Board of Directors


George Pope

George, and wife Lucretia, 'retired' to the LowCountry in 1998 after a 30+ year career as a Foreign Service Officer working out of the US Department of Agriculture. In Washington, George worked in, and ultimately managed, USDA's involvement in US Government international food aid program's. His US Embassy postings were in Nigeria, Indonesia, S. Korea, France, Belgium, and Japan where he was involved in international trade negotiations and international agricultural marketing issues.

George and Lucretia were members of the Foreign Affairs Forum in the early 2000s. They 'rejoined' the WACC in 2014 when they moved 'downtown.' George has been on the WACC Board since 2016. 


Vice President

Ken Fox

Kenneth A. Fox is a retired new business development and marketing executive. His experience includes working on consumer and medical products.  Consumer product wise, he has worked in new business and marketing at companies such as NABISCO, Hunt-Wesson Foods and The NutraSweet Company. His medical experience includes consulting for a range of medical companies on wound care, operating room equipment, new product development and conducting medical advisory board.

Mr. Fox has extensive international experience in Asia, South America and Western Europe. He has taught an MBA marketing and international business classes, including a stint teaching a graduate marketing class in Chengdu, China.

Mr. Fox has lectured extensively and has an undergraduate business degree from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Pepperdine University.




Ray C. Hoover

Ray Hoover served as Managing Principal and on the Board of Directors for tvsdesign, an award winning internationally recognized architecture, interior design and planning firm. With offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dubai and Shanghai, Ray’s diverse portfolio spans over 40 years, featuring master planning, design of corporate headquarters, and mixed-use developments across the United States and internationally. With over 60 awards and articles in nearly 70 domestic and international publications, he has been recognized for his accomplishments by the American Institute of Architects, CORENET, NAIOP, and the Urban Land Institute. From 2003, Ray guided the firm’s rapid international growth in the Middle East, North Africa, China and India. In addition, from 2009 while based in Dubai he served as the firm’s General Manager responsible for its Middle East and North African practice.

Because of his distinguished design achievements, the American Institute of Architecture elevated him to the College of Fellows in 1993 recognizing not only his achievements as an architect but also his contribution to architecture and society. Through his leadership and that of his colleagues, the firm was awarded the highest recognition in the field of architecture, the “AIA 2002 Achievement Firm Award”.

Currently residing in Charleston, SC with his wife Lucy, Ray has continued his advocacy of international cultural awareness, responsible thoughtful design and community service through leadership roles with the World Affairs Council of Charleston, Kiawah- Seabrook Exchange Club, the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce/ Regional Development Alliance.

Education: Bachelor of Architecture Georgia Institute of Technology 1972





Thomas Ruppel

Thomas Ruppel is a financial services executive specializing in enterprise risk, data management & digital transformation.  The arc of his career has been investment banking and capital markets at J.P. Morgan, hedge fund management and, most recently, commercial banking at PNC Financial Services.  He is a senior advisor to Genpact’s commercial credit risk management and lending practice. In addition, he teaches corporate finance at the College of Charleston. His interests include world affairs & international relations, technology, and shotgun sports.  Tom is certified Firefighter I in Pennsylvania and is currently a member of the Charleston County Rescue Squad.  He is also a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity (which he highly recommends.)  He has an MBA from Harvard and a BA in Government and Asian Studies from Hamilton College.  He lives in downtown Charleston with his wife Jill and Zeke, a dog of uncertain origin but high energy.



Rich Farrell

Rich Farrell graduated from the University of Maryland with a BS in Finance. He served 5 years in the US Navy aboard US Navy Destroyers. He graduated from the US Naval Destroyer School in Newport, RI.

Rich worked at IBM for 27 years in various marketing and management positions. In 1993 he became the Vice President of Information Services for the Piggly Wiggly Carolina Company. He retired in 2006.

Rich is a member of the Rotary Club of North Charleston. He has served as President, Secretary, Treasurer and Director. He has been a volunteer for VITA  - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance for 15 years. He has also volunteered at Trident United Way and Christ Our King Church.

He is married to Jane Wharton Farrell and resides in Mt. Pleasant, SC.


Immediate Past President
John Allin



Albert Thibault, Jr.

As a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, Mr. Thibault was Deputy Chief of Mission in Nepal, Saudi Arabia, and India; Consul General in Lahore, Pakistan and Deputy C.G. in Karachi. Also overseas, he was Political Officer in Guinea, Sri Lanka and India. In Washington, he was desk officer for Sri Lanka and for India; Office Director in the Bureau for Refugee Affairs; Senior Advisor for South Asia at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in New York; and on the Board of Examiners for the State Department.  

He is bilingual in French and fluent in Hindi and Urdu. He studied Arabic in Jordan and was a research scholar at the Indian School of International Studies in New Delhi. Born in Boston, MA, Mr. Thibault lived for many years in Canada. He is a graduate of the Universities of Windsor and Toronto and was a Ph.D candidate at the University of Pennsylvania.



Michael F. Bowler III


Special Projects
David Cohen


Great Decisions
Craig Hanson


Business Luncheons

Ken Fox

Kenneth A. Fox is a retired new business development and marketing executive. His experience includes working on consumer and medical products.  Consumer product wise, he has worked in new business and marketing at companies such as NABISCO, Hunt-Wesson Foods and The NutraSweet Company. His medical experience includes consulting for a range of medical companies on wound care, operating room equipment, new product development and conducting medical advisory board.

Mr. Fox has extensive international experience in Asia, South America and Western Europe. He has taught an MBA marketing and international business classes, including a stint teaching a graduate marketing class in Chengdu, China.

Mr. Fox has lectured extensively and has an undergraduate business degree from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Pepperdine University.



At Large
Susan Bissette


At Large

Cheryl P Jalbert
JCC Consulting, Inc.

Cheryl Pearlstine Jalbert has the good fortune to have family roots in Charleston. Her parents belonged to World Affairs Council of Charleston when it was called Foreign Affairs Council. They introduced Cheryl, her husband, and two of their friends to it around the year 2000.

Cheryl has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Denison University and a master’s in Computer and Information Science from the Ohio State University. She also took undergraduate classes at Hollins University and graduate classes in computing at the University of Tennessee.

In 1984, Cheryl, her husband, Jeffrey S Jalbert, PhD, and one other started the computer consulting firm that is now JCC Consulting, Inc. JCC’s expertise is in information systems. Its client base is worldwide and encompasses a wide span of industries. Traveling for work has provided Cheryl with the opportunity to interact with people on issues that matter to them and to learn about their lives.

During the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, Cheryl has missed WACC’s evening gatherings. The speaker program that WACC has offered online is an exciting – and safe – alternative. Cheryl also participates regularly in the Great Decisions program.

Cheryl’s passions – besides WACC, friends, and her company – include a diverse set of things. She is on the Board of Healing Arts Missions which has a very positive twenty year history of making a difference in medical and other support in rural Haiti. She has a beloved cocker spaniel that she was partnering with to offer therapy dog support in hospitals, when the pandemic interrupted the certification process. She is an avid participant in Charleston’s arts, music, and cultural scene, plus a great admirer of the natural beauty of the area.


At Large

Kyra Morris

Ms. Morris began her financial planning career in 1983 and obtained her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation in 1986. She is committed to the development of true financial planning as a profession. Ms. Morris was one of the founders of the SC Society for the Institute of Certified Financial Planners in 1985, and from 1993-1997 she served in a national position on this board. From 2000–2004, she served on the governing board for the CFP Board of Standards, during which time Ms. Morris joined the US TAG team for the development of financial planning as an international ISO standard.

Ms. Morris’ accolades include being named six times by Worth Magazine, Mutual Fund Magazine and Bloomberg Wealth Management as one of the top financial planners in the country. In addition, Dow Jones Investment Advisor featured her on their cover, and Financial Planning Magazine named her one of the “Movers and Shakers” in the profession. Ms. Morris speaks at conferences both in America and abroad.

Ms. Morris values all individuals and seeks to create empowered, abundant lives using her ability to correlate a person’s desires with their overall resources.


At Large
David Neff

Dave Neff is a retired Health Care Administrator having worked in a number of university-based, teaching hospital settings, retiring in 2016 from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Hospital System after 24 years, where he served as the Administrator for Ambulatory Care and Support Services. Prior to MUSC, he was the Clinic Director for The Kirklin Clinic at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) for 5 years and prior to his arrival in Birmingham, he was the Associate Administrator for Ambulatory Care Services for 5 years at NationWide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, his hometown.

HIs first job in healthcare was with the Greenville Hospital System in Greenville, South Carolina where he served as the Assistant Administrator at Greenville General Hospital. He has been actively involved in mentoring and advising graduate students in the MUSC and Ohio State University Master of Health Administration (MHA) programs for approximately 10 years and has also counseled students applying for Allied Health positions at MUSC.

As President in 2017-1018 of the Rotary Club of Charleston-Breakfast, he also mentored several undergraduate students in the College of Business at the College of Charleston. Dave is an Air Force veteran, having graduated from the Air Force ROTC Program at The Ohio State University where he completed his undergraduate BS degree in Health Education. After 4 years of active duty, he returned to school at Ohio State and completed his MHA degree and served in the Ohio Air National Guard during that time.

In addition to being an active member of his Rotary Club, Dave is a Board member of the World Affairs Council of Charleston (WACC) and the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science. He is also a member of a Committee of military veterans that is raising funds for an endowment at The Citadel to fund a minority scholarship for a Citadel cadet that is majoring in the STEM curriculum. The scholarship is named in honor of PFC. Ralph H. Johnson, a Charleston-born Medal of Honor recipient and for whom the Charleston VA Hospital is named. Dave and his wife, Elaine, raised their two, now adult children in Charleston and have lived here for 28 years.


Robin Girardi


Cynthia Lett
The Lett Group

 Cynthia Lett is currently the only etiquette & protocol expert holding both the Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP®) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP®) in the world.These are designations earned by examination through the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals. Since 1983, her expertise has been as a professional consultant in Business & Social Etiquette, Business & Social Entertaining, International Protocol and Executive Communications Skills and International Meeting Planning. She has been a seminar speaker and coach around the world - teaching and advising on these subjects for over 33 years. She offers private and corporate consultation and seminars on the power skills necessary to compete in the international business arena. Clients include major universities, Fortune 500 companies, international associations and savvy professionals from all levels of the corporate ladder. She taught the Masters level course, "Business Protocol" for the George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs for eight years.

Ms. Lett is the principal of The Lett Group ( and the founder and Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals ( . She is the host of Modern Civility with Cynthia Lett, an Internet talk show.  Ms. Lett is a regular on-air contributor to Fox News Channel, Fox Business Channel, and various radio talk shows nationwide. As a frequent contributor to trade and business publications she ranks as one of the most widely quoted etiquette and protocol experts in the United States of America and Great Britain.

As Executive Director of The International Society of Protocol and Etiquette Professionals, Ms. Lett developed the only internationally recognized professional certification programs for the etiquette and protocol fields. To date there have been exam takers from over eleven countries who have earned the CPP® and CEP® designations. As a leader in the field, Ms. Lett continues to guide the careers of many trainers of the subjects through her Protégé Program and training.

Since 1983 and still- Ms. Lett is President and Owner of Creative Planning International, Inc. ( - a consulting firm specializing in producing meetings and events for corporations and associations internationally. In this capacity Ms. Lett has planned over 2,400 meetings of 5-4,000 participants for corporations and associations in 102 countries. In 1987 she produced a training program for other meeting planners in how to plan international meetings. She has been featured and quoted in numerous international business and news publications.  During 1990, Ms. Lett was lauded by the Wall Street Journal after she planned and executed a groundbreaking series of Business Exchange meetings in the Soviet Union for entrepreneurs from the United States who wished to learn about joint ventures with the Soviets in many different fields. 

For two years, Ms. Lett served as Director of Meeting Services for American Healthcare Institute responsible for over 1800 meetings each year. Thereafter, she worked for three years as Chief of Protocol and Manager, Corporate Events and Meetings at MCI Telecommunications Corporation. For the past twenty three years, she has been a frequent speaker at various association conventions and local association meetings on the subjects of International Protocol and Business Etiquette.

Her first book was collaboration with Brian Tracy (marketing guru) and Stephen A. Covey (business acumen guru) called Mission Possible. Her next book titled That's So Annoying! – An Etiquette Expert On The World’s Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them was released in July 2009. Modern Civility: Etiquette for Dealing with Annoying, Angry and Difficult People was released in 2015.  Credibility in the Courtroom: How Your Etiquette and Image Can Sabotage Your Case will be released by the end of 2019.  Ms. Lett is also a contributing author to 101 Great Ways to Compete in Today’s Job Market by Michelle A. Riklan and David Riklan, released in 2014 and Success Breakthroughs by Jack Canfield and Cynthia Lett among others is a Best Seller released in 2018.

Ms. Lett holds a Master of Legal Studies (MLS) (Hospitality Law) degree from Antioch School of Law, Washington, D.C. and Bachelor degrees in Restaurant, Hotel, & Institutional Management (B.S) and Public Relations (B.A.) from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. She has also earned a certificate in Adult Learning Techniques from The George Washington University.

