Ambassadors Panel at Rice University

On October 23rd, the Academy partnered with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy for a webinar entitled “A Look Inside a Career in Diplomacy.” The webinar’s panel, moderated by Academy President Ronald Neumann, featured Ambassadors Chuck Ford, Tracey Jacobson, and Alonzo Fulgham as they discussed their entrance into the foreign service, applications of their academic studies to their professional endeavors, and prescient insight on contemporary issues in global affairs, including developments in commercial diplomacy and increased attention to diversity in U.S. government agencies.

Charles Ford

Ambassador (r) Charles A Ford is President of CAF International, LLC, a trade consultancy. He is a member of the Board of the American Academy of Diplomacy and has served as Treasurer of the American Foreign Service Association (2013-2017). From 2012-2014 he was a Board member of Dacor Bacon House Foundation. He is the Treasurer of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. On the Board of: the PDI defense group; the Thomas Jefferson School of Public Policy at the College of William and Mary; and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy at George Washington University.

Until April 2013, Ford served as the Acting Assistant Secretary of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) at the Commerce Department. As the chief operating officer of the US government’s premier export promotion agency, he managed a $270 million budget and 1400 U.S. and international employees located in the United States and over 70 countries.

Previously, he served as Advisor on Public Private Partnerships to the Commander of U.S. Southern Command from 2008-2009 and Ambassador to Honduras from 2005-2008. At the Commerce Department, he served as USFCS Deputy Assistant Secretary, and as Director of Latin American Trade Policy in the International Trade Administration from 1990-1994. From 2003-2005, he was a Vice President of the American Foreign Service Association.

As a member of USFCS from 1982-2009, Ambassador Ford worked and lived in Latin America and Europe and is fluent in Spanish. He served as Commercial Minister at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium; Commercial Counselor, U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela; Commercial Minister, U.S. Embassy in London, United Kingdom; Regional Director for Europe, United States and Foreign Commercial Service, Department of Commerce; Commercial Attaché, U.S. Embassy in Guatemala; Commercial Consul, U.S. Consulate in Barcelona, Spain; Commercial Attaché, U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Before joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Ford worked at the Inter-American Development bank and the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association.

Ambassador Ford was born in Dayton, Ohio. He obtained his B.A. in Economics from the College of William and Mary, and his M.A in Latin American Studies from George Washington University. His numerous honors and awards include the Department of Commerce Silver, Gold and Bronze Medals. In May, 2008, he was awarded the President’s Distinguished Service Award, and received the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 2009.



Tracey Jacobson

Tracey Ann Jacobson served as the acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (IO) until September 2017. She is currently an independent consultant supporting Department of Defense tactical and strategic level exercises in the United States and Europe, and has served as a Mentor for the Ambassadorial Seminar.

Previously she was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in IO. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republics of Kosovo (2012 – 2015), Tajikistan (2006 – 2009), and Turkmenistan (2003 – 2006). Ambassador Jacobson served as Dean of the School of Professional and Area Studies and later as Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute (2010 – 2012), and was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Riga (2000-2003).

Prior to those assignments, Ambassador Jacobson served as Deputy Executive Secretary at the National Security Council at the White House. Her other overseas assignments include Seoul, South Korea; Nassau, Bahamas; and Moscow, Russia.

Ambassador Jacobson received a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Arts from the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. She is the recipient of several State Department Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, as well as two Presidential Meritorious Service Awards. Ambassador Jacobson is married to David Baugh, a former member of the British Diplomatic Service.



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.


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.