by Emma Palatnik

On Thursday, April 27th, 2017, Ambassador Dennis Ross spoke at the University of Illinois about his decades of experience as a top U.S. diplomat. Here are five fun facts to know about him:

1. Dennis Ross is has held many positions in the American government. These include: Special Adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (including Iran) for former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the Director of Policy Planning for the State Department under the George H. W. Bush administration and the special Middle East coordinator during Bill Clinton’s administration.

2. Dennis Ross has authored 10 books: “Explorer’s Guide to Garage Sales,” “Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama,” “Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East,” “Statecraft: And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World,” “The Missing Peace,” “Flesh and Blood,” “Trauma: Aiming for Beat One,” “The Premise, the Money and the Gold,” “Incremental or Comprehensive Salt” and “Rethinking Soviet Strategic Policy.”

3. He co-founded a synagogue, Kol Shalom, in Rockville, Maryland formally in 2002. Back in 2001, Ross along with 14 other families founded the temple following 9/11 to create a community of peace and tranquility following the national tragedy. They decided to call is Kol Shalom which means voice of peace.

4. Ross attended the University of California, Los Angeles in 1970 and also completed graduate work at the University. He wrote a doctoral dissertation on Soviet decision making.

5. The ambassador was raised by a Jewish mother and Catholic stepfather but his parents opted to raise him without any specific religion. Following the Six Day War, he became religiously Jewish.

Check out the talk by Dennis Ross here: