Meetings and Speakers

Speakers: Diverse, timely, expert perspectives

We participate in the ACFR National Speakers Program which provides prominent speakers at the ready edge of responsibility and expertise regarding timely foreign policy issues & events. We have hosted sitting Ambassadors, former Ambassadors, State Department officials, Officers of the military, policy experts & more from foreign relations organizations and consultancies in the nation.

We also feature Iowa based speakers with special expertise and experiences in foreign relations from our congressional representatives, universities, and major news outlets.

At the Committee on Foreign Relations, our monthly meetings are dedicated to advancing discourse of relevant U.S. foreign relations issues and events while supporting our non-partisan, non-profit position.  We provide a high quality personal experience with a unique intimate forum for dialogue and discussion. We support diverse, timely, well-informed perspectives that contribute to understanding concerning foreign relations.

Upcoming Speaker: Wednesday May 15th at 5:30, Wakonda Club – Ambassador J. Peter Pham

Ambassador Pham is currently a Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council –> and a Senior Advisor at the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University –> .

Additional information about Ambassador Pham follows below.  We are excited to have Ambassador Pham in Des Moines and look forward to his thoughts on a region of the world for which we have not had a speaker in several years.

Peter Pham served as the first-ever U.S. Special Envoy for the Sahel Region of Africa with the personal rank of Ambassador from 2020-2021. The position was created as “the lead in shaping, devising, and coordinating U.S. strategy on the cross-border security, political, economic, assistance, and social issues arising in the Sahel as well as coordinating with both international partners and U.S. Government stakeholders to help return the Sahel to stability through programs to enhance security and support governance, political liberalization, social progress and economic development.”

He previously served as the US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa from 2018-2020, a mandate from the Secretary of State “for coordinating the implementation of U.S. policy on the cross-border security, political, and economic issues in the Great Lakes region, with an emphasis on strengthening democratic institutions and civil society, as well as the safe and voluntary return of the region’s refugees and internally displaced persons.”

Prior to serving in the Trump Administration, Pham was vice president for research and regional initiatives at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, and director of the Council’s Africa Center. Before joining the Atlantic Council in 2011, he was senior vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy in New York City, and editor of its bimonthly journal, American Foreign Policy Interests. Earlier in his career, he was a tenured associate professor of justice studies, political science, and Africana studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he was director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

From 2008-2017, he also served as vice president of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), an academic organization which represents more than 1,300 scholars of Middle Eastern and African Studies at more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States and overseas and was founding editor-in-chief of ASMEA’s peer-reviewed quarterly Journal of the Middle East and Africa. He is the author of several books and more than 300 articles, essays and reviews on African politics, security, and economic issues.

Pham served on the Senior Advisory Group of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from 2008-2013.

Pham is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a Senior Advisor at the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University. In addition, he also serves as the Non-Executive Chairman of High Power Exploration (HPX), a Non-Executive Director of Africell Global Holdings and of Rainbow Rare Earths, and a Strategic Advisor to dClimate, as well as a member of the Board of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

Pham is the recipient of numerous honors and awards from African countries in recognition of contributions made over the course of his career to strengthening relations between the United States and Africa, including Commander of the National Order of Mali, Commander of the National Order of Burkina Faso, Officer of the National Order of Merit of Niger, Commander of the National Order of Merit of Gabon, and Commander of the Order of Friendship of Peoples of Burundi.

If you wish to RSVP for this event and are a current member please email us at

If you would like to become a member please visit our Membership and Sponsorship page for more information

Past Speakers:

Meetings: High Quality Personal Experience

For the 2023-2024 season our meetings will be held at Wakonda Club in Des Moines. We meet each month from September through May of the following year. Please email for more information.

Because we limit the size of the membership and the size of the venue, we provide a unique intimate format for our members…giving the opportunity to meet the speaker, engage in discussion, and gain additional knowledge and information.

Agenda & Venue

Our meetings are currently being held at Wakonda Club, 3915 Fleur Dr, Des Moines, IA 50321

The typical agenda includes:

5:30PM – Reception and Happy Hour with the speaker
6:00PM – Speaker’s presentation and Q&A
7:00PM Wrap up and closing comments