Dr. Sasha Toperich is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Mediterranean Basin, Middle East and Gulf initiative at The Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS, at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. Toperich is a Non-resident Fellow at the Soran University Research Center in Iraqi Kurdistan.
He co-chaired a major international conference on The Western Balkans: “Progress, Stagnation, or Regression” held in Sarajevo in June 2011.
He is Chairman of the Supervisory Board at the Mediterranean Development Initiative (MDI) in Tunis, Tunisia.
Toperich is co-author of two papers in the book “Unfinished Business: The Western Balkans and the International Community” (Brookings Institution/CTR, 2012), titled “The Regulatory Environment in the Financial System in Bosnia and Herzegovina and How to Improve It” and “A New Paradigm for the Mediterranean: EU-U.S.-North Africa-Southeast Europe.”
He is co-editor of the Brookings Institution/CTR publications, A New Paradigm: Perspectives on the Changing Mediterranean (Brookings Institution/CTR, 2014), Challenges of Democracy in the European Union and its Neighbors (Brookings Institution/CTR, 2015), Iraqi Kurdistan Region: A Path Forward (Brookings Institution/CTR, 2017), Vision 2020: Bosnia and Herzegovina Towards its European Future (Brookings Institution/CTR, 2017), and Turkey and Transatlantic Relations (Brookings Institution/CTR, 2017).
Toperich is also a Featured Columnist at U.S. Military.com, a Contributor to The Hill, and holds a blog with the Huffington Post.
Toperich was appointed Presidential Envoy of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United States. He was the first high-ranking diplomat from Bosnia and Herzegovina to officially visit Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein. From 2009-2010, Toperich served as a Counselor at the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations. From 2011-2014, he served as an advisor to the member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic.
Toperich founded the America-Bosnia Foundation (ABF), established to foster stronger political, cultural, and educational ties between the United States and the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The foundation organizes concerts, exhibitions, lectures, panels, and educational seminars in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United States. ABF’s mission is also to strengthen democratic values in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and to preserve its multiethnic and multicultural character.
In 1997, Dr. Toperich became the President of the Children Foundation of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization)
In 1998, he was awarded the title of UNESCO Artist for Peace.
With Shinichiro Okuyama (Japan), he co-founded the World Youth Leadership Network (WYLN), a not-for-profit organization that aims to unite the international youth community through goodwill work and cultural exchange. The organization was launched at the UN headquarters in New York, in April of 2004. The WYLN has contributed and donated computers to schools and universities in Liberia, organized a fundraising concert in Monrovia for the Louis Arther Grimes School of Law, and set up an IT center in Benin in collaboration with the Benin Education Fund and the World Bank.
In association with Laughing Buddha Music Inc., Toperich launched the “Visas for Life” project, an educational and diplomatic story of a Japanese diplomat, Chiune Sugihara, who saved over 6000 Jews during World War II by issuing transit visas through Japan while serving as a Japanese Consul in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Also in 2004, Toperich served as a project manager for the European Youth Peace Summit held in Sarajevo, bringing together over 500 youth leaders from all over Europe. Budimir Lončar, former Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia under Marshal Tito, and later, top advisor to Stjepan Mesic, President of Croatia, served as the European Youth Peace Summit Senior Advisor.
Toperich’s performances were broadcasted on radio and television programs throughout the world. He has performed concerts in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, Egypt, France, Italy, Israel, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, the United States, and the countries of the former Yugoslavia. He has performed at the Carnegie Hall, het Concertgebouw, Kioi Hall, and other well-known music venues around the world. He has played concerts with conductors such as Zubin Mehta and Kazushi Ono.
The Dutch VPRO Television made a documentary film titled, “Sasha Toperich Plays Rachmaninov at Cristofori in Amsterdam.”
His 1997 concert in Washington, D.C. was broadcast nationwide on the National Public Radio (NPR) and earned him a nomination for Best Debut Artist. In 2004, he became the first concert pianist to perform in Monrovia (Liberia), a concert organized by Jacques P. Klein, United Nations Special Representative in Liberia. United Nations broadcasted this concert live throughout the African continent.
Early Life and Education
Toperich, born in Sarajevo, then Yugoslavia and now Bosnia and Herzegovina, began playing piano at the age of four. During his years of study, he won the first prize at the national piano student’s competition in Dubrovnik.
He moved to Jerusalem at the age of 21 in the early 1990s, where he did his formal training at the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem receiving his M.A. in piano, studying under Meira Smailovic, Arbo Valdma, and Irina Berkovich.
He earned his doctoral degree at the Music Academy in Lovran, Croatia.
He speaks English, French, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, and Russian.