Ambassador Ray will discuss the challenges of race, diplomacy and national security, including the challenges of being Black in the U.S. State Department.
Ambassador Ray has over 50 years of experience in international affairs, with 20 years in the U.S. Army, and 30+ years in the U.S. Foreign Service. His military experience included assignments in Unconventional Warfare Planning, Psychological Operations, Intelligence and Public Affairs. During his Foreign Service career, he managed troubled organizations in Asia and Africa, and was instrumental in reestablishing a mil-to-mil relationship with Cambodia after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As deputy chief of mission in Sierra Leone, he managed the military training program and oversaw USAID’s humanitarian assistance effort. He was also instrumental in brokering democratic elections in Sierra Leone, which saw a peaceful transfer of power from the military junta that had taken over the country the year before his assignment; this election took place during an externally-supported rebel war. He encouraged the government of Cambodia to take a more active role in combatting human trafficking, and implemented a successful Muslim outreach program in that country, which reversed the negative views the small Islamic community had about the United States.
He has served as deputy chief of mission in Sierra Leone, was the first post-war consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, served as ambassador to Cambodia and Zimbabwe, and was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs and Director of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), during which time, he oversaw development of the US government interagency policy on personnel recovery, working with the Department of State, FBI, DEA, and USAID to develop a comprehensive plan to provide proactive and reactive support to USG personnel working abroad.
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