By Nick Rasmussen
Senior Director for National Security & Counterterrorism Programs

We’re working diligently in the wake of the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis.  Taking care of each other, family, friends and neighbors is paramount, even as we continue the mission and adapt to changing realities and requirements of social distancing.

An inclination could be to turn inward, but this crisis makes clear that character-driven engagement In The Arena is more important than ever, in our communities and around the world.

With that in mind, our programming is pressing ahead on all fronts, including specific efforts to respond to COVID.

The Institute’s National Security & Counterterrorism program’s Peer-to-Peer: Protective Project continues to work with university students across the country to develop digital tools and social media campaigns against hatred and extremism, with multiple student teams exploring how their projects can pivot to address race-based hatred tied directly to the coronavirus.

And our Combatting Human Trafficking program is responding in a number of ways, using WhatsApp, cell phone calls and whatever safely works to directly connect with populations sadly now even more vulnerable to human trafficking.

With the help of Arizona State University’s advanced online learning tools, we are quickly moving in-person human trafficking training opportunities into a virtual space.

Having moved all resources, toolkits and informational materials online last year, our Student Alliance Against Trafficking is continuing to support the next generation of advocates and activists, even while students are away from campus.

Even more important given the media’s understandable preoccupation with public health, our Human Rights Defenders project continues to identify and support courageous individuals speaking out for freedom and dignity around the world.

Our Developing Character-driven Leaders program continues apace to work with emerging young leaders around the world – both those already within the McCain Institute Next Generation Leaders network and those who aspire to become NGLs themselves.

True character-driven leadership and a willingness to serve a cause greater than one’s own self-interest are traits that never go out of style.  Indeed, it’s these qualities that will allow us to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.

We need courageous, like-minded citizens of character fighting with us to advance freedom, human dignity, security and economic opportunity.  Please join us if you haven’t already.

Courage is like a muscle. The more we exercise it, the stronger it gets. 

– Senator John McCain