AMB Charles Ray
Biography for Ambassador (retired) Charles A. Ray
Charles has over 50 years of experience in international affairs, with 20 years in the U.S. Army, and 30+ years in the U.S. Foreign Service. His military experience included assignments in Unconventional Warfare Planning, Psychological Operations, Intelligence and Public Affairs. During his Foreign Service career, he managed troubled organizations in Asia and Africa, and was instrumental in reestablishing a mil-to-mil relationship with Cambodia after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As deputy chief of mission in Sierra Leone, he managed the military training program and oversaw USAID’s humanitarian assistance effort. He was also instrumental in brokering democratic elections in Sierra Leone, which saw a peaceful transfer of power from the military junta that had taken over the country the year before his assignment; this election took place during an externally-supported rebel war. He encouraged the government of Cambodia to take a more active role in combating human trafficking, and implemented a successful Muslim outreach program in that country, which reversed the negative views the small Islamic community had about the United States.
Charles served as deputy chief of mission in Sierra Leone, was the first post-war consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, served as ambassador to Cambodia and Zimbabwe, and was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs and Director of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), during which time, he oversaw development of the US government interagency policy on personnel recovery, working with the Department of State, FBI, DEA, and USAID to develop a comprehensive plan to provide proactive and reactive support to USG personnel working abroad.
Since retiring from government service in 2012, Charles has consulted with DOD, participating in the development of a training continuum for Defense Attaches in support to chiefs of mission during personnel recovery operations, and provided training support to the US Army as an SME on interagency matters, preparing army units for deployment abroad in noncombat operations. He also conducts a workshop on professional writing for Rangel foreign affairs scholars.
A prolific writer, Charles has published more than 60 books of fiction and nonfiction, including works on ethics, leadership, and diplomacy. He works with the Potomac Institute for Public Policy, developing a program on the use of diplomacy as a tool to combat terrorism and violent extremism.
He has a B.S. in business administration from Benedictine College, an M.S. in systems management from the University of Southern California, and an M.S. in national security management from the National War College of the National Defense University. He speaks Thai, Vietnamese, and Mandarin, and is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Association of Black American Ambassadors. Charles is chairman of the board of the Cold War Museum, at Vint Hill, VA, and chairs the board of advisors of the Institute of Science, Technology, and the Arts (ISSTA), an international boarding school, planned for construction in Orlando, Florida.