About the Center
The Freedom and Prosperity Center aims to increase the prosperity of the poor and marginalized in developing countries and to explore the nature of the relationship between freedom and prosperity.
The Center analyzes some of the defining questions of our time and of all time. Do countries need freedom to achieve prosperity? Do democracies or autocracies have the better answers to the aspirations of the peoples of the world? What about countries that are not electoral democracies in the Western sense, but have high levels of economic and legal freedoms and leaders who appear to enjoy a high level of legitimacy among their citizens?
Central to answering these questions are the Freedom and Prosperity Indexes. The indexes measure the freedom and prosperity, respectively, of nearly every country in the world.
You can access the Freedom and Prosperity Indexes, country rankings, and full report through the below links.
Freedom and Prosperity indexes
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Learn how the message of freedom and prosperity resonates in different regions of the world.
Michael George DeSombre
Ambassador Michael George DeSombre is a partner at the international law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell where he heads up their Asia M&A practice as well as the Korea and Southeast Asia practices. Ambassador DeSombre served as the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand from 2020-2021. During his tenure in Thailand, Ambassador DeSombre focused on energizing the strategic relationship and strengthening the economic partnership between the United States and Thailand. While serving as Ambassador to Thailand, DeSombre worked closely with the Royal Thai Government on economic reforms to encourage the relocation of supply chains and manufacturing to Thailand. Ambassador DeSombre was deeply involved in the United States Indo-Pacific Strategy and pioneered the all-of-Embassy economic diplomacy and deal team structure that has been emulated at many other US embassies. Key accomplishments during his tenure included the sale of Textron T-6 aircraft to the Royal Thai Air Force, delivery of Strykers to the Royal Thai Army, hosting the inaugural Roundtable Discussion on Religious Freedom attended by representatives of all religions in Thailand, and hosting the inaugural Conference on helping Thai Companies Go Global with the CEOs of the five largest Thai companies that have significant operations in the US.
Ambassador DeSombre serves as a Senior Diplomatic Advisor to the Keith Krach Center for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue as well as an Advisor to the Atlantic Council’s Freedom and Prosperity Indices. Ambassador DeSombre is recognized as one of the preeminent mergers & acquisitions and private equity lawyers in the world and is a frequent speaker on the art of negotiations. From 2015-2020 Ambassador DeSombre served as the Chairman of the Board of Save the Children Hong Kong where he doubled the revenue and substantially expanded the children supported by their programs. Ambassador DeSombre has a Bachelor’s degree in Quantitative Economics and a Masters degree in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and has a JD degree (magna cum laude) from Harvard Law School. He speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently and has some ability in Korean and Japanese.
Dr. Matthew Kroenig is the director of studies at the Atlantic Council, deputy director of the Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, and the director of the Scowcroft Center’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative. In these roles, he oversees the Council’s extensive network of nonresident experts, leads the Scowcroft Center’s global strategy unit, and supports the Scowcroft Center’s director in managing a bipartisan team of over forty resident staff. His own research focuses on US national-security strategy, great-power competition with China and Russia, and strategic deterrence and weapons nonproliferation.
Kroenig has served in several positions in the US government. He is currently a commissioner on the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. He previously served in the Department of Defense and the intelligence community in the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, including in the Strategy, Middle East, and Nuclear and Missile Defense offices in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency’s Strategic Assessments Group. From 2017 to 2021, he was a special government employee and senior policy adviser to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capability/Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy. In this role, he provided advice on matters relating to the formulation, drafting, coordination, and implementation of nuclear-deterrence policy and strategy in support of the 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review. In 2011, he developed strategic options for addressing Iran’s nuclear program. In 2005, he was the principal author of the first-ever US-government-wide strategy for deterring terrorist networks. For this work, he received the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Award for Outstanding Achievement. He is a featured character in the New York Times bestselling book, Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign against Al Qaeda, by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker. He was a national security adviser on the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney (2012) and Marco Rubio (2016). He has testified before Congress and regularly consults with the White House, State Department, Pentagon, Congress, the intelligence community, and allied governments.
Kroenig is also a tenured professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University. A 2019 study in Perspectives on Politics ranked him one of the top twenty-five most cited political scientists of his generation.
He is the author or editor of seven books, including The Return of Great Power Rivalry: Democracy versus Autocracy from the Ancient World to the US and China (Oxford University Press, 2020), which was Amazon’s number one new release in international relations. The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters (Oxford University Press, 2018) was selected by the US Air Force for its professional reading list and was translated into Chinese and Korean. Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons (Cornell University Press, 2010) was awarded the International Studies Association Best Book Award, Honorable Mention.
