Mark Siljander - President & Founder
Former U.S. Congressman & U.S./U.N. Ambassador Rank
Mark Siljander skillfully blends 30 years of public service in America’s political power circles as a man of faith. His journey includes life-shaping stories beginning with his travels to over 145 countries. His private interactions with major political and religious world leaders, especially in conflict hotspots around the world, have gripped audiences as they compellingly defy the status quo of traditional diplomacy. Many of these stories are recounted in his award-winning book, A Deadly Misunderstanding.
Mark’s personal story of spiritual transformation from a war-hawk to a pioneer of unique international peacemaking has been acknowledged by a diverse group of world leaders including: UN SG Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary of State James Baker and Attorney General Edwin Meese. In the early years of his peacemaking efforts, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recognized his, “…efforts toward a more just, humane and peaceful world” with the presentation of Mohandas K. Gandhi International Peace Award in 1996. Mark founded a nonprofit entitled “TRAC5” to memorialize these peacemaking efforts that have quantifiably contributed to the release of over fifty persecuted hostages or prisoners and the mitigation of numerous conflicts including the Darfur genocide.
Mark’s contributions to seemingly impressive peacemaking results have inspired many of America’s friends and enemies toward a more spiritual and relational path for diplomacy, achieving tangible results in many complex conflicts and crises. The successes and applications of Mark’s “relational diplomacy” in places like: Iraq, Sudan, Iran & Libya were inevitably viewed as unfavorable by some. This resulted in personal attacks, federal charges and ultimately, a prison sentence.
Mark was given a year and a day prison sentence, served not in a “camp”, but among the general population of low to maximum security prisons where assaulting or killing a former congressman would certainly be a badge of honor. Yet even this terrifying experience was used for good. Mark found hope in this storm as hundreds of inmates came together, affected by the transforming principles he had learned from and applied in his international peacemaking.
Days before his release, Mark was diagnosed with a rare and terminal cancer normally only found in infants. Facing a diagnosis with mere months to live, Mark was miraculously spared. According to Duke University Hospital, he may be the only adult on record to survive. These tests of faith and character provided for a deeper personal transformation. Mark has experienced life from palaces to prisons, from the heights of political achievement to the depths of personal brokenness.
His academic achievements include a Masters Degree in Political Science, and post graduate work in International Business and Education. Mark is a passionate speaker and has lectured at institutions such as Oxford and Edinburgh Universities.