Dr. Soner Cagaptay

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.

Ambassador (ret.) Robert F. Cekuta

Former Ambassador Robert F. Cekuta


Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan (2015 – 2018), Bob Cekuta has long and extensive experience as a top level U.S. diplomat. Deeply engaged in advancing high-profile international energy projects, trade policy initiatives and agreements, commercial sales, and other complex international security matters, Amb. Cekuta’s positions in the State Department included Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Sanctions, and Commodities.

His overseas postings included the U.S. Embassies in Berlin and Tokyo where he oversaw the full range of economic, commercial, nonproliferation, and scientific relations. In addition, Bob was Deputy Chief of Mission in Albania and held positions in Vienna, Baghdad, Kabul, Johannesburg, and Sana’a, Yemen. He established the Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy Office in the State Department’s Bureau for Economic and Business Affairs, and served on the boards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), where he also chaired the IEA Board’s Standing Group on Long-term Cooperation charged with anticipating global energy developments.

During his career with the State Department Ambassador Cekuta received nine Senior Foreign Service Performance Awards, four Superior Honor Awards, five Meritorious Honor Awards, and the Career Achievement Award. He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and the National War College.


Luke Coffey


Luke Coffey is the Director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Prior to becoming Director of the Allison Center, Luke served as Margaret Thatcher Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation where he focused on trans-Atlantic and Eurasian security issues. His work in British politics followed his service to the United States as a commissioned officer in the Army. In 2005 he deployed to Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Luke is a board member of the Caspian Policy Center.

Dr. Peter Frankopan

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.


Ambassador (ret.) Richard 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.

Dr. Roger Kangas

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.

Dr. Marlene Laruelle

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.


Ambassador (retired) Allan Mustard


Ambassador (retired) Allan Mustard, class of Career Minister, was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan on November 25, 2014. He previously served as Agricultural Minister-Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. A widely recognized authority on agricultural and food aid policy, he has broad experience in guiding economic reform assistance throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Previously, Mr. Mustard served as Agricultural Minister-Counselor, Embassy Mexico City, Mexico (2008-2011); Agricultural Minister-Counselor, Embassy Moscow, Russia (2003-2008); Fellow, Senior Seminar in Foreign Relations, Department of State (2002-2003); Assistant Deputy Administrator, Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Foreign Agricultural Service (2000-2002); Agricultural Counselor, Embassy Vienna, Austria (1996-2000); Deputy Director, Emerging Democracies Office, Foreign Agricultural Service (1992-1996); Deputy Coordinator, Eastern Europe and Soviet Secretariat, Foreign Agricultural Service (1990-1992); Agricultural Trade Officer, Consulate General Istanbul, Turkey (1988-1990); Assistant Agricultural Attaché, Embassy Moscow, USSR (1986-1988); Agricultural Economist, Foreign Agricultural Service (1982-1986). Prior to this, Mr. Mustard worked as a social worker in Seattle resettling Soviet emigres(1979-1980)and as a guide-interpreter on the U.S. International Communication Agency’s exhibit “Agriculture-USA” in Kishinev, Moscow, and Rostov-na-Donu, USSR (1978-1979).

Mr. Mustard earned an A.S. at Grays Harbor College, Aberdeen, Washington in 1975; B.A.s in Political Science and in Slavic Languages and Literature from the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington in 1978; and a M.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois in 1982. Mr. Mustard studied Russian at Leningrad State University in Summer 1978 under the auspices of the Council for International Educational Exchange.  He is the recipient of five Presidential Rank Awards; USDA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Honor Award; USDA’s second-highest award, the Superior Honor Award, twice; the Grand Golden Medal of Merit of the Republic of Austria, the highest award Austria can award to a foreigner; and numerous other Department of State and USDA performance awards. Mr. Mustard speaks Russian, German and basic Spanish.

Mr. Mustard is married to the former Ann Anderson, who was a television and radio journalist in central Illinois and is a graduate of Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She accompanied Mr. Mustard to all overseas posts, and was a radio reporter for CBS in Moscow, Istanbul, and Vienna. They have one daughter, Fiona.

Dr. S. Frederick Starr

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.