Foundation of International Freedom Director Biographies

Directors and Officers

The Foundation concept was developed by Byron K. Varme, Executive Director. Mr. Varme has been involved in international activities for most of his career. The other Founding Directors are Chester F. Barnes II, Sandra Sweatt Hull, Gordon B. Robinson, George T. Scott, Thomas S. Walsh and Gerrit Wind.  Foundation policies are established by a consensus of its directors. 

Directors Biographies

Byron K. Varme, Executive Director

Byron K. Varme received a BA degree in Economics from the University of Minnesota and after graduation he served three years as a deck officer in the U.S. Navy on carriers in the Pacific. Following his military service he received an MBA degree from Stanford Graduate Business School. Byron began his business career with Procter & Gamble of Canada Ltd., and worked in Toronto in brand management. He left P & G to join a privately held oil and gas exploration company based in New York City. Subsequently, he founded and was CEO of two publicly traded exploration companies specializing in overseas acquisition projects. During the sixteen years Mr. Varme lived in New York City, he also worked for two NYSE member firms as an energy industry securities analyst and a private investment banking firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions. Byron moved to Houston in 1980 and formed PetroFinance, Inc. which provided equity and debt financing to the energy industry. In 1989 he formed Trans-Oceanic Capital a private financial services firm. Byron has had a lifelong interest in international affairs and during his career has visited over seventy countries.

Sandra Sweatt Hull, Founding Director

The Foundation has engaged Sandra Sweatt Hull as its consultant regarding the organization, administration and development of its affairs. Sandy  received her BA degree from Bard College and a BSBA is Finance and Real Estate from the Denver University. She served as Director of Major Gifts and Annual Programs at the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches for over ten years where she was responsible for fundraising and event planning for the Council which had a membership of over 3,000 individuals, 700 churches and 70 foundations and an annual budget of about $6 million. She is a member of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals. Sandy has been actively involved in community affairs in the Twin Cities, having previously served as President of the Minneapolis Jaycees and has served as a Board Member of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and many other civic organizations. Sandy is President of Sandy Hull & Associates, a full-service marketing and executive search firm, and she and her family reside in Minneapolis, MN.

Dr. Thomas S. Walsh, Founding Director

Tom Walsh received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Boston College and a Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He began his business career with Solvay Chemicals where he was responsible for the development and commercial introduction of a complete line of polypropylene based products. During his twenty seven year career in the plastics industry Dr. Walsh has worked in research & development, product and technical service management, application, sales, marketing, market and business development, and trade association management. Dr. Walsh was elected Executive Director of the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc and represented the US plastics piping industry with Federal Government agencies, various industry associations and with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 1n 1993 he formed Walsh Consulting Services Company and has since completed over one hundred consulting projects for a number of international chemical companies. These projects cover a wide variety of plastics and petrochemical topics, and involved extensive travel in Europe and Asia for his clients. Dr. Walsh resides in Houston, Texas.

Gordon B. Robinson, PhD, Director

Dr. Robinson received his BASc degree in Engineering from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and his PhD in the field of Chemistry and Molecular Biochemistry from Cornell University. After graduation he served as an officer in the Canadian Navy and was involved in the Canadian government’s nuclear program. Upon leaving the service he joined Mobil Oil Corporation in various research, planning and new venture functions. He studied law & finance at the Baruch School in New York and Rice University in Houston Texas. After his relocation to Houston, Dr. Robinson became involved in PetroFinance, Inc. working primarily on international ventures in project finance, merchant banking and related development activities. Later, he returned to Toronto, Canada where he has continued both his corporate development practice and his civic activities.

George T. Scott, Founding Director

George is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received his BS in Chemical Engineering and BBA in Production Management from the University of Minnesota in 1957 and an MBA in Economics from the University of Houston in 1963. Following graduation, George served two years as an officer in the US Army Ordnance Corps. His 39 year career was with Union Carbide, Gulf Oil and Chevron in Manufacturing, Finance, Marketing and General Management. During his final eleven years he was Vice President and General Manager for Chevron’s Petrochemicals and Plastics Division. He resides in Houston and Colorado Springs.

Gerrit Wind, Director

Mr. Wind is a native of The Netherlands. He immigrated to Canada where he received his B.Sc. in geology from the University of Alberta and his M.Sc. in geology from the University of Calgary. Following graduation, he began his career in the energy industry with Pan American Oil Co., a subsidiary of AMOCO, Inc. During the next 31 years with the company he was based in Chicago, London, Teheran and Houston and worked on oil and gas exploration projects throughout Canada, Europe, the Middle East, West Africa and Southeast Asia. Mr. Wind now lives in Houston and provides consulting services to clients for energy projects throughout the world.