Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership

The Diplomat-in-Residence Program (DIR)

Diplomats in Residence (DIRs) are career Foreign Service Officers located throughout the U.S. who provide guidance and advice on careers, internships and fellowships to students and professionals in the communities they serve.

Located in the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership, Room 416, the Diplomat-in-Residence is available to answer questions and share insight with those interested in Foreign and Civil Service careers, internships and fellowships.  The DIR provides a direct link to the U.S. State Department as well as other government agencies with an international focus. The DIR also serves as a resource to faculty and students, makes classroom presentations, serves as speaker at international events, and counsels students who plan to take the Foreign Service Examination.

James Watson
USAID, Development
Diplomat-in-Residence, Morehouse College

Mr. James Watson began his USAID career in 1989 in Washington, DC, soon after graduating from the University of Virginia.  From 1992-1996, he served in Budapest as USAID/Hungary’s Project Development Officer and Local Government Team Leader.  He subsequently spent three years in Washington, DC, working in the Europe and Eurasia Bureau where he served as the Romania and Turkey Desk Officer, the Deputy Chief of the Civil Society Division, and USAID’s Liaison to the State Department on Kosovo.

From Washington, Mr. Watson spent two years in Georgai at the USAID/Caucasus Mission as Chief of the Economic Restructuring Office, Five years as the Program Officer at USAID/Mozambique, and two years as the Program Officer for USAID/Southern Africa.

He served in the Dominican Republic from December 2008 through May 2012 as both Deputy Director (18 months) and acting Mission Director (two years).  Mr. Watson was USAID Director in Honduras from 2012-2017, where he led his team in pioneering violence prevention programs and helping poor farm families move out of poverty.

From 2017-2020, Mr. Watson will be serving as the USAID Development Diplomat in Residence for Alabama, Florida, Georgia (physical location), Tennessee, and Mississippi.  He is joined by his wife and two children.

Mr. Watson earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in International Relations with a concentration in Latin America from the University of Virginia and completed graduate coursework in Development from American University, George Washington University, and Georgia State University.



Vallera Gibson
Foreign Service Officer
Diplomat-in-Residence, Morehouse College

Vallera Gibson is a career Foreign Service officer with 15 years of government service.  Currently, she is a course coordinator and instructor for the orientation courses for new Foreign Service professionals.  Gibson joined the Orientation Division at the Foreign Service Institute in March 2015.

Gibson is a Management career track officer and has previously served as a Vice Consul and Economic Officer in Haiti (2008-2010), Public Diplomacy Officer in Conakry, Guinea (2010-2012) and Management Officer in Brazzaville, Congo (2013-2015).  She began her professional career as an Army officer and worked in the pharmaceutical industry before joining the State Department.

Gibson received her B.S. from Georgia College and State University, and her M.P.A. from Troy State University.  She speaks French and Haitian-Creole.  During her free time she enjoys working with public service organizations and riding her Harley Davidson motorcycle.