Soviet Refugee Works to Protect Prosperity and Freedom in the US

Recalling his life in the Soviet Union, Igor Birman paints a dreary picture.

“Imagine every aspect of your life from the cradle to the grave being dictated to you by government,” said Igor.  “No matter your talents or wishes, you had little say in your own future.”

Igor Birman was born in the Soviet Union in 1981.  After a decade of Soviet refusals for exit permits, his family arrived in California in 1994.

Igor first felt compelled to defend conservative principles as a student columnist at UC Davis, where he studied Political Science.

“My parents risked everything to get me out of the Soviet Union where freedom did not exist and into the United States, which was founded on the notions of personal responsibility, limited government and individual liberty,” said Igor.  “How could I possibly not dedicate my life to ensuring that my children grow up to know the same freedom that I was so lucky to find?”

In 2001, Igor proudly became a U.S. citizen.

As he continued earning his degree at Emory University, Igor chaired the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarians committed to preserving freedom.  At 24 years old, he graduated as a Doctor of Law, and the following year was admitted to the State Bar of California.

Intent on making a difference, Igor started working in politics.  He was appointed as Representative Tom McClintock’s Chief of Staff in 2009, and decided to run for Congress in 2014.  

When asked what his biggest obstacle was during his race, Igor answered, “Becoming known, which is something most first-time candidates have to tackle.  But I have to say that the creativity fostered by Leadership Institute training went a long way towards raising my name identification in the shortest possible time.”

While a student at UC Davis, Igor began training with the Leadership Institute.  He is a graduate of LI’s Youth Leadership School, Public Speaking Workshop, Student Publications School, and Television Workshops.

“Not only has LI equipped me with the knowledge and time-tested techniques for persuasion, but also supplied my campaign with some of the best operatives I have ever had the honor of meeting,” said Igor.

Igor Birman describes the Leadership Institute as “indispensable” for anyone in politics.  He says that activists looking to run for office should “stand up for the principles that got them into politics and defend them with all they can muster.   If they don’t, there is no point in winning.”

This country needs more leaders with Igor’s drive and passion.  We are looking forward to see more great things from him in the future.  Please join us in congratulating Igor Birman for receiving LI’s Conservative Leader Award.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at

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