Ira Belkin is the US-Asia Law Institute’s most recent addition and first executive director. Prior to joining the Institute in September 2012, Belkin served as a program officer at the Ford Foundation in Beijing, where he worked on law and rights issues. His grant-making supported Chinese institutions working to build the Chinese legal system, to strengthen the rule of law and to enhance the protection of citizens’ rights, especially the rights of vulnerable groups. Prior to joining the foundation in 2007, Belkin combined a career as an American lawyer and federal prosecutor with a deep interest in China, and spent seven years working to promote the rule of law in China. His appointments included two tours at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and a year as a fellow at the Yale Law School China Law Center. After graduating from NYU Law, Belkin spent 16 years as a federal prosecutor including time in Providence, R.I., where he was chief of the criminal division, and in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was deputy chief of the general crimes unit. Before attending law school, Belkin taught Chinese language at Middlebury College. He has lectured extensively in Chinese to Chinese audiences on the U.S. criminal justice system and to American audiences on the Chinese legal reform movement. In addition to his J.D. from New York University School of Law, Belkin has a master’s degree in Chinese studies from Seton Hall University and a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany.