Program | Speakers | Extras


John W. Limbert
President, American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)

John Limbert, a Senior Foreign Service Officer, began serving as president of AFSA on September 8, 2003.

Prior to this appointment, he was Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (2000-2003), While serving as Ambassador, he was one of the first civilian officials to enter Baghdad in April 2003, with the Organization for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. There he was responsible for cultural affairs, including restoring the looted Iraqi Museum. Earlier he had been Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the U.S. State Department; member of the State Department’s Senior Seminar (1997-98); Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Conakry, Guinea (1994-97); and Director of Orientation at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute in Washington (1992-94).

A career Foreign Service Officer since 1973, Ambassador Limbert’s overseas experience also includes tours in Algeria, Djibouti, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. From 1981 to 1984 he taught Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy, and in 1991-92 he was a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs.

Born in Washington, D.C. and a resident of Stockbridge, Vermont since 1980, Ambassador Limbert graduated from the D.C. public schools and holds his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Harvard University, the last in History and Middle Eastern Studies. Before joining the Foreign Service, he taught in Iran, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1964-66) and as an English instructor at Shiraz University (1969-72). He has written numerous articles on Middle Eastern subjects and has authored Iran: At War with History (Westview Press, 1987) and Shiraz in the Age of Hafez (University of Washington Press, 2004).

Ambassador Limbert holds the Department of State’s Meritorious Honor Award, Superior Honor Award, and Award for Valor, the last received after fourteen months as a hostage in Iran. He also holds the American Foreign Service Association’s Rivkin Award for creative dissent. His foreign languages are Persian, Arabic, and French. He is married and has a son and a daughter.

Ken Taylor
Former Canadian Ambassador to Iran

Ken Taylor is best known as the former Canadian Ambassador to Iran who, in 1980, risked his own life and his country’s reputation, to help save the lives of six American hostages during the Iran Crisis. His heroism made him an overnight international celebrity. He received the United States Congressional Gold Medal and the Order of Canada. He was also portrayed by legendary actor Gordon Pinsent in the movie “Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper”.

Ken Taylor’s service as a diplomat in the Canadian Foreign Service also involved trade development responsibilities in Guatemala, Detroit and London, foreign-aid-related matters in Pakistan, crisis management in Iran and the enhancement of Canada’s image in New York (as the former Canadian Consul General).

Since his resignation from the foreign service in 1984, Mr. Taylor has worked extensively in the private sector. He has served as a board member of a range of companies in Canada, the United States and Mexico, and has provided counselling services to clients on issues of political risk, international marketing and strategic accommodation with government.

Michael R. Marrus
Dean, School of Graduate Studies University of Toronto

Michael Marrus is Dean of Graduate Studies and the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. A graduate of the University of Toronto, he received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and a visiting fellow of St. Antony's College, Oxford and the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University; and has taught at UCLA and Cape Town University in South Africa. He is the author of The Holocaust in History, which has been translated into many languages. Among other his books are Vichy France and the Jews, coauthored with Robert Paxton, The Unwanted: European Refugees in the Twentieth Century. Michael Marrus has also published a book on the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal for the Bedford Series in History and Culture of St. Martin's Press.

Ruhi Ramezani
Professor Emeritus of Politics
University of Virginia
A longtime citizen of the United States, Ruhi Ramazani immigrated to America in 1952 where he taught at U.Va,. in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics where he is now professor emeritus. He is a founder of Iranian studies in America and "the Dean of Iranian Foreign Policy Studies in the United States." He has authored and edited a dozen books and more than 100 articles, some of which have been translated into Arabic, Persian and Turkish. He has been a consultant on the Persian Gulf and Iran to the White House, the departments of State, Defense and Treasury and the United Nations Secretariat General and the foreign minisries of Israel, Britian, Spain, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.


Mohsen Milani
Professor and Chair of Government and International Affairs
University of Southern Florida
Mohsen Milani received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1985 and has been teaching at USF since 1987. He is the author of "The Making of Iran's Islamic Revolution: From Monarchy to Islamic Republic" (Westview Press, Second Edition). Dr. Milani's research focus is on comparative revolutionary movements in the Middle East. In 1990, he was a Research Fellow at the Center for Middle East Studies, Harvard University and in 1995 a Senior Fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford University.

