fsu seal Florida State University



Home >>Meet our Staff >>Mark Schlakman

Mark Schlakman, J.D.

Senior Program Director

Mark R. Schlakman, Esq., serves as senior program director for The Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights and as coordinator of its Human Rights & National Security in the 21st Century lecture series. He's served as principal investigator for the Center's Liberty in the Balance within the context of post-9/11 engagement involving Arab American, Muslim and Sikh communities, and its Rethinking Civil Rights Restoration in Florida and American Bar Association (ABA)/Florida Death Penalty Assessment Team Report projects.


He teaches multi-listed courses for graduate, honors and undergraduate students in Human Rights & National Security, National Security Transformation, Issues in Refugee Protection as well as a course entitled, All Human Rights Are Local - from Geneva to Tallahassee, which arises out of his engagement in Geneva amid International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights "ICCPR"-related proceedings before the United Nations Human Rights Committee involving the United States in March 2014, through International Affairs within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. Apart from these traditional courses, he teaches hybrid courses through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute "OLLI" for non-degree seeking students ages 50 and above from time to time.


Mr. Schlakman also teaches Immigration Law and various other courses at FSU's College of Law periodically.


He was a recent recipient of one of several Guardian of the Flame Awards that Burning Spear presented to faculty from across the university, specifically for Outstanding Service to the College of Social Sciences and The Florida State University.


Prior to joining FSU's faculty in 2002, Mr. Schlakman held several senior positions in state and federal government, including assistant general counsel and then special counsel to Florida Governor Lawton Chiles; special advisor to Governor Jeb Bush during his initial several months in office; senior advisor to Governor "Buddy" MacKay amid the governor's tenure as White House Special Envoy to the Americas during the final two years of the Clinton administration; and briefly as a special advisor to U.S. Senator Bob Graham during his tenure as chair of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence before he returned to Florida.


During his tenure in Washington, D.C., Mr. Schlakman also served as a Foreign Affairs Officer for the U.S. Department of State where he received a Superior Honor Award in recognition for his service to the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs while assigned to the White House.


He subsequently served as an Alternate Representative for the U.S. Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States (OAS) and as a special assistant and interim foreign policy advisor to four-star Marine Corps. General Peter Pace, Commander, United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) at the outset of the George W. Bush administration prior to the general’s promotion to the role of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff..


Mr. Schlakman later served as a special advisor to five consecutive directors (United States Coast Guard Rear Admirals) of Joint Interagency Task Force "JIATF" South, which essentially is a national interagency task force that conducts intelligence driven counter-illicit trafficking operations from Naval Air Station Key West within the Joint Operating Areas of SOUTHCOM and the U.S. Pacific Command (in residence from late 2001 to April 2002 and then from Tallahassee through September 2009).


He served as a special advisor/consultant to the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security toward the end of the George W. Bush administration after comprehensive reform legislation failed to gain traction on Capitol Hill until the outset of the Obama administration while residing in Tallahassee. He also is regarded as a subject matter expert on various aspects of intergovernmental & interagency maritime mass migration contingency planning.


Given his wide ranging subject matter expertise, he was invited to travel to Kabul in 2011 to convene informally with senior Afghan officials and other subject matter experts at the global level in anticipation of the release of a United Nations report on increasing incidence of torture in Afghan detention facilities.


Mr. Schlakman is a lawyer and eligible to practice law in Florida. He is a past and the longest serving board chair of The Innocence Project of Florida, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for the exoneration of wrongfully convicted individuals based largely upon DNA evidence; as well as a past board chair of the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA), a not-for-profit organization also known as the Florida International Volunteer Corps., which was launched under then-Governor Bob Graham during the early '80s after the Mariel boatlift. It facilitates demand-driven social and economic development and fosters sustainable trade relationships in the region through volunteer service, guided by humanitarian interests and concepts of shared prosperity, for which Jimmy Buffet's Singing for Change Foundation is a strategic partner.


Mr. Schlakman received his B.A. from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL, graduating magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi; and his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., where he served as president of the Student Bar Association and received recognition from the ABA for leading the most effective SBA in the nation that year. He received the Dean's Certificate at graduation. Following law school, he completed Harvard University's Kennedy School post-graduate Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government in Cambridge, MA.