Maura Connelly is a Foreign Service Officer whose career has concentrated on the Levant. She has served in Amman, Damascus, and twice in Jerusalem; she was most recently the U.S. Ambassador in Lebanon. She has also served in South Africa, Algeria, the UK, and at the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York. At the State Department, she was worked on Egyptian affairs as both a desk officer and later as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Near East bureau with responsibility for the Levant, Israel, and Egypt. A member of the SFS Class of 81, Maura's interest in the Middle East was first sparked by an elective class on Islamic Art. Her interests include regional politics and refugee assistance.
A career Foreign Service Officer, his research interests included the evolution of diplomacy as an instrument of statecraft and political dynamics in the Levant. He came to ISD from an assignment as the Director for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs on the National Security Staff at the White House.
Oni K. Blair is a career Foreign Service Officer. As a Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, she researched and taught on issues related to humanitarian diplomacy and humanitarian assistance. Prior to her work at the Institute, Oni served as a special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns and managed $150 million in humanitarian assistance as the Refugee Assistance Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. She has also worked as a staff assistant in Office of the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, a team leader for humanitarian and development issues in the Office of Pakistan Affairs, and in assignments at the U.S. Embassies in Pakistan and Jordan. Additionally, Oni still is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the international non-profit Atlas Corps, a member of the Young Founders Steering Committee for the National Archives, and co-chair of the $4.5 million Mission Possible Capital Campaign for Foundry United Methodist Church.
Lt. Col. Drew served prior to ISD as the deputy division chief of current operations at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, VA. His previous assignments include executive officer for the last Special Operations Task Force in northern Iraq and over twenty years in positions ranging from the tactical level to staff assignments at National Guard Bureau and the Department of the Army. His research focus was the evolving strategy for the use of military power to address threats posed by transnational criminal organizations.
Colonel William (Will) Johnson came to ISD from the Office of the Secretary of the Army where he served as the Military Assistant to the Honorable John M. McHugh. Over the course of his career, he has led Armor and Cavalry units from the platoon to the battalion level and has extensive operational experience in both Afghanistan and Iraq. His research interest focused on the evolving use of military forces as an instrument of national power given contemporary threats and constrained resources. His award-winning work centered on the application of high performance computing to grand challenge problems using news and open sources intelligence.
A diplomat from China with over twenty years of experience, Liu's most recent assignment was Counsellor Director of Sub-Committee, of the Senior Diplomats' Working Committee. His work experience includes serving as a member of the preparation team for visit's of senior Chinese officials in Switzerland, Germany, and the United States, the later in advance of President Hu Jintao's visit to New York City. His research focused on China-U.S. relations and the U.S. foreign policy making process
Over the past eighteen years, Lieutenant Colonel Sabia held numerous tactical and operational level positions throughout the United States Air Force. As a core F-16 pilot, he participated in multiple bilateral, coalition, joint and NATO training exercises throughout Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East, and Pacific. He flew combat missions in both Operations Allied Force over Serbia and Southern Watch over Iraq.