From 2011-16 he served as the State Department’s Senior Policy Adviser to Generals Mattis, Austin, and Votel at the U.S. Central Command, which has responsibility for North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. He maintains contacts at senior levels within the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community.
During his five years as Ambassador to Kenya from 2006-11, he was outspoken in advocating stronger ties between the United States and Kenya, and markedly expanded the bilateral relationship. This included substantially advancing cooperation between the United States and Kenya against the shared threats of terrorism and extremism, and focusing on Kenya’s key role to promote regional stability. Working closely with the African Union’s envoy, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, he was instrumental in negotiating resolution of the postelection crisis in 2008. While Ambassador to Kenya he won the State Department’s annual Anti-Slavery Ambassador of the Year Award for his efforts to combat human trafficking.
While in Kenya, he served concurrently as Ambassador to Somalia, and played a key role in supporting the Transitional Federal Government. Ambassador Ranneberger was a lead negotiator of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement. He previously served as Ambassador to Mali, as Coordinator for Cuban Affairs, and as the Deputy Chief of Mission at embassies in Latin America and Africa.
Ambassador Ranneberger is the recipient of the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, its highest, as well as numerous other awards, including multiple Presidential Meritorious Service Awards, and an honorary doctorate from Africa Nazarene University. He is conversant in French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Ambassador Ranneberger is a managing partner and co-founder of Gainful Solutions. He has over 30 years of experience in international diplomacy in senior leadership positions.
Soheil Nazari-Kangarlou is a managing partner and co-founder of Gainful Solutions, where he provides advisory services to clients looking to expand their reach and operations in complex global marketplaces.
Mr. Nazari-Kangarlou brings more than 30 years’ experience to this position having served as an advisor and head to various enterprises throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Australia, working in the fields of energy, construction, oil and gas, financing, telecommunications, technology, health care, retail, manufacturing and distribution services.
During his successful career as an entrepreneur, he co-founded and ran companies in renewable energy, security contracting, and cloud-based business security software. One of these companies, Eye On Your Technologies, Inc. (EOYTECH), started off in customized, stand-alone surveillance hardware systems, and then evolved into an integrated technology service provider with infrastructure installation management and cloud based services. While leading the business, he cultivated a domestic and international partner network with distributors around the world. Clients included Yahoo, Zurich Insurance, Skanska, Turner Construction, SD Deacon, State Farm Insurance and Opus West. Notably, while representing the Target Corporation, EOYTECH managed over 800 stores across the U.S., with another 1,100 locations relying on their services as a security reinforcement.
As a leader in sales and marketing, Mr. Nazari-Kangarlou restructured the outreach platform for a major information technology company, in order to establish channel partnerships and drive global expansion. He was also responsible for ensuring that the service-oriented architecture seamlessly integrated multiple technologies for a client base that included Fortune 500 companies.
Earlier in his career, he held leadership positions in account oversight and business development at Verizon Communications. There, he managed Fortune 200 clients and was recognized as being among the top 1% performers in new revenue earned among its worldwide sales staff.
As a frequent presenter to business groups, Mr. Nazari-Kangarlou lectures on a range of business topics, including market analysis, product identification and development, strategic partnerships, venture capital, international contract negotiation, market penetration, sales, and business operations in evolving economic cycles.
An early adopter of emerging technologies, Mr. Nazari-Kangarlou holds multiple certifications in business and marketing, software, security, hardware, and IT applications. Additionally, he speaks fluent Farsi.
Stephen Hayes is a creative innovator and leader in international organizational and program development. He is the only American to have received both of the two highest U.S. Government awards for international business leadership: the US Department of Commerce’s Ron Brown Award for International Leadership and the President’s “E” Award for Excellence in International Trade.
He has received many other honors and recognition for his work, including from Senegal, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and Hungary. He has retained a strong network of business relationships globally.
During his tenure as President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) from 1999-2017, Hayes led numerous trade missions to Africa, and was instrumental in securing passage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. While at the CCA, he served on the Department of State’s Economic Policy Advisory Group and was also a member of the Senior Advisory Group to the Department of Defense’s Africa Command (AFRICOM).
Between 1993-99, Hayes traveled to Libya to meet with Libyan leadership to address the PanAm 103 bombing. He traveled with the tacit knowledge of the US Government and helped opened the door for direct US-Libya talks for the first time in at least fifteen years.
Earlier in his career, he founded the American Center for International Leadership and raised several million dollars from foundations to improve relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, bringing emerging leaders from both countries together for dialogue.
Hayes has written on Africa for US News & World Report, and has had op-ed pieces published in many newspapers including the Boston Globe, the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post.
He is a graduate of Indiana University and Texas A&M University. He has lectured at various universities including Harvard, Penn, Georgetown, George Washington University, Baylor, University of Denver, Villanova and others.
Wilson's military career spanned troop-leading, staff-planning, strategic advisory and teaching assignments, and he has published extensively on organizational politics, civil-military relations, national security (defense) policy, and grand strategy. His 2007 book, Thinking beyond War: Civil-Military Relations and Why America Fails to Win the Peace, along with his service on the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom Study Group, helped to increase public attention to the problems and errors in U.S. post-war planning for the Iraq War and sparked governmental movement toward policy reforms. He has been at the center of innovative planning in the future of U.S. intervention policy.
His most recent military assignment was serving as chief, commander’s initiatives group (CIG) for the Commanding General, Lloyd Austin, of the United States Central Command (2013-2016). Working in one of the most challenging combatant commands, Colonel Wilson played a leading role in the Command’s overall efforts relating to three major named operational campaigns, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM/FREEDOM’S SENTINEL (Afghanistan), INHERENT RESOLVE (counter-ISIL in the greater Levant), and SPARTAN SHIELD (counter-Iranian Threat Network) and numerous related supporting operations, to include U.S. Central Command’s 2013 Operation NIMBLE WARNING (anti- and counter-CBW by the Assad Regime in Syria), several National Command Authority (NCA)-directed raids and hostage rescue efforts (2013-2016), as well as United States Central Command’s support for the Operation RESTORATION OF HOPE Gulf Cooperative Council Coalition in Yemen, among others.
Previously, Colonel Wilson served as a strategic planning advisor to GEN Stanley McChrystal, COMISAF, and the ISAF combined-joint planning staff in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) in 2009, and as chief of plans for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and resident strategist to the commanding general, David Petraeus, Mosul, Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM-1 (OIF, 2003-04).
Dr. Wilson holds a B.S. in International Relations from the United States Military Academy at West Point, master's degrees in Public Policy and Government from Cornell University, master's degrees in Military Arts and Sciences from the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College, School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), and the National War College, as well as a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University.
Dr. Wilson was President of the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), 2020 to 2023, where he held responsibilities of principle advisor to the Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, on all matters pertaining to Special Forces education, and leader preparation and development for the over 70,000 U.S. special operations force, allied and foreign partner special operations forces, with global-ranging missions.
Dr. Wilson previously served as Director of the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and U.S. Army War College Press, as well as a senior lecturer with the Yale Jackson Institute of Global Affairs at Yale University. He served as professor of political science and the Director of the American Politics, Policy, and Strategy program at West Point from 2005 to 2013 and was the architect and founding director of the West Point Grand Strategy Program. He has taught at the National War College, Yale University, Columbia University, and George Washington University. Dr. Wilson is a nonresident Fellow with New America, and a nonresident scholar with The Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Dr. Wilson is a life member with the Council on Foreign Relations, a former CFR International Affairs Fellow (IAF), is a Future Security Fellow with New America, and serves as a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University (ASU).
Dr. Isaiah (Ike) Wilson III
Dr. Isaiah (Ike) Wilson III is a Partner with Gainful Solutions. He has earned a reputation as a versatile and innovative soldier-scholar. A decorated combat veteran (Colonel, U.S. Army, retired) with combat tours in the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Wilson has become a leading advocate for change in America's concepts of and approaches to security policy, war, and peace.
Constance Berry Newman
Senior Executive Consultant
Constance Newman is a senior executive consultant for Gainful Solutions, bringing over 50 years of experience in the private and public sectors, including multiple high-level positions within the U.S. government, having served in seven different presidential appointments.
Beginning with her appointment by President Richard Nixon as the Director of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), the domestic equivalent of the Peace Corps, Ms. Newman went on to serve in other key federal postings such as Commissioner and Vice Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, appointed by President Ford, focusing on Indian and elderly affairs.
Some years later, after co-founding a government regulatory procedures consulting firm, succeeded by her time as President of the Institute of American Business, she began what would be a long-term focus in the sphere of foreign affairs, with a particular emphasis on African issues.
Ms. Newman’s reputation as an expert in global policy started in earnest while operating as a private consultant on a World Bank project living in Lesotho from 1987-88, where she worked on the establishment of a broad housing plan for the populous. A period of time thereafter, during which she served as Under Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and on the board of the congressionally-established body that oversaw the District of Columbia’s finances, she was selected to serve in another presidential administration, appointed by President George W. Bush as the Assistant Administrator for Africa at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Ms. Newman followed that assignment with her tenure as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. In both roles she traveled extensively throughout the continent.
Ms. Newman has won numerous awards throughout her career, including the "Washingtonian of the Year" award in 1998, and the Joseph Henry Medal in 2000, the Smithsonian's highest award for recognition of her distinguished service, achievements and contributions to the prestige and growth of the Smithsonian Institution. In 2019, Ms. Newman was selected to the inaugural class of the Government Hall of Fame, in which just 20 inductees were chosen by an elite selection of former federal officials and public administration experts. The inaugural class includes a mix of distinguished individuals from all eras since 1850, and honors the best of the best: those who have demonstrated sustained achievement and unparalleled dedication to public service.
Ms. Newman serves as the Finance Chair of the National Council of Negro Women and as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide.
In his expanded capacity, Dr. Diallo also serves as the President and CEO of the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network (ARDN), a coordinating body working under the auspice of the UN to foster unity between African nations and all peoples of African descent. He leads ARDN’s ‘Pathway to Solutions’ initiative which aims to popularize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in collaboration with UN entities and other partners from business, academia, government, civil society and the world of sport and culture.
While at the United Nations, Dr. Diallo led and coordinated responses and projects in various capacities all while liaising with heads of state and government, civil society, the media and other stakeholders to advance the vision of the UN Charter and the public awareness of the entities he served.
Recruited by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Dr. Diallo held several high-level UN positions with distinction, including as Regional Director for West and Central Africa of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS; Director of Communications for the United Nations Development Program; and as Spokesperson for the President of the United Nations General Assembly.
A Native of Senegal, where he received a Bachelors Degree in Modern Languages and Education, Dr. Diallo followed this achievement by spending time in England where he earned a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education and also in Race Relations and Multi-Cultural Studies from Nottingham University. Soon thereafter, he attended the University of London where he obtained a Doctorate (PhD) in Linguistics and Communications.
Dr. Diallo is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. He also speaks several African languages and has a knowledge of Arabic.
Dr. Djibril Diallo
Senior Executive Consultant
As a senior executive consultant on the Gainful Solutions team, Dr. Djibril Diallo brings over 35 years of experience interconnecting the private sector with foreign governments and the global system of non-profit organizations, principally while working within the United Nations (UN) system.
He is a highly respected expert in his field for assessing enterprise risk while managing and leading large security operations in critical threat operating environments. His specialized skills, expertise and training include: physical and technical security, security program and project management, operations, investigations, protective intelligence & threat analysis, risk assessments and analysis, strategy formulation & negotiation, information security, security assistance program planning, critical infrastructure protection, emergency plans and preparedness, crisis response and contingency operations, security training, drills and joint exercise coordination, executive protection operations and special events security coordination.
He has completed an expansive portfolio of training and professional education programs throughout his career, earning credentials ranging from a spectrum of tactical operations to senior/executive leadership and strategy qualifications. He is skilled in developing, coordinating and implementing strategy and policy solutions to an array of planning and operations challenges. His experience also features extensive coordination with the commercial and private sectors, and with foreign governments, on a range of national security issues.
He served as the primary advisor to seven U.S. Ambassadors, and the lead architect for all security operations and management programs, emergency planning and risk assessments impacting all U.S. Mission equities (people, programs, facilities, information and assets) in each country. He advised and guided country teams and emergency action committees, coordinated with DOD, civilian, commercial/private sector stakeholders and host nation leaders and partners on all risk-relevant national security, foreign policy, civil-military and security cooperation and assistance programs.
He successfully led highly diverse groups of civilian, military, contract and foreign security and law enforcement emergency response teams, ranging from 20 to 2,000+ personnel. He managed and executed operational budgets of $3M-120M; and oversaw projects of $50K-$300M. In turn, he was nominated to lead as Temporary/Acting Senior Regional Security Director at the U.S. Mission in Baghdad, Iraq (2008) and Kabul, Afghanistan (2017) for extended periods; the two largest and most threatened U.S. Missions and security programs in the world with 3,500 and 2,500 personnel, and $1 BN and $800 M budgets, respectively.
He provided enterprise-level worldwide security policy and strategy oversight for the most threatened U.S. Missions overseas as a Division-Level Supervisor with Diplomatic Security’s High Threat Operations/Special Programs Directorate. He coordinated with DOD and the Interagency on a host of planning and operational support activities including personnel recovery, emergency plans, security augmentation and crisis response.
He forged key partnerships with the large and diverse business sector in five countries as the co-chairman of the Overseas Security advisory Council (OSAC)--the State Department’s public-private sector information-sharing partnership with the commercial sector that supports a constituency of 3,500 American businesses and organizations. He advised the private sector co-chairman and coordinated and directed the work of committee chairmen on key security issues and challenges, including transnational crime, terrorism, critical infrastructure and soft target protection, host nation security capacity and support, and security awareness/outreach.
He earned an M.S. in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University, and BS Degrees in Economics and Political Science from North Carolina State University, with a Minor in Industrial Engineering. He is a recipient of the State Department’s Award for Heroism (Baghdad, Iraq) and eight Meritorious/Superior Honor Awards.
