Ambassador Thomas Pickering is the vice chairman at Hills and Co., an international consulting firm. Ambassador Pickering’s diplomatic career has spanned five decades, encompassing service as ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He represented the United States as ambassador and representative to the United Nations in New York and holds the personal rank of career ambassador, the highest in the US Foreign Service. He was senior vice president of international relations of the Boeing Company from January 2001 until July 2006.
Ambassador Pickering’s work with the US government began in 1956 with the US Navy and was followed by positions with the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the State Department and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He has served as a political adviser in Geneva to the US delegation to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Conference; consul in Zanzibar; deputy chief of mission in Tanzania; deputy director of the Bureau of Politico- Military Affairs; executive secretary of the State Department and special assistant to Secretaries William P. Rogers and Henry A. Kissinger; assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs; under secretary of state for political affairs. He was also president of the Eurasia Foundation 1996-97.
Ambassador Pickering received a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and master’s degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the University of Melbourne in Australia. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Bowdoin College and fourteen other universities and is a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Rand Beers served as deputy assistant to the president for homeland security on the National Security Council (NSC) Staff from January 2014 to March 2015. Prior to that he was the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from September to December 2013. He also served as acting deputy secretary from May 2013 until September 2013. In June 2009, Beers was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the US Senate to serve as the under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at the DHS where he has led NPPD’s integrated efforts to reduce risks to physical, cyber and communications infrastructures. Throughout his service at DHS prior to becoming acting secretary, Beers was a trusted advisor to the secretary of homeland security, providing invaluable counsel and guidance on a wide spectrum of homeland security issues, from counterterrorism efforts to cybersecurity.
During his tenure at DHS before becoming the acting secretary, Beers concurrently served as the department’s counterterrorism coordinator, overseeing departmental operational and policy functions to prevent, respond to, and mitigate threats to US national security from acts of terrorism. Before serving in DHS, he was the co- chair of the DHS Transition Team for the incoming Obama administration.
Prior to the Obama administration, Beers was the president of the National Security Network, a network of experts seeking to foster discussion of progressive national security ideas around the country, and an adjunct lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Before his most recent NSC tour, Beers served on the National Security Council Staff under four presidents as director for Counter-terrorism and Counter-narcotics (1988-1992), director for Peacekeeping (1993-1995), special assistant to the president and senior director for Intelligence Programs (1995-1998), and special assistant to the president and senior director for combating terrorism (2002-2003). He resigned from the NSC Staff in March 2003 and retired from government service in April 2003. Following his departure, he served as national security advisor for the Kerry campaign (2003-2004).
Beers began his professional career as a Marine Corps officer and rifle company commander in Vietnam (1964-1968). He entered the Foreign Service in 1971 and transferred to the Civil Service in 1983. He served most of his career in the Department of State, including as deputy assistant secretary of state for regional affairs in the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, focusing on the Middle East and Persian Gulf (1992-1993). He was assistant secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (1998-2002).
Beers earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Ambassador David C. Miller, Jr. is a partner and founding investor of Torch Hill Capital, LLC, a private equity firm. In his private sector career, he worked for a decade in international positions for the Westinghouse Electric Corp. In addition, he provided international business advisory services to a number of major US corporations and has managed investments for high net worth individuals in privately held companies.
Ambassador Miller was special assistant to the president for national security affairs on the National Security Council staff at the White House from January 23, 1989, to December 31, 1990. His NSC accounts included Africa as well as counterterrorism, counter-narcotics, and hostage rescue. He served as the United States ambassador to Tanzania from 1981 to 1984 and to Zimbabwe from 1984 to 1986. During his Zimbabwe tour, he was asked to run the South Africa Working Group in addition to his bilateral responsibilities in Harare.
Following a year in Vietnam working on projects primarily for the Advanced Research Projects Agency, he was selected as a White House fellow for 1968–1969. He served as a fellow with the attorney general and the following year became his confidential assistant. In 1970–1971, he was the director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows while also working with the counsel to the president.
He founded and serves as chairman emeritus of the Special Operations Fund, which provides scholarships for the widows and children of deceased members of special operations military units. He has lectured and written on foreign policy management, including chapters in three volumes on low-intensity conflict: Low Intensity Conflict: Old Threats in a New World; Gray Area Phenomena: Confronting the New World Disorder; and Managing Contemporary Conflict: Pillars of Success. Ambassador Miller also co- authored, with David Gordon and Howard Wolpe, The United States and Africa: A Post-Cold War Perspective, an American Assembly book publishedby W. W. Norton & Co.
Ambassador Miller graduated with honors from Harvard College, received a JD from the University of Michigan Law School, and an honorary Doctor of Law from Lewis and Clark. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the District of Columbia Bar.
