The purpose of the Policy Council is to serve as a source of ideas for new activities the Foundation might undertake and to advise the Trustees about overall policies and the direction of the Foundation. The Policy Council and the Trustees meet twice per year, and the meetings provide a forum to discuss the future of US diplomacy and how to best support the Foreign Service. Over the last several decades, we are fortunate to have had an impressive roster of distinguished diplomats, business executives, and philanthropists on our Policy Council.
Steven McGann, Chair (2021-2024)
Ambassador C. Steven McGann is the Founder of The Stevenson Group, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. that identifies opportunities in the defense/security sector and implements specialized advisory services which focus on strengthening public-private partnerships.
McGann, a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer with the rank of Minister-Counselor, was Ambassador to the Republics of Fiji, Nauru, Kiribati, the Kingdom of Tonga and Tuvalu (2008-11). Ambassador McGann also was assigned as Charge d’affaires (ad interim) of the United States Embassy in Dili, Timor-Leste (2014). He previously served as the Deputy Commandant of the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at the National Defense University (NDU). McGann earned a M.S. from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and is a graduate of the Naval War College Joint Force Maritime Combatant Commander Course.
Gabriel Escobar (2021-2024)
Gabriel Escobar is the Deputy Assistant Secretary overseeing policy towards the countries of the Western Balkans and the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy. Previously, he served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy Belgrade. His leadership positions in the Department of State include Economic Minister Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Coordinator for Cuban Affairs in the Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2017-2018, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia 2014-2017, Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar, Pakistan 2013-2014, and Team Leader of the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kirkuk, Iraq 2009-2010.
A career diplomat, he has been awarded the State Department’s Superior Honor Award six times and the Meritorious Honor Award once. He has also been awarded the Department of State’s Expeditionary Service Award and the Department of the Army Superior Civilian Service Award. Gabriel is a graduate of Columbia University in New York and Cathedral High School in El Paso, Texas. He speaks Spanish, Russian, Italian, Serbian, Croatian, Czech, and Portuguese.
Yael Lempert (2021-2024)
Yael Lempert is the Acting Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. She is a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, and served as Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in London from January through July 2021, and as Deputy Chief of Mission for the two years prior to that. Yael was Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Egypt and North Africa from June 2017 to December 2018, and the Senior Director for the Levant, Israel and Egypt at the National Security Council from 2014 to 2017, also serving as Special Assistant to the President from 2015 to 2017.
Yael earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and is the recipient of several State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor awards. She was awarded a Presidential Rank Award in 2019, and the National Security Council’s Outstanding Service Award in May 2017.
Katherine Hadda (2023-2025)
Katherine Hadda is Senior Fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she advances U.S.-India sub-national understanding and cooperation. She also serves as advisor to the Safe Water Network. A prior FSO, Katherine was U.S. Consul General in Hyderabad U.S. from 2016-19, overseeing one of the busiest U.S. visa operations in the world and supporting over 130 U.S. companies based in the region. Earlier postings during Katherine’s three-decade diplomatic career include Italy, Afghanistan, New Zealand, the UK, Taiwan and China, as well as the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, and U.S. Congress.
Lisa Povolni (2023-2025)
Lisa Povolni is a career diplomat currently serving as Director of Orientation at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). Her overseas assignments include Rangoon, Burma; Shenyang, China; Beijing, China; and Mexico City, Mexico, as well as temporary duty in Port-au-Prince, Haiti immediately after the 2010 earthquake. Her previous domestic assignments include Director of Executive Development and Deputy Director of Management Team Training at FSI. Ms. Povolni graduated from Wellesley College and earned a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Master of Clinical Social Work with a focus in trauma from Boston University. She is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation, as well as the recipient of several State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor awards. She speaks Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
Pamela Spratlen (2021-2024)
Ambassador Pamela L. Spratlen is a diplomat, mentor, public speaker, and leader who served for 30 years in the U.S. Department of State, rising to be a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. Ms. Spratlen spent 10 years in Central Asia, of which she served eight as U.S. Ambassador, first to Kyrgyzstan (2011-14) and then to Uzbekistan (2015-18).
Ms. Spratlen graduated from Wellesley College and holds master’s degrees from the Army War College and the Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley. Ms. Spratlen speaks French, Russian and Spanish and has received numerous awards.
Alice Wells (2021-2024)
Ambassador Alice G. Wells joined ExxonMobil as Senior Director in International Government Relations in June 2020. Previously, as a career U.S. diplomat, Ms. Wells served as Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia; Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Special Assistant to the President for Russia and Central Asia; Executive Assistant to Secretary Clinton; and Executive Assistant to Under Secretary William J. Burns. Ms. Wells also served in Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, and Russia, and in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
Ms. Wells has a B.A. from Stanford University and a joint M.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles/Rand Corporation.