2019 – Nationalism and World Crises: A Discussion of America’s Role in International Affairs

On Monday, March 4, 2019, Texas Tech University’s Office of International Affairs and the American Academy of Diplomacy hosted the fourth annual Texas Tech Ambassadors Forum. Addressing “Nationalism and World Crises: A Discussion of America’s Role in International Affairs”, Ambassadors Ronald E. Neumann, Catherine A. Novelli, Michael C. Polt, and Frank Almaguer engaged in dialogue related to the role America plays in foreign policy and international relations.



Panel Discussion

Moderator: Amb. Ronald Neumann 

Ambassador (ret.) Ronald E. Neumann is President of the American Academy of Diplomacy, an organization of former senior diplomats dedicated to strengthening American diplomacy. Formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, Neumann served three times as Ambassador; to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. Much of his early career focused on the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula including service in Iraq (2004-05), working extensively with the military. Since his service in Afghanistan he has returned there frequently and writes and speaks extensively on the subject. He has authored a book on his time in Afghanistan titled The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan, as well as wrote Three Embassies, Four Wars; A Personal Memoir. In earlier postings he served as Director of the Office for Iran and Iraq, Deputy Chief of Mission in the United Arab Emirates, and in Yemen, and Principal Officer in Tabriz, Iran. In 2018, he received the American Foreign Service Association’s award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy. He holds a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science and was an infantry officer in Vietnam (’69-70). He is married to the former M. Elaine Grimm. They have two children.

Ambassaador Catherine A. Novelli

Ambassador Catherine A. Novelli is a Centennial Fellow at Georgetown University and is the President of Listening for America, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to forging a new vision of U.S. international trade engagement. She served as Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment (2014- 2017), where she championed economic reform; internet inclusion; conservation of natural resources and increased international collaboration on science and technology.

Novelli spent seven years as Vice President, Worldwide Government Affairs at Apple Inc. Prior to her position at Apple, she was a partner in the law firm of Mayer Brown International. She had a long career at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, rising to Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe & the Mediterranean, where she coordinated U.S. trade and investment policy for Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Northern Africa. She negotiated most of the bilateral trade and investment agreements that underpin the U.S. economic relationship in that region.

Novelli currently serves on the Board of the National Wildlife Federation and the Advisory Board of the Pristine Seas Initiative of the National Geographic Society as well as the Wildlife Conservation Society. She also serves on the Policy and Global Affairs Oversight Committee of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She was named an Ocean Elder.

She is a graduate of Tufts University, holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Laws from University of London.


Ambassador (ret.) Michael C. Polt

Ambassador (ret.) Michael C. Polt is Senior Director at the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Washington D.C., where he leads the Institute’s signature leadership development and international affairs academic programs. He assumed his position in 2012, after concluding a distinguished 35-year diplomatic career serving six presidents and eleven Secretaries of State. Among Mr. Polt’s many high-level diplomatic assignments was his service as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia during the Obama Administration, Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro during the George W. Bush Administration, and as Principal Deputy and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs in the Powell and Clinton State Departments.



Ambassador (ret.)Frank Almaguer is a career diplomat and international development professional, with Latin America expertise. During his U.S. Foreign Service career, he achieved the rank of Career Minister and held multiple senior positions, including as ambassador to Honduras and USAID Mission Director in Bolivia, Eastern Europe and Ecuador. After the Foreign Service, Almaguer served the Organization of American States as Secretary for Administration. He also has served with U.S. delegations to the UN Human Rights Commission and the Technical Cooperation Committee of the IAEA. In 2016, Almaguer was appointed by Secretary of State Kerry, and reappointed in 2018 by Secretary Pompeo, to the Foreign Service Grievance Board. His numerous honors include Presidential Meritorious Awards and USAID’s Distinguished Career Award. He is a member of the Inter-American Dialogue, The American Academy of Diplomacy and the National Peace Corps Association, among others. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Pan-American Agricultural University (“Zamorano”). Almaguer, born in Cuba and raised in Florida, holds an MS in Government Administration from George Washington University and a BA in Political Science from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Antoinette, have two children and four grandchildren.