The Robertson Foundation for Government is pleased to announce Ambassadors Paula J. Dobriansky and Linda Thomas-Greenfield joined the advisory board this fall.

Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky is a foreign policy expert and former diplomat specializing in national security affairs. She is a Senior Fellow in the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard University’s JFK Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and is Vice Chair of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security (Atlantic Council).

From 2010 to 2012, Ambassador Dobriansky was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Thomson Reuters. In this position, she was responsible for designing and implementing a corporate approach for engagement in Washington, D.C. and other key capitals around the globe. During this time, she was also appointed the Distinguished National Security Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Ambassador Dobriansky served as Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs from 2001 to 2009. Among her primary accomplishments, she established and led the U.S.-India, U.S.-China, and U.S.- Brazil Global Issues Fora, which advanced crucial work and international cooperation on environment, energy, health, development, and humanitarian issues.  Additionally, she was head of delegation and lead negotiator on U.S. climate change policy.

In February 2007, as the President’s Envoy to Northern Ireland, Ambassador Dobriansky received the Secretary of State’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, for her contribution to the historic devolution of power in Belfast. During her more than 25 years in national security affairs, Ambassador Dobriansky has held many Senate-confirmed and senior level positions in the U.S. Government including Director of European and Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council, the Reagan White House, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Deputy Head of the U.S. Delegation to the 1990 Copenhagen Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and Associate Director for Policy and Programs at the United States Information Agency.

From 1997 to 2001, Ambassador Dobriansky served as Senior Vice President and Director of the Washington Office of the Council on Foreign Relations and was the first George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies.  During this time, she also served on the Presidentially-appointed U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy, Ambassador Dobriansky serves on the Naval War College Foundation, Middle East Institute and the Atlantic Council.  She is a Trustee of the Trilateral Commission and on the Advisory Board of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Previous boards include the Western NIS Enterprise Fund, Smith Richardson Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy (Vice Chair), George Mason University Board of Visitors and the World Affairs Councils of America as Chairman of the National Board.

She received a B.S.F.S. summa cum laude in International Politics from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Soviet political/military affairs from Harvard University. She is a Fulbright-Hays scholar, Ford and Rotary Foundation Fellow, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a recipient of various honors such as the Foreign Policy Association Medal for her service to country and leadership of the World Affairs Councils of America and the International Republican Institute’s Women’s Democracy Network Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award (2008).  She has received other high-level international recognition including the Commander Cross of the Order of Merit of Poland, Poland’s Highest Medal of Merit, Grand Cross of Commander of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, National Order “Star of Romania”, Hungary’s Commander’s Cross Order of Merit and Ukraine’s Order of Merit.  She has also received three Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters, one Honorary Doctorate of Laws and one Honorary Doctorate of International Affairs.

Ambassador Paula Dobriansky said that “it is a real privilege to serve on the advisory board of the Robertson Foundation for Government, which promotes the value of government service in international affairs. Significantly, the Foundation has educated and trained impressive cadres of experienced, dedicated civil servants who have advanced U.S. national security goals.”

Retired Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat, is returning to public service after retiring from a 35-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service in 2017. She is President-elect Biden’s nominee for UN Ambassador and will lead the transition at the State Department.

From 2013 to 2017 she served as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, where she led the bureau focused on the development and management of U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to this appointment, she served as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (2012-2013), leading a team in charge of the State Department’s 70,000-strong workforce.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s distinguished Foreign Service career includes an ambassadorship to Liberia (2008-2012), and postings in Switzerland (at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations), Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. In Washington, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs (2006-2008), and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (2004-2006).

Since 2017, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has led the Africa Practice at Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategic commercial diplomacy firm chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She was also the inaugural Distinguished Resident Fellow in African Studies at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy from fall 2017 to spring 2019. She joined ISD in spring 2017 as a Senior State Department Fellow. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield earned a B.A. from Louisiana State University and a M.A. from the University of Wisconsin, where she worked towards a PhD. She received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Wisconsin in May 2018.

While still awaiting confirmation, Thomas-Greenfield has stepped down from the RFG advisory board. She will continue to inspire the foundation’s current fellows and alumni, and the foundation is grateful for her willingness to serve as an advisor.

