Save the Dates — February 18-21, 2020
Annual Conference - February 18-21, 2020
Join us for the eighth annual St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs. The 3-1/2 Day will begin with the keynote address at the Palladium Theater, followed by three full days of panel discussions covering critical international issues at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Speakers and panelists include distinguished diplomats, military, media, and academic experts. Check back regularly as we add details about the 2020 St. Petersburg Conference.

Free Mini Conference - November 6, 2019
This year we added a mini-conference to give a taste of what to expect. It took place at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Research and Education Building. This free event offered two panel discussions on Artificial Intelligence anchored by featured speaker Dr. Nicolas Sabouret, noted academician and scholar at Université Paris-Saclay in France.
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.
Ann MorrisonEditor

In the first 15 years of her career, Ann Morrison rose from fact-checker to executive editor of FORTUNE magazine, a Time Inc. magazine. In 1994, the company named her chief editorial executive of its Asiaweek magazine in Hong Kong, where she remained until 2000. That year Time Inc. transferred her to London, where she became co-editor (with her husband Donald Morrison) of the European edition of TIME. In 2008 and 2009, she was a lecturer in the Global Business Journalism Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. In 2011 and 2012, she taught media management at Sciences-Po in Paris, in addition to freelancing for various publications. She now serves on the Advisory Committee of the American Library in Paris, and continues to freelance as a writer and an editor on subjects ranging from French beauty secrets to Chinese culture. A graduate of the College of New Rochelle, she holds graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics.

Linda Weil-CurielAttorney

Linda Weil-Curiel is a French attorney and human rights activist who campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM) and plays a vital role in the prosecution of perpetrators throughout France. She has played a leading role in La Commission pour l'Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles (CAMS).

Ken YamashitaExecutive Mentor and Coach for the U.S Agency for International Development

Since his retirement from the federal government in December 2016, Dr. Yamashita has been serving as an Executive Mentor and Coach for the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID). In this capacity he has travelled to various USAID Missions in Latin America, providing support to senior managers and the staff on matters ranging from leadership skills, strategic direction, and engagement with other U.S. government agencies, such as