Amb. David Pearce

Listen to Amb. Pearce on Episode 12: Tending The Garden: US Interests In The Mediterranean

In his diplomatic and journalistic career Maine native David D. Pearce has always done the hard things in the hard places. As a wire service reporter, he covered revolution in Lisbon, civil war in Beirut, and political and economic change in the Arab world.  He met his wife, Leyla, while serving in Lebanon as United Press International’s Chief Middle East Correspondent, and both of their children were born in Beirut.  As a writer-editor with the National Geographic’s book service, he traveled with a photographer to Southeast China as the country was just beginning to open up to the outside world, and authored the concluding chapter of the 1982 NGS book Journey Into China.  

Joining the U.S. Department of State next, Pearce learned Arabic and served over three decades in 11 overseas posts throughout Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.  He was political section chief in Kuwait when Iraq invaded and deputy chief of mission in Syria for four years, during which time the embassy was attacked by mobs twice.  He was Consul General in Dubai, Consul General and Chief of Mission in Jerusalem, Assistant Chief of Mission in Afghanistan (an ambassador-level assignment), and Ambassador to both Algeria and Greece.   In addition, Pearce held senior-level positions at the State Department in Washington, with responsibility for Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.   He received numerous awards for his work, including two Presidential Distinguished Service awards and AFSA’s Matilda W. Sinclaire award for foreign language proficiency.  He is author of the 1995 book Wary Partners: Diplomats and the Media, which Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering called “an excellent guide for all of us in dealing with the press”.   

In November 2016, Pearce retired from the U.S. Department of State as a Career Minister, the second-highest rank attainable in the Foreign Service.  Since then, he has drawn on his experience to address high school, college, and civic groups about the importance of U.S. diplomatic engagement abroad and public service as a career.  Some of these themes are reflected in the blog he writes on his website ( ).  He also echoes them in an active social media presence, which includes a Twitter account (@daviddpearce) with over 4,500 followers from all over the world.

Pearce is a member of AFSA, DACOR, the Middle East Institute, the World Affairs Council of Portland, Maine, and the World Affairs Council of Orange County, California.   An avid and self- taught watercolor artist, he designed and built his website to showcase paintings and sketches done during overseas tours in Algeria, Afghanistan, and Greece, as well as more recent works from Maine and California.

Gen. David Petraeus


Listen to Gen. Petraeus on Episode 1: US Military & Diplomatic Leadership In Iraq

General David H. Petraeus is one of the most prominent U.S. military figures of the post-9/11 era.  He has been described as a leading warrior-intellectual and “one of the great battle captains” in American military history.  Following his military service, he served as Director of the CIA.  He is now a Partner with the global investment firm KKR and Chairman of the KKR Global Institute.   

During his 37-year career in the United States Army, General Petraeus served in Cold War Europe, Central America, the United States, Haiti, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the greater Middle East and central Asia.  He was most widely recognized for:  his oversight of the organization that produced the U.S. Army’s counterinsurgency manual and overhauled all aspects of preparing leaders and units for deployment to combat; for his leadership of the Surge in Iraq; and for his command of coalition forces in Afghanistan.  He culminated his military career with six consecutive commands as a general officer, five of which were in combat, a record believed unmatched in the post-World War II era.    

A graduate with distinction from the United States Military Academy, General Petraeus is the only person in U.S. Army history to be the top graduate in both the U.S. Army’s challenging Ranger School and the year-long U.S. Army Command and General Staff College course.  He also earned a Ph.D. in an interdisciplinary program of international relations and economics from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and later completed a fellowship at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.  He taught both economics and international relations at the United States Military Academy in the mid-1980s and, after leaving government in late 2012, he was Co-Chairman of a Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on North America and a visiting professor of public policy at the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College for 3-1/2 years.

After General Petraeus’ retirement from the military, following confirmation by the Senate by a vote of 94-0, he served as Director of the CIA as the Agency played the central role in a number of achievements in the global war on terror, established a strategic campaign plan for the Agency, and pursued initiatives to invest additional resources in the Agency’s most important element, its human capital.

