Ambassador Robert S. Ford served thirty years in the State Department and Peace Corps, finishing his career as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014 and is now a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. For his leadership of the American Embassy in Damascus, he received a Presidential Honor award in 2012, and for his work on Syria he received in 2014 the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award. For his defense of human rights in Syria, in 2012 he received from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston the annual Profile in Courage award.
Ambassador Ford has also served as the U.S. Ambassador to Algeria (2006-2008) where he boosted bilateral cooperation in fields such as education and rule of law. He served three times in Iraq between 2003 and 2010, including as the Ambassador’s senior political advisor during the tumultuous elections and stand-up of the new, permanent Iraqi government in 2004-2006. Later, as Deputy Ambassador in Iraq 2008-2010, he assembled a government team that devised the logistical and security plans the new Obama administration used to establish our diplomatic posts in Iraq. As Deputy Ambassador in Bahrain 2001-2003 Ambassador Ford led the Embassy team that helped negotiate the free trade agreement with Bahrain, the first of free trade deal with a Persian Gulf state. Ambassador Ford also served in Cameroon, in Algeria from 1994-1997 during the civil war there, in Egypt and Turkey and in domestic assignments at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC.
He started his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco from 1980-1982 and speaks fluent Arabic and French. He has a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.