Russell Menyhart’s interest in China began when he first arrived in the country, as a student, two days before the 1997 Hong Kong handover. More than twenty years later, he is no less fascinated by China’s political and economic developments than he was by the introduction of ‘one country, two systems’ at the time. He has since spent seven years in China as a student, teacher, and diplomat, separated by stints in the United States, England, and Argentina. After a decade as a diplomat with the U.S. State Department, including postings in Beijing, Shanghai, Washington, D.C., and Buenos Aires, he now practices law as a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Indianapolis. Mr. Menyhart co-chairs Taft’s international and China practice groups and represents both U.S. and Chinese clients on a wide range of complex legal matters. He also founded and co-chairs Taft’s social impact group, which advises entrepreneurs and investors on double bottom line ventures, ESG compliance, and governance of hybrid for-profit/non-profit entities. His community service includes working to connect Indiana to the world and underline the relevance of global issues to a Midwest audience, including through service on the boards of the International Center of Indiana and America China Society of Indiana.
Mr. Menyhart’s last position with the State Department was as political unit chief at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai, leading a team reporting on Chinese political developments, the rule of law, human rights, and civil society from 2011 to 2014. Prior to joining the State Department, he was a Chancellor’s Fellow and magna cum laude graduate of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington, received a B.A. in East Asian studies from Oberlin College, and attended Lester B. Pearson United World College in Victoria, British Columbia. He was also a research fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge and worked as a public defender in Indianapolis.
Mr. Menyhart’s research interests include U.S.-China relations, including possibilities for bilateral cooperation in addressing global issues; the rule of law and human rights in China; and the regulation of civil society. He is also interested in investigating the impact of the built environment and urbanization on community and the social fabric in the United States and China; citizenship, nationalism, and identity; and the importance of subnational and cultural exchanges and relationships.
Mr. Menyhart lives in Indianapolis with his photographer wife and three small children.