Ambassador Thomas Greenfield said of her service, “I was delighted to serve on the advisory board of the Robertson Foundation and to meet the extraordinary young people who will be our next generation of national security professionals.  I wish all of them the best of luck in the future.”

The RFG advisory board members are: Senior Advisor and Advisory Board Chair Gregori Lebedev of Center for International Private Enterprise; Advisor Amb. Paula J. Dobriansky of Harvard University; Advisor Paul C. Light of New York University and The Volcker Alliance; Advisor John L. Palmer of Syracuse University; Advisor Charles S. Robb, former Governor of Virginia and U.S. Senator; and, Fellows’ Career Advisor Michael Schneider, recently retired director of the Washington Public Diplomacy Program.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, including the business of government. Facing unprecedent obstacles, many federal, state and local governments turned to technology to navigate the challenges. Technology enabled government to evolve and remotely perform previously in-person functions, expand how they offer existing services to the public and establish new ways to deal with the pandemic. The crisis became an opportunity to innovate.

Read stories from federal, state and local governments and the lessons they learned in this report by the Partnership for Public Service and Microsoft, entitled, “Bit by Bit: How governments used technology to move the mission forward during COVID-19.”

Learn more and download the report

Fact: Federal employees are responsible for many noteworthy and inspiring accomplishments.

Also fact: They are seldom recognized or celebrated.

That’s why the Partnership honors excellence in our federal workforce with the Service to America Medals.

And we need your help. We know that there are thousands of federal employees doing amazing work, but we can only know about these great employees if you nominate them.

Submitting a nomination can lead to well-deserved recognition of your colleagues. More than 20,000 people streamed the 2020 Sammies virtual awards program and winners were featured in the national news.

If you know a federal employee making an incredible impact, nominate them for a Sammies award. Nominations are due January 15, 2021,but don’t wait until then to start yours.

Nominations details

RFG is a proud sponsor of the Sammies.

The following piece was authored by RFG Fellow, Caitlyn Bess in the Ms. Magazine.

How many women and girls throughout the millennia have been better suited to something other than the “women’s work” they were confined to? How much productivity and technological progress has the world missed out on by assigning roles by gender and not aptitude? The invisibility of women in world affairs leads to unnecessary pain and suffering, for women and men alike. 

Imagine aliens who know nothing about the human race were to conduct a research project on our species. Like any good researchers, they would start by examining the written record. Since all that has been written about the human race has been written by humans themselves, the aliens would pore over humankind’s government decisions, research endeavors, academic writing and so on.

Our alien researchers would not be unreasonable to hypothesize that the human race consists of a default group “men” cohabitating the Earth with a small minority of a subcategory group  “women.”

Then, imagine the aliens’ surprise once they move on to direct observation of life on Earth to discover that, in fact, women comprise half of all homo sapiens! How could we have known there were so many of them? the alien researchers might ask themselves. How could they have, indeed.

For too long, women have been invisible in world affairs. (Need further proof? Check out the hashtag #WhereAreTheWomen to see the sheer perniciousness of the erasure of women.)

And this invisibility of approximately 50 percent of the world’s population has real consequences. It leads to incomplete and inaccurate pictures of reality, which in turn leads to poorly planned policies, or perhaps a lack of policies in issue areas that need them. But ultimately, the invisibility of women in world affairs leads to unnecessary pain and suffering, for women and men alike.

An Incomplete and Inaccurate Picture of Reality

When 50 percent of the population is “invisible,” people do not have a complete picture of what is actually going on in the world. This comes out in a multitude of ways—like how countries calculate GDPs and diagnose the causes of social problems, and how the defense sector assesses risk.

The way GDP is calculated is case in point for the invisibility of women. GDP is supposed to capture a country’s level of economic activity in terms of all goods and services produced in the country. However, GDP only accounts for work and production in the traditional, masculine sense of the words—that is, work and production which is exchanged for money.

Work that is necessary for daily life like cooking, cleaning and caring for children and animals are not included in GDP, unless money changes hands. Since most of this work is done by women in their own homes without monetary compensation, it is not included in the figure which is supposed to represent a country’s production.

This is no surprise—in a world where women are invisible, so is their labor. Therefore, many countries probably look richer or poorer than they are in reality. This has real-world consequences, because woman-blind politicians, policymakers, academics and pundits make decisions based off of GDP.

An incomplete or inaccurate view of the world can also lead to the misdiagnosis of the real root of a problem.

