Candidate Profile

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World Affairs
George Ward is a former U.S. Ambassador who has also achieved success in a variety of other fields related to his passion for international politics, history, and culture. Ward enjoyed a thirty-year career in the Foreign Service, which culminated in his appointment as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Namibia from 1996 to 1999. As ambassador, he managed a successful humanitarian de-mining program and initiated a campaign against gender violence. Ward also served in two other senior diplomatic positions. From 1992 to 1996 he was principal deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs. In that position, he formulated and managed U.S. policy on the United Nations and other international organizations. As deputy chief of mission in Germany from 1989 to 1992, Ward played a senior role in the negotiations that led to German unification. In earlier Foreign Service assignments, he was U.S. vice consul in Hamburg (1970-72), U.S. consul in Genoa (1974-76), and political officer at the U.S. Embassies in Rome (1976-79) and Bonn (1984-85). Ambassador Ward received the State Department’s rarely bestowed Distinguished Honor Award for his contributions to German unification. He was also the recipient of Presidential Meritorious Service Awards from Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and four Superior Honor Awards from the Department of State.

Ward left the Foreign Service in 1999 to join the United States Institute of Peace as Vice President and Director of the Professional Training. In that role, he worked in zones of tension and conflict, including Kosovo and Iraq. In 2003, he was appointed by the Secretaries of State and Defense as coordinator for humanitarian assistance in Iraq.

Moving to World Vision, the largest private international humanitarian organization, in 2005, Ward served as Senior Vice President for International Programs. He led a group responsible for the design and management of relief and development programs valued at over $1 billion annually. He focused particularly on Africa, traveling widely and gaining understanding of the continent at the village level.

After retiring from World Vision in 2011, Ward joined the Institute for Defense Analyses, a think tank that serves the U.S. Government. There, he coordinated the Africa program, publishing studies on issues ranging from terrorism to the impact of social media. Although he left full-time employment in April 2019, Ward continues to participate in a number of IDA’s research and study projects.

Prior to his Foreign Service career, he was an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in the United States and Vietnam, and reaching the rank of Major. He received the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V,” the Combat Action Ribbon, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star for his service as a Marine counterintelligence officer in Vietnam.

Ambassador Ward is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Rochester in history. He later received a Masters of Public Administration with an emphasis on systems analysis from Harvard University. He lives with his wife, Peggy, in Falls Church, VA, not far from their daughter, son-in-law, and three granddaughters. He enjoys playing tennis and Alpine skiing. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and of the Cosmos Club, Washington, DC.


1. African Megatrends: This presentation addresses the major trends that will determine
Africa’s future over the coming decades. Those trends involve demography, urbanization, climate change, education, trade and commerce, and governance. Together, the trends will determine whether Africa becomes a new engine of economic growth or a breeding ground for poverty, mass migration, and terrorism.

2. Africa’s Big Five – Will They Survive? All of Africa’s “Big Five” game animals face
challenges. What does the future look like for lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros, and Cape Buffalo? Can environmentalists, conservationists, big game hunters, and African villagers work together to ensure that there will be a future for these magnificent animals?

3. Faces of the New Africa: Arguably, Africa is changing faster than any other continent.
Through examples of emerging leaders in business, communications and social media, education, technology, music, and community organization, this presentation illuminates the dizzying pace of change.

4. Wonders of the Namib Desert: From desert elephants to diamonds in the sand; from red sand dunes to ephemeral rivers that flow only once in a decade; from remnants of colonial settlements to some of Africa’s last nomads, the Namib desert presents a host of unique wonders.

5. Namibia – Where Germany Met Africa: Germany was a latecomer to Africa, but it made an out-sized impact on the areas that it colonized. The presentation examines the history and heritage of German colonial activity in sub-Saharan Africa, not glossing over the negatives, but also evaluating the more constructive aspects.

6. South Africa between Hope and Despair: What has happened to the democratic South Africa born during the 1990s? Have the dreams of Nelson Mandela been betrayed? Will South Africa be able to lead the continent to a better future, or will it be overwhelmed by challenges of poverty, unemployment, ethnic tensions, and climate change?

7. Destination Lectures on African Countries: These presentations would be based on over 20 years of living and travel in Africa and extensive study. The presentations would combine a short historical outline with commentary on peoples, food, music, art, and politics.


1. Contemporary Mediterranean Challenges: As the countries of Southern Europe look across the Mediterranean Sea, they are faced with great challenges. These include mass migration, violent extremism, and climate change. This presentation examines the challenges and outlines the diverse approaches to the problems taken by various European countries.

2. Contemporary Italy: This presentation focuses on the social, cultural, and political evolution of Italy since the end of World War II. For decades, Italy seemed to be able to combine political instability with social stability. Is that connection now threatened? If so, why? What changes are we likely to see?

3. Destination Lectures on European Cities: These presentations would be based on more than a decade of living in Europe, extensive study, and travels throughout the continent. The presentations would combine a short historical outline with commentary on peoples, food, music, art, and politics.

4. Europe and America Today: While steering clear of the politics of the moment, this presentation examines the trends that are driving European and Americans together in some ways and apart in others. It seeks to provide a net assessment of what the transatlantic future will look like.

5. Moments that Changed European and American History: This presentation relates key episodes that have determined the course of the history of the past century. These include the emergence of Lenin on the scene in revolutionary Russia, the Hitler-Stalin Pact, the Berlin Airlift, the NATO-Soviet military confrontation, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

6. Who Will Control the Arctic and Why Does It Matter? The melting of Arctic sea ice has opened up a large and previously inaccessible region of the globe to navigation and resource exploitation. At the same time, the lives of the region’s human and animal inhabitants are being changed, in some cases radically. Does the future hold confrontation or collaboration among Arctic countries? And what about the futures of the region’s inhabitants?

7. Russia and the West Today: Tensions between the nations of the West and Russia have risen to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War. Russia has engaged in military aggression in the Crimea and Georgia, sent assassins abroad to deal with perceived enemies of the Putin regime, and engaged in cyber-warfare on an ongoing basis. On its side, Russia believes that the United States and NATO are intent on encroaching on its borders and vital economic interests. Is it possible to recover the spirit of cooperation that existed in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, or is either hot or cold conflict inevitable?
Provided a week-long lecture course on U.S.-European security to an affinity group on the SS Queen of Bermuda in 1988. Otherwise, extensive public speaking experience, but not on cruise ships.

Spoke on following topics during two Viking Sea cruises in the Mediterranean in October-November 2022:
-- Greece and Its Neighborhood
-- Eastern Mediterranean Energy Futures
-- Whatever Happened to Yugoslavia?
-- Italy: Past, Present, and Future
-- Balkan Futures
-- Can the Transatlantic Relationship Endure?
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Sea SE221107 Mediterranean Odyssey 12 Venice Monday, November 7, 2022
Viking Sea SE221029 Empires of the Mediterranean 9 Piraeus (Athens) Wednesday, October 19, 2022