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Political-Military Capstone Exercise

DSF worked with the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) to adapt the larger Peace Game exercise into a smaller, more targeted exercise for the Political-Military Capstone course. Specifically, DSF and ICONS worked with the Pol-Mil staff at FSI and the Pol-Mil Bureau to take the Peace Game and adapt the scenario to more specifically challenge Pol-Mil officers to use the “Pol-Mil toolkit” they spent the week learning about. The resulting exercise runs for half a day during the Pol-Mil capstone course at FSI. This adaptation provided proof of concept that the Peace Game is a flexible model that can meet the needs of different audiences.

Commercial Diplomacy Initiative

DSF worked in partnership with the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business to create a Commercial Diplomacy Initiative. DSF and SMU hosted two Roundtables on Commercial Diplomacy in Dallas. The first roundtable, held in September 2021, convened a group of senior corporate leaders from the Dallas business community to discuss how the U.S. government uses commercial diplomacy to advance their interests as well as areas they wish they received better government support. The second roundtable, held in February 2022, convened senior corporate leaders and senior U.S. government officials from various departments and agencies. In this roundtable, the government attendees presented the plethora of resources they offer corporations. 


In December 2022, DSF and SMU convened U.S. government officials and business leaders for a “Five Days in Dallas” program aimed at jump-starting creative collaboration between the American private sector and government. During the weeklong conference, USG officials engaged with panelists and speakers across a variety of topics related to American business initiatives and visited four companies to better understand how American companies “do business.”

Senior Training Needs Assessment

DSF supported FSI’s efforts to expand its senior training curriculum by funding a Visiting Fellow to conduct a needs assessment from Fall 2019 through Fall 2020. The fellow selected was Nancy Powell, a former Ambassador and Director General of the Foreign Service. The assessment revealed significant gaps in training and professional development opportunities for senior officers, supporting the DSF premise that sufficient training for civilians in the foreign policy community is lacking. The needs assessment ultimately paved the way for the implementation of more advanced and rigorous course offerings.

State-Congressional Seminars

The State Department and Congress have a history of tension and frequent ineffective communication. To address this issue, the Foundation partnered with the Council on Foreign Relations to conduct a pilot seminar series for mid-level Foreign and Civil Service officers and congressional staffers. The objective of the series was twofold: (1) provide education on the roles of Congress and the State Department in foreign policy, particularly where the two roles intersect, and (2) offer State and Hill employees the opportunity to form relationships and foster working-level relationships. The first series was launched in February 2020. The series included four seminar sessions for thirteen State and thirteen Hill employees. Topics covered include oversight, nominations, treaties and international agreements, responding to crises, and budget. At each session, a group of three former senior State and Hill leaders spoke to a specific topic in the context of their own vast experiences. While the series was placed on hold due to Covid-19 constraints, DSF is currently working with Meridian International Center to revamp the program, this time with an A.I. focus. 

Area Studies Fellowships

DSF began a Fellowship Program with FSI in August 2019. Through the Program, the Foundation retained and gifted retired ambassadors to FSI to help update curriculum and augment instruction in revised Area Studies courses. This Area Studies Fellowship Program was a remarkably successful. The June 2020 enrollments in Area Studies courses saw an 180% increase over the previous year, including an increase in Civil Service enrollments of 114%. This program is the perfect example of DSF’s commitment to support pilot programs that, if successful, can then be included in the FSI budget and become a sustained program. FSI requested funding for this program in their FY22 budget to make permanent the revised curriculum developed with assistance from DSF.

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