American Diplomacy Project - Phase II

January - September 2022

Read the Final Blueprints

About the Project

The American Diplomacy Project – Phase II, in collaboration with the Una Chapman Cox Foundation and ASU, will build on the original report published in 2020 by Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs entitled The American Diplomacy Project: A U.S. Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century.

Arizona State University, through its Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab, will now provide the new institutional home for assembling a detailed blueprint – a “workbook” – for carrying forward the original report’s plan for the revitalization and modernization of the United States Foreign Service. The work of the project will be directed by a team of former Ambassadors and will draw on extensive discussion with experts and current and former members of the Foreign Service.

Read the Final Blueprints

Watch the Final Blueprints Presentation

American Diplomacy Project Cover
Graphic Courtesy of Bailey Vidler of ASU Graphic Design

ASU-supported project presents blueprints for changes to US foreign service 

"The American Diplomacy Project–Phase II proposes concrete change, offering a plan of action for a new generation of American diplomats to meet the demands of American foreign policy today...Read More from ASU News

ASU Ambassador-in-Residence and LDNS Lab Co-Founder Ambassador Michael Polt attended a meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma on March 20 to discuss the State Department plans to pilot one of the ASU-Sponsored American Diplomacy Project’s (ADP) “Blueprints for a More Modern Diplomatic Service.” Together with other leaders of the project, Ambassador Polt received a briefing on the envisioned Diplomatic Reserve Corps, designed to bring much needed emergency surge capacity to our nation’s diplomatic efforts.

The ADP team applauded this initial step by the Department of State in seeking to implement this much needed facility and provided feedback on the draft plan to be implement in FY 2025. ASU and Leadership, Diplomacy, and National Security (LDNS) Lab sponsorship of the project featured prominently in the State Department meeting. Ambassador Polt will visit Pennsylvania’s Millersville University in early April to present the full set of ASU Blueprints at a meeting of the Harrisburg World Affairs Council.

Event Recordings

Presentation of the Blueprints | Sept. 8, 2022

The Phase II project team, in collaboration with the Una Chapman Cox Foundation and ASU, has assembled detailed blueprints for four critical areas of State Department reform. At this event, team leaders presented their work and took audience questions. 

Watch the Final Report

Midterm Report | May 31, 2022

Following its launch in January this year, this is the second Roundtable dedicated to ASU’s engagement in support of the modernization of U.S. diplomacy. The Phase II project team, in collaboration with the Una Chapman Cox Foundation and ASU, is assembling detailed blueprints for four critical areas of Foreign Service reform. At this event at the midpoint of the effort, team leaders provided a brief progress update and answered audience questions. 

Watch the Midterm Report

Inaugural ASU Washington Diplomatic Roundtable | January 31, 2022

This inaugural Roundtable launched ASU’s engagement in support of modernization of U.S. diplomacy. Hosted by ASU’s Ambassador-in-Residence Michael C. Polt, this Roundtable featured the new Project Co-Chairs Ambassador Marc Grossman and Ambassador Marcie Ries, as well as comments by the Project’s leadership team.

Watch the Inaugural Roundtable

Project Team


Ambassador Marc Grossman


Ambassador Marc Grossman served as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the State Department's third ranking official, until his retirement in 2005 after 29 years in the US Foreign Service. As Under Secretary, he helped marshal diplomatic support for the international response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. He also managed US policies in the Balkans and Colombia and…

Marcie Ries


Marcie B. Ries is a retired Ambassador with more than thirty-five years of diplomatic experience in Europe, the Caribbean and the Middle East.  She is a three-time Chief of Mission, serving as Head of the U.S. Mission in Kosovo (2003-2004), United States Ambassador to Albania (2004-2007) and, most recently (2012-2015), as United States Ambassador to Bulgaria.

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…

Charles Armstrong

Charles Armstrong retired from the Office of the Legislative Counsel of the United States Senate in 2021 after 31 years of service as a drafter of legislation for committees and members of the Senate. In his last 10 years of service, he held the position of Senior Counsel and acted as the head of the Foreign Affairs team in the Office, leading and supervising attorneys responsible for drafting…

Ambassador Joyce Barr

Joyce Barr is a Professor of Practice in Government and International Affairs with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as well as a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow.  A former Ambassador and Assistant Secretary with more than 37 years of service, she attained the personal rank of Career Minister before retiring from the Department of State in January 2017.…

Patrick Kennedy

Patrick F. Kennedy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Under Secretary for Management on November 6, 2007 and served in that position until January 27, 2017.  Prior to assuming that position, he was Director of the State Department’s Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation from May, 2007; Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Management from April, 2005 to May…

Jo Ellen Powell

A career Foreign Service Officer, Jo Ellen Powell served as Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Resources, and as Consul General in Frankfurt, Germany.

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…

Ambassador Daniel Smith

Daniel B. Smith, recently retired from the Foreign Service with the highest rank of Career Ambassador, served as the State Department’s Transition Director for the 2020 Presidential Transition and subsequently as Acting Secretary and Acting Deputy Secretary of State in the early months of the Biden Administration.  He served prior to that as Director of the Foreign Service Institute, the…

Research Aides

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…

Nicholas Davies

Nicholas Davies is a Marine Corps Veteran who specialized in Department of State Embassy Security working in Germany, Iraq, and Belize. He is a sophomore currently studying Business Global Politics at W.P. Carey School of Business. He has co-founded a program with the Pat Tillman Veterans Center to improve and help other student veterans in their experience at ASU. He is a motivated and active…

Joey Joson

Joey is a first-year graduate student in the International Affairs and Leadership master’s program at ASU. He earned dual bachelor’s in Sociology and Film Studies and a minor in Business Administration at California State University Fullerton. He has held administrative positions in diverse settings including human resources, healthcare data management, and media production. Joey considers…

Simon A. Lee

Simon A. Lee (SAL) is currently working on his M.A. in International Affairs & Leadership at the School of Politics and Global Studies with the new Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab, and what makes his third degree at Arizona State University. SAL holds a B.A. in Political Science with Certificates in International Security, Socio-Legal Theory, and Human Rights, along with a…

Nicole Maestas

Nicole is a fourth-year Political Science student with minors in Spanish, Russian, and Statistics. She has worked in a variety of research settings, most recently in ASU’s School of Transborder studies where she co-authored a paper for the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. After graduation in Spring 2023, Nicole hopes to attend law school. In her free…

Molly Sexton

Molly Sexton is a sophomore from Kansas City, Missouri majoring in Politics and the Economy as well as minoring in Philosophy. She is a motivated student as she is involved in Barrett, the Honors College and the Project Excellence Program. Her academic interests consist of foreign policy, gender related inequalities, global economics, economic justice, and political philosophy. Her academic…

Mia Spare

Mia is pursuing her Master's in Global Security from Arizona State University, where she previously graduated in 2019 with a BA in Cultural Geography. Her areas of academic interest are human migration and border conflict, as well as cybersecurity and cyber policy. 

While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Mia interned at the U.S. embassy in…

Joe Thomas

Joe P. Thomas is a Junior at Arizona State University studying History, Political Science, and Arabic. He was born in the United Arab Emirates, and came to Phoenix, Arizona in 2014 and been based there ever since. He has interned at the Arizona State Senate, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Economic Security. He conducted research with Ambassador Polt for the masterclass…

Jesus Vega

Jesus Vega is a third year student majoring in Global Studies with a certificate in cross sector leadership and a certificate in sales and marketing. Growing up Mexican-American in a border town, Jesus is interested in learning about new cultures, learning new languages, and learning about the role intercultural communications plays in everyday interactions. He is currently a Policy Design…