General Petraeus has been Chairman of the KKR Global Institute for over five years and a Partner with the firm for more than three-and-a-half years.  He is also a member of the board of Optiv (a global provider of cyber security services), a Judge Widney Professor at the University of Southern California, a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, the Senior Vice President of the Royal United Services Institute, the Co-Chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Advisory Council, and a member of the boards of several other think tanks and over a dozen veterans service organizations.

Over the past dozen years, General Petraeus has been named one of America’s 25 Best Leaders by the U.S. News and World Report, a runner-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year, the Daily Telegraph man of the year, Prospect magazine’s Public Intellectual of the Year, a Time 100 selectee, one of Foreign Policy magazine’s top 100 public intellectuals, and the recipient of the Madison Medal at Princeton University.  He is a frequent commentator on global security and economic issues.  In recent years, his pieces have been published in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy, and he has also appeared frequently on various TV news programs and documentaries.

General Petraeus has been awarded numerous U.S. military, State Department, NATO, and United Nations medals, including four awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, two awards of the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Ranger Tab, and Master Parachutist Wings.  He has also been decorated by 13 foreign countries.  And he is believed to be the only individual who, while in uniform, threw out the first pitch of a World Series game and did the coin toss at a Super Bowl.

Amb. John Roos


John V. Roos is the Founding Partner at Geodesic Capital, a late stage venture capital fund focused on investing in enterprise and consumer technology companies. He is a Senior Advisor at Centerview Partners, a preeminent mergers & acquisitions advisory firm and a member of the Board of Directors at and the Sony Corporation. In addition to the Global Advisory Board of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Ambassador Roos chairs the Toyota Research Institute Advisory Board and serves on the Board of Directors of The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. Previously, Ambassador Roos served as Chief Executive Officer and Senior Partner at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich, & Rosati, the leading law firm in the United States in the representation of technology, life sciences, and emerging growth companies.


From August 2009 – August 2013 Ambassador Roos served as the United States Ambassador to Japan. On August 6, 2010 he became the first sitting U.S. Ambassador ever to attend the commemoration ceremony of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. Ambassador Roos’ service in Tokyo coincided with the devastating 9.0 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis on March 11, 2011. Following this tragedy, Ambassador Roos led the American effort on the ground in support of Japan’s response to the multi-dimensional and unprecedented disaster. After the crisis, Ambassador Roos also led the creation of the TOMODACHI initiative, a public-private partnership that has raised more than fifty million dollars and established more than 40 exchange programs.



Amb. Thomas Schieffer


J. Thomas Schieffer is the founder and CEO of Envoy International LLC, a consulting firm that provides a wide range of advice to companies with international interests.   He served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2005-2009 and Ambassador to Australia from 2001-2005. Prior to his diplomatic service Ambassador Schieffer was an investor in the partnership that bought the Texas Rangers Baseball Club in 1989.  He oversaw the building of the Club’s new home, The Ballpark in Arlington, and served as President of the franchise from 1991-1999. He was inducted into the Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame on August 23, 2014 for his contributions to the franchise.

Following his diplomatic service, Ambassador Schieffer was presented with the Order of Australia by the Governor General of Australia in 2006 and the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan in 2013.  He was also decorated by six agencies and departments of the United States government for his service.

Ambassador Schieffer attended the University of Texas, where he earned a B.A. in government, an M.A. in international relations, and studied law.  He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1979.

Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp

General Walter “Skip” Sharp was born in Morgantown, West Virginia while his father was fighting in the Korean War. General Sharp graduated from West Point in 1974 and was commissioned as an armor officer. He earned an M.S. in operations research and system analysis from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is a graduate of the Army War College.

General Sharp commanded the United Nations Command, Republic of Korea-United States Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea from 2008 to 2011. He also commanded troops in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti and the Multinational Division (North) of the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia.

