With the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) since 1997, Karl Altau has helped conduct extensive advocacy on behalf of the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian central organizations in the United States. This includes the period of NATO accession for the three Baltic countries and the campaign for Magnitsky sanctions against human rights violators in Russia. He has addressed the Baltic parliaments and the United States Congress on the work of the Baltic-American communities.
A native Virginian with a degree in journalism from Radford University, Altau has lived and studied in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and at Indiana University. Altau has served on the boards of the Maryland-Estonia Exchange Council, which helps promote the Maryland Sister States Program and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation from 2004-2017. He spent three years with the consular section of the Embassy of Estonia in Helsinki, Finland from 1992-1995.