2023 – Diplomacy and Development

Omaha Forum
Monday, October 23, 2023 and

Lincoln Forum
Tuesday, October 24, 2023


Problems from refugee flows through famine to the attractiveness of criminal gangs demand sustainable development for solution.  In many cases, development and diplomacy are intertwined in the policy response.  The challenge is large as are the demands on leaders and policy.  The 2023 Ambassadors Forum will consider the problems of diplomacy and sustainable development from several perspectives. 


Alonzo Fulgham

Alonzo L. Fulgham is a seasoned International Development Policy, Planning, and Operations Executive with a wealth of experience in managing organizations and programs with budgets in excess of $15 billion. His mature skills in constructing corporate vision and cultivating strategic partnerships, combined with decades of high level practice in operational planning, policy development, complex negotiations, and change management have combined to make me an executive leader who excels in fast-paced, high pressure environments. Mr. Fulgham is well able to execute complex operations in culturally diverse and challenging settings. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in business and economics from Fisk University and a Master of Arts from the National Defense University.

In March of 2020, Mr. Fulgham took on new corporate responsibilities as the Executive Vice President-Defense/Homeland for VIATEQ Corporation of McLean, VA. VIATEQ is a certified SBA, SDB, and Minority owned company employing over 80 career professionals in 8 states, and CONUS (United States territory, including the adjacent territorial waters, located within North America between Canada and Mexico) Operations. VIATEQ provides Application Development and Management, Cyber and Information Security Services, Call Center and Help Desk, and Program Management and Business Operations expertise. VIATEQ has proven experience and deep past performance serving federal missions, spanning national security, financial and regulatory, and civilian programs. VIATEQ’s leadership team comprises former senior government managers, Business Operation Support SME’s, and doctorate level technical advisors.

Prior to joining VIATEQ, Mr. Fulgham was the founding principal of his own enterprise, TJM International Consultancy, a boutique business focused on advising a limited portfolio of global business concerns, NGOs, and entrepreneurial interests in the areas of sustainable development, energy, agribusiness, infrastructure, environment, governmental relations, and corporate responsibility.

Before this, Mr. Fulgham served as the President of Galileo Energy Partners, LLC from July of 2016 until December of 2019, spending time in key offices in London, UK and Washington, D.C. Galileo Energy Partners, LLC, headquartered in London, UK, is an integrated development and investment company focused on the energy and mining sectors in Africa. He led the firm as it sought to consolidate significant holdings, strengthen existing partnerships, and expand into new markets in Africa and the Asian Pacific regions.

Prior to joining Galileo, Mr. Fulgham was the Senior Vice President for Strategy and Sustainable International Development – CH2M HILL, and served in this capacity from July 2012 through December 2015, in a Washington D.C. location. This role required him to develop and promote a healthy balance between competition and collaboration as the firm sought to solve complex engineering problems in the face of extreme infrastructure, environment, and climate change challenges in new and emerging markets. He also identified key acquisition targets and secured new business in sustainable development, climate science, and public health and security.

Mr. Fulgham’s earlier tenure as a leader at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) continues to inform all that he does as a corporate executive. In January of 2009, he was appointed by then President Barack Obama as Acting Administrator (CEO) for the Agency and was responsible for planning, development and execution of the United States’ development policy and humanitarian assistance programs, both during the Presidential Transition and the first full year of his Administration. His task was to reposition USAID to resume its role as the premier 21st Century development organization, including recruiting a world-class executive management team. Mr. Fulgham previously served as the Agency’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Secretariat, and before that as Mission Director to Afghanistan. Throughout his tenure with USAID, he led U.S. Government development and humanitarian assistance programs, laid foundations for real human progress and market-led growth, managed large-scale development and nation-building programs, and established and led strategic civilian-military nation-building partnerships. He was charged with launching major programs in infrastructure, agriculture, reconstruction, education, health, democracy and governance, economic growth and ex-combatant reintegration. Mr. Fulgham consistently achieved U.S. government objectives, many times in potentially hostile and politically unstable environments.

Corporate advisory service also remains a consistent element of Mr. Fulgham’s professional life. He is a current member of the Board of Directors for Palladium International, the American Academy for Diplomacy, Meridian International, Shared Interest, The Council on Foreign Relations, and the International Advisory Council of the Carnegie Mellon University Center for International Relations and Politics. He is a former member of the Advisory Board for Pacific Architects and Engineers, Inc., the Board of Directors for GRM International, a leading global development management firm, the Board of Directors of the Futures Group, and the William Davidson Institute.

