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Astrid Maria Jakobs de Pádua

U.S. Ambassador Michael Gfoeller (ret.)Consultant on international politics and economics, author and philanthropist

U.S. Ambassador Michael Gfoeller (ret.)

A retired U.S. Ambassador and ACE Global Leader of Excellence, Michael Gfoeller’s distinguished diplomatic career began in 1984 with his first posting in Warsaw, Poland. From there, he served throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (twice); Manama, Bahrain; Moscow, Russia (twice); Chisinau, Moldova; Yerevan, Armenia; and Brussels, Belgium.

His European missions include analysis of the First Chechen War and efforts to reduce Russia’s stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons (Moscow 2); as Deputy Chief of Mission in Moldova, he was responsible for preventing the acquisition of its air force by Iran; and advising U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Stuart Eizenstat on Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as energy policy (Brussels).

In the Middle East, Gfoeller promoted order and economic growth in five provinces of southern Iraq, mostly through diplomatic negotiations with the local tribes; and from 2004 to 2008, he was Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge’d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, directing the U.S. counter-insurgency effort against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

At U.S. Central Command, from 2008-2010, Gfoeller was the Senior Political Advisor to General David Petraeus, then Commander, U.S. Central Command. He directed the development of political strategies to support U.S. counter-terrorism and military operations in 19 countries in the Middle East and Central Asia. He retired from the State Department in 2010 with the rank of Ambassador.

In the private sector, Gfoeller was the director of Middle East and North African (MENA) affairs at ExxonMobil & International Government Relations department (IGR) in Washington from 2010 to 2012, providing advice to the ExxonMobil CEO on Middle East matters. Other advisory positions include advisor to the CEOs of 2 ExxonMobil and DynCorp, as well as geopolitical advisory roles at Alcoa, Kissinger Associates, KKR, and Cerberus Capital Management.

Ambassador Gfoeller holds a Master’s degree from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University. He studied at the American University in Cairo under the Fulbright program’s Center for Arabic Study Abroad.

He taught at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD) from 2000 to 2001. There, he wrote a book on the politics of Central Asia and the Caucasus entitled United by the Caspian, published by ISD. Ambassador Gfoeller has also published books on traditional architecture and archeology in Burma, Armenia, Turkey, and Egypt. His foreign languages include Arabic, Russian, German, French, Latin, and Greek.

The Gfoeller Renaissance Foundation, founded in 2001, is a private scholarly institution dedicated to conducting archeological and other scientific research in Armenia. Ambassador Gfoeller’s philanthropic passion supports excavations and research activities that illustrate Armenia’s fundamental importance in the evolution of human civilization. Ambassador Gfoeller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the St. Constantine the Great Society, the Cosmos Club, and the Union League Club of New York.