One example is terrorist group recruitment: In a world of invisible women, policymakers may think that ideological extremism, unemployment or nationalist fervor drive men to join terrorist groups. While those are definitely factors, one of the best predictors of terrorist group recruitment is actually the condition of the marriage market. If men cannot afford the brideprice to get married, they will join terrorist groups to make the money to do so—especially in cultures where a man is not seen as a man until he marries and becomes head of a family. Therefore, policymakers looking to combat terrorism would be wise to look at local marriage markets, but they might not even think to look there if women are invisible.

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From the Volcker Alliance:

In spite of its extraordinary uncertainty and disruption, 2020 has been a year of impact and expansion for the Volcker Alliance’s Government-to-University (G2U) Initiative. I hope this brief update can be helpful in catching up on how the Initiative has developed and provided some new opportunities to engage in 2021 and beyond.

G2U addresses critical governance challenges by building regional networks of governments and universities to sustainably connect government’s hiring and research needs with local university capacity. We continue to be excited about the difference G2U is making as, now more than ever, the need to leverage all of a community’s resources to tackle pressing public challenges is apparent.

In 2020, we expanded significantly and today we have five G2U sites—in Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh. With support from the Volcker Alliance, each site has convened a network of partners to advance important work and strengthen G-U collaboration. For instance, in North Carolina, our G2U partners are working to launch an online portal that connects government practitioners who have pressing analytic and research questions to university researchers who can help them find answers. In Pittsburgh, our partners are launching a public service messaging campaign on social media to make the case for the full suite of career opportunities in government throughout the region. Our team is pleased to provide financial and technical support for these and other important projects.

We hope that you will avail yourself of new opportunities to engage with the G2U network.

I invite you to join our G2U Network Conversations, where network members and innovative national leaders connect with one another on cutting-edge approaches to strengthening the talent pipeline into government and research collaboratives between governments and universities. We also invite you to sign up to receive dispatches from the G2U Resource Exchange, a roundup of the best ideas percolating from G-U partnerships around the country.

As G2U continues to grow, we hope to connect with partners who are playing a role in strengthening government-university collaborations so we can learn from other communities’ valuable insights and about opportunities in new regions. If you wish to learn more about partnering with G2U to make a difference in your area, I invite you to reach out directly at

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Meridian International Center is strengthening its commitment to developing the next generation of global leaders by launching the Meridian Center for Global Leadership in January 2021. This announcement took place at the 9th Annual Meridian Summit on The Rise of Global Health Diplomacy on October 23, 2020.

Announced by Meridian President and CEO Ambassador Stuart Holliday at the Summit, “In a world that is becoming more and more polarized, it takes partnership, trust and leaders working together to find solutions to the global pandemic and other crises we face today. Meridian has been preparing the next generation of global leaders to collaborate on solutions to shared challenges, and I’m pleased to announce the development of the forthcoming Meridian Center for Global Leadership, which will expand our reach in this space and harness our expertise in developing innovative leadership programs adapted for the new virtual world.”

For the last 60 years, Meridian has empowered global leaders to catalyze change through international exchange and training programs. The onset of the COVID pandemic has accelerated the need for leaders to have global insight, cultural context and networks to collaborate on today’s most critical issues. The new Center for Global Leadership provides a platform for global leadership networks to exchange knowledge, insights and best practices, strengthening Meridian’s deliberate approach in tackling some of the greatest obstacles facing our country and the world.

Read more

Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from a blog post by the Partnership for Public Service, an RFG Institutional Partner.

The president recently signed an executive order that threatens the integrity of the professional, nonpartisan civil service—a core feature of American government since the late 1800s. The order permits agencies to transfer career employees working in policy roles into positions under a new job classification called Schedule F that are removed from the longstanding protections against politically motivated personnel decisions. The executive order also opens the door for a wave of non-competitive hiring into the Schedule F in the final days of an administration.

The move could replace tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of career civil servants with officials who essentially act as political appointees.

In a recent USA Today op-ed on the executive order, Partnership President and CEO Max Stier warned that “federal agencies across the government are quietly moving ahead with an 11th hour plan to fill vacant, nonpartisan career jobs with political appointees as well as fire and replace civil servants with individuals loyal to President Donald Trump.”