Kroenig co-authors the bimonthly “It’s Debatable” column at Foreign Policy. His articles and commentary have appeared in many other publications, including American Political Science Review, Annual Review of Political Science, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Organization, International Security, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Strategic Studies, Politico, Security Studies, Strategic Studies Quarterly, the Atlantic, the New Republic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, among others. He provides regular commentary for major broadcast media outlets, including on PBS Newshour, Fareed Zakaria GPS, CBS, BBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR All Things Considered, and C-SPAN.
Previously, he was the Stanton nuclear security fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Security at Harvard University, and a research fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Hertog Foundation, and the Stanton Foundation. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and holds an MA and PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkroenig.
Ash Jain is director for democratic order with the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, where he oversees the Atlantic Council’s Democratic Order Initiative and D-10 Strategy Forum. His work focuses on strengthening cooperation among democracies and advancing a rules-based, democratic order. He previously served as a member of the secretary of state’s policy planning staff, focusing on US alliances and partnerships, international norms, and challenges to the democratic order — including those posed by Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.
Jain was a Bosch public policy fellow with the German Marshall Fund Transatlantic Academy and executive director for the Project for a United and Strong America, where he coordinated a bipartisan foreign policy task force to produce a blueprint for a values-based national security strategy. He also served as an adviser for the White House Office of Global Communications and with the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
He is the author or co-author of several publications, including Present at the Re-Creation: A Global Strategy to Revitalize, Adapt, and Defend the Rules-Based International System (with foreword by Madeleine Albright and Stephen Hadley); An Alliance of Democracies: From Concept to Reality in an Era of Strategic Competition; Countering China’s Challenge to the Free World; Strategy of Constrainment: Countering Russia’s Challenge to the Democratic Order; and Nuclear Weapons and Iran’s Global Ambitions: Troubling Scenarios (Washington Institute for Near East Policy). His published articles and commentary have appeared in various news outlets, including the New York Times, Politico, Wall Street Journal, The Hill, The Economist, Nikkei Asia, BBC, Canadian Broadcasting, Australian Broadcasting, CNBC India, and France 24.
Jain has also taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He earned a JD/MS in foreign service from Georgetown University and a BA in political science from the University of Michigan.
Barry Pavel is the head of the national security research division at the RAND Corporation. Before that he headed the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, focusing on emerging security challenges, defense strategies and capabilities, and key European and global defense issues.
Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, he was a career member of the Senior Executive Service in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy for almost eighteen years. From October 2008 to July 2010, he served as the special assistant to the President and senior director for defense policy and strategy on the National Security Council (NSC) staff, serving both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. In this capacity, Pavel led the development of five of the first eight Obama Administration Presidential Study Directives. He was the initiator and architect of the NSC’s first-ever National Security Priorities Review and a key contributor to the President’s 2010 National Security Strategy. He led the NSC’s oversight of the four Defense Department strategic reviews (the Quadrennial Defense Review, Nuclear Posture Review, Ballistic Missile Defense Review, and Space Posture Review), including the President’s September 2009 decision on European missile defense and all presidential decisions on nuclear policy and posture; co-led the development of the president’s June 2010 National Space Policy; and contributed to the president’s policies on Europe and NATO, Korea, cyberspace, Defense Department operational plans and activities, military family policy, and other matters.
Prior to this position, Pavel was the chief of staff and principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities. He helped Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers develop policy on the capabilities and operational employment of special operations forces, strategic forces, and conventional forces. His main areas of work covered strategic capabilities policy, including development of the first Defense Department cyber deterrence strategy and better aligning the department’s approach to cyberspace activities and capabilities with defense strategy and policy.
From October 1993 to November 2006, Pavel led or contributed to a broad range of defense strategy and planning initiatives for both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. He led the Clinton administration’s development of the Defense Planning Guidance and the defense planning for the first round of NATO enlargement. He also contributed to President Clinton’s National Security Strategies and the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). As the principal director for strategy, he also played a leading role in the conduct of the 2001 QDR, the global defense posture realignment, and the development of the 2005 US National Defense Strategy. Other main work areas included: the Secretary of Defense’s Security Cooperation Guidance and the first Interagency Security Cooperation Strategy Conference; the Unified Command Plan; post-9/11 deterrence policy (including deterrence of terrorist networks and regional nuclear powers); strategies for reducing ungoverned areas; and a long-range planning construct that accounts for trends and “strategic shocks” that could significantly change Department of Defense’s role in national security.