Ambassador Chester Crocker is the James R. Schlesinger professor of strategic studies at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and serves on the board of its Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. Ambassador Crocker’s teaching and research focus on international security and conflict management.
From 1981 to 1989, Ambassador Crocker served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. He developed the strategy and led the diplomacy that produced the treaties signed by Angola, Cuba, and South Africa in New York in December 1988. These agreements resulted in Namibia’s independence (March 1990) and the withdrawal of foreign forces from Namibia and Angola. President Ronald Reagan granted him the Presidential Citizens Medal, the country’s second-highest civilian award. Previous government experience included service on Henry A. Kissinger’s National Security Council staff (1970– 1972) where he worked on Middle East, Indian Ocean, and African issues.
Ambassador Crocker chaired the board of the United States Institute of Peace (1992–2004) and continued to serve as a director through 2011 of this independent, nonpartisan institution created and funded by Congress to strengthen knowledge and practice in international conflict. He serves on the boards of Universal Corporation, Inc., a leading independent trading company in tobacco and agricultural products and the Good Governance Group Ltd, an independent strategic advisory firm. He is a founding member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an international NGO that offers confidential peer-to-peer advice to leaders facing governance and conflict challenges; and also serves on the board of the International Peace and Security Institute, the Ngena Foundation, and the international advisory board of International Affairs (London).
Ambassador Crocker consults as an advisor on strategy and negotiation to a number of US and European firms.
Ambassador Crocker first joined Georgetown University as director of its Master of Science in Foreign Service program, serving concurrently as associate professor of international relations (1972– 1980). Since returning to the university in the 1990s, he has authored or edited nine books and numerous articles on conflict management and mediation and the role of diplomatic engagement in US foreign policy. A graduate of Ohio State University, he received his master’s and PhD degrees from Johns Hopkins University.
Vice President & Treasurer
Kevin O'Brien is a Board Member and the Treasurer of the Diplomatic Studies Foundation.
In 2021 he retired from CCMP Capital Advisors, LP, a New York-based private equity firm where, over the previous 21 years, he was a Managing Director and a member of its Investment Committee. Mr. O'Brien has been deeply involved in, and served on the board of CCMP investments including Eating Recovery Centers (behavioral treatment for eating and related disorders), CareMore Medical Enterprises (Medicare Advantage health plan), LHP Hospital Group (short-term acute care hospital company focused on JVs with larger health systems), Medpace (contract research organization focused on human trials primarily for biotech companies), National Surgical Care (ambulatory surgery centers), Infogroup (marketing data services), and La Petite Academy (early childhood education).
Prior to joining JP Morgan Partners, CCMP’s predecessor firm, in 2000, Mr. O'Brien worked in investment banking in the high yield capital markets and banking groups at Chase Securities and Chemical Securities. Prior to that, he was a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Navy from 1988 to 1992 where he served as a Surface Warfare Officer.
Mr. O’Brien is currently an investor and board member at EmOpti Inc, a founder-led tele-health business focused on workflow improvements in health systems; Lirio LLC, a healthcare-focused behavior change artificial intelligence business; and Memorial MRI, a Texas-based freestanding imaging center business.
Mr. O'Brien holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Vice President & Chief of Staff
Kathryn Elliott is a founding member and Chief of Staff for the US Diplomatic Studies Foundation (DSF). As Chief of Staff, Ms. Elliott oversees the development of the Foundation’s various programs being piloted with the Foreign Service Institute, conducts fundraising research, writes grant applications, and coordinates events with their interagency task force, among other things. She has spearheaded the Foundation’s State-Congressional relations initiative, which seeks to develop new training opportunities for State personnel in the role and functioning of the Congress. This includes a seminar series for State officers and Hill staffers aimed at opening lines of communication as well as fostering greater respect and understanding between the two. DSF co-hosts the series with the Council on Foreign Relations.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Elliott worked at the Atlantic Council as a Project Assistant for the Scowcroft Center’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative. In this role she managed the initiative’s government reform portfolio. This included serving as the chief of staff for the State Department Reform report, which was authored by Amb. Thomas Pickering, Amb. Chester Crocker, Amb. David Miller, Rand Beers, and a number of other foreign policy experts. During her time at the Atlantic Council Ms. Elliott also served as the Research Assistant to Jasmine El-Gamal, a Scowcroft Center senior fellow. The research project involved interviewing professionals in the countering violent extremism field and helping Ms. El-Gamal write a report on deploying strategic narratives to help prevent radicalization.
Ms. Elliott has guest lectured at the University of Notre Dame and served as a panel co-chair at West Point’s Student Conference on US Affairs. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, where she also minored in Philosophy and Business Economics. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.