2020: Does Europe Still Matter to America?

The American Academy of Diplomacy
The University of Virginia Center for Politics,
The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello

Does Europe Still Matter to America?

On Saturday, October 24, 2020, the American Academy of Diplomacy, The University of Virginia Center for Politics, and The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello presented the 11th annual conference at Monticello exploring the question, “Does Europe Still Matter to America?” The panel featured Ambassadors Robert E. Hunter, Pamela Spratlen, and Shaun Donnelly, and was moderated by Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann. The keynote address, delivered by Ambassador Charles Rivkin, concluded the event.

Keynote Speaker:

Charles H. Rivkin 

Charles H. Rivkin is Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association (MPA). He leads the MPA’s global mission to advance and support the film, television, and streaming content industry. The MPA’s members currently include; Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros.

Drawing on almost 30 years of experience as a media executive and a leading U.S. diplomat, Rivkin advocates for policies that drive investment in film and television production, protect creative content, and open markets. He champions the economic and cultural power of film and television to communities around the world.

As chief executive, Rivkin is also responsible for the MPA’s iconic movie ratings system, which has served parents and moviegoers for more than 50 years.

In 2018, Rivkin was appointed to the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN). Prior to joining the MPA, Rivkin served for more than seven years at the highest levels of the U.S. government’s diplomatic corps. He was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs from February 2014 to January 2017. He led the State Department Bureau responsible for managing international trade negotiations, intellectual property rights protection, and global internet policy, among other major policy issues. While conducting economic diplomacy for the United States, he visited more than 40 countries and 70 cities around the world.

From 2009 to 2013, Rivkin was the United States Ambassador to France and Monaco. In this role, he guided America’s oldest and one of its largest diplomatic missions, with six constituent posts throughout France and representing more than 50 U.S. government agencies. During his posting, Rivkin was personally awarded the Légion d’honneur with the rank of Commander by the President of France. He also received the city of Paris’ highest honor, la Grande Médaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris, and was presented with the U.S. Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award.

Before his government service, Rivkin worked in the media and entertainment sector for more than 20 years. During that period, he served as President and CEO of Jim Henson Company, home to The Muppets and other award-winning film and television franchises and beloved characters. He also was CEO of WildBrain, where he won a BAFTA Award as an Executive Producer of the hit children’s television series Yo Gabba Gabba!, and Fast Company named him one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Rivkin is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute (AFI), a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 was accepted as a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1984, graduating with distinction in political science and international relations. He received his M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1988.



Robert E. Hunter

Robert E. Hunter was the former U.S. Ambassador to NATO under President Clinton (’93-’98), and represented the U.S. to the Western European Union. He was the principal architect of the “New NATO”, leading the North Atlantic Council in implementing decisions of the 1994 and 1997 NATO Summits. Ambassador Hunter led the Council in obtaining major air-strike decisions for Bosnia, securing approval for Implementation Force and Stabilization Force. He served on Secretary Cohen’s Defense Policy Board and was Vice Chairman of the Atlantic Treaty Association (’98-’01).

During his extensive career in the public sector, he served as Special Advisor on Lebanon to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Lead Consultant to the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America (the Kissinger Commission. During the Carter Administration, Ambassador Hunter served on the National Security Council staff as Director of West European Affairs (’77- ’79), and later as Director of Middle East Affairs (’79- ’81). He was a member of the U.S. negotiating team for talks on the West Bank and Gaza, directed the 1978 NATO Summit, and was the principal author of the Carter Doctrine for the Persian Gulf. He also served as Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Edward M. Kennedy (’73- ’77) and foreign and domestic policy advisor to Vice President Hubert Humphrey. He served on White House staff (health, education, welfare, labor) in the Johnson Administration (’64- ’65) and in the Navy Department on the Polaris Project. Has written, lectured, and broadcast extensively on foreign affairs and national security issues.

Ambassador Hunter was a Senior Fellow at the Overseas Development Council (’70- ’73), Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London (’67- ’69), and Director of European Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Twice recipient of Department of Defense Medial for Distinguished Public Service, decorated by Hungarian, Lithuanian and Polish governments, and received Leadership Award of the European Institute.

Ambassador Hunter recently published a book called Building Security in the Persian Gulf that makes recommendations for a new security structure in the Persian Gulf region in order to promote long-term security and stability, while also reducing burdens on the United States.


Pamela Spratlen

A career member of the Foreign Service, Pamela L. Spratlen has over 20 years of policy and leadership accomplishment across a wide variety of assignments. She is currently Senior Advisor of the Office of Inspector General in the US State Department, Inspections Division. Before holding her current position, Spratlen was nominated by President Barack Obama to be US Ambassador to Uzbekistan and was sworn in as Ambassador in 2014. Previous to her appointment as Ambassador to Uzbekistan, she was the US Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, and prior to that, she was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan. Ambassador Spratlen’s senior Washington assignments include her roles as Director of Western European Affairs (2007-08), Director of Central Asian Affairs (2006-2007), Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Asia (December 2007 – May 2008) and Special Assistant to the Counselor of the State Department (2005-2006). Ambassador Spratlen served overseas as Consul General in Vladivostok, Russia (2002-2004). Prior to that, she served as Assistance Coordinator at the US Embassy in Moscow (2000-2002). She was a Fellow and Diplomat-in-Residence at the East-West Center in Honolulu in 2004-2005. Ambassador Spratlen served in two multilateral missions, including the U.S Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (USOECD-Paris, 1995-1998) and the US Mission to the Organization of American States (USOAS, 1992-94). She worked in the Executive Secretariat of the State Department (1999-2000) and spent her first tour in Guatemala (1990-1992).

Ambassador Spratlen received her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and she also holds master’s degrees from the Army War College (Strategic Studies – Distance, 2006) and the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School (Public Policy, 1981). Ambassador Spratlen has received numerous awards, including the Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards at State. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she served for almost nine years as a professional committee staff member in the California Legislature. Ambassador Spratlen speaks Russian, French, and Spanish.


Shaun Donnelly

Shaun Donnelly is Vice-President for Investment, Financial Services, and Banking in the Washington office of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB.) USCIB is a leading voice for U.S. business to the U.S. Government and represents U.S. business at the OECD, the UN system, and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Shaun Donnelly retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2008 after a 36-year career concentrating on international economics, trade and development. He served as U.S Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, as Deputy Ambassador in Tunisia and Mali, in three separate Deputy Assistant Secretary positions (totaling eight years) in the State Department’s Economic and Business Bureau, and as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative in charge of Europe and the Middle East.

After retiring from the U.S. Government and before joining USCIB, Ambassador Donnelly worked as Senior Director for International Business Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers and as Vice President for the Middle East at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, two leading business organizations.

Ambassador Donnelly is board member of the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) and of ASTM International, a leading international standards developer. He is a board member and the membership committee chair of the American Academy of Diplomacy. He is also a member of the Ambassadors Advisory Board of the Executive Council on Diplomacy.

Ambassador Donnelly earned a BA degree in economics from Lawrence University and an MA degree, also in economics, from Northwestern University. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia.


Ronald E. Neumann

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.