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Meet The Team

President Ronald Neumann

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 focusing mainly on Afghanistan and stabilization. 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 board of the Middle East Policy Council. He is on the Advisory Boards of the non-profit school for Afghan girls, the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA), Spirit of America, and the Friends of the American University of Afghanistan. He is a member of the Combat Infantryman’s Association.


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. In 2018, he received the American Foreign Service Association’s award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy. 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.

Program Director Maria Reissaus

Maria Reissaus

Program Director

Maria Reissaus is the Program Director at the American Academy of Diplomacy, where she coordinates programs, events, and publications, as well as manages the administration, budget and finances of the organization. Prior to joining the Academy, Maria worked at Eurasia Foundation, where she supported a multi-year, multi-million dollar federally-funded program focused on Track II diplomacy engagement with Russia, which grew out of the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission and the two parallel Civil Society Summits. She joined Eurasia Foundation’s US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange program (SEE) in its first year of implementation and helped grow its programmatic and communication approaches for engaging with Russian civil society leaders across a diverse set of thematic areas, including the rule of law, women’s rights, disability rights, education, environmental activism, and student journalism. 


Maria has an extensive academic background in international relations and the history and politics of the Eurasia region, and she previously taught courses on these subjects at Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. She is fluent in Russian and currently serves as a Russian Language Instructor at the Fairfax County Public Schools’ Adult and Community Education program.


Maria holds B.A. degrees in Political Science and Economics from University of Washington in Seattle and a Master’s degree in Comparative Government from Georgetown University.

Program Associate Katie Azelby

Katie Azelby

Katie Azelby serves as the Program Associate at the Academy. She oversees social media, organizes outreach programs and assists the Program Director with programming and internal information management. She has international experience, having lived abroad and studied in 5 different countries. Her interests lie in diplomacy, foreign policy, and women’s empowerment.

Katie graduated from the University of Washington in June of 2021, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a focus of International Security. She is a Master’s candidate at the George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration pursuing a degree in Public Administration with a focus on Nonprofit Management and National Security & Foreign Policy.

Program Associate
Program & Finance Assistant Sienna Ross

Sienna Ross serves as the Program & Finance Assistant at the Academy. Overseeing the internship program, she assists the Program Director in managing finances, organizing events, and providing administrative support. Sienna speaks Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese, and is particularly interested in U.S. diplomacy with Brazil, China, and MENA.


Sienna graduated from New York University in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Middle Eastern Studies. 

Sienna Ross

Program & Finance Assistant
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