Board of Directors

The Peace Operations Training Institute is a 501(c)(3) public charity based in the United States of America. We are an independent not-for-profit organization governed by an international Board of Directors.

Photograph of General Robert Gordon

General (Retired) Robert Gordon

Chair of the Board of Directors

General (retired) Robert Gordon served a full career in the British Army until his retirement in 2005. During his military career, he was actively involved in United Nations peacekeeping operations, first serving with the UN in Cyprus. In 1994, he commanded UN Sector South West Bosnia as part of the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and the British Forces in the former Yugoslavia. He also served as the Force Commander of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) from 2002–2004.

Upon forming his own consulting company in 2005, General Gordon worked on numerous contracts for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the World Bank, the Government of the United Kingdom, and others as a consultant on peacekeeping operations. He is a Senior Adviser to the Folke Bernadotte Academy of Sweden in support of the Challenges Forum Secretariat, and he was Special Adviser to Canada’s Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in support of their African peacekeeping training programmes. In 2005, he helped develop DPKO's senior mission leadership (SML) training programme and has served as senior mentor on UN SML courses and facilitator of DPKO's Senior Leadership Induction Programme. He has also been the Director of Studies for African Union SML and regional SML courses. General Gordon has been the senior mentor for the training and development of the Eastern Africa Standby Force. He was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire and the University of Cambridge.


Photograph of Kevin Kennedy

Mr. Kevin S. Kennedy

Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors

Mr. Kevin S. Kennedy began his service in the United Nations Secretariat in 1977 and completed a variety of assignments on missions and at UN Headquarters in New York (UNHQ). In 2007, he joined the Africa Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, where he led the Great Lakes Integrated Operational Team. In 2011, he became Chief of the Integrated Training Service, and from 2013–2014, he served as Officer-in-Charge of the Division of Policy, Evaluation, and Training. In December 2013, Mr. Kennedy led the Mali Integrated Operational Team at UNHQ, which was responsible for strategic oversight and coordination of support for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). From 2000–2007, he served in the Executive Office of Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Mr. Kennedy has served in UN field missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa, and he served as a member of the start-up team in the UN Mission in Kosovo. He also has contributed to a number of peacekeeping and political missions, including those in Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the former Yugoslavia, Haiti, Mali, Timor-Leste, and Western Sahara.

Mr. Kennedy is a graduate of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and did graduate work in international relations at New York University.


Photograph of Colonel (retired) Roberto Gil de Vargas

Colonel (Retired) Roberto Gil de Vargas

Colonel (Retired) Roberto Gil de Vargas completed 40 years of active military service in the Uruguayan Armed Forces. During his career, he performed command and administration duties, both in Uruguay and abroad, including holding positions as a troop commander, staff officer, academic administrator, and instructor.

Colonel Gil also deployed on several international peace operations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Colonel Gil has more than 35 years of international experience in education and training of military and police officer and civilian personnel.

He has written several publications and articles on peace operations as well as methodology and evaluation of education and training, including “Education & Training of the American Region Personnel to deploy in Peace Operations” (2015), “Methodological Guidance for Peacekeeping Operations Training” (2009), “Liberia crisis, Peacekeeping Operation Lessons Learned” (1994), “Training and Evaluation Schemes” (1992), and “Methodology for Military Instruction and Training” (1985).


Photograph of Ms. Ameerah Haq

Ms. Ameerah Haq

Ms. Ameerah Haq is the former UN Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support (2012–2014). She most recently served as the Vice Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations for the United Nations. She has more than 39 years of UN experience, including 19 years of field experience. She was the last Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste. She has also held the positions of Deputy SRSG and UN Resident Coordinator in both Afghanistan and Sudan. In addition, Ms. Haq has held senior positions within the UN Development Programme and has served as UN Resident Coordinator in Malaysia and Laos. She currently serves on the Board for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, on the Secretary-General’s Senior Expert Group on Human Rights Up Front, and the Center for International Peace Operations ZIF, Berlin.


