The U.S. Russia Foundation is pleased to announce the election of Ambassador John Beyrle to the position of Chairman of the USRF Board of Directors. He succeeds outgoing co-chairs Ambassador James Collins and Mr. Steve Pease, who will remain as USRF Board Directors. Following his election, Beyrle stated: “Since joining the USRF board in 2012, I have admired the Foundation’s fidelity to its mission of strengthening ties between the United States and Russia with a focus on economics, entrepreneurship, education and the rule of law. As political relations between the two governments have deteriorated, USRF’s work has grown more difficult – but it has never been more important than it is now. I look forward to working with USRF’s dedicated team of professionals to ensure that our efforts remain focused and effective.”
Prior to his work with the Foundation, Ambassador Beyrle served as an American diplomat for three decades in a career focused on the Soviet Union and Russia, and Central and Eastern Europe. He was twice appointed as ambassador: to Bulgaria (2005-08), and to Russia (2008-12). During the latter assignment, Beyrle helped foster improved U.S.-Russian relations, highlighted by the signing of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty. Beyrle was also the first U.S. Ambassador to Russia to use his own blog, in Russian, to communicate directly with a Russian audience. The son of a decorated U.S. World War Two veteran who fought briefly in an allied Soviet unit in 1945, Ambassador Beyrle frequently hosted WWII veterans at his Moscow residence, Spaso House, to commemorate the joint victory of that alliance.
Beyrle’s diplomatic service included two earlier tours at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow: as a political and consular officer (1983-85) and as Deputy Chief of Mission (2002-05). He 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 Advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell for the New Independent States, and as Director responsible for Russia policy on the staff of the National Security Council under President Clinton.
Ambassador Beyrle received Presidential Distinguished and Meritorious Service Awards from Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally presented him with the Distinguished Service Award, the State Department’s highest honor. He retired from the Foreign Service in 2012 as a Career Minister, a diplomatic rank equivalent to a three-star general.
A native of Muskegon, Michigan, John 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.