General Sharp had four assignments at the Pentagon on the Joint Staff. He was the deputy director, J5 for Western Hemisphere/Global Transnational Issues; vice director, J8 for Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment; director for strategic plans and policy, J5; and the director of the Joint Staff.

General (Ret) and Mrs. Sharp live in the Washington, D.C. area. He is consulting for and on the BODs of several U.S. and Korean companies and The Korea Society. He is involved in Northeast Asia and especially Korea strategy and policy discussions at several Washington, D.C. area Think Tanks.

Maj. Gen. Kurt L. Sonntag

Listen to Maj. Gen. Sonntag on Episode 11: Capacity And Capability: US Diplomatic And Military Operations In The Horn Of Africa

Maj. Gen. Kurt L. Sonntag is a native of California and a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Maj. Gen. Sonntag began his military career as an Infantry officer in 1986. While in the Infantry, Maj. Gen. Sonntag served as a Bradley platoon leader, scout platoon leader and aviation operations officer with the 2nd Armored Division.

After attending the Infantry Officer Advanced Course and the Special Forces Qualification Course in 1991, Maj. Gen. Sonntag served as a detachment commander, battalion logistics officer, support company commander and company commander in 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. After leaving the 5th Special Forces Group in 1997, Maj. Gen. Sonntag served as a company and battalion observer/controller with the Special Operations Training Detachment at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Upon completion of the Naval Command and Staff College at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, in 2000, he returned to the 5th SFG(A) to command another company, serve as a battalion’s executive officer during Operation Enduring Freedom- Afghanistan, and as the 5th SFG (A) executive officer. Maj. Gen. Sonntag also served as the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-West and Arabian Peninsula’s Chief of Staff during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Following a brief assignment as Chief of the Joint and Army Concepts Division, Army Special Operations Battle Lab, Maj. Gen. Sonntag commanded 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) and later served as the operations officer for the United States Army Special Forces Command (Airborne). After fulfilling his United States Army War College requirements in 2009, Maj. Gen. Sonntag deployed to Pakistan to serve as the Special Operations Command Central (Forward)–Pakistan commander in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, with a follow-on assignment as Chief of Staff, USASOC, and later Deputy Commanding General, USASOC. He then served as the Commander, Special Operations Command South, U.S. Southern Command. His most recent assignment was as Commander, Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Maj. Gen. Sonntag holds a Master of Arts in Military History from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana., and a Master of Science in National Security Strategy Studies from the Naval War College. Maj. Gen. Sonntag is also a Harvard Kennedy School National Security Fellow. His military awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and numerous other medals and awards.

Maj. Gen. Sonntag is married to the former Deirdre (Dee) Fahey and they have two children.

Amb. Kathleen Stephens

Ambassador (retired) Kathleen Stephens assumed leadership of KEI as President and CEO in September 2018.  Ambassador Stephens was a career diplomat in the United States Foreign Service, 1978-2015.  She was U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea 2008-2011, the first woman and first Korean-speaker to serve in that position.  Other overseas assignments included postings to China, former Yugoslavia, Portugal, Northern Ireland, where she was U.S. Consul General in Belfast during the negotiations culminating in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and India, where she was U.S. Charge ‘d Affaires (2014-2015).

Ambassador Stephens also served in a number of policy positions in Washington at the Department of State and the White House.  These included acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (2012), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (2005-2007), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (2003-2005), and National Security Council Director for European Affairs at the Clinton White House.

Korea has been a leit motif of Ambassador Stephens’ life and career since she served in rural Korea as a Peace Corps volunteer and trainer, 1975-1977.  She was in Korea 1983-1989, first as a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul reporting on Korea’s domestic political and human rights scene, and later leading the U.S. Consulate in Busan.

