2023 – The Global Citizen and Diplomacy
On March 2, 2023, Texas Tech University’s Office of International Affairs and the American Academy of Diplomacy hosted the eighth installment of the Texas Tech Ambassadors Forum. Moderated by Academy President Ambassador Ronald Neumann, the discussion focused on the concept of a “global citizen,” and featured Ambassadors Tibor Nagy, Robert Blake, and Pamela Spratlen.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Bob Blake is a Senior Director for McClarty Associates in Washington DC. He served for 31 years in the State Department in a wide range of positions. He most recently served as a senior advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry in his role of Special Envoy for Climate.
As U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia from 2013 to 2016, he focused on building cooperation to help Indonesia reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the clearing of tropical forests and by embracing clean energy; and building stronger business and educational ties between the U.S. and Indonesia. From 2009 to 2013, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia for which he was awarded the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award. From 2006-2009 he served concurrently as the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives. In Sri Lanka he was a strong advocate for democracy, human rights and the protection of civilians as the Government of Sri Lanka pursued its campaign to defeat the LTTE, designated a terrorist group by the Department of State. Ambassador Blake also served as Deputy Chief of Mission in India, as well as other postings in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, and the State Department.
Ambassador Blake holds a B.A. from Harvard College and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington D.C. He is married to Sofia Blake and they have three daughters.
Tibor P. Nagy
Tibor Nagy served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 2018-2021. In addition to leading the US Government’s efforts to deal with Africa’s myriad systemic challenges, Ambassador Nagy prioritized dramatically increasing trade and investment between the US and Africa, and implementing “deal teams” in every US Embassy to support this effort. He also focused on urging African governments to create the types of business and governance environments which would attract outside investment to create jobs for Africa’s emerging Youth Tsunami.
From 2003 to 2018 Ambassador Nagy was Vice Provost for International Affairs at Texas Tech University where his efforts resulted in large increases in international students, study abroad programs, and international partnerships. He also lectured nationally on Africa, foreign policy, international development, and US diplomacy – and advised two Presidential campaigns, serving as Gov. Romney’s Africa policy group co-chair in 2012 and on Presidential candidate Obama’s Africa group in 2008.
He was the US Ambassador to Ethiopia from 1999-2002, a period which included the Ethio-Eritrean War and a robust anti-terrorism campaign. Previously he was Ambassador to Guinea after serving as Deputy Ambassador in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Togo. He also had assignments in Zambia, the Seychelles, Washington DC, and an earlier tour in Ethiopia. Ambassador Nagy arrived in the US as a political refugee from Hungary and received his B.A. from Texas Tech University and M.S.A. from George Washington University. His US State Department awards include commendations for helping prevent famine in Ethiopia; supporting the evacuation of Americans from Sierra Leone during combat; supporting efforts to end the Ethio-Eritrean War, and managing the US Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria during political and economic crises. He was selected as runner-up for “Deputy Chief of Mission of the Year” in 1995 and knighted by the President of Guinea in 1999. Ambassador Nagy contributes periodic op-ed pieces and co-authored the nonfiction winner of the 2014 Paris Book Festival on managing in difficult international environments, “Kiss Your Latte Goodbye.”
Pamela L. Spratlen is a mentor, board member and public speaker who served 30 years in the U.S. Department of State. She retired as a Senior Foreign Service Officer in 2019. She briefly returned to State in 2021 to oversee efforts to address the “Havana Syndrome.” Ms. Spratlen’s leadership experience included 10 years in Central Asia, of which she served eight as U.S. Ambassador, first to Kyrgyzstan (2011-14) and then to Uzbekistan (2015-18). She also served as Deputy Chief of Mission (Deputy to the Ambassador) in Kazakhstan (2009-11) and in Washington as the Country Director/acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Asia (2006-07). During her service in Central Asia, Ms. Spratlen consistently addressed human rights and economic reform as she worked to improve bilateral diplomatic and security relations with the governments of the region.
Ms. Spratlen’s senior Washington assignments include Senior Advisor in the Office of the Inspector General (2018-19); Director of Western European Affairs (2008-09), Director of Central Asian Affairs and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary (2006-08); Special Assistant to the Counselor to the Secretary of State (2005-06), Consul General in Vladivostok (2002-04). In her early and mid-career Ms. Spratlen served in Guatemala City, Paris, Moscow, Honolulu, and Washington (1990-2002). She began her career as a VISTA volunteer in California. Before joining State she served for over eight years on the professional staffs of committees of the California Legislature, where she focused higher education.
Ms. Spratlen was born in Columbus, Ohio and grew up on the U.S. West Coast in California and Washington state. She received her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and holds master’s degrees from the Army War College and the Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley. Ms. Spratlen has received numerous awards. The President of Uzbekistan conferred the country’s highest civilian award on her in 2018 – the Order of Do’stlik (Friendship).
Ms. Spratlen continues to support strong U.S. diplomacy and development as a member of the boards of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Association of Black American Ambassadors. She chairs the Board of Trustees of the Eurasia Foundation and is a member of the Policy Council of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation. She speaks Russian, French and Spanish. Ms. Spratlen resides in Alexandria, VA
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 2023 Texas Tech Ambassadors Forum
Texas Tech’s International Affairs to host 8th annual Ambassador’s Forum – Lubbock Avalanche-Journal