Special Keynote Night CHUCHITO VALDES TRIO Jazz Concert - Tues., Feb. 18th 8 pm. Use code “WORLD” for $10 off $25 Tier “B” tickets.
8th Annual Conference February 18 – 21, 2020
Join us for the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs! This year’s 3-1/2 day event begins with a Keynote Address at the Palladium, 5:00 pm Feb. 18, and ends with a Closing Address at Fox Hall - Eckerd College, 7:00 pm Feb. 21. Panel Discussions are daily 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Feb. 19 – 21 at University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) Student Center and Kate Tiedemann College of Business. Admission is free and open to the public.
Expand Your World View………. Further!
The success of the Saint Petersburg Conference on World Affairs inspired Mayor Rick Kriseman last year to proclaim the creation of St Petersburg International Week to run concurrently with the conference. During the week of Feb 17 – 21 we will be offering additional activities in support of our program, including various international culinary and artistic events.
Speakers for 2020 Conference
Each year the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs continues to improve the quantity and caliber of our high-profile panelists. Here is a peek at some of them.
Libby LiuCEO, Open Technology Fund

As Radio Free Asia’s former President, Libby Liu transformed the news organization to meet the needs of its audiences living in some of the world’s worst media environments in the 21st century. Serving in that role since 2005, Ms. Liu oversaw the expansion of RFA’s operations to increase its focus and coverage within its six target countries, including China, Vietnam, Burma, and North Korea, while ensuring that the company utilized every available platform to reach people living in closed countries under authoritarian rule. With federal funding granted through the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Ms. Liu created the Open Technology Fund in 2012, a global internet freedom technology program housed within RFA, which has had a long history of success combating and overcoming internet censorship since the advent of the Great Firewall of China. OTF goes beyond RFA’s remit by serving citizens anywhere in the world where governments denies access, censors content, interferes with or monitors online activity. OTF supports the development of tools to enable understanding, access, and security for journalists, activists, researchers, and ordinary citizens living in repressive places.

David HunterDiplomat and Foreign Service Officer

David W. Hunter is a retired U.S. Diplomat, who served in South Korea (1992-96), India (1996-99), Ukraine (1999-2000), Pakistan (2001-02) and Spain (2003-04). Prior to joining the U.S. Foreign Service as a career Foreign Service Officer, Hunter worked in the Office of International Operations, at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 1983 he was a Visiting Fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University. He published a book in 1991 "Western Trade Pressure on the Soviet Union" (MacMillan Academic Press: London, England). Hunter holds an M.Phil degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics (LSE), and speaks Russian, Spanish and some Korean.

Craig PittmanTampa Bay Times writer and Author

Craig Pittman is a native Floridian and, according to the Florida Heritage Book Festival, a Florida literary legend. Born in Pensacola, he graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998, he has covered environmental issues for Florida's largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, winning state and national awards. He is the author of four books, including The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid, which is the only book ever classified as "True Crime/Gardening," and Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, which won the gold medal for Florida non-fiction from the Florida Book Awards. His fifth book, Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther will publish in January. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children.

Ronelia BaileyUSFSP Honors Program and the KTCOB Women and Leadership Initiative (WALI) Mentorship Program

Ronelia Bailey was born in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and she also lived in the island of St. Vincent before moving to the United States. Ronelia is a member of the Kate Tiedemann College of Business (KTCOB) at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP). She is also a member of the USFSP Honors Program and the KTCOB Women and Leadership Initiative (WALI) Mentorship Program. Ronelia received her Associates degree from St. Petersburg College before transferring to USFSP to major in Global Business. Ronelia’s passion for collaborating and connectedness showed through in the various leadership positions she held while at SPC, including President of the Honors Program Student Consortium and Executive Board member of the Student Government Association. Her determination, tenacity, and heart to serve her community were birthed from her long battle with lupus and kidney failure. These life challenges uncovered her innate strengths. Ronelia now considers herself a global change agent with the goal of encouraging, inspiring and empowering others to succeed.

John TresslerPhD in Optical Physics

John Tressler received his BS in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and PhD in Optical Physics from the University of Arizona with a focus on computer image processing. He worked for Hughes, Harris, Kodak and Honeywell as a Senior Research Scientist before forming his own company to design and install Smart Home Automation systems.

Nate NajarGuitarist

In an industry that likes to conveniently pigeonhole even its most innovative and adventurous artists, Nate Najar stands out with his all-encompassing embrace of the transcendent possibilities of jazz. Inspiring growing numbers of fans with his distinctive approach of playing acoustic classical guitar with right hand classical technique, the multi-faceted composer and performer scored a Top Ten Billboard Jazz single, recorded tribute projects to his idol Charlie Byrd and the music of Brazil; and has performed hundreds of trio dates throughout the US, Europe and Australia. 2010 saw Najar release Groove Me on Woodward Avenue Records. A collaboration with Tony Award winning vocalist Melba Moore, Groove Me reached into the top 10 of the Billboard Jazz chart. A St. Petersburg, FL native who began playing guitar at age eight and considers Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery and Charlie Byrd his primary influences, Najar’s full length recordings on Candid Records – including 2012’s Blues For Night People: The Nate Najar Trio Remembers Charlie Byrd – earned him accolades from critics and influential jazz voices alike. Nate’s most recent album, American Melodies, is a duet project with bassist Tommy Cecil, released in 2020 on Blue Line Music Records.