The Hollings Center’s Board of Directors is responsible for setting the overall direction of the organization, overseeing its operations, and ensuring that programs are fulfilling the Center’s mission. See the full list of our current directors below.

Current Board Directors

Ambassador Deborah Jones, ret., Chair

Ambassador Deborah K. Jones, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service was nominated by President Obama to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Libya in March 2013. She was confirmed by the Senate in May 2013. Ambassador Jones served as Scholar-in-Residence at the Middle East Institute from August 2012 to March 2013. Effective February 2016, Ambassador Jones was a Career Minister (vice Minister-Counselor) and retired November 30, 2016. Prior to her time in Libya, she was detailed as Senior Faculty Advisor for National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI. Ambassador Jones served as U.S. Ambassador to the State of Kuwait from 2008 to 2011 and as Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey from 2005 to 2007. Additional overseas assignments include posts in Argentina, Iraq, Tunisia, Syria, Ethiopia (with regional responsibility for Eritrea, Djibouti and the Sudan), and the United Arab Emirates. Additional Washington assignments with the State Department include the Secretariat’s Seventh Floor Operations Center, as Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Near East and South Asian Affairs, Acting Public Affairs Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, Jordan Desk Officer, Director of the Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs and Iran, and the Board of Examiners. Ambassador Jones joined the Department of State in 1982. She received a B.A. in History, magna cum laude, from Brigham Young University and is a “Distinguished Graduate” of the National War College, National Defense University, with a Master’s Degree in National Security Strategy.

Kate Eltrich, Treasurer

Kate Eltrich has 15 years of Federal budget, policy, and legislative experience gained while working in both the legislative and executive branches. Kate works across Sixkiller Consulting’s client portfolio, assisting clients on a range of policy and business development matters, with an emphasis on helping clients anticipate and execute strategies to succeed in a restrained budget environment. Kate was a political appointee during the first term of the Obama Administration, serving as associate director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and leading the Office of Legislative Affairs. In this role, Kate was responsible for guiding the President’s budget request through Congress and developing the Administration’s position on proposed legislation. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Kate spent eight years working on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she served under Chairmen Robert C. Byrd (D‐WV) and Daniel K. Inouye (D‐HI). While on the Committee, Kate developed budgetary and policy recommendations for a range of Federal departments and programs. As professional staff on the Commerce, Justice, State and State & Foreign Operations Subcommittees, Kate gained a detailed understanding of the Federal government’s overall foreign affairs budget. Ms. Eltrich played a significant role in the formation of the Center and is a former staffer to Sen. Hollings.

Dr. Richard A. Detweiler

Richard A. Detweiler (Rick) is the president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association, an organization of selective, independent, Midwestern U.S. colleges and universities. He is also the founder of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance, a coalition of 27 universities from 14 countries that works to strengthen learning in the tradition of the liberal arts and sciences. A social psychologist specializing in intercultural relations, he earned his PhD from Princeton University. He holds an appointment as a Foundation Fellow at Oxford University’s Harris Manchester College and is President Emeritus of Hartwick College. Previously he was a distinguished fellow at the Council on Library and Information Resources in Washington, D.C.; president and professor of psychology at Hartwick College in New York; and vice president and professor of psychology at Drew University in New Jersey. Professionally he has been an active researcher, consultant, and author in higher education, institutional planning, intercultural relations, international education, and psychology. He has published dozens of articles related to higher education, psychology, and intercultural relations, and speaks frequently on issues related to the future of higher education in a global context. He was a founding dean of the Frye Leadership Institute at Emory University, the recipient of a Carnegie Mellon University/AMS Award for leadership in the innovative use of computer and communications technology, an award from the American Council on Education for leadership in internationalization through technology, is on the Board of Trustees of Sterling College of Vermont, and has served as a board member of many higher education organizations.

John A. Gastright

From March 2005 to December 2007, Gastright served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and the U.S. Interagency Coordinator for Afghanistan.  From March 2003 to June 2005, he served as Special Assistant for South Asia to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.  Prior to service at the State Department, Gastright served as a congressional staffer in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate from 1995 to 2003. From 1988 to 1994, he was an officer in the United States Navy and from 1987 to 1988, he served as a City of Charleston, South Carolina Police Officer.  Gastright hold Masters Degrees from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

Dr. Nader Habibi

Nader Habibi is the Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East at Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies. His research has focused on economic and financial conditions of oil-exporting Middle Eastern countries, particularly Iran and the GCC countries. Before joining Brandeis University in June 2007, he served as managing director of economic forecasting and risk analysis for Middle East and North Africa at Global Insight Ltd. Mr. Habibi has more than 25 years of experience in teaching, research, and management positions;, including Vice President for Research at the Iran Banking Institute (Tehran), Assistant Professor of Economics in Bilkent University (Ankara, Turkey), and the director of forecasting and analysis for the Middle East region in IHS/Global Insight. He is the author of a book on bureaucratic corruption, two books of fiction,  and several articles in refereed academic journals. He earned his PhD in economics and a master of science degree in systems engineering at Michigan State University. His most recent research project focuses on analysis of the high rates of unemployment among young university graduates in Middle Eastern countries.