Stephens was William J. Perry Fellow for Korea at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center, 2015-2018.  She has also been Endowed Chair Professor for Language and Diplomacy at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, and Senior State Department Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.  She is a Mansfield Foundation Distinguished Fellow, Pacific Century Institute board chairman, a trustee for The Asia Foundation, and on the board of The Korea Society.  She is an elected member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Ambassador Stephens is a recipient of numerous U.S. government awards including the Presidential Meritorious Service Award (2009) and Linguist of the Year (2010).  She holds the Kwanghwa Medal of Diplomatic Merit, the Sejong Cultural Award, the Korean-American Friendship Association Award, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Chamber of Commerce in Seoul, the Korea YWCA Special Prize for Leadership, and was Hangul Goodwill Ambassador as well as Korea National Museum Goodwill Ambassador.  She holds honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland and Chungnam National University. Stephens was an undergraduate at Prescott College, University of Hong Kong and Oxford University, and holds a BA Honors from Prescott.  She holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School. 

She has one son, an engineer with his own company in San Francisco.

Col. Patrick Terrell

Mr. Patrick Terrell is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.

Prior to joining the center, Mr. Terrell served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps for 27 years. He culminated his service in the Army as the WMD Military Advisor and Deputy Director for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Defense Policy in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Countering WMD. During that assignment he developed the U.S. Policy for the security and destruction of Libya's chemical weapons and coordinated the Department of Defense support for the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor response. Most recently, he provided technical and operations expertise on the removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, integrating national policy and strategy with operational plans and diplomatic efforts to include coordination with the United Nations, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, all assisting states, and the Syrian Arab Republic government.

During his military career he commanded the 22nd Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort) and the 44th Chemical Company, 2nd Armored Division (reflagged to the 31st Chemical Company, 4th Infantry Division).  He served in tactical CBRN defense staff assignments at the Battalion, Brigade, and Division levels and in strategic and operational level assignments that included Political-Military Planner on the Joint Staff, Chemical Organizational and Systems Integrator on the Army Staff, Chief Operational and Strategic Concepts at the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center, and Stability Transition Team Leader in Iraq.

Mr. Terrell has a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from New Mexico State University.

Amb. John Tefft


Listen to Amb. Tefft on Episode 10: Tough Times In Moscow

John F. Tefft is a retired United States diplomat. He was a career Foreign Service Officer for more than 45 years, completing his service as the United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2014 to 2017. Tefft earlier served as the United States Ambassador to Lithuania from 2000 to 2003, Ambassador to Georgia from 2005 to 2009, and Ambassador to Ukraine from 2009 to 2013. He worked from 2004 to 2005 as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs responsible for U.S. relations with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova.

Tefft originally retired from the Foreign Service in September 2013 and served as Executive Director of the RAND Corporation’s Business Leaders Forum from October 2013 to August 2014 until his recall to duty and confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

From 2003-2004 Tefft was the International Affairs Advisor at the National War College in Washington, D.C. He was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 1996 to 1999, and was Chargé d’Affaires from November 1996 to September 1997. His other Foreign Service assignments include Jerusalem, Budapest, and Rome.

Tefft holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a Master’s Degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Among the awards he has received are the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award in 2017, the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award in 1992, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Year Award for his service in Moscow in 1999 and the Diplomacy for Human Rights Award in 2013. He received Presidential Meritorious Service Awards in 2001 and 2005.

Tefft is married to Mariella Cellitti Tefft, a biostatistician and nurse. They have two daughters, Christine and Cathleen, who both live and work in the Washington, D.C. area, and two granddaughters.

Gen. Kip Ward


Listen to Gen. Ward on Episode 9: Africa And Africom

William E. “Kip” Ward, a retired U.S. Army General Officer, is President of SENTEL Corporation of Alexandria, Virginia. As the inaugural Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), Ward successfully established the nation’s newest and uniquely positioned interagency combatant command responsible for all U.S. defense and security activities on the African continent and its island nations with staff representatives from State, Commerce, Treasury, Homeland Security and other U.S. Cabinet Departments and Agencies. He is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was commissioned as a Distinguished Military Graduate into the Regular Army in June 1971 through the ROTC program at Morgan State University. He is a distinguished leader having commanded at every echelon from Lieutenant to General.