Photograph of Jasbir Lidder

Lieutenant General (Retired) Jasbir Lidder

Lieutenant General (retired) Jasbir Lidder has extensive experience in the full spectrum of conflict management in both the political and military spheres and served more than 40 years with Indian Army. He served as Military Chief of Staff of the United Nations Operation in Mozambique from 1994–1995 and as Force Commander of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) from 2006–2008, where he successfully implemented the security protocol of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan.

General Lidder was the Deputy SRSG for UNMIS from 2011–2012, where he progressed the political process, managed the internal conflict, and led early peacebuilding initiatives in South Sudan. He coordinated the UN System for the South Sudan Referendum in January 2011.

General Lidder is involved with the UN and numerous global institutes, academies, and think tanks in promoting a wide range of issues related to peace and security. He holds an M.Phil. in Defence and Management Studies from Madras University and an M.S. in Defence Studies, Conflict Dynamics and Management from Ahir Vidalya University, Indore.


Photograph of Brigadier General Riana Paneras

Brigadier General (Retired) Riana Paneras

Brigadier General (retired) Riana Paneras currently serves as the Head of Institutional and Operational Partnership Service at the United Nations Office to the African Union. She retired from the South African Police Service with the rank of brigadier general after 37 years of service. General Paneras also served in the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur as Police Commissioner from 2013 to 2015. She has been a member of the AU Police Strategic Support Group since 2014. General Paneras received an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Stellenbosch with a focus on Policy Analysis, Organizational Development, and Police Management.


Photograph of Moustapha Soumaré

Mr. Moustapha Soumaré

Moustapha Soumaré retired from the United Nations with more than 40 years of extensive experience in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, development and leadership. From 2015 to 2020 he served as the Deputy Special Representative (Political) for the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). From 2012 to 2015 he was the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Prior to that, he served as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Recovery and Governance in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) from 2009 to 2012. He served as Deputy Assistant Administrator of UNDP and Deputy Regional Director for the Regional Bureau for Africa in New York from 2007 to 2009. He was UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative in Rwanda from 2005 to 2007, and Benin 2000 to 2005. He served as Research Director April through October 2006 in the Secretariat of the General High-Level Panel on UN System-wide coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment. Mr. Soumaré is a graduate of the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia.


Photograph of Dr. Harvey Langholtz

Dr. Harvey Langholtz

Dr. Harvey Langholtz is the founding director of the Peace Operations Training Institute. He served a full career in the US Coast Guard and retired in 1993 with the rank of Commander. He was seconded from the Coast Guard to the US Department of State, where he served on the US Delegation to the United Nations from 1991–1993 and represented the US in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34). In 1993, he joined the faculty at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States, where he teaches Decision Theory and holds the academic rank of Professor. Dr. Langholtz has authored several books and articles, among them The Psychology of Peacekeeping and The Psychology of Diplomacy. He has also served as the editor of the Journal of International Peacekeeping. He holds an M.A. from the New School for Social Research in New York, an M.S. from the US Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma.


Photograph of Ambassador Pickering

Ambassador Thomas Pickering

Adviser to the Executive Director

Ambassador Thomas Pickering is widely known for his service as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 1989–1992. This was only one assignment out of a diplomatic career that spanned four decades, during which he also served as the US Ambassador to Jordan (1974–1978), Nigeria (1981–1983), El Salvador (1983–1985), Israel (1985–1988), India (1992–1993), and the Russian Federation (1993–96). Additionally, he served as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 1997–2000 in the administration of US President Bill Clinton. Ambassador Pickering holds the distinction of being promoted to the US Senior Foreign Service rank of Career Ambassador, a rank awarded only to career diplomats with extensive and distinguished service. Prior to his service in the Department of State, he served in the US Navy from 1956–1959, where he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Following his career with the Department of State, Ambassador Pickering served as Senior Vice President for International Relations at Boeing (2001–2006).

Board Officers

Vanessa Anderson, Secretary

Susan Terrien, Treasurer