Peter Kovach--a Public Diplomacy specialist-- retired from the Foreign Service of the United States in 2010 at the rank of Minister-Counselor. At the Department of State, he most recently led the Office of International Religious Freedom. Kovach three times directed whole of government efforts under the NSC but based at the Department to coordinate government communications strategies to most effectively persuade foreign audiences key to advancing U.S. interests in crisis situations and to combat violent extremism. He also served as Director of the (then) three Foreign Press Centers and as the Public Diplomacy Office Director for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs In his diplomatic career, he served overseas in Pakistan, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain and Yemen and did his thesis work on the Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. As a retiree, he has filled in as public affairs officer or cultural attaché at U.S. missions in Dushanbe, Bucharest, Istanbul, Lahore, Muscat, Gabarone and Astana (Nur-sultan) currently designs short term professional exchange programs for the Department of State.
Peter was a study of religion(s) major in college who has served on boards or advises the Rumi Forum, the 9/11 Unity Walk, Al Basheer Islamic Seminary, and George Mason University's Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution. He is a founder and teacher in “Insight on the Inside”, an initiative to teach ‘meditation based stress reduction’ in a non-dogmatic framework in local jails and as a volunteer was the Department of State’s Medical Unit’s first in-house teacher in the same tradition. He is currently the Secretary of the Public Diplomacy Council.
Peter's launched his pilgrimages to other cultures with his college junior year at Banaras Hindu University in India where he finished most of the MA curriculum in Hindu philosophy, completed a research project on the myths, rituals and cosmology that underly worship of the Ganges River and studied meditation and ontology under the guidance of the late French Benedictine Swami Abhishiktananda. He subsequently completed a Master's Degree in South Asian studies on a National Defense Language Fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley. After 2 years starring in an Japan Broadcasting Company (NHK) TV series and teaching at Japan's FSI equivalent, he spent another year in India writing and photographing magazine pieces including one in Hindi for Dharmayug--formerly the widest read weekly in the country. Peter is ABD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where he was a charter staff member and second Director of The Fletcher Forum, still going strong after forty-four years. Kovach has taught world religion or public diplomacy at UMass Boston, UCLA (as the Department’s Diplomat in Residence) and George Mason University and cross-cultural engagement at the Gaimusho Institute (Japan’s foreign service institute) and at Seikei University.