Prior to commanding AFRICOM, General Ward was the Deputy Commander, United States European Command, Germany. While serving as Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army in 2005, General Ward was selected by the U.S. Secretary of State to serve as the United States Security Coordinator, Israel-Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Other key command and staff assignments include: Commander 2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division during Operation Restore Hope, Somalia; The NATO Commander of Operation Joint Forge Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation, Cairo, Egypt; Vice Director for Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff, during the September 2001 terror attack on the Pentagon; Assistant Division Commander, 82nd Airborne Division, Ft Bragg, North Carolina and Commanding General 25th Infantry Division and U.S. Army Hawaii. Ward has also served command tours with troops in Germany, Korea, Ft Bragg, North Carolina, Ft Drum, New York and Ft Wainwright, Alaska. At the United States Military Academy at West Point, General Ward was an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences, teaching political science and public policy.

Ward holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Morgan State University, a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from The Pennsylvania State University, an honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Morgan State University, and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Virginia State University. He is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced courses at Ft Benning, Georgia, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Ft Leavenworth, Kansas, and the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

His military awards and badges include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with two Oak Leaf Clusters); the Distinguished Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster); the Defense Superior Service Medal (with two Oak Leaf Clusters); the Legion of Merit (with three Oak Leaf Clusters); the Expert Infantryman's Badge; the Combat Infantryman's Badge; and the Master Parachutist Badge. He has also received numerous foreign awards including from Liberia, Egypt, Italy, Uganda, Rwanda, Niger and Canada.

Adm. Robert Willard

Bob Willard.jpg

Robert F. Willard was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), located in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 9, 2012.

INPO, sponsored by the commercial nuclear industry, is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the highest levels of safety and reliability – to promote excellence – in the operation of commercial nuclear power plants.

On May 1, 2012, Admiral Willard completed a distinguished Navy career as the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

Willard is a Los Angeles native and a 1973 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He has a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University and is an MIT Seminar XXI alumnus.

An F-14 aviator, Willard served in a variety of west coast fighter squadrons; VF-24, VF 124, VF-2, and VF-51 aboard the aircraft carriers USS Constellation, USS Ranger, USS Kitty Hawk and USS Carl Vinson. He was Operations Officer and Executive Officer of Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). He later commanded the "Screaming Eagles" of Fighter Squadron 51.

Following nuclear-power training, Willard served as Executive Officer of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), commanded the amphibious flagship USS Tripoli (LPH 10) in the Persian Gulf during “Operation Vigilant Warrior” for which Tripoli received a Navy Unit Commendation and commanded the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

As a Flag Officer, Willard twice served on the Joint Staff, was Deputy and Chief of Staff for U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, commanded Carrier Group Five aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and commanded the U.S. Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan. In March 2005, Willard became the 34th Vice Chief of Naval Operations; in May 2007, he assumed command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet; and on October 19, 2009, he became the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and various other awards.

Lt. Gen. Bruce "Orville" Wright

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Bruce “Orville” Wright has held senior leadership positions in both the Department of Defense and defense industry. Focused on responsive integration of advanced technology into weapons systems and direct focus on Warfighter requirements, he recently served as the Vice President, Cyber and S&T, Lockheed Martin Government Affairs. With more than nine years leading Lockheed Martin engagement to support Warfighters, he has been directly involved in a wide range of Joint Forces, intelligence community, advanced technology, and cyber programs.

His responsibilities were focused on the integration of cyber operations capabilities and advanced technologies across the USG, including direct interaction with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Service laboratories, DARPA and the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO). He also led Lockheed Martin Government Affairs direct engagements with US CYBERCOM, Service cyber commands and associated OSD offices. Areas of additional emphasis included close association with the USG Intelligence Community leading to enhanced development of threat and technology informed CONOPs to ensure innovative technology solutions are integrated into open “family of systems” architectures, and improve Lockheed Martin’s support to its customers and national security counterparts.