Through such collaborative endeavors as these and numerous others, Mr. Fulgham continues to practice, lead, and consult with a strong sense of risk and reward, compliance, corporate ethics, regulatory standards, security, and strategic partnerships in the global relations and intergovernmental sectors.

J. Peter Pham

J. Peter Pham served as the first-ever U.S. Special Envoy for the Sahel Region of Africa with the personal rank of Ambassador from 2020-2021. The position was created as “the lead in shaping, devising, and coordinating U.S. strategy on the cross-border security, political, economic, assistance, and social issues arising in the Sahel as well as coordinating with both international partners and U.S. Government stakeholders to help return the Sahel to stability through programs to enhance security and support governance, political liberalization, social progress and economic development.”

He previously served as the US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa from 2018-2020, a mandate from the Secretary of State “for coordinating the implementation of U.S. policy on the cross-border security, political, and economic issues in the Great Lakes region, with an emphasis on strengthening democratic institutions and civil society, as well as the safe and voluntary return of the region’s refugees and internally displaced persons.”

Prior to serving in the Trump Administration, Pham was vice president for research and regional initiatives at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, and director of the Council’s Africa Center. Before joining the Atlantic Council in 2011, he was senior vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy in New York City, and editor of its bimonthly journal, American Foreign Policy Interests. Earlier in his career, he was a tenured associate professor of justice studies, political science, and Africana studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he was director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

From 2008-2017, he also served as vice president of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), an academic organization which represents more than 1,300 scholars of Middle Eastern and African Studies at more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States and overseas and was founding editor-in-chief of ASMEA’s peer-reviewed quarterly Journal of the Middle East and Africa. He is the author of several books and more than 300 articles, essays and reviews on African politics, security, and economic issues.

Pham served on the Senior Advisory Group of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from 2008-2013.

Pham is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a Senior Advisor at the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University. He is also a member of the Board of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, a Non-Executive Director of Africell Global Holdings and of Rainbow Rare Earths, a Strategic Advisor to dClimate and to High Power Exploration (HPX), as well as a Senior Advisor at Rose Lake Capital.

Pham is the recipient of numerous honors and awards from African countries in recognition of contributions made over the course of his career to strengthening relations between the United States and Africa, including Commander of the National Order of Mali, Commander of the National Order of Burkina Faso, Officer of the National Order of Merit of Niger, Commander of the National Order of Merit of Gabon, and Commander of the Order of Friendship of Peoples of Burundi.

Dawn M. Liberi

Dawn M. Liberi is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career Minister, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Burundi from 2012 to 2016. Ambassador Liberi started her career in Africa where she served in five posts with USAID over a span of twenty years, focusing on key development issues. Serving as the USAID Mission Director in Nigeria (2002-2005), she managed a $100 million program of assistance and brokered a $20 million public-private sector alliance to fund community development activities. As USAID Mission Director in Uganda (1998-2002), Ambassador Liberi managed one of the largest HIV/AIDS and micro-enterprise programs in sub-Saharan Africa, helping to significantly reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence and assisting Uganda to develop high value exports.

Other USAID assignments include: Associate Assistant Administrator in the Global Bureau, Population, Health and Nutrition Office (1994-1998); USAID Deputy Mission Director in Ghana (1992-1994); and USAID Population, Health and Nutrition Officer in Senegal and Niger (1981-1987). Starting in 2005, Ambassador Liberi focused on stabilization and civilian-military integration. As USAID Mission Director in Iraq (2005-2006) she managed a $5.2 billion program of governance and economic development activities. As USAID Executive Civil-Military Counselor, she served as Senior Development Advisor to the Commander of the U.S. Central Command (2007-2008).

From 2009 to 2011, Ambassador Liberi was the Coordinator for the Interagency Provincial Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, responsible for managing over 400 civilian positions outside Kabul and implementing governance and economic activities. She also served as the Senior Civilian Representative for the Combined Joint Task-Force 82 at Bagram Airfield Afghanistan, where she was the civilian equivalent of the Commanding General, responsible for coordination of over 20,000 civilian and military staff. In 2012 Ambassador Liberi served as the Senior Assistance Coordinator at U.S. Embassy/Tripoli.

Ambassador Liberi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampshire College and Master of Public Health degree from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a Distinguished graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University, where she focused on national security issues. Ambassador Liberi is the recipient of two Distinguished Honor Awards and several Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards. She was awarded the U.S. Army Superior Civilian Service Award, as well as the Medaille D’Or (Gold Medal) by the French Government, and the Army Iron Cross by the Polish Government, for her work in Afghanistan. Ambassador Liberi speaks fluent French, is an avid African art collector and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


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. 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.