Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la is a Distinguished Fellow, Tibetan Studies Initiative, at Stanford University. He teaches in the History Department and the Continuing Studies Program, and is an Executive Committee member of CCARE (Center for Compassion & Altruism Research and Education), an initiative of the Stanford School of Medicine within the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences.
Mr. Tethong is a former Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York (1973-1986) and Special Representative of His Holiness in Washington, D.C. (1987-1990). He began his work in the exile Tibetan community as a part-time teacher/student at the first Tibetan refugee school in Mussoorie in 1960. In 1967 he joined the Education Office of the Tibetan government in exile as a secretary and translator.
In 1968, he teamed up with his brother Tenzin Geyche and a friend Sonam Topgyal, to start Sheja Magazine, an educational publication, one of the first Tibetan non-governmental initiatives in India. Two years later, as one of four conveners of the first Tibetan Youth Conference, which resulted in the formation of the Tibetan Youth Congress, he served in its first leadership executive committee. During this period he also served as Editor of Tibetan Review succeeding Tendzin N. Takla when the paper moved from Darjeeling to Dharamsala.
During his tenure in New York, he established The Tibet Fund and Potala Publications as part of the Office of Tibet, and played a key role in the formation of several Tibetan initiatives in the U.S. and Canada among which are the U.S. Tibet Committee, the Tibetan Association of New York and New Jersey, and Tibet House – New York.
In 1980, he headed the Second Delegation of Tibetan exiles sent by the Tibetan government to tour Tibet and China. When he was transferred as Special Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Washington, D.C., he established the International Campaign for Tibet which helped secure greater understanding and support for Tibet, including U.S. refugee assistance, radio programs, scholarships, and immigration opportunities for 1,000 Tibetans to the United States.
In 1990, he was one of the first Kalons elected – one of three – by a special Congress of Tibetan exiles in Dharmsala, and served in various portfolios which include Finance, Home, International Relations, and as Kalon Tripa, serving for five years in Dharamsala.
In 1995 he moved to California where, among his many activities, he was advisor to “Seven Years in Tibet”, and joined the board of the Committee of 100 for Tibet. He is one of the founding members and current President of The Dalai Lama Foundation, an international organization dedicated to the promotion of peace and ethics. He also serves in an advisory capacity for the local Tibetan Community Center project, and recently launched “Tibet in Exile — Fifty Years”, an online documentation effort to commemorate the last fifty years in exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.
In 2011, he contested for the post of Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of the Central Tibetan Administration.
Since 2013, he is heading the Tibetan service of the Radio Free Asia based in Washington D.C.