International Policy Center Home Page
Type: Public event

Held Hostage: Ensuring the Safe Return of Americans Held Captive Abroad

with Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists and Diane Foley of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation

Date & time

Oct 7, 2019-May 22, 2024, 4:00 pm-5:15 am EDT


Weill Hall, Annenberg Auditorium (1120)
735 S. State Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public. Visit to RSVP.

On November 22, 2012, American journalist James W. Foley was kidnapped in northern Syria while reporting for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse. On August 19, 2014, ISIS posted a video online showing his murder. It’s estimated that hundreds of American journalists, humanitarian aid workers, business people and tourists are taken captive by foreign governments, terrorist groups and criminal organizations each year. How can we better understand U.S. hostage policy and the risks and challenges of bringing our fellow Americans home? Join Wallace House for a discussion on negotiating with hostile actors, growing threats to journalists and aid workers both at home and abroad, and the safety measures they should undertake.

Watch the trailer to the documentary “Jim: The James Foley Story


Joel Simon is the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He has written widely on media issues, contributing to Slate, Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Review of Books, World Policy Journal, Asahi Shimbun, and The Times of India. He has led numerous international missions to advance press freedom. His book, “The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom,” was published in November 2014.

Diane Foley is the mother of five children, including freelance conflict journalist James W. Foley. She founded the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation in September 2014, less than a month after his public execution. Diane is currently serving as the President and Executive Director of JWFLF. Since 2014, she has led JWFLF efforts to fund the start of Hostage US and the international Alliance for a Culture of Safety, ACOS. In 2015, she actively participated in the National Counterterrorism Center hostage review which culminated in the Presidential Policy Directive-30. This directive re-organized US efforts on behalf of Americans taken hostage abroad into an interagency Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs and a White Hostage Response Group. Previously, Diane worked first as a community health nurse and then as a family nurse practitioner for 18 years. She received both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of New Hampshire in Durham.



Margaux Ewen is the executive director of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to advocate for the freedom of all Americans held hostage or unjustly detained abroad and promote the safety of journalists worldwide. Prior to joining the Foley Foundation, Margaux was North America director for Reporters Without Borders. She has two law degrees from the Sorbonne in France and from The George Washington University in the U.S.