Ambassador (ret) W. Robert Pearson is a non-resident scholar at The Middle East Institute. He focuses on Turkey with particular emphasis on U.S.-Turkey relations. His areas of interest include Turkey's relations with the EU, with Russia, with Middle Eastern countries, and with Central and East Asia in addition to the United States. Issues of concern encompass political, military, and economic questions of importance. Ambassador Pearson is a retired professional Foreign Service Officer who served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 2000 to 2003. He was Director General of the U.S. Foreign Service from 2003 to 2006, repositioning the American Foreign Service to meet the new challenges of the 21st century and winning two national awards for his efforts. In 2008, he became President of IREX, an international development NGO based in Washington, spearheading its expansion to reach more than 125 countries worldwide and to touch the lives of more than 1 million people. He retired after six years at IREX to pursue his additional interests in international affairs. He has published numerous articles, blogs, and opinion pieces on diplomacy, foreign policy, Turkey, NGOs, and development. He is a frequent speaker on issues concerning Turkey, international development, and the role of diplomacy in American engagement abroad.