Richard Downie is President & CEO of the World Affairs Council of Orange County. He is also on the faculties of the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point and Missouri State University’s Defense and Strategic Studies Program. Additionally, he chairs the Pacific Council on International Policy’s Mexico Initiative Advisory Board, and serves on the Boards of the World Hwa Rang Do Association and Westport Construction Inc., He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  

A graduate of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point (Class of 1976), he holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Southern California. Previously, Dr. Downie served for nine years as the Director (SES-3 level) of the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington, D.C., the Department of Defense’s regional security center for the Americas. At the Perry Center, he led a wide variety of courses, seminars and conferences on security and defense topics, as well as dialogues and workshops for ministries of defense and cabinet-level national leaders.

During a distinguished military career, he held a wide variety of command and staff positions, serving as an Infantryman and as a Foreign Area Officer specializing in Latin America. Dr. Downie had several assignments in Germany; was an exchange officer in Colombia, where he completed the LANCERO (International Ranger) School as the distinguished graduate; worked at both the U.S. Army South and the United States Southern Command in Panama; coordinated Western Hemisphere affairs on the U.S. Joint Staff; served with the Multinational Specialized Unit in Bosnia; and was the Defense and Army Attaché in Mexico. His final U.S. Army assignment was in command of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), where he served as the Institute’s first Commander.

Dr. Downie authored Learning from Conflict: The U.S. Military in Vietnam, El Salvador and the Drug War, Greenwood Press, as well as numerous scholarly articles and other publications. His military education includes the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Course and the Defense Strategy Course. He was also a Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Seminar XXI Program.

His numerous US and foreign awards and decorations include: the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious and the Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service and Army Commendation and Achievement Medals, the Army Expeditionary Medal, the Inter-American Defense Board Medal, the Order of Military Merit (Colombia), the Bosnia/ Former Yugoslavia NATO Medal, the Order of Military Merit (Mexico), the Order of the Peruvian Cross (Peru), the Order of Merit for Democracy, Grand Knight level (Colombia), the Superior War College Medal (Colombia), the First Medal of Laws (University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico), and the Order of St. Maurice (Cdr-level).