Professionally, Ms. Lett is an active member of the International Platform Society, National Speakers Association; National Speakers Association- Washington, DC Chapter; Women Business Owners; University Club of Washington, DC, Harbour Club of Charleston, SC, and past member of the Professional Convention Management Association; American Society of Association Executives; Foundation for International Meetings (Board of Governors 1986-1987). She was elected into Who's Who of American Women; Who's Who of Advertising Executives; 2000 Notable American Women; Who's Who of the World's Women; Who's Who of U.S. Executives and Who's Who of the World.

In September, 2007, Ms. Lett was honored by her alma-mater, Purdue University, Department of Hotel & Tourism Management by being chosen as a Distinguished Darden Professor.  In 2018, Ms. Lett was inducted in the Hall of Fame at Purdue University.


Speakers Bureau

Jon Gundersen

Jon Gundersen is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer (1974-2004). He served as a Senior Research Fellow at the National Defense University, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and as Chair for Advanced Nordic Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute (2004-2016). In addition, Mr. Gundersen is currently Adjunct Faculty at the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and works for the State Department (DOS) declassifying sensitive documents. In his 30-year DOS career, Mr. Gundersen served in numerous assignments both in Washington and overseas, concentrating on the Nordic region and the former Soviet Union as well as  arms control and political-military issues. He served as Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission in a number of countries, including Ukraine, Estonia, Norway, and Iceland. In addition, in 1990/91 Mr. Gundersen led the FEST (Foreign Emergency Support Team), the USG's only inter-agency, on-call team poised to respond to terrorist incidents world-wide. In 1991, Mr. Gundersen opened the first US mission to Ukraine, has been assigned to Embassy Moscow and the United Nations, and has served as Political Adviser (POLAD) to the Special Operations Command (1996-98) and Senior Adviser for Iraqi reconstruction (2003-04). He has been awarded four Superior Honor Awards during his career.  

Prior to entering the DOS, Mr. Gundersen was an officer in the US Army (1966-70), earning the Bronze Star for service in Vietnam. In addition, he was a member of the first US counter-terrorism unit (Sky Marshals) in the early 1970s and has worked as a merchant sailor (1965-66). He has written numerous papers and articles on Nordic, Russian, and political-military affairs, most recently “Sharing the Space: A Study on Education and Training for Complex Operations” for the US Institute of Peace and “The Oslo Syndrome” for American Diplomacy. He was Chief Editor for "Unity of Mission," a primary reference Book for the Service Academies and other National Security agencies on counter-insurgency and Civil-Military relations.

Mr. Gundersen has a Bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University (1966) and Master’s degrees in Soviet Studies from Stanford University (1979) and in Strategic Studies from the National War College (1990). He speaks Norwegian, Russian, German, and some Vietnamese. Today, Mr. Gundersen is a guest lecturer at the College of Charleston, a mentor at "Big Brother/Big Sister" organization and serves on a number of local boards, including the World Affairs Council Charleston. Mr. Gundersen owns and operates his own consulting firm: Gundersen Civilian-Military Consultants.

Mr. Gundersen is married to Eike Raudzus. They live on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina and have three adult children (Jan, Kai, and Finn).



Speakers Bureau

Catherine Kannenberg

Dr. Catherine Kannenberg is a former university professor and department head. Born in Venezuela to Foreign Service parents, she also lived in Ecuador and Morocco as a child.

During her academic career as an overseas lecturer with the University of Maryland (UM), Catherine spent 6 years teaching psychology and supervising UM programs for American servicemembers in Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Korea. Upon returning to the U.S., she joined the faculty at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, for 8 years, where she was awarded tenure.

Catherine left academia in 2004 to join her Foreign Service husband on postings in Ghana, Germany, Uganda, and Sudan. She developed a second career as a freelance editor and worked for more than a decade on numerous USAID (US Agency for International Development) and other international projects to enhance agricultural productivity and local governance in Africa.

With the American Foreign Service Association in Washington, DC, Catherine coordinated outreach initiatives to help raise awareness in the American public about what diplomats do, and why the work of U.S. Foreign Service officers around the world is critical for the safety and prosperity of our country.

Catherine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also a nationally board-certified massage therapist—her third career—and practices yoga, plays tennis, and loves to travel. She and her husband, Ambassador Jerry Lanier (ret.), live on James Island with their Ugandan Golden Retriever, Kaya.