Pavel holds an MA in security studies and an MPA in international relations from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, and a BA in applied mathematics and economics from Brown University. While at Princeton, he was a founding editorial board member of the Journal of Public and International Affairs. He also served in the Office of the Defense Advisor, US Mission to NATO, and as a consultant to the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.
Prior to Princeton, Mr. Pavel served in the Strategy, Forces, and Resources Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), where he specialized in research on force planning and coauthored numerous IDA reports and publications.
Pavel received a Presidential Rank Award in 2007 in recognition of his career accomplishments. He also has served as a key adviser to policy leadership on civil service professional development and mentorship. He is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and speaks and writes on a wide range of foreign and security policy issues. He also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
J. Peter Pham
J. Peter Pham rejoined the Atlantic Council as a distinguished fellow in March 2021, after concluding public service as United States Special Envoy for the Sahel Region with the personal rank of Ambassador. He had previously been Atlantic Council vice president for research and regional initiatives and director of the Council’s Africa Center.
From 2018 to 2020, Ambassador Pham served as the United States Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa at the US Department of State with a mandate from Secretary of State Michael Pompeo “for coordinating the implementation of U.S. policy on the cross-border security, political, and economic issues in the Great Lakes region, with an emphasis on strengthening democratic institutions and civil society, as well as the safe and voluntary return of the region’s refugees and internally displaced persons.”
In March 2020, he was appointed the first-ever US Special Envoy for the Sahel, a position created to assume “the lead in shaping, devising and coordinating U.S. strategy on the cross-border security, political, economic, assistance, and social issues arising in the Sahel as well as coordinating with both international partners and U.S. Government stakeholders to help return the Sahel to stability through programs to enhance security and support governance, political liberalization, social progress and economic development.”
Prior to joining the Atlantic Council in 2011, Ambassador Pham was previously senior vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and editor of its bimonthly journal, American Foreign Policy Interests. He was also a tenured associate professor of justice studies, political science, and Africana studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he was director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs. He served on the Senior Advisory Group of the US Africa Command from 2008-2013.
From 2008 to 2017 he also served as vice president of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), an academic organization which represents more than 1,300 scholars of Middle Eastern and African Studies at more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States and overseas and was founding editor-in-chief of ASMEA’s peer-reviewed Journal of the Middle East and Africa.
Ambassador Pham is the author of more than 300 essays and reviews and the author, editor, or translator of over a dozen books, including, most recently, Somalia: Fixing Africa’s Most Failed State (Tafelberg, 2013; coauthored with Greg Mills and David Kilcullen). Dr. Pham also contributes to a number of publications including The National Interest and Foreign Policy, and regularly appears as a commentator on broadcast and print media outlets including CBS, PBS, VOA, CNN, the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NPR, the BBC, Reuters, the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, USA Today, Newsweek, US News & World Report, the Times of London, New Statesman, Maclean’s, Le Monde, and Le Temps.
A longtime staunch advocate of robust American engagement with Africa, Ambassador Pham served as member of the USAID-funded International Republican Institute (IRI) delegation monitoring the historic post-conflict national elections in Liberia in 2005. He also served on the IRI pre-election assessment (2006) and election observation delegations to Nigeria (2007, 2011) and Somaliland (2010). He is also a frequent guest lecturer on African affairs at the Foreign Service Institute, the US Army War College, the Joint Special Operations University, and other US government professional educational institutions.
In 2015, the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution elected Ambassador Pham to the Board of the National Museum of African Art, reelecting him to successive terms in 2018 and 2021. He served concurrently as vice-chair of the Board from 2016-2021.
Ambassador Pham is the recipient of numerous honors and awards from African countries in recognition of contributions made over the course of his career to strengthening relations between the United States and Africa, including Commander of the National Order of Mali, Commander of the National Order of Burkina Faso, Officer of the National Order of Merit of Niger, Commander of the National Order of Merit of Gabon, and Commander of the Order of the Friendship of Peoples of Burundi.
Danladi Verheijen is the Co-Founder/CEO of Verod, a leading African investment firm specializing in growth private equity and venture capital strategies. Before Verod, he held roles at Citibank, Ocean & Oil Holdings and McKinsey & Company. Danladi sits on the Board of several Verod portfolio companies. In addition, he is a Board Member of the African Venture Capital Association and Chairman of the Board of the Private Equity & Venture Capital Association of Nigeria.
Danladi has an MBA from Harvard Business School, an M.Sc. in Engineering Economic Systems & Operations Research from Stanford University, and a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Calvin College. Danladi was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of Africa’s top 20 rising stars in finance by Euromoney in 2014.