Dr. Marlene Laruelle
Dr. Laruelle is a Professor of International Affairs, the Director of the Central Asia Program, and the Associate Director of the Institute for European Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. She specializes in Russia and Central Asia, conducting research on changes in post-Soviet nationalism and nationhood. Dr. Laruelle has published five monographs, edited several volumes, and is the editor in chief of Central Asian Affairs. Furthermore, she has been the Principal Investigator of grants concerning both Russia and Central Asia.
Photo Credit: George Washington University
Dr. Roger Kangas
Dr. Kangas is a Professor of Central Asian Studies at the Near East South Asian Center for Strategic Studies and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. His areas of interest include Central and South Asia, the former USSR, transnational threats and terrorism, international security organization, and energy security. Dr. Kangas has published both books and articles on Central Asia. He was previously a Professor of Central Asian Studies at the George C. Marshall Center for European Security and Deputy Director of the Central Asian Institution at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. He furthermore advised the Combatant Commands, NATO, and other US government agencies on Central and South Asia, Russia, and the South Caucasus.
Photo Credit: Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies
Dr. S. Frederick Starr
Dr. Starr is the founding Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies program, a transatlantic research center between Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and the Institution for Security and Development Policy. Dr. Starr was also the founding Chairman of the Kennan Institute and was involved in planning the University of Central Asia and the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. He has conducted extensive research and published both articles and books on the history, development, and domestic situations of greater Central Asia, as well as on US policy in Central Asia. Dr. Starr furthermore writes about the region for media outlets and journals.
Photo Credit: Princeton University Press
Dr. Peter Frankopan
Dr. Frankopan is the director of the Oxford Center for Byzantine Research at Oxford University and a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College. He specializes in the history of the Byzantine Empire in the 11th century, the history of Asia Minor, Russia, and the Balkans, and relations between Christianity and Islam. He is also a Special Advisor to the UN Industrial Development Organization and was appointed Senior Advisor and Academic Expert to a project for the Department of International Development on Transport Corridors in South Asia. Dr. Frankopan frequently writes articles for the international news media and has published both academic articles and books, such as his latest work, Silk Roads: A New History of the World.
Photo Credit: peterfrankopan.com
Dr. Soner Cagaptay
Dr. Cagaptay is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute. He has conducted extensive research on US-Turkish relations and the domestic political and cultural situation in Turkey. He has been published in both academic journals and international news media and appears regularly on television news outlets. He previously taught at Yale University, Princeton University, where he was the Ertegun Professor at Princeton’s Department of Near Eastern Studies, Georgetown University, and Smith College.
Photo Credit: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland
Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland was U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, October 2013-August 2015. Before returning to Washington in September 2013, he spent a decade in South and Central Asia. He was U.S. Deputy Ambassador to Pakistan (2011-2013), U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan (2008-2011), and U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan (2003-2006). He also served as U.S. Charge d’affaires to Turkmenistan (2007-2008). Prior to his diplomatic assignments in Central Asia, Ambassador Hoagland was Director of the Office of Caucasus and Central Asian Affairs in the Bureau of Europe and Eurasian Affairs, Department of State (2001-2003). In that position, he wrote and negotiated four of the key bilateral documents defining the Central Asian states’ enhanced relationship with the United States in the aftermath of 9/11. His earlier foreign assignments included Russia where he was Press Spokesman for the U.S. Embassy (1995-1998). During the course of his career, he received multiple Presidential Performance Awards, State Department Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, as well as the Distinguished Honor Award.
Ambassador Robert F. Cekuta
Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan Bob Cekuta arrived in Baku February 2015. His last assignment in the U.S. Foreign Service was to serve as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Energy Resources of the Department of State. There he played a critical senior management role in establishing the new Energy Bureau, developing programs advancing global energy security while overseeing initiatives to fight corruption and build good governance and accountability in global oil and gas production.
Previously, Amb. Cekuta served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Sanctions, and Commodities, Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs (2010-2011), Senior Advisor for Food Security, Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs (2010-2010), Senior Deputy Coordinating Director for Economic and Development Affairs, Embassy Kabul (2009-2010), Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs, Embassy Tokyo (2007-2009), Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs, Embassy Berlin (2003-2007), Director, Iraq Economic Group, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (2002-2003), Special Negotiator for Biotechnology, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (2002), Director, Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (2000-2002), Senior Advisor, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (1999-2000), and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy Tirana, (1996-1999). In addition, he directed a Kosovo task force and served earlier in his career in the Bureau of Near East and South Asian Affairs. Overseas, he also served in Vienna, Baghdad, Johannesburg, and Sana’a.
Amb. Cekuta earned a B.S.FS from Georgetown University, a Master’s Degree at Thunderbird School of Global Management, and a Master’s Degree at the National Defense University, Washington, D.C. He is the recipient of numerous awards from the Department of State, including eight Senior Performance Awards, four Superior Honor Awards and five Meritorious Honor Awards. He speaks German, Albanian and Arabic.
REAR ADMIRAL RON J. MACLAREN
Director, Joint Reserve Force (J9)
Rear Adm. Ron MacLaren is the director, Joint Reserve Force, (JRF) Defense Logistics Agency. The Joint Reserve Force ensures DLA’s 662 reserve component is trained and ready to fulfill operational requirements and fully integrated into the DLA team.
MacLaren pursued a civilian career as a hospital administrator, rising to the position of chief executive officer. He retired from that position in 2004. In 2006, he became the health director for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) on Martha’s Vineyard until he was recalled to active duty. Personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal (two awards).