Senior Global, Security, Risk and Strategy Consultant
Mark Conord is a Senior Global, Security, Risk and Strategy Consultant with Gainful Solutions. He is a career national security and federal law enforcement professional with 30+ years of domestic and international risk, strategy, policy and operations experience with the State Department, the Interagency and the Department of Defense.
He has held assignments leading teams involved in Upstream, Downstream, Midstream and Chemical businesses across the U.S., Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, including China, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.
He is a seasoned corporate spokesperson, problem solver, and expert in dealing with media and crisis management, interacting with some of the largest Fortune 500 energy companies in the world. He is a leader with high integrity and an experienced communicator that collaborates with senior leaders and sets clear direction to increase efficiency and performance.
During his energy career, he worked corporate media relations for ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond including the transition from Mr. Raymond to Rex Tillerson in January 2006. Russ maintained relationships with Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NY Times, CNBC-TV, Bloomberg, Financial Times and many others.
Russ has led public relations teams across five U.S. states, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Guyana where they established public relations strategies that strengthened government and community support for major corporate initiatives. He coordinated public and government relations efforts in Washington, D.C. to craft strategies that helped win environmental lawsuits and earn federal approval to build multi-billion-dollar petrochemical plants along the Texas Gulf Coast. He also played a key role in helping pass state legislation to limit litigation time for groups opposing industry expansions.
Russ is an expert in media relations and executive counsel. He has designed, developed and delivered executive coaching and training programs for major corporations working in cooperation with large state universities.
Before Russ started his corporate career in the1990s, he spent almost 10-years as an award-winning radio and television journalist for NBC and CBS network stations along the Gulf Coast and the Texas Energy corridor.
He received a degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University and has a minor in Marketing and he is conversant in Spanish.
Russ Roberts is a Senior Consultant on the Gainful Solutions team. He brings more than 35-years of media, communications and public & government relations experience to the team. He is an award-winning radio/television journalist and has more than two decades of major energy corporation experience across the globe.
Gene Del Bianco
Gene Del Bianco is a Senior Consultant with Gainful Solutions. He is a retired Department of State Foreign Service Officer who previously served as the Acting Foreign Policy Advisor to the United States Central Command.
Mr. Del Bianco graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism with a minor in American Political Theory. Mr. Del Bianco began his journalism career as a photographer with United Press International working throughout the United States. He would later be transferred overseas where he covered assignments from Brussels to Moscow. Mr. Del Bianco would later join the Reuters News Agency becoming their first accredited photographer in Beijing, China.
After completing a Master of Arts of Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Mr. Del Bianco joined the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer. In this capacity he served as the Chief of Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, and as a Political Officer in various positions of increasing responsibility at U.S. embassies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines. Mr. Del Bianco also served as Senior Advisor in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and as Projects Director at the Central Intelligence Agency.
Mr. Del Bianco is a retired Colonel in the United States Army Reserves who graduated from the U.S. Army War College. During his military career he served in various Infantry, Special Forces, and Civil Affairs units deploying on active duty in support of missions ranging from Operation Provide Comfort to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also served as a faculty member at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army War College, and was a member of the editorial board of the U.S. Army’s senior publication Parameters Magazine. Colonel Del Bianco was inducted into the United States Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in 2017.
As a journalist. Mr. Del Bianco’s work appeared in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Le Monde, Ashi Shimbun, South China Morning Post, and magazines such as Life, Time, Newsweek, and Paris Match. During his military career, he has been published in military journals Parameters, Military Review, and Special Warfare Magazine. Mr. Del Bianco also served as a judge in several nationally known journalism and photography competitions.
Alex Casanova is Gainful Solutions’ Director of Operations, overseeing market research, opportunity development, client onboarding, project management and partner relations.
Senior Director, Operations
Mr. Casanova began his professional career with the Boeing Company. Rising to the position of Engineering Project Manager, he was in charge of coordinating and leading all certification activities between Boeing's Main Cabin Group and the domestic (FAA) and foreign (JAA, CAA) regulatory agencies for new 767 and 747 derivative programs, including negotiations and issue resolution. Additionally, he was responsible for the report, investigation and closure of in-flight safety incidents with the FAA, as well as the development of several division-wide processes for Safety Incident Reporting and Certification Basis Determination.
After his time at Boeing, Mr. Casanova continued to hold leadership positions in a vast array of industries, focusing on business development, advertising, sales, and marketing operations, including work for some organizations that were true pioneers in their spaces.
One such enterprise, where Mr. Casanova made a definitive impact, was Zynga, the first social gaming company. It was there that he served as the establishment's first revenue director, ultimately growing revenue from zero to $1 million daily. Additionally, he managed all the business’ marketing and advertising operations.
Mr. Casanova has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Santa Clara University.