Lowell Bruce Laingen
President American Academy of Diplomacy

Ambassador Laingen is currently President of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a nonprofit, limited membership society of 100 men and women retired from government service who have held senior positions in the conduct of American foreign policy, whether as career or political appointees. The Academy is dedicated to fostering the highest standards in the conduct of diplomacy, particularly those nominated by the President as ambassadors.

Ambassador Laingen is a Minnesotan, who served in the Foreign Service for 38 years, including time as a hostage in Iran from 1979-198 1. Following his release, Ambassador Laingen served as Vice President of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. until his retirement from the Foreign Service in 1987. He was executive Director of the National Commission on the Public Service (The Volcker Commission) from 1987 until the Commission completed its work in 1990.

In addition to his work with the American Academy of Diplomacy, Ambassador Laingen serves on the boards of A Presidential Classroom for Young Americans, the Mercersburg Academy of Pennsylvania, No Greater Love and the National Defense University Foundation and lectures frequently on the subject of U.S.-Iranian affairs.

He is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, the National War College and has a Masters degree in international relations from the University of Minnesota.

Gary Sick
Former member of the NSC during the hostage crisis.
Executive Director of the Gulf/2000 Project at Columbia University

The acting director of SIPA's Middle East Institute, Professor Gary Sick is a Senior Research Scholar and an Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at SIPA. He is the author of All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter With Iran (Random House, 1985) and October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan (Random House/Times Books, 1992). Gary Sick received his BA from Kansas University in 1957 and a Master of Science from George Washington University in 1970. In 1973 he earned a PhD from Columbia. Professor Sick served on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis. Sick is a captain (ret.) in the U.S. Navy, with service in the Persian Gulf, North Africa and the Mediterranean. He was the Deputy Director for International Affairs at the Ford Foundation from 1982 to 1987, where he was responsible for programs relating to U.S. foreign policy. He is also a member of the board of Human Rights Watch in New York and the Chairman of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch/Middle East. He was the Executive Director of Gulf/2000, an international research project on political, economic and security developments in the Persian Gulf, being conducted at Columbia University in 1994-95 on behalf of the W. Alton Jones and Rockefeller Foundations.  


Bill Berkeley
Former Reporter and Editorial Writer for the New York Times

Bill Berkeley is a reporter on the investigative staff of The New York Times and the author of The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa (Basic Books, 2001). He was previously an editorial writer at the Times, and for more than a decade he reported on African affairs for The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine and The Washington Post. He teaches writing at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
He is the co-author of “The Hostage-takers' Second Act ,” Columbia Journalism Review (November/December 2004).


David Farber
Professor of History
Temple University

David Farber joined the Department of History at the University of New Mexico in 1997. He has published seven books on a variety of twentieth-century U.S. history topics. He is probably best known for his work on America in the 1960s. His latest book, Taken Hostage, is a history of the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1981.


Mansour Farhang
Professor of Politics, Bennington College
Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations
MANSOUR FARHANG has a PH. D. in political science from Claremont Graduate School. In 1970s he taught at California State University at Sacramento. Following the 1979 revolution in Iran he served as an advisor to the Iranian foreign ministry and as ambassador to the United Nations. He resigned his ambassadorship in protest when his efforts to negotiate the release of the American hostages in Tehran failed. In the early months of the Iran-Iraq war, he worked with international mediators to settle the war. During this period, he wrote and spoke about the threat of religious extremists who had come to dominate the course of the Iranian revolution. In June 1981, following the violent suppression of political dissidents, he was forced to leave Iran. He returned to the United Sates in September 1981 and became a research fellow and lecturer at Princeton University. Since 1983 he has been teaching international relations and Middle Eastern politics at Bennington College in Vermont. He is the author of two books and dozens of articles in English and Persian, published in both academic journals and popular periodicals. His opinion pieces have appeared in a variety of newspapers, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Christian Science Monitor. His third book, Theology of Power: the Iranian Revolution In Action, is near completion. He has been a human rights activist since his undergraduate days in California. Currently, he serves on the advisory board of Human Rights Watch/Middle East and is a designated speaker for the Vermont council on the Humanities. He has been a participant in the seminars of Council on Foreign Relations and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has also appeared as a guest on PBS News Hour, ABC’s Night Line, Bill Moyer’s Journal, 60-Minutes, CBS’s Face the Nation and CNN. He is a regular commentator on the Persian broadcasting of both BBC and Radio France International.