Prior to joining Lockheed Martin in 2008, he completed 34 years of service in the U.S. Air Force. During that time, he was extensively involved in joint and coalition combat operations, leading 65 combat missions, while commanding an F16C squadron during Operation Desert Storm, and a composite operations group during Operations Provide Comfort in northern Iraq and Deny Flight in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  He was also the Director for Information Operations on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, and commanded the U.S. Air Force Air Intelligence Agency. He was the Vice Commander of Air Combat Command (ACC) where he concentrated on promoting, reorganizing and more effectively integrating Air Force intelligence operations into all aspects of combat air forces capabilities and employment. While at ACC he was also directly engaged in achieving operational capability for the F-22, successful fielding of the Sniper targeting pod, and integration of Predator UAV capabilities into combat operations. In his last assignment he was the Commander of 5th Air Force and US Forces Japan, responsible for approximately 50,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Department of Defense civilians. During this three-year time period he directed significant improvements to joint and allied military operations, C2 and interagency coordination, as well as enhancements to ballistic missile defense capabilities.

He earned an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Physiology from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and a Masters degree in Public Affairs from Golden Gate University. He is also a graduate of the Syracuse University Senior Executives in National Security course, Air War College, the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School, and MIT Seminar XXI. Additionally, he has a current security clearance.

Amb. Mary Yates


Listen to Amb. Yates on Episode 9: Africa And Africom

Yates retired as a Senior Foreign Service officer in September 2011 after 31 years with State. Her final assignment was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) of the White House from January 2011- August 2011 after serving as Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning and Special Assistant to the President from June 2009 – December 2010. Following her retirement, she served as Charge d’Affaires in Khartoum, Sudan for the Department of State through February 2012. In the fall of 2012, Ambassador Yates was nominated to serve as a director of the Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C. and as a member of the Board of Regents of the Oregon State University Honors College, her alma mater.

Ambassador Yates came to the NSC directly from serving as Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities (DCMA) for the United States Africa Command, (AFRICOM) October 2007 – May 2009, the first such military command to have two co-equal 3-star level deputy commanders (military and civilian). From 2005-2007 Ambassador Yates served as Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) to the United States European Command (EUCOM) led by General James Jones.

A Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister Counselor, Ambassador Yates began her diplomatic career in 1980. She served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana from 2002 until 2005. While serving as Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi from 1999 until 2002, she worked extensively to bring peace and stability through the Burundian Peace Process, led by President Nelson Mandela. She also served in Kinshasa, Zaire (Congo) as Political Officer and then Public Affairs Counselor from 1991-1995, during the critical period of genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Her other assignments included Paris, Manila, Seoul and the Department of State, Washington DC.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Ambassador Yates earned her BA in English from Oregon State University and a Masters in Comparative East-West Humanities from New York University (NYU), where she advanced to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Asian Studies. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of English from her alma mater, Oregon State University, in June 2007. She is married to a diplomatic colleague, Amb (ret) John M. Yates, and is the stepmother of five children.

Amb. Susan Ziadeh


Ambassador Susan L. Ziadeh enjoyed a 23-year career with the U.S. Department of State where she most recently served as the acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Peninsula Affairs (2014-2016). She served as the U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar from 2011-2014. She held senior leadership positions in Riyadh, Baghdad, and Bahrain as well as postings in Kuwait, Amman and Jerusalem. Currently a Middle East strategic advisor based in Washington, Ambassador Ziadeh is also an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Ambassador Ziadeh is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, a member of the Middle East Institute’s Board of Governors, a member of the International Advisors Council for the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. A recipient of the Department of State’s Distinguished Honor Award, she also received the Department of State’s 2007 Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy and the 2014 Arnold L. Raphel Memorial Award for Leadership. In 2015, she was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Department’s highest civilian award. A Fulbright scholar in Egypt and Lebanon, Ambassador Ziadeh earned a PhD in History from the University of Michigan, an M.A. from the American University of Beirut, an M.S. from the National War College, National Defense University, and a B.A. from the University of Washington.