Our Mission

The Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab (LDNS Lab) advances character-driven leadership, diplomacy, and national security education and training in support of the full range of university enterprises. Led by diplomatic and national security professionals, The Lab dedicates itself to learner-centered solutions and thought leadership through a global network of partners employing state of the art learning tools.

Events, Timely Announcements and News


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The College's Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab will center on diplomacy, character-driven leadership

“The launch of the LDNS Lab demonstrates the opportunities ASU can offer our community by leveraging the university’s presence in Washington, D.C., and Phoenix. Freakley, Polt and O’Donnell each have decades of strategic knowledge and experience that our students and faculty can learn from to further engage with issues of importance locally, nationally and internationally,” said ASU President Michael Crow. "We are excited to give learners this chance to engage with and learn from the most experienced and distinguished diplomacy and leadership experts our university has to offer.”

Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab team

Core team

Benjamin C. Freakley

Special Advisor to the President for Leadership Initiatives, Arizona State University
Co-founder, Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab

Lieutenant General Benjamin C. Freakley serves as the Professor of practice of Leadership for Arizona State University and as a Special Advisor to ASU President Michael Crow for Leadership Initiatives. Additionally, he serves as the Executive Director of the ASU Decision Theater Network and is a Co-Founder of the ASU Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab.  He retired from the U. S Army…
Michael C. Polt

ASU Ambassador-in-Residence and Professor of Practice
Co-founder, Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab


Ambassador Polt assumed his new position as ASU Ambassador-in-Residence in The College's Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab on October 1, 2020.  Prior to that he had served as Senior Director at the University's McCain Institute for International Leadership after concluding his 35-year diplomatic career in…

Rod Moore

Professor of Practice, School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University


A retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer, Ambassador Moore has over three decades of experience as a diplomat, leader, manager, teacher, and consultant.   A part of the ASU community since January 2000, he has taught several unique courses on diplomacy - including POS 494 (Diplomacy in Action, the Embassy Country Team) and LAW 791 (Foreign Policy Design).

Kathy Cook

Senior Director
Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab
Military and Strategic Initiatives, Office of University Affairs


As Senior Director of the ASU Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab (LDNS Lab), Kathy provides leadership and support for Lieutenant General Benjamin Freakley, U.S. Army (Ret) and Ambassador-in-Residence Michael Polt while directing the strategic operations and development of the LDNS Lab.   

Edward B. O’Donnell

Professor of Practice, School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University
Co-founder, Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab

Ambassador O’Donnell leads the ASU course (Policy Design Studio POS 494 and Washington Internship POS 484) “Diplomacy in Action, the Embassy Country Team” in Washington, D.C. and is launching a Master of Arts in International Affairs and Leadership. He is a member of the ASU Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab (LDNS Lab). He is a Professor of Practice in the School of Politics and…
David Scheffer Headshot

Professor of Practice


David J. Scheffer joined the School of  Politics & Global Studies in 2021. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations (Washington office).  

Ashley Wright

Program Manager
Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab
School of Politics and Global Studies


Ashley Wright is the Program Manager for the ASU Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab (LDNS) in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She primarily manages the Lab’s education programs: ASU World Innovators Study Abroad Program, Policy Design Studio & Washington, D.C. Internship, and the Master of Arts in International Affairs and Leadership program. Prior to joining the Lab…

Jesus Vega

Management Intern
Leadership, Diplomacy, and National Security Lab


Jesus Vega is the management intern for the Leadership, Diplomacy, and National Security Lab. He is responsible for the lab's social media marketing, branding, current student and alumni outreach, and administrative work. Prior to joining the LDNS Lab, Jesus attended Arizona State University where he majored in Global Studies. During his time at ASU, he participated in the…

Luis Reyes

Research Aide
Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab

Luis Reyes was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He is currently a first-generation college student of Barret, the Honors College and is pursuing his bachelor's degree in Political Science and Justice Studies and also studies Spanish. After receiving his B.A., Luis hopes to either go to Law School and specialize in constitutional law or pursue his master's degree in Public Policy. His…

