The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy: State Dept View | Jun 30

Global Dialogue: International Affairs Speakers Program

The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy

The View from the State Department

From the State Department Office of Policy Planning

Martha Simms

Shawanesh Underwood

and Colonel William Schaum

with Moderator Professor Thomas Schwartz

and Host Patrick Ryan

Join us for this Special Edition of Global Dialogue, our speakers program. This episode will feature three State Department staff officers from the Office of Policy Planning.

Martha Simms, Shawanesh Underwood and Colonel William Schaum will talk about the challenges ahead in formulating the missions and goals for American diplomacy and the challenges the United States faces.

We’ll talk about issues such as great power competition, future global health threats, small power disruptions, reconsideration of globalizations scope and myriad other challenges.



Martha Simmsworks at the State Department where she is a Member of the Office of Policy Planning (S/P) covering counterterrorism, diplomatic security and Western Europe.  She moved to S/P from the Bureau of Counterterrorism, where she was the Special Advisor to the Counterterrorism Coordinator, Ambassador Nathan Sales.  In that capacity, she advised the office on a variety of terrorism issues, including detentions policy, disposition options for globally detained terrorists, and international repatriation and prosecution efforts for foreign terrorist fighters and their families in Syria. Prior to the State Department, she covered foreign policy and terrorism screening and vetting policy for the House Homeland Security Committee under Chairman Michael McCaul.  Before her time in government, Martha was the Director of Operations for the John Hay Initiative where she helped political candidates and their staffs prepare to address foreign policy and national security issues. She has an M.A. from Johns Hopkins SAIS and a B.A. from Tufts University, where she graduated magna cum laude with English honors.  She speaks fluent German and studied classical piano at the New England Conservatory.

Shawanesh Underwood is a member of the Secretary’s Office of Policy Planning who covers NATO, Nordic Baltics, and Southern Europe issues since July 2019. She is responsible for clearing these issues throughout the Department and ensuring that they reflect the Secretary’s policy. She also develops and helps advance the Secretary’s policy in the European region. Shawanesh previously served in the Press and Public Outreach Officer in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) Press and Public Policy Outreach office from August 2018-July 2019. In this role, Shawanesh managed the Central Europe portfolio where she develops press strategies, drafts press guidance, and answers press inquiries to clarify U.S. foreign policy towards specific Central European countries. In addition, she managed domestic outreach programs including think tanks, universities, and private sector engagements of senior leadership of the EUR bureau. Before joining EUR, Shawanesh was a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) from November 2015- August 2018. In this role, Shawanesh assisted Embassies by programming U.S. experts to engage foreign audiences in the European region on the administration’s policy priorities and helped Embassies amplify messages traditional and social media platforms. Previously, she worked in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environment and Science Affairs (OES) as a Foreign Affairs Officer, responsible for managing bilateral science and technology agreements for East Asia and Pacific affairs and public outreach on science and technology (S&T) issues from 2012 – 2015. Before that, she worked on a long-term detail U.S. Embassy London’s Press section as a public affairs specialist from August 2011- August 2012. Shawanesh has a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Shawanesh is a native of Houston, Texas.

Colonel William M. Schaum Jr. is currently serving as the U.S. Army Senior Service Advisor to the Department of State in the Office of Policy Planning. Before assuming these duties, Colonel Schaum served as the Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation in the Republic of Turkey. Prior assignments include Chief of the Security Cooperation Directorate, Office of Defense Cooperation, Ankara, Republic of Turkey, Chief of the Foreign Military Sales Division, Office of Military Cooperation, Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt, Director of Future Operations, United States Army Materiel Command, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Liaison Officer to the Israeli Defense Forces and Chief of Mission Relations, United States Military Training Mission- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Colonel Schaum is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science.  He earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School and attended the Turkish War Academy in Istanbul. Colonel Schaum was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in 1991. He commanded companies in the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, served as Operations Officer and Executive Officer in the 2nd Battalion, 54th Infantry Regiment and led platoons in the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry in the Republic of Korea. Following his commands Colonel Schaum was selected for the Foreign Area Officer Program with a focus on the Near East.

Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Ph.D.

Professor of History; Professor of Political Science; Professor of European Studies; Vanderbilt University.  Thomas Alan Schwartz is a historian of the foreign relations of the United States, with related interests in Modern European history and the history of international relations. He is the author of Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography, to be published in September 2020 by Hill and Wang. Professor Schwartz has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the German Historical Society, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Center for the Study of European Integration. He has served as President of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations. He served on the United States Department of State’s Historical Advisory Committee as the representative of the Organization of American Historians from 2005-2008.

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LCDR Patrick Ryan, USN (Ret) is a native of New York City. He enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and volunteered for submarine duty. He served aboard nuclear fast attack and ballistic missile boats during the Cold War, rising to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. In 1982 he was commissioned and served aboard a cruiser in the Western Pacific before becoming a Navy Intelligence Officer. Ryan served aboard the carrier Constellation in the Pacific, the Joint Staff Intelligence Directorate in the Pentagon, the Center for Naval Analysis, and the Intelligence Directorate of U.S. Central Command. Ryan retired from the Navy in 1998 and worked as a consultant on Intelligence Community projects and as the VP/COO of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. Ryan ran a newsletter publishing business on international affairs from 1999-2016. He founded the Tennessee World Affairs Council in 2007.

About the U.S. State Department Office of Policy Planning

Created in 1947 by George Kennan at the request of Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Policy Planning Staff (S/P) serves as a source of independent policy analysis and advice for the Secretary of State. The Policy Planning Staff”s mission is to take a longer term, strategic view of global trends and frame recommendations for the Secretary of State to advance U.S. interests and American values.

In his memoirs “Present at the Creation,” former Secretary of State Dean Acheson characterized the role of Policy Planning: “To anticipate the emerging form of things to come, to reappraise policies which had acquired their own momentum and went on after the reasons for them had ceased, and to stimulate and, when necessary, to devise basic policies crucial to the conduct of our foreign affairs.”




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