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The 43rd Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture

An Evening with Marie Yovanovitch

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and New York Times best-selling author Marie Yovanovitch to deliver the Fall 2022 Bucksbaum Lecture

The Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series will take place October 27, at 7 p.m. at the Knapp Center on Drake University’s campus, located at 2525 Forest Avenue in Des Moines. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and New York Times best-selling author Marie Yovanovitch will deliver the lecture. The event is free and open to the public.

In a moderated question and answer format, Yovanovitch will speak on "Lessons from the Edge,” including insights on the current Russia–Ukraine conflict as she draws on experiences from her 33-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Yovanovitch served three times as U.S. Ambassador, most recently in Kyiv as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. Previously, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic (2005–2008) and the Republic of Armenia (2008–2011). She retired from the Foreign Service in 2020 and is currently a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a non-Resident Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.

Born into a family that survived both Soviet and Nazi terror before emigrating to the U.S., Yovanovitch rose to the top of her profession in the crucible of the former USSR. Following early assignments in Moscow, London, Ottawa, and Mogadishu, she served as Deputy Director of the U.S. State Department’s Russia Desk and then, as a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, she was named Deputy Chief in Ukraine.

Yovanovitch earned the Senior Foreign Service Performance Award eight times and the State Department’s Superior Honor Award on nine occasions. She is the recipient of two Presidential Distinguished Service Awards and the Secretary’s Diplomacy in Human Rights Award.

Yovanovitch has been featured on major networks and programs such as MSNBC and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In early 2022, her memoir, Lessons from The Edge, was an instant New York Times bestseller. The late U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called the book “A brilliant, engaging, and inspiring memoir from one of America’s wisest and most courageous diplomats—essential reading for current policymakers, aspiring public servants, and anyone who cares about America’s role in the world.”

Learn more about the Lectureship

The Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible by a gift from the late Melva and Martin Bucksbaum. The Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lectureship Committee includes: Neil Hamilton (chair), Julian Archer, James Autry, Pamela Bass-Bookey, Michael Gartner, Janis Ruan, Mary Bucksbaum Scanlon, Marcia Wanamaker,  and Eleanor Zeff.

Questions? For more information, contact Erica Hartschen, at 515-271-4990 or

Previous Lecturers

  • Marie Yovanovitch
  • Jon Meacham
  • Megan Rapinoe
  • Lisa Ling
  • Douglas Brinkley
  • Billy Collins & Clint Smith
  • Krista Tippett
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy
  • Peter Neufeld
  • Nina Totenberg
  • Tim Gunn
  • Walter Isaacson
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • James Balog
  • Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter
  • Vicente Fox
  • Garrison Keillor
  • Twyla Tharp
  • Dr. Azar Nafisi
  • Dr. Maya Angelou
  • Bill Bryson
  • Thomas R. Pickering
  • Erik Peterson
  • Nicholas Kristof
  • Bob Costas
  • Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield
  • David Chipperfield
  • Dr. Jane Goodall
  • Tim Russert
  • Sarah Jones
  • Salman Rushdie
  • Wynton Marsalis
  • Michael Beschloss
  • Earvin 'Magic' Johnson
  • Ken Burns
  • Bill Moyers
  • Martin Marty & Archbishop Rembert Weakland
  • Marian Wright Edelman
  • Senator Paul Simon
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • David McCullough
  • Ben Bradlee
  • Thomas Friedman