Distinguished university fellow

H.R. McMaster

ASU Distinguished University Fellow

H. R. McMaster is the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.  He is also the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute and lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.  He was the 26th assistant to the president for National Security Affairs. Upon graduation from the United States Military…

Distinguished fellows

Ambassador Charles Ray

Charles Ray retired from the US Foreign Service in 2012 after a 30-year career. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he spent 20 years in the US Army, retiring with the rank of Major. During his army career, he did two tours in Vietnam, served in Military Intelligence, Special Operations and Public Affairs, with assignments in Germany, Korea, Vietnam, and Panama, as well as several posts in…

Laura Bennett

Ms. Bennett is a producer and host of American Diplomat, the podcast, which she began with Ambassador (Ret.) Pete Romero in 2017.  The weekly show features interviews with foreign service officers and explores the human experience of newsworthy events overseas from a diplomatic perspective.  American Diplomat has reached over 800,000 listeners in more than 140 countries worldwide.…

bill Deere


William R. (Bill) Deere serves as Senior Congressional Advisor to the Washington, DC office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). In his position, Bill is part of the UNRWA team helping to clarify the agency’s mission, programs, and challenges to Washington policymakers with a special focus on Capitol Hill.

Bill Heidt

Ambassador William (Bill) Heidt, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor, assumed his duties as Deputy Commandant and International Affairs Advisor at the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy on November 4, 2019.

A career economic officer, Ambassador Heidt served on the faculty of the Eisenhower School from January…

Amb. David Johnson

Ambassador Johnson became an adjunct member of the ASU faculty in the fall of 2020.  During the last decade of his 33-year service as a career diplomat, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INL), Charge’ at the United States Embassy in London, Afghan Coordinator for the United States, and United States Ambassador to the…

Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, U.S. Navy (Ret)


Presently serving as the 61st Chaplain of the House of Representatives, she was elected by House Membership and sworn in by the Speaker of the House on 3 January 2021.

A Navy chaplain for 35 years, Rear Admiral (ret) Margaret Grun Kibben, her Navy and Marine Corps assignments were comprised of tours up and down the east coast, a quick trip out west, and several deployments, to include…

Caroline Lynch

Caroline Lynch is the founder and owner of Copper Hill Strategies, LLC, providing client-focused government relations, strategic planning, legislative, and business development services. She has fifteen years of Capitol Hill experience, including a decade with the House Judiciary Committee where she served for eight years as the Chief Counsel of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and…

Ambassador Catherine Novelli

Catherine A. Novelli has worked in the field of international trade policy for over 30 years. She has served every President from Ronald Regan to Barak Obama. Most recently, she was Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, reporting directly to the Secretary of State.

Ambassador Peter Romero

Ambassador Peter F. Romero is currently Co-Host/Producer of the podcast "American
Diplomat." This unique podcast features the personal narratives of our nation's career
Foreign Service Officers, has reached 650K downloads, and a solid five-star rating with
an 86.2% loyalty (repeat listens) rate. He is a seasoned international practitioner with a 45-year track record of…

Herb and Laura Roskind Headshot

Herbert Roskind is an active member of the National Energy Independence Plan (NEIP) and serves as advisor to several Phoenix high tech companies. He is active in Flying Angels and Flying Sams, politics, and a co-sponsor of the Voter Reward Initiative.

LTG Rudesheim Headshot

Born and raised for 18 years in the Republic of Panama, Lieutenant General (ret.) Rudesheim was commissioned as a distinguished military graduate from the University of Texas, Austin in 1981, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He holds Master's degrees in International Relations from Troy University, in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College, and in…

Matt Spence

Dr. Matt Spence is a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor Law School and Thunderbird School of Global Management, and Senior Advisor to University President Crow.

Ambassador Kurt Volker

Ambassador Kurt Volker is a leading expert in U.S. foreign and national security policy with 35 years of experience in a variety of government, academic, and private sector capacities.  He served as U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations from 2017 to 2019, and as U.S. Ambassador to NATO from 2008-2009.  Ambassador Volker is President and Founder of Alliance Strategic…

Lee Voth Gaeddert

Dr. Lee E. Voth-Gaeddert, PE, REHS, ASEP is a Research Professor and Senior Global Futures Scientist at ASU. He actively consults for the United Nations and is an affiliate researcher at the Center for Indigenous Health Research in Guatemala and Wits Developmental Pathways to Health Research Unit in South Africa. Dr.

