Image - speaker photos

San Francisco

American Diplomacy in Crisis: How to Fix it?

If you are not a member yet, now is the time to join our community and receive the great benefits of membership. We are a group of people seeking truth, insight and wisdom about the issues we face as individuals and as a society. Please join! You can become a monthly sustaining member for just $10 a month.

The United States Foreign Service is confronting one of the most profound crises in its history. At a time of pandemic, recession and mounting global challenges, our nation’s career diplomats find themselves without the support, funding, training and leadership they need to represent the American people effectively overseas and in Washington, D.C., according to Ambassadors Marc Grossman and Marcie Ries and a team of career diplomats  working on the American Diplomacy Project.

To successfully navigate the Ukraine conflict, the largest war in Europe since World War II,  skilled American diplomacy is critical. If we’re going to deal with very difficult competitors, including adversarial countries like China and Russia, we’re going to need skilled diplomats at the table, in our embassies and consulates. To do this, we must transform not only the mission and culture of the Foreign Service, but also the education and training of diplomats to meet these urgent needs around the world.

Please join these two respected diplomats, Ambassadors Grossman and Ries, to talk about how to reimagine and lift up the Foreign Service to take on the twin challenges of fast-moving international events and rapid technological change. They offer clear blueprints for action to fix American diplomacy.

Marcie B. Ries is a retired ambassador with more than 35 years of diplomatic experience in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. She is a three-time chief of mission, serving as head of the U.S. mission in Kosovo (2003–2004), United States ambassador to Albania (2004–2007) and, most recently as United States ambassador to Bulgaria (2012–2015).

Ambassador Marc Grossman served as the under secretary of state for political affairs, the State Department's third ranking official, until his retirement in 2005 after 29 years in the U.S. Foreign Service. As under secretary, he helped marshal diplomatic support for the international response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. He also managed U.S. policies in the Balkans and Colombia and promoted a key expansion of the NATO alliance. As assistant secretary for European affairs, he helped direct NATO's military campaign in Kosovo and an earlier round of NATO expansion. Ambassador Grossman was the U.S. ambassador to Turkey 1994–1997.


This program has 2 types of tickets available: In-person and online-only. Please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

Safety Protocols for in-person attendance:

  • We follow best practices laid out by the CDC and state and local guidelines.
  • We strongly recommend vaccination for guests, staff, and volunteers.
  • Masks are strongly encouraged while indoors (if you do not have one and would like one, inquire at our front desk for a complimentary mask).
  • We reserve the right to require different rules for specific events as necessary.

Our LEED Gold-certified building is designed to cool with outside air, using digitally controlled moveable windows and large ceiling fans. We are deploying additional HEPA filters inside to scrub the air. This is all in addition to increased cleaning of surfaces throughout the building.

We welcome donations made during registration to support the production of our programs.

Presented in partnership with World Affairs.


All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Tue, Mar 28 / 7:00 pm PDT

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Marc Grossman

Marc Grossman

Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Image - Marcie B. Ries

Marcie B. Ries

Former U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, Albania and Kosovo

Image - Markos Kounalakis

Markos Kounalakis

Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University


6:30 p.m. doors open & check-in
7–8 p.m. program
(all times PDT)


$15 members
$25 nonmembers
Free for Leadership Circle members
Free for students (with valid I.D.)
Free for members
$10 nonmembers

Commonwealth Club

The leading national forum open to all for the impartial discussion of public issues important to the membership, community and nation. The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. Each year, we bring nearly 500 events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy to our members and the public, both in-person and via extensive online and on-air listenership and viewership.

The views of Club speakers are their own and their participation does not constitute or imply endorsement or recommendation by The Commonwealth Club.

San Francisco Headquarters

110 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 194210
San Francisco, CA  94119–4210

Silicon Valley