Current Policy Council Members


Charles Ries, Chair
Ambassador (ret.) Charles Ries is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the RAND Corporation. During his 31 year career at the State Department, Ries was Ambassador to Greece, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Coordinator for Economic Transition at U.S. Embassy Baghdad, among many other assignments. Ambassador Ries holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the Johns Hopkins University.


James I. Gadsden
Ambassador (ret.) James Gadsden is Senior Counselor for International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Formerly Diplomat-in-Residence and Lecturer in Public and International Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, he served as Deputy to the Commandant and International Affairs Advisor at the National War College, U.S. Ambassador to Iceland, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Budapest, and Counselor for Economic Affairs at Embassy Paris. He earned his BA degree in economics at Harvard University, and his MA in East Asian Studies at Stanford University.


Betsy Whitaker
A retired Senior Foreign Service officer, Elizabeth "Betsy" Whitaker served as Deputy Executive Secretary, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Canada and Mexico in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Director of Public Diplomacy for the Western Hemisphere. Her overseas tours included Portugal, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua. Retired in 2007, she has worked for a division of L-3 Communications, and returned to the Department of State as Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy 2009-2012. She currently lectures at George Washington University and Georgetown University and has worked part-time at the Department of State (HR & OIG). Betsy holds B.A. and M.S. from the University of Rochester.


John Bass
Ambassador John Bass is currently the Executive Secretary of the State Department. An active duty Foreign Service Officer, he has served as the Ambassador to Georgia, Special Advisor on Europe and Eurasia to Vice President Dick Cheney, and Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. His overseas assignments include Italy, Chad, Belgium, and Iraq, where he led a provincial reconstruction team.


Carol Rodley
Ambassador Carol Rodley, a career Foreign Service officer, currently serves as the Dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute. She served as Ambassador to Cambodia from 2008-2011. From 2003 to 2006 she was Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Previous overseas postings include Afghanistan, Cambodia, Germay, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and Pakistan. Ambassador Rodley is a native of Massachusetts and graduate of Smith College.


Carolyn Brehm
Carolyn Brehm is Vice President of Global Government Relations and Public Policy for Procter & Gamble, where she leads P&G's government relations team. Prior to that, Brehm served as Director of Legislation for The Business Roundtable; spent 13 years with the General Motors Corporation in several Washington and overseas assignments; and served as Vice President of Asia for ORBIS International, a global humanitarian organization working to eliminate avoidable blindness in the developing world. She began her career at the US-China Business Council and has published a number of articles and a book chapter on that topic. Brehm holds a BA from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an MBA from the University of New Haven.


Larry J. Wood
Larry J. Wood retired in April 2013 as Senior Vice President and Senior Regional Fiduciary Manager for Greater Texas and Hill County, Southwest Region, Wells Fargo Wealth Management. Mr. Wood has a 39-year career in financial services. During his career he attained the designation of Certified Financial Planner and Certified Trust and Financial Advisor, plus numerous brokerage licenses. For the past 38 years, he has volunteered with numerous civic and charitable organizations in South Texas. He is a graduate of Texas A&I University and the Southwest Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University. He is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas.


Current Policy Council

Past Policy Council