Michael C. Polt

Ambassador Michael C. Polt

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



Ambassador Michael C. Polt is ASU's Ambassador-in-Residence and Co-Founder of the ASU Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab. He lends his lifetime career experience as a U.S. diplomat to the students, faculty, and life-time learner community of Arizona State University.  With his office in ASU’s Barrett and O’Connor Center in Washington, D.C., the Ambassador focuses on foreign policy leadership, diplomacy, and international affairs education and training.  From 2012 to 2020, Mr. Polt led the international leadership development programs at ASU’s McCain Institute in Washington, D.C. as Senior Director.

During his 35-year diplomatic career, Mr. Polt served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia and as Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro. Prior to his ambassadorial missions, the Ambassador was Principal Deputy and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs in the Powell and Clinton State Departments. During his three decades as a career diplomat, Mr. Polt served as U.S. Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany and Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge’ d’ Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. He has also served as Senior Advisor to the Director General of the Foreign Service for Management Reform and was a key member of the Senior Management Steering Board directing the State Department’s 2003-2005 multi-million-dollar reinvention of its Diplomatic Communications System.

Ambassador Polt has held other senior positions in the Department of State, as Deputy Director for European Security and Arms Control issues, and in Panama City as Political Counselor of the U.S. Embassy during the time leading up to the U.S. military action against the Noriega regime in 1989. During his earlier career, Mr. Polt was assigned to Embassies in Bonn, Mexico City, and Copenhagen, as well as the U.S. Consulate in Bremen, Germany. The Ambassador has been the repeated recipient of the Presidential Meritorious Service Award and numerous Department of State Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards for Outstanding Policy Leadership, Management, Crisis Performance, and Political Analysis. He has been awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award for Service to U.S. Citizens Overseas by American Citizens Abroad.

Ambassador Polt was born in Austria. He holds a Bachelors’ Degree and an Honorary Doctorate from American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and a Masters’ Degree in Public Administration from the University of Tennessee. He and his wife Hallie live in suburban northern Virginia. They have two grown children, Nicholas and Lindsay, and three wonderful grandchildren. The Polts enjoy sailing and skiing for relaxation and a good cup of coffee with time to savor it.