Technology Empowering U.S. Diplomacy and Development

Plenary Panel

The ever-changing world of mobile technology is revolutionizing how people around the world communicate with each other, how governments provide services to their citizens, and how corporations do business. In the U.S., the tremendous growth of smartphones has put a computer in the pockets of millions of Americans. Abroad, mobile phone adoption has soared even in the face of challenges such underdeveloped infrastructure and low purchasing power. Our plenary panel is an opportunity to explore the effect of mobile technology and its impact on diplomacy, specifically examining the work of the U.S. Department of State and the rest of the U.S. government in engaging citizens via mobile technology. Our diplomats, leaders in the NGO sector and industry experts alike convene to discuss methods for advancing new mobile technologies and applying them to American diplomacy.

Speaker Bios


Eric Nelson (@eDipAtState): Director, Office of eDiplomacy, U.S. Department of State

Eric Nelson is the Director of the Office of eDiplomacy. He previously served as Chargé d’Affaires (June - August 2013) and Deputy Chief of Mission (August 2010-June 2013) at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, which became a leader in promoting public private partnerships and using new technologies and social media to expand shared prosperity, enhance citizen security, and advance sustainable "green" growth in Costa Rica. From 2006-2009, Mr. Nelson served as the U.S. Consul General in Munich, Germany. As Consul General, he worked to expand and strengthen partnerships between Bavaria and the United States, focusing on security cooperation, citizen diplomacy, and commercial ties. His leadership in the usage of new media technologies won honorable mention in 2009 from the State Department’s Innovation in the Use of Technology Award committee. Mr. Nelson also received the “IDIZEM Dialogue Prize 2008” in Munich in recognition of his engagement for inter-religious and intercultural dialogue.

Since joining the Foreign Service in 1990, Mr. Nelson has also served in Islamabad, Washington, D.C., Milan, Mexico City, Frankfurt and Santo Domingo. He has received the Department of State's Superior Honor Award three times and the Meritorious Honor Award seven times.

Mr. Nelson began his career in public service as a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching math and science in Liberia, West Africa from 1984-1985. Before joining the Foreign Service, he was a marketing and finance consultant to U.S. Agency for International Development projects in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Liberia.

Mr. Nelson, a resident of Texas, graduated from Rice University of Houston, Texas, in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. In 1988, Mr. Nelson received a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He is fluent in Spanish, German and Italian.


Tim Hoechst (@AgilexTech): Chief Technology Officer, Agilex Technologies

Tim Hoechst is the Chief Technology Officer and a Founder at Agilex, a Virginia-based IT services company. He is responsible for the research and development of new technology solutions and he represents Agilex with Government executives by providing technical guidance on challenging information problems.

Throughout his career as a technology executive, Tim has been a spokesperson on technology and industry issues. His main talent lies in describing sophisticated concepts in accessible language. He has been influential with clients, at conferences, on Capitol Hill, and in the media. He has also acted in a special advisory capacity to several Government organizations on science and technology issues.

Prior to joining Agilex, Tim spent 19 years at Oracle Corporation in a variety of roles. Most recently, he was a Senior Vice President in the Public Sector Division. His organization included all of the technical professionals that supported Oracle’s sales to Government customers in the United States and Canada. Many of the innovative solutions created by Tim and his team have become part of the Oracle product line and are used extensively by Oracle’s customers throughout the world.

Tim received his Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from Harvard University in 1988. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two children.


Jerry Horton (@StateDept): Chief Architect, U.S. Department of State & Former Chief Information Officer, USAID

Mr. Jerry Horton joined IRM in January 2014 as the Director of the Office of the Chief Architect (OCA). Prior to joining State, Mr. Horton was the Chief Information Officer for the United States Agency for International Development; he also served in VP and Director roles at the United States Mint, engaged with several e-Business and manufacturing startups leading Information Technology, Technology Operations, and Business Operations organizations. Mr. Horton has also served as Director of IT for VTEL, Manager of Site Networks and Computing for Motorola in Austin, Texas and IT Manager for two supercomputer manufacturers (nCUBE and CRAY Computer.) He earned a Bachelors degree from the University of Colorado.

