Michigan Ambassadors Forum
This November, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and the American Academy of Diplomacy will co-host a discussion panel to enhance public understanding of critical foreign policy areas. This panel will focus on U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Persian Gulf and features Ambassadors John W. Limbert, Gerald Feierstein, Ronald E. Neumann, and Deborah McCarthy.
The event will take place on November 21, 2019 at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School. More information on the event is forthcoming.
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 President of the American Academy of Diplomacy and 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.
John W. Limbert
John Limbert was appointed Distinguished Professor of International Affairs at the U.S. Naval Academy in August 2006 after retiring from the Foreign Service with 33 years of service and the rank of Minister-Counselor. His last postings before retirement were as Dean of the Foreign Service Institute’s School of Language Studies and, on temporary assignment, as Chief of Mission in Khartoum, Sudan. Ambassador Limbert was president of the American Foreign Service Association (2003-2005) and Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (2000-2003). While serving as Ambassador, he was one of the first civilian officials to enter Baghdad in April 2003, with the Organization for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. There he was responsible for cultural affairs, including restoring the looted Iraqi Museum. In March-May of 2004 he returned to Iraq, leading a team in support of the U.S. mission there. Earlier he had been Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the U.S. State Department (2000); member of the State Department’s Senior Seminar (1997-98); Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Conakry, Guinea (1994-97); and Director of Orientation at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute in Washington (1992-94).
Ambassador Limbert first joined the Foreign Service in 1973, and his overseas experience also included tours in Algeria, Djibouti, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. From 1981 to 1984 he taught Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy, and in 1991-92 he was a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs.
Ambassador Limbert graduated from the D.C. public schools and holds his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Harvard University, the last in History and Middle Eastern Studies. Before joining the Foreign Service, he taught in Iran, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1964-66) and as an English instructor at Shiraz University (1969-72). He has written numerous articles on Middle Eastern subjects and has authored Iran: At War with History (Westview Press, 1987) and Shiraz in the Age of Hafez (University of Washington Press, 2004).
Ambassador Limbert holds the Department of State’s highest award – the Distinguished Service Award – and other department awards, including the Award for Valor, which he received after fourteen months as a hostage in Iran. He also holds the American Foreign Service Association’s Rivkin Award for creative dissent. His foreign languages are Persian, Arabic, and French. He became a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2011.
Jerry Feierstein retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in May 2016 after a 41-year career. At the time of his retirement, Feierstein held the personal rank of Career Minister. Feierstein currently serves as the Senior Vice President of the Middle East Institute. Over the course of his career, he served in nine overseas postings, including three tours of duty in Pakistan, as well as tours in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Jerusalem, and Tunisia. In 2010, President Obama appointed Feierstein U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, where he served until 2013. From 2013 until his retirement, Feierstein was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs.
In addition to his career-long focus on the Near East and South Asia, Feierstein also played a prominent role in developing and implementing State Department policies and programs to counter violent extremism. As Deputy Coordinator and Principal Deputy Coordinator in the State Department’s Counter-Terrorism bureau, Feierstein led the development of initiatives to build regional networks to confront extremist groups as well as to counter terrorist financing and promote counter-terrorism messaging. He continued to focus on defeating terrorist groups through his subsequent tours as Deputy Chief of Mission in Pakistan and as Ambassador to Yemen.
Feierstein joined the Middle East Institute in October 2016 as a Senior Fellow and the Director of a new Center for Gulf Affairs.
Ambassador Deborah A. McCarthy is an international security strategist with over 30 years of experience in Europe, the Western Hemisphere and the U.S. She is currently a consultant with the Transnational Strategy Group in Washington D.C. Just prior, she was the Executive Director of the Diversity and Leadership Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). She moderates the American Academy of Diplomacy podcast series “The General and the Ambassador” (https://www.generalambassadorpodcast.org).
Before joining the private sector, Ms. McCarthy was a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. From 2013 to 2016, she was the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania. Previously, she was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs. Ms. McCarthy also served as Deputy Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Greece and the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. In Washington, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Senior Advisor for Counter Terrorism and Special Coordinator for Venezuela. Other posting include: Consul General in Montreal, Economic Counselor U.S. Embassy Paris, Financial Economist U.S. Embassy Rome and assignments in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Ms. McCarthy received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia and a joint Masters in Economics and Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She is active on social media on U.S. foreign policy (Twitter: @Amb_DMcCarthy) and is an experienced public speaker. She is a member of the Atlantic Council, the American Academy of Diplomacy, the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, the International Women’s Forum and the Women’s Foreign Policy Group. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and on the Policy Council of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation.