U.S. deputy U.N. envoy to head Clooney Foundation for Justice

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations David Pressman is set to become executive director of the new Clooney Foundation for Justice, set up by George and Amal Clooney, as well as a partner at the Boies, Schiller & Flexner law firm.

Actor George Clooney and his wife Amal attend a CEO roundtable at the United Nations during the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

After some two years as deputy to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, Pressman said he would leave on Friday and start his new roles on Monday. Before his role at the world body, he served as assistant secretary of homeland security, on the National Security Council and on U.S. President Barack Obama’s Atrocity Prevention Board.

Pressman said he looked forward to help building a foundation “focused on serving individuals who are being persecuted and individuals who are, by virtue of their circumstance, being denied the opportunity to access basic things like an education.”

“One of the things that both the Clooneys bring to the table is an ability to attract a lot of interested people and attention and resources to issues, individuals and causes the might not otherwise have it,” Pressman told Reuters.

The first project of the foundation is to help educate Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Pressman said the foundation would also look to “find a way of monitoring trials around the world in situations where individuals are being persecuted.”

Amal Clooney is an international human rights lawyer, who is currently representing Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi woman held captive and raped by Islamic State militants. Pressman previously worked with actor and activist George Clooney as co-founders of human rights advocacy group Not On Our Watch.

During his time at the United Nations, Pressman said achievements included securing robust sanctions against North Korea in March after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test and getting the issue of human rights in North Korea on the U.N. Security Council agenda. [nL1N13Z25V]

He also cited being able to convince the 15-member Security Council to denounce the mass shooting at a Florida gay nightclub as “targeting persons as a result of their sexual orientation,” overcoming standard resistance to such language by African and Muslim states, as well as Russia. [nL1N1951KI]

Boies, Schiller & Flexner said Pressman’s work at the firm would focus on complex international disputes, litigation and arbitration, white-collar defense and crisis management.

Boies, Schiller & Flexner Chairman David Boies has represented such high-profile clients as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney