Meet Tom

Tom Malinowski's Journey

I was born in Poland, spent the first few years of my life in a small rural town, and came to America with my Mom when I was 6, as she sought refuge for us from communism during the Cold War.  We settled in New Jersey, and I grew up here, going to public schools, playing baseball and hockey, and hoping, like most immigrants, that someday I could give something back to the country that gave me freedom.  

As a kid, I was inspired by my dad, a journalist and champion of progressive causes, and my aunt, Anne Martindell, a breaker of glass ceilings who served parts of Hunterdon and Morris Counties in the New Jersey Senate.  Public service was expected in my family.

After college, I won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, eventually going on to serve on President Clinton’s National Security Council, focusing on strengthening NATO and ending the wars then raging in the Balkans. From there, I went to work for Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading organizations standing up for democratic values and social justice. And most recently, I served as an Assistant Secretary of State under President Obama.

In my career, I worked to stop the use of torture so we could stay safe from terrorism without losing who we are.  I helped lead our global fight to defend the human rights of women and LGBTQ people, to protect workers in our trade agreements, to safeguard our privacy on the internet, to root out corruption, and to stand up to dictators like Putin and Kim Jong Un.

As an immigrant to America, I felt extra pride in representing our country and fighting to protect our values around the world. 

I’m a Democrat who has always tried to reach across political divides.  After President Obama nominated me to serve in his State Department, Senator John McCain introduced me at my confirmation hearing, part of a friendship we forged in our work for human rights.  I’ve seen too many broken countries where people lost the ability to find that kind of common ground; we can’t let that happen in America. 

I want my daughter Emily, a brilliant young woman who just finished college, to know that we can still come together, and that our greatest days lie ahead.

I have fought for our values of liberty, equality and the rule of law on behalf of America.  I am ready to fight for those values on behalf of New Jersey.

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