RFG joined more than 20 good government organizations and individuals who recently sent a letter on this issue (text below) to the Hill and urged Congress to act now to stop this irresponsible executive order, and the incoming Biden team to make it a priority to undo this attack on this essential feature of our democracy.

Additional articles:

Dear Member of Congress,

The undersigned organizations are united in our commitment to inspiring public service and encouraging excellence in government for the betterment of the American people.

In that vein, we write to urge you to block implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) 13957 in the next government funding package considered by Congress. Specifically, we urge you to support including the limitation of funds language in subsection (b) of Senator Gary Peters’ bill, S. 4907, to nullify the EO, or in section 2(b) of H.R. 8687, the Save the Civil Service Act, introduced by Reps. Gerald Connolly, Carolyn Maloney and Steny Hoyer, in any omnibus appropriations bill or continuing resolution.

The EO creates a broad exception to competitive civil service rules through a new Schedule F job classification, removing protections ensuring such civil servants are hired and fired based on merit. The new classification could apply to hundreds of thousands of federal positions, exposing employees in these jobs to politically motivated hiring and firing.

Our nonpartisan civil service has served as a model for other countries for more than a century. Since the passage of the Pendleton Act of 1883, civil servants have been hired based on their qualifications, and have been protected from removal based on political affiliation. These protections do not exist for the sake of the civil servants themselves, but rather to ensure the government delivers services insulated from undue political influence. They ensure continuity of government through changing administrations, preserving institutional knowledge and expertise within the government. They safeguard the rule of law, protecting employees choosing adherence to the Constitution rather than political party.

The need for Congress to act is urgent, especially as we are in the midst of a transition. Failing to act will set a dangerous precedent, signaling congressional indifference to a substantial expansion of executive power. The EO upends a longstanding legislative framework that ensures a nonpartisan civil service – a framework that assures the laws Congress passes will be implemented as written, and the funds they appropriate will be disbursed as directed. If Congress remains silent, it indicates acceptance not just of this EO, but of future administrative actions to dismantle the legislative framework supporting a nonpartisan civil service.

Failing to block the EO raises substantial and immediate risks. The language of the EO authorizes broad changes to the federal workforce through reclassification or removal before inauguration day on January 20, 2021. At best, this EO will serve as a distraction at a time when the focus should be on ensuring a smooth transfer of power from one administration to another. At worst, career civil servants upon whom Americans rely for deep expertise and lifesaving services during the pandemic and economic crisis – from approving vaccines to distributing loans – could be removed for political reasons.

The EO also opens the door for a wave of non-competitive hiring into the new Schedule F in the final days of an administration. Unlike Schedule C political appointees who conclude their tenure at the end of an administration, Schedule F appointments would last beyond the administration, meaning the following administration could inherit thousands of the prior administration’s appointees. Even if the EO is rescinded, reversing Schedule F hiring actions may not be a simple process. If not rescinded, the vagueness of the order leaves no guardrails going forward to ensure nonpartisan hiring, promotion, firing, or other personnel action.

Our opposition to this EO does not detract from our collective view that we must work together to modernize federal government personnel systems to ensure a more effective and efficient government. But gutting the merit-based system, rather than reforming it, will not achieve merit-based results.

For these reasons, the undersigned organizations urge you to prohibit the expenditure of federal funds to implement Executive Order (EO) 13957 in the next government funding package considered by Congress.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this letter, please contact Troy Cribb with the Partnership for Public Service at, Jason Briefel with the Senior Executives Association (SEA) at, or John Hatton with the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) at

Thank you for your consideration of our views,

Partnership for Public Service

Senior Executives Association (SEA)

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE)

Project On Government Oversight (POGO)

The Volcker Alliance

Truman Center for National Policy

Revolving Door Project

Professional Managers Association (PMA)

Government Information Watch

Open The Government

Federal Managers Association (FMA)

FAA Managers Association (FAAMA)

American Society for Public Administration (ASPA)

National Employment Law Project

National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys (NAAUSA)

Government Accountability Project

In the Public Interest

Democracy Fund Voice

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Alliance for Digital Innovation

Robertson Foundation for Government

Andrew A. Rosenberg, Union of Concerned Scientists*

Donald Moynihan, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University*

Donald Kettl, Sid Richardson Professor, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs University of Texas at Austin*

*Organization listed for identification purposes