Ambassador John Beyrle was elected Chairman of the U.S. Russia Foundation on October 2018. Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Beyrle served as an American diplomat for more than three decades in foreign postings and domestic assignments focused on Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and Russia. He was twice appointed ambassador: to Bulgaria (2005-08) and to Russia (2008-12). During the latter assignment he led the implementation of policies resulting in improved U.S.-Russian relations, highlighted by the signing of the START nuclear arms reduction treaty, Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, and liberalized visa formalities.
Ambassador Beyrle’s diplomatic service included two earlier tours at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, including as deputy chief of mission. He also served as counselor for political and economic affairs at the U.S. embassy in the Czech Republic, and a member of the U.S. delegation to the CFE arms control negotiations in Vienna. His Washington assignments included special adviser to the secretary of state for the New Independent States, and director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. He traveled extensively with Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker as a staff officer in the 1980s, and served as a Pearson Fellow and adviser to Senator Paul Simon, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Ambassador Beyrle received the Presidential Meritorious Service Award during the Administration of George W. Bush, and the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Obama. Secretary of State Clinton presented him with the Distinguished Service Award, the State Department’s highest honor. He retired from the Foreign Service in 2012. Ambassador Beyrle serves on the board of directors of the U.S. Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law and provides consulting services to non-profit and corporate clients.
A native of Muskegon, Michigan, Mr. Beyrle received a B.A. with honors from Grand Valley State University (1975) and an M.S. as a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College (1996), where he later taught as a visiting professor of national security studies. He speaks Bulgarian, Czech, French, German and Russian. He is married to Jocelyn Greene, also a retired Foreign Service officer. They have two daughters.
He provides business, legal and political counsel to numerous companies and developing countries. He possesses an extensive background in investment and intellectual property law both as in house lawyer with a venture capital firm and as an advisor to the international pharmaceutical industry and
Prior to his service as special Middle East coordinator under President Clinton, Amb. Ross served as director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff in the first Bush
administration. He played a prominent role in U.S. policy towards the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany and its integration into NATO, arms control negotiations, and the 1991 Gulf War coalition. During the Reagan administration, he served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff and deputy director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment. Amb. Ross was awarded the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President Clinton, and Secretaries Baker and Albright presented him with the State Department's highest award.
Dr. Michael J. McNeal has been involved in the DCFR at various times throughout the past twenty years. He received his Ph.D. from JKSIS at the University of Denver, focusing on political theory and international relations. During an academic year in Budapest in 1992, McNeal began an eight year study of the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia, making multiple visits to Belgrade, Zagreb, and Ljubljana during the conflicts. This culminated in two periods of work in Sarajevo (resettling IDPs in 1998 and working for the U.S. Embassy and OSCE in 2000). During a year living in Athens, he examined the transnational constituency of Albanians and ethno-national relations in Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and northern Greece. Since then, McNeal has taught disparate subjects in political science at colleges and universities along the Front Range, and co-edited two scholarly volumes, ‘U.S. Approaches to the Arab Uprisings (2017, I.B. Taurus/Bloomsbury),’ and ‘European/Supra-European: Cultural Encounters in Nietzsche’s Philosophy (2020, De Gruyter).’ He has recently contracted to co-edit a third volume entitled ‘Joy and Laughter in Nietzsche’s Philosophy: Alternative Liberatory Politics (Bloomsbury),’ which is slated for publication in winter 2022.
George Sparks has been the president & CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science since November 2004. He spent 24 years in the electronics measurement business at Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies. His career included marketing, sales, and general management of global businesses in software, systems, and services.
Prior to joining Hewlett-Packard, Sparks spent nine years in the Air Force as a pilot and as an assistant professor of aeronautics at the United States Air Force Academy (1976-1978). He is a distinguished graduate of the USAF Academy with a bachelor’s in aeronautical engineering, and holds a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Sparks’ passion is public policy, particularly around science and education. He is a member of the Colorado Forum, Colorado Concern, and is on the boards of Colorado Education Initiative, Colorado Music Hall of Fame, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the Denver School of Science & Technology.
George is the founder of the Institute for Science & Policy, a program of the Museum.
He loves his wife and all of his children.
Colonel Tim Childress is commander of the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 90, Fort Collins, Colorado. Detachment 90 is one of 145 AFROTC detachments, subordinate to the Holm Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. In this capacity, Col Childress leads approximately 200 cadets through a college-level officer training program while serving as the senior Air Force officer at the university, ultimately determining who is commissioned. In addition, Col Childress chairs the Department of Aerospace Studies with university status of full professor and instructs a curriculum covering Foundations of the U. S. Air Force, Air Force History, Leadership and National Security Affairs. Detachment 90 was selected as the AFROTC “Right of Line” award winner for 2019-2020, signifying being the Air Force’s best large ROTC Detachment.
Col Childress received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science in 1994 from Georgia State University and was commissioned through the Georgia Tech ROTC Program. He has commanded at the Flight and Squadron levels, worked on the Air Staff at the Pentagon, and served joint tours at U.S. European Command and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). He also served as the Central Asia Flight Commander for the Air Force’s only Combat Aviation Advisor Squadron spending 3 years as an advisor to partner air forces.