Junior fellows

Aman Barekzai

Fall 2021

Aman Barekzai was born and raised in Arizona. He has recently graduated, majoring in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations, while also minoring in History and Communication. He is currently a Master's candidate for the 4+1 Accelerated M.A. Program in Political Science. As an Afghan-American and first-generation college student, Aman aspires to leave behind a positive…

Julia Coll headshot

Fall 2023

Julia is originally from the Netherlands, but grew up in various countries around the world, including Kenya, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. Currently, she is a sophomore, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in both Political Science and Sociology. Her career aspiration is to work in Public Policy that targets insufficient climate governance, human rights abuses, inadequate cyber…

Stirling Ewing

Fall 2023

Stirling Ewing is originally from Montana and is now pursuing an M.A. through the International Affairs and Leadership program at Arizona State University (ASU). He lived in Chile for two years before attending Utah State University (USU) and earning a B.S. in economics and minors in both political science and anticipatory intelligence. He gained experience in assessing geopolitical and…

Robert Lavender

Fall 2022

Robert Lee Lavender Jr is from Phoenix, Arizona. He has lived in Phoenix his entire life which is why he is proudly attending Arizona State University. He is majoring in Political Science and Geography. He is in his final year of undergraduate studies and plans on attending graduate school for a Masters in Global Security. When he is not working, or in school, he competes in Spartan Races as a…

Mariah Maury

Spring 2022

Mariah is a political science senior from Chicago, Il. She has a background in fitness, curriculum writing, instructing, program coordination, and entrepreneurship. Mariah also has training in applied behavior analysis and is an intuitive advocate for neurodiversity. She champions functional empathy in philosophy as well as in strategy. Mariah has participated in several ASU programs including…

Thomas Morgan headshot

Fall 2023

Thomas “Tommy” Morgan is from Alamogordo, NM, and currently serves in the United States Air Force as a C-130J pilot and Air Mobility Liaison Officer (AMLO) to the US Army’s 173rd IBCT(A) in Vicenza, Italy. 

Devin Parker Headshot

Spring 2023

Devin Parker is working towards her M.A. in International Affairs and Leadership at Arizona State University. Before obtaining her Master's Degree, Devin spent ten years working and volunteering within multiple non-profit organizations, including halfway houses, refugee resettlement, sexually trafficked and exploited women, and at-risk youth leaving the juvenile justice system. During her time…

Sydney Selde

Fall 2021

Sydney is a German-American senior majoring in Global Studies and Political Science with a certificate in Religion and Conflict. Her academic interests include U.S. foreign policy, refugee and migration issues, and women in conflict zones, with a regional focus on the MENA and Central Asian region. A former Capitol Scholar and current Policy Design Studio participant, Sydney is a founding…

Ella Wofford

Fall 2022

Ella Wofford is a rising junior from Lake Havasu City, Arizona. She is majoring in Global Studies and International Letters and Cultures (Arabic Studies) while minoring in Religious Studies and completing a certificate in Cross-Sector Leadership. Outside of academics, Ella is focused on strengthening her community through facilitating dialogues, participating in service events, and advocating…


Spring 2022

Jamshid Yarzada is a first-generation college student currently pursuing his bachelor's degree in social work at Arizona State University (ASU). His passion for social work stemmed from a lack of justice and equality in his own life as an Afghan. Due to this background as a young arrival to the United States, he became motivated to help other arrived refugees resettle in Arizona and enroll in…

Angel Zelaya Headshot

Spring 2023

Angel is from Orlando, FL and graduated with his B.S. in Management from the United States Air Force Academy in 2020. He is in his second year at ASU seeking his MA in International Affairs & Leadership and plans to graduate in the spring of 2024. He plans to become a Foreign Area Officer and eventually a defense attache during his time in the Air Force. Postmilitary, he is excited to…