Steve Hartell

Steve Hartell is Director of Government Affairs for Cisco Systems, a San Jose, CA-based information technology company. Prior to joining Cisco, Hartell served in a similar capacity for EMC Corporation as head of their DC Office.  Prior to joining the private sector, Hartell served in the United States Senate on the staff of Senator Ernest F. Hollings and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Hartell joined the staff of the Commerce Committee, which Senator Hollings served as Chairman, in 1996 before moving to the Senator’s personal office. Steve served as Senator Hollings’ Legislative Director while handling national security and foreign policy for the Senator.  Steve graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He later earned a Master’s in International Finance from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.  Steve serves on the Board of New Hope Housing, a Fairfax, VA non-profit focused on combating homelessness in Northern Virginia and has previously served on the Fundraising Committee for the National Capital Area Leukemia Ball in 2008 and 2009.  Steve lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife Holly and two daughters.


Founding Board Directors

The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings, Founding Chair (1922-2019)

Ernest F. Hollings, a Democrat, represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1966 until his retirement in 2005. He served as chairman of the Committee on the Budget and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Senator Hollings was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and graduated from The Citadel in 1942 and from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1947. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, he served in the South Carolina general assembly, including as speaker pro tem; as the lieutenant governor and then governor of South Carolina; and as a presidential appointee to several federal commissions. As a senior member of the Committee on Appropriations, Senator Hollings played a key role in creating the Hollings Center. Senator Hollings’s abiding interest in U.S. relations with the Middle East began with his military service in North Africa during World War II.

Ambassador Nicholas A. Veliotes, ret.

During his diplomatic career, Ambassador Veliotes served in Naples, Rome, New Delhi, Vientiane, and Tel Aviv. He was ambassador to Egypt and Jordan and Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia. After service in the U.S. Army, he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and while a Foreign Service officer he was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. After retirement from the Foreign Service, he served as president of the Association of American Publishers until 1997. Ambassador Veliotes is a member of the the Middle East Institute, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Association of Berkeley Fellows. He also serves on the boards of the American Academy of Diplomacy, AMIDEAST, ANERA, and the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

Dr. Mary Ellen Lane

Dr. Mary Ellen Lane is the Executive Director of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, which currently has 22 members in the Near and Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, Europe, West Africa and Central America. Dr. Lane has helped to secure support for existing centers and worked to establish centers in areas of the world where infrastructure was lacking to support research exchange. She has worked with U.S. and host-country scholars and officials to establish and make viable the West African Research Association, the Hong Kong-America Center, the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies, Mexico-North Research Network, the Center for Khmer Studies, the Center for South Asia Libraries, the Palestinian American Research Center, the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq, and the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies. Along with the doctorate in Egyptology she received from the University of Paris IV Sorbonne, Dr. Lane has also earned degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Katherine H. Gronberg

Katherine Gronberg is currently a Professor in the Practice of International Affairs at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  She is the Chair of the Concentration in Global Business and Finance in the Masters of Science in Foreign Service program.  Previously she was a consultant specializing in government relations, most recently as the head of her own firm, Gronberg Consulting, LLC.  Earlier in her career, Ms. Gronberg served the United States Senate as Staff Director and Professional Staff on the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she was responsible for appropriations for several federal agencies, including the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.  She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia and was a Fulbright Scholar in Bologna, Italy.

Dr. Harold Saunders (1930-2016)

Harold “Hal” Saunders was a veteran high-ranking U.S. diplomat who participated in the 1978 Camp David Peace Accords involving U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and later co-chaired the Dartmouth Conference Regional Conflicts Task Force. He also served as assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration and was the recently retired director of international affairs at the Kettering Foundation. He served as President of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue until December 2015, which conducts dialogues designed to make constructive social change possible in international and domestic conflicts. The topics discussed range from the “Inter-Tajik Dialogue,” addressing the Tajikistan civil war, to racial conflicts on U.S. college campuses.

The Honorable Stephen J. Solarz (1940-2010)

For 24 years, Stephen Solarz served in public office both in the New York State Assembly and in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected as a Democrat from Brooklyn’s 13th Congressional District to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 and re-elected eight times. He served in the New York State Assembly for six years prior to his election to Congress. Mr. Solarz served for 18 years on the U.S. House of Representatives International Affairs Committee, serving as chairman of the subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs and the subcommittee on Africa. He was also a member of the Budget Committee, the Intelligence Committee, the Joint Economic Committee, the Education and Labor Committee and the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. He played a major role in Congressional efforts to restore democracy to the Philippines, abolish apartheid in South Africa, and bring peace to Cambodia in 1993. Since 1993, Mr. Solarz served as a visiting professor of international relations at The George Washington University and a distinguished consultant at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In 1995, together with former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and Ambassador Morton Abramowitz, Mr. Solarz founded the International Crisis Group.