Laura Walker Hudson (@laurawhudson): CEO, SIMLab

As the Chief Executive Officer of the Social Impact Lab, Laura supports people and organizations around the world to use inclusive technologies to make systems and services more accessible, responsive, and resilient. Drawing on her expertise in humanitarian aid, human rights law and international development, she brings a cross-disciplinary approach to communications, innovation and information management. Before coming to SIMLab, Laura worked for the British Red Cross on international humanitarian policy and learning, focussed on quality and accountability, innovation, cash transfer programming, civil-military relations, and strategic planning. Laura holds an LL.B (Hons) in Law, French and German from the University of the West of England, Bristol, and an LL.M in International Development Law and Human Rights from Warwick University.


Tiffany Sargent (@intel): Senior Solutions Architect, Intel

Tiffany A. Sargent has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University. She also has a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.  Having an engineering education has enabled her to span both technical and business areas at Intel Corporation for the past 20 years nationally and internationally.  

Tiffany began as a manufacturing systems engineer and rotated through five different business groups taking on various leadership and management roles.  She has led multiple complex technical endeavors across different fields most notability in software, enterprise information technology, security, chipset platform product roles, and Internet of Things.  Beyond her technical roles, she has held positions as a business strategist, innovation manager, operations manager, people manager, program manager, and program office manager.  

Tiffany has received Intel's highest award, the Intel Achievement Award, for innovative cyber-security solutions. Tiffany's primary interest has been to integrate decision science into her leadership roles to accelerate and increase the quality of data driven decisions.  Currently, Tiffany is in a senior technical contributor within Intel Federal LLC focused on IoT / M2M, Analytics, Systems and Solutions Architectures.  In 2014, she was named by Connected World Magazine as one of the Women of M2M (IoT).  For the past two decades, Tiffany has volunteered her technical and business expertise with non-profits, academia, and government.  

Tiffany completed an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship with a placement at the National Science Foundation. During her tenure of service in Arizona, she served on the Board of Directors for Valley Leadership (member of Class XXVI), was recognized by the Phoenix Junior League both as a 75th Anniversary Outstanding Women Honoree and with the Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award, and was inducted by the Phoenix Business Journal as a member of the Forty under 40 Class.  


Greg Starr (@StateDept): Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State

Gregory B. Starr became Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security on November 18, 2013. In this capacity, Mr. Starr is in charge of the security and law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of State.

Diplomatic Security is responsible for providing a safe and secure environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy throughout the world. Mr. Starr leads a force of Special Agents, Diplomatic Couriers, Security Engineering Officers, Security Technical Specialists, general service staff, and other specialists.

He previously served as Director of the Diplomatic Security Service from April 2007 until his retirement in May 2009. He returned to Diplomatic Security on February 1, 2013 as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service, and acting Assistant Secretary.

From May 2009 until January 2013, Mr. Starr served as United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security. In that capacity, he oversaw the formulation of security policies and the implementation of programs to ensure the conduct of activities in a secure environment at U.N. headquarters and overseas locations around the globe.

Other domestic assignments for Mr. Starr have included Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Countermeasures (2004-2007), the Director of the Office of Physical Security Programs (2000-2004), Division Chief for worldwide local guard and residential security programs (1995-1997), and assignments to the Secretary’s detail, technical security operations, and the New York Field Office.

His overseas assignments have included Senior Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv (1997-2000), as well as Senior Regional Security Officer positions in Tunis, Tunisia and Dakar, Senegal; and was assigned to the Regional Security Office in Kinshasa, Zaire (presently the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Mr. Starr is the recipient of Department of State awards including Senior Foreign Service Performance awards, and Superior and Meritorious Honor awards. He began his career as a Special Agent in July 1980 and joined the ranks of the Senior Foreign Service in 2001. Before his retirement from the U.S. Department of State in 2009, Mr. Starr held the rank of Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service.

A New York native, Mr. Starr received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a Masters degree in Forensic Science from the George Washington University.

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