Robert S. Ford, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria (2011-2014) and Algeria (2006-2008), will discuss the difficulty of directing U.S. foreign policy in a region marked by widespread violence, environmental challenges, and a complex system of alliances.

Robert Ford finished a thirty year career with the Peace Corps and the U.S. Department of State in April 2014. He is currently a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University, as well as at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC where he writes and speaks about Syria, Iraq and North Africa.  As U.S. Ambassador to Syria, he received wide recognition for his work defending Syrians' human rights in the face of the Assad regime's repression.  He received the annual Profile in Courage award in 2012 from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston for his human rights work and a Presidential Honor award in 2012 for his stewardship of the American Embassy in Damascus during a crisis period.  Ambassador Ford was the U.S. Ambassador to Algeria from 2006-2008, boosting bilateral cooperation in education and the rule of law.  Ford also served five years in Iraq helping the Iraqis establish their permanent government through three rounds of elections and preparation of a new constitution.  He received from Secretary of State John Kerry in March 2014 the Distinguished Service award, the State Department's highest award.