe, the Middle East, and Central America. He commanded an Armored Cavalry Troop during the Persian Gulf War and later a Special Operations unit focused on Central America. As an Army FAO he had a variety of assignments in Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kosovo. In the consulting industry, he led teams that provided strategy, analysis and wargaming support to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi where he taught courses on intelligence, advanced analytics, and led the program’s national security simulations with the U.S. Intelligence Community. He has a B.A. in Sociology, a M.A. in International Relations, is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and Staff College and the George C. Marshall Center’s Executive Program for Advanced Security Studies. His military awards include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and from the President of Estonia the Eagles Cross.
What is liberalism to you?
A willingness to respect or accept behavior or opinions of others that differ from your own. Part of that is being open to new (logical, rationale, fact based) ideas or ways of looking at the world. It is also the belief in individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, free enterprise, and the freedom to achieve any goal with your intellect and hard work.
Who are you?
Growing up I had a life-long fascination with all things military and then later at the university with Russia/Soviet Union. After college, I realized my dream of becoming an army officer. My first assignment as a new lieutenant was on the East/German Border in the famous Fulda Gap during the Cold War. Before I arrived in Germany, many of my college professors, often enamored with communism, told me how communism wasn’t that bad, had been done wrong and that we shouldn’t give up on it just yet. Seeing a Europe divided by a fence designed to keep at the time 400 million people captive changed my view of the Soviet Union, socialism, communism, and my professors. Communism was in fact far worse than portrayed by academia and my professors were fallible and very wrong about socialism, communism, and much more.
Over my military career I was blessed with incredible opportunities and experiences some good others not as much. During what became 23 years of the service, I lived, worked, fought, or visited over 65 nations. I worked with vastly different people, made life-long friends, and enjoyed new cultures. Along the journey the Army taught me Russian and sent me all over that nation and Central and Eastern Europe with multiple embassy assignments in the region. Each was a rich learning experience. After the Army, I became a consultant looking at the same region and eventually a university professor teaching intelligence. Each experience was a building block for my current role and mission in life – educating people around the world on the history, legacy and true human cost of socialism and communism.
When not working, you can find me reading history or the bible, writing a book on my experience in war and life, working out, cycling, hiking, or enjoying the various wineries in Virginia. My ideal life is living spending time with my family, living in the mountains of NC wearing shorts and a fleece as I hike around my favorite trails and lakes, and travelling the world.
What do you do?
I currently serve as the CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and Museum in Washington DC. As CEO, I lead our three major program areas of education, research, and human rights. We have a range of high-quality scholarly products – curriculum, teacher training, museum, tours and lectures, videos, podcast, webinars, speaker series, policy initiatives, holding communist governments accountable, and victim advocacy.
I’m committed to educating the current and next generation on the dangers of socialism and communism around the world. And to stand boldly against this destructive ideology wherever it occurs and in whatever form.
Favorite book(s): Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis; Cigars, Whiskey and Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant by Al Kaltman; and Alexander Pushkin: The Collected Stories.
Favorite animal: Easy – any animal that is not a cat.
Favorite color: blue
Favorite song: Wreckage by Nate Smith
Favorite food: Tossup between Indian, Italian, and Greek
Favorite place to visit: Northern Italy, Tuscany
ILV Selected Publications