In a two part event on Friday, September 12, 2019, Foreign Policy for America and the American Academy of Diplomacy co-hosted a conversation with Ambassadors Anne Patterson, Charles Ray, Richard Olson, and Ronald Neumann, where they discussed how critically important it is for diplomacy that diplomats posted overseas are empowered to take risks that allow them to carry out their jobs.
- Ambassador Anne Patterson was the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and North African Affairs at the Department of State (2013-2017) before being appointed to the Dow Jones Special Committee in April 2018. She served as Ambassador to Egypt (2011-2013), to Pakistan (2007-2010), to Colombia (2000-2003) and to El Salvador (1997-2000). She recently retired with the rank of Career Ambassador after more than four decades in the Foreign Service. Ambassador Patterson also served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, among other assignments. She is currently a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale and a member of the Commission on National Defense Strategy.
- Charles A. Ray served as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Zimbabwe. In addition, he was the first U.S. Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, opening the Consulate General in 1998. From 2006 to 2009, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, responsible for DoD efforts to account for those missing in combat from World War II to the then current conflicts and for policy related to the rescue of personnel who become isolated, missing, or taken in service abroad. During his diplomatic career, Ray served as deputy chief of mission in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and at consular posts in Guangzhou and Shenyang, China, and Chiang Mai, Thailand. He was diplomat-in-residence at the University of Houston during the 2005-2006 academic year; responsible for outreach and recruiting at colleges and universities in South Texas. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1982, he served 20 years in the United States Army, with postings in Europe and Asia, including two tours in Vietnam during the war.
- Ambassador Richard Olson retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in November of 2016 with the rank of Career Minister. He is currently an independent consultant. His final assignment was as U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). From 2012 to 2015 he was the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. Olson served as the Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs at U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2011 to 2012 and as U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2008 to 2011. Olson joined the U.S. Department of State in 1982. He served in Mexico, Uganda, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates (both Abu Dhabi and Dubai), and Najaf, Iraq. He was also Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). His Washington assignments included: State Department Operations Center (twice), NATO Desk, the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs (twice, including as Director), and the Office of Iraqi Affairs, including as Director.
- Formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Ronald E. Neumann served three times as Ambassador; to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. Before Afghanistan, Mr. Neumann, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served in Baghdad from February 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then as Embassy Baghdad’s liaison with the Multinational Command, where he was deeply involved in coordinating the political part of military actions. Prior to working in Iraq, he was Ambassador in Manama, Bahrain (2001-2004), Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near East Affairs (1997-2000) with responsibility for North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and Ambassador to Algeria (1994 to 1997). He was Director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs (Iran and Iraq; 1991 to 1994). Earlier in his career, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and in Sanaa in Yemen, Principal Officer in Tabriz, Iran and Economic/Commercial Officer in Dakar, Senegal. His previous Washington assignments include service as Jordan Desk officer, Staff Assistant in the Middle East (NEA) Bureau, and Political Officer in the Office of Southern European Affairs.