About Ambassador Rees

·         Grover Joseph Rees was born in New Orleans to a Breaux Bridge family. His Acadian ancestors settled in the Attakapas/Saint Martin region in the 1700s.

·         His first job after college was as an assistant to Congressman Dave Treen (R-LA3), who had just been elected as the first Republican Congressman from Louisiana since Reconstruction.

·         Rees graduated with honors from LSU Law School, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Louisiana Law Review.·  

      While in law school he was elected to the Lafayette Parish Republican Party Executive Committee and to the Board of Directors of the Acadiana Right to Life Committee. He worked on Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign and was a Reagan delegate from Louisiana to the Republican National Convention.

·   After law school Rees worked for one year as a law clerk to then-Justice Albert Tate of the Louisiana Supreme Court, then as a law professor at the University of Texas.

In 1979, when Congressman Treen ran successfully for Governor, he asked Rees to write his authorized biography.  The book, Dave Treen of Louisiana, was read and discussed widely during the campaign and after Treen’s election.

     In 1985-86 Rees took a leave of absence from UT to serve as Special Counsel for Judicial Selection in President Reagan’s Justice Department, working closely with Attorney General Ed Meese to reorganize the judicial selection process to make it more philosophically oriented.  These efforts resulted in the appointment of over 100 federal judges and were widely credited with transforming the federal judiciary.

    From 1986 through 1991 Rees served as Chief Justice of the High Court of American Samoa, an Article I federal judicial position.

    From 1991 through 1993 he was General Counsel of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

    In 1995 Rees went to work for the new Republican Congress as staff director and chief counsel of the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights. He worked with subcommittee chairman Chris Smith (R.-N.J.)  to cut and eventually eliminate U.S. funding for the International Planned Parenthood Federation and other organizations that perform and promote abortions overseas. (This funding to overseas abortion providers was later restored by the Obama administration.) Rees also worked on the drafting and enactment of the International Religious Freedom Act, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and other legislation that has helped to bring U.S. foreign policy into closer alignment not only with our national interests but also with our values.

    In 2001-2002 Rees worked for Congressman Henry Hyde (R.-Ill.), who was then serving as Chairman of the House International Relations Committee. In addition to his duties as a committee staff member, Chairman Hyde put Rees on his personal staff as his senior assistant on homeland security, immigration, the right to life, and other Judiciary Committee issues.

    From 2002 until 2006 Rees served as the first United States Ambassador to newly independent East Timor.


    From 2006 until 2009 he was the United States Special Representative for Social Issues, responsible for representing the United States on issues relating to vulnerable persons and the family within the United Nations system.
    Ambassador Rees retired from government service in January 2009 and returned to Lafayette.  From 2010 through 2013 he worked for the George W. Bush Foundation to help create the Freedom Collection (www.freedomcollection.org), an online archive of interviews with people who have struggled for freedom and democracy in countries around the world.

    Rees was recently elected without opposition to the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee from district 24D (Lafayette-Saint Martin).

    He is married to Lan Dai Nguyen Rees and is a member of St. Genevieve’s Catholic parish in Lafayette.


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