Staff

5/27/14 11:23:14 AM -- Washington, DC, U.S.A -- Ronald Neumann, former ambassador to Afghanistan, is interviewed by USA TODAY Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page for a Capital Download segment. He is currently with The American Academy of Diplomacy in Washington. -- Photo by Jack Gruber, USA TODAY staff

Ronald E. Neumann

President, American Academy of Diplomacy

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.

Ambassador Neumann is the author of a memoir, Three Embassies, Four Wars: a personal memoir (2017) and The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan (Potomac Press, 2009), a book on his time in Afghanistan. He has returned to Afghanistan repeatedly and is the author of a number of monographs, articles, and editorials. His writings have focused most heavily on Afghanistan, stabilization, and Bahrain. At the Academy he has focused particularly on efforts to maintain adequate State and USAID budgets and staffing and upgrade professional formation to enable these institutions to carry out their responsibilities. Ambassador Neumann is on the Advisory Board of a non-profit girls’ school in Afghanistan, the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) and the Advisory Board of Spirit of America. He is on the board of the Middle East Policy Council and the Advisory Council of the World Affairs Councils of America.

Ambassador Neumann speaks some Arabic and Dari as well as French. He received State Department Superior Honor Awards in 1993 and 1990. He was an Army infantry officer in Viet Nam and holds a Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge. In Baghdad, he was awarded the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. In 2018, he received the American Foreign Service Association’s award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy. He earned a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science from the University of California at Riverside and is a graduate of the National War College. He is married to the former M. Elaine Grimm. They have two children.

      

Maria Reissaus

Program Director

Maria Reissaus is the Program Director at the American Academy of Diplomacy, where she coordinates programs, events, and publications, as well as manages the administration, budget and finances of the organization. Prior to joining the Academy, Maria worked at Eurasia Foundation, where she supported a multi-year, multi-million dollar federally-funded program focused on Track II diplomacy engagement with Russia, which grew out of the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission and the two parallel Civil Society Summits. She joined Eurasia Foundation’s US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange program (SEE) in its first year of implementation and helped grow its programmatic and communication approaches for engaging with Russian civil society leaders across a diverse set of thematic areas, including the rule of law, women’s rights, disability rights, education, environmental activism, and student journalism. 

Maria has an extensive academic background in international relations and the history and politics of the Eurasia region, and she previously taught courses on these subjects at Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. She is fluent in Russian and currently serves as a Russian Language Instructor at the Fairfax County Public Schools’ Adult and Community Education program.

Maria holds B.A. degrees in Political Science and Economics from University of Washington in Seattle and a Master’s degree in Comparative Government from Georgetown University.


       

Destiny Clements

Program and Finance Assistant

Destiny Clements is the Program and Finance Assistant at the Academy, where she supports the Managing Director with financial tasks, organizing events, and overseeing the internship program. Destiny graduated from Purdue University where her studies focused on international development, human rights and foreign policy.