Charles is the Director of the Aspen Institute Agent Orange in Vietnam Program. He has worked on solving the lingering problems related to dioxin contamination in Vietnam for over a decade. In 2007, he helped to establish the Ford Foundation's Special Initiative on Agent Orange/Dioxin.
Before coming to Aspen in May of 2011, Charles was one of the Ford Foundation's most experienced grant makers. Over three decades, he has worked in Asia, Africa and the United States, beginning with assignments in New Delhi, Cairo and Khartoum. Thereafter, he served in Dhaka as the Ford Foundation's representative for Bangladesh and in Nairobi as representative for Eastern and Southern Africa. He was representative for Vietnam and Thailand from 1997 to 2007. In 2011, he received the Vietnam Order of Friendship medal, the highest honor accorded by the government of Vietnam to non-citizens. This citation from the President of Vietnam recognizes his contributions during more than ten years as the Ford Foundation’s representative in Vietnam.
Charles has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Cornell University and a master's degree in public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He received a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College and then joined the Peace Corps in Nepal where he taught high school.