In the last months of the Obama Administration, Mark Ward co-chaired a task force with Russia to improve humanitarian access inside war torn Syria. In this seminar, he will discuss this little known initiative, what worked, what didn't and why, and what lessons it may hold for humanitarian aid in future armed conflicts.

Mark S. Ward

Humanitarian Leader & Teacher

Mark Ward is a committed humanitarian who assembles and leads public and private sector teams to provide critical help when a natural or man-made disaster strikes. He saved lives and restored hope to communities affected by many disasters over two decades including the 2004 Tsunami and the ongoing civil war in Syria. President George H. W. Bush nicknamed him “Mr. Disaster” after their Tsunami work in 2005. He wants to lead more teams to overcome disasters and mentor future humanitarians in the classroom and on the job.

  • 2016-17 Co-chaired a 25-nation task force with Russia in Geneva to deliver more aid to communities cut off by the war in Syria. By leveraging Russia’s support for the Syrian Government and US support for the opposition, the task force increased deliveries 10X from 2015 to 2016, to help more than 300,000 Syrians. Also helped negotiate several ceasefire agreements with the Russian Federation.
  • 2012-16 Led a 25-person US Government team near the Syrian border in Turkey to coordinate and deliver more than $1 billion in aid to Syrian communities and Syrian refugees, and keep basic services working in opposition-held towns.
  • 2010-11 Headed the 100-person Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) at USAID. Helped launch, oversee and publicize the US Government’s response to the worst floods in Pakistan’s history; the cholera outbreak in Haiti after the earthquake; and the beginning of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
  • 2005-6 Advised former Presidents Bush and Clinton on projects to be funded from the Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund. Knowledge of the needs in the Tsunamiaffected countries and the nonprofits working in those countries proved extremely useful to the former Presidents; allowing them to disburse more than $20,000,000 from private donors quickly and efficiently with almost no overhead.

Retired as a Career Minister in the Foreign Service of the United States.

2006 winner of the Service to America Medal for his work on the 2004-5 Tsunami.

Mark is a native of San Francisco, and received his Bachelor of Arts in political science and Juris Doctor from the University of California at Berkeley. He was Headmaster of a girl's high school in rural Kenya, and practiced law for four years in Washington, DC before joining the Foreign Service.