2022 – The Future of Global Diplomacy: Actors and Factors

On March 10, 2022, Texas Tech University’s Office of International Affairs and the American Academy of Diplomacy hosted the seventh installment of the Texas Tech Ambassadors Forum. Moderated by Academy President Ambassador Ronald Neumann, the discussion focused on the future of global diplomacy and featured Ambassadors Deborah A. McCarthy, Molly Williamson, and Kenneth C. Brill. The speakers also met with Texas Tech faculty, staff, and students, the local media, and about 200 local high school students.


Deborah A. McCarthy

Ambassador (ret) Deborah A. McCarthy is an expert on U.S. foreign and national security policy with over 30 years of diplomatic experience.  Currently, she is a Fellow at Harvard University in the Advanced Leadership Initiative.  She is the host/producer of the National Security Podcast series  “The General and the Ambassador: A Conversation”.

Most recently, Ms. McCarthy was a visiting Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.  Previously, she was the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania (2013-2016).  She also served as the Deputy Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Greece and the U.S.  Embassy in Nicaragua.  In Washington, she was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Senior Advisor for Counter Terrorism and Special Coordinator for Venezuela. Other diplomatic postings include:  Consul General 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 a regular public speaker. She is a member of the Atlantic Council and American College of National Security Leaders.  She serves on the Board of the Academy of Diplomacy, the Command, and General Staff College Foundation as well as on the Advisory Council for the Master’s program in Foreign Service at Georgetown University.


Molly Williamson

Molly Williamson speaks extensively on energy, economic and demographic factors affecting foreign policy formulation, US-Middle East relations, especially regional unrest, the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iran and nuclear challenges, and the interagency process.

Williamson is a retired Foreign Service Officer, having served six presidents, achieving the rank of Career Minister. She is a scholar with the Middle East Institute and the National Council on US-Arab Relations, a consultant, and frequent guest lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, the Defense Institute of Security Cooperation, and the National Joint Staff College. She is also a member of Georgetown University’s MSFS oral boards, and a Director on both corporate and non-profit Boards. Williamson has lectured at numerous World Affairs and Business groups across the country, numerous universities, several cruise ships, as well as briefings to the U.S. Congress.

Williamson has had a unique combination of policy positions in four Cabinet departments in the U.S. government as well as numerous diplomatic assignments in and about the Middle East.

Williamson was the Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Energy with global responsibilities at the nexus of foreign policy and energy policy.

When Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Williamson was responsible for the Middle East, South Asia, Oceania and Africa, advancing trade relations with 86 countries with a trade portfolio valued at over $120 billion/year.

Williamson was Principal Deputy, then Acting Assistant Secretary of State, International Organizations Bureau, responsible for the policy and programs affecting UN political and Security Council matters, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Williamson was responsible for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. She was engaged in operational defense structure bottom-up reviews, the policy challenges of Iraqi provocations, crises in Rwanda and Somalia, and nuclear tests in South Asia.

She has had numerous diplomatic postings in the Middle East, including heading up our diplomatic mission in Jerusalem during the Madrid Peace Process, which culminated in the Oslo Accords.

She has been trained in both Hebrew and Arabic.

Williamson, a native of California, has been awarded 2 Presidential Meritorious Service Awards, the Secretary of Energy’s Exceptional Service Award, Secretary of Commerce Performance Award, the Secretary of Defense’ Service Award, and 14 awards from the Department of State.


Kenneth C. Brill

Ambassador Kenneth C. Brill was the President of The Fund for Peace on November 2010 till 2011, succeeding Dr. Pauline Baker who had held the position for 15 years.

Ambassador Brill completed a 35-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service in April, 2010. In his final Foreign Service assignment, he was the founding Director of the U.S. National Counter-proliferation Center (NCPC), which is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Ambassador Brill served as NCPC’s Director for five years.

Ambassador Brill’s overseas assignments with the Department of State included serving as Ambassador to the IAEA and the UN Office in Vienna, Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus, acting-Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, and Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan. His domestic assignments in the Department of State included service as acting-Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Executive Secretary of the Department and Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, and Director of the Office of Egyptian Affairs.

Ambassador Brill has written and spoken on the subjects of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the challenges of WMD terrorism, the environment as a national security issue and U.S. intelligence reform.

Ambassador Brill is a graduate of Ohio University and received his MBA from the University of California at Berkeley. He is married and has two grown children.


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.


Media Coverage of the 2021 Texas Tech Ambassadors Forum

Diplomats Share Thoughts on Ukraine, Foreign Policy at Texas Tech Ambassador Forum – Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

University to Host 7th Annual Ambassadors’ Forum – Texas Tech Today