H. Brian Mefford, 38
#17 Most Influential
To many Kyivans, H. Brian Mefford is known as a khaki-wearing, diehard supporter of the Republican Party whose slight Southern twang isn’t cloaked when speaking Ukrainian – one of the few foreigners who know the language outside of the diaspora.
It’s no surprise that he headed the International Republican Institute’s Kyiv office for a decade until 2009, teaching election and campaign skills to all established Ukrainian parties.
In the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election campaign, Mefford was part of an international team of political advisors to Viktor Yushchenko’s camp. Today he’s an independent political consultant who found time to return to his native Arkansas in the summer to campaign for a local politician.
But his pro-democracy activities were always kept under the watchful eye of the authorities. In January 2004, the Kyiv Post reported how, during a business trip to Lviv, Mefford was followed around town, presumably by agents from the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU.
“I haven’t had any problems since 2005, however.”
– H. Brian Mefford.
“I haven’t had any problems since 2005, however,” Mefford told the Kyiv Post.
Mefford took a liking to politics at a young age. He did door-to-door campaigning when he was 16 and managed to win a seat on the East Camden City Council in Arkansas at 18. A year later, he got a seat on the Harmony Grove School Board.
At Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, where he received a degree in finance with a minor in political science, he was president of the student body for two terms and became state chairman of the College Republicans in 1992-1993. Before coming to Ukraine, Mefford was the vice president of a small bank in Arkansas and was an alternate delegate representing Arkansas to the 1996 Republican Convention.
Although Ukraine is his base of operations, Mefford has worked in Azerbaijan, Moldova, Georgia, Iraq, Bangladesh, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia.
As the face of Ukrainian politics continues to change, observers could expect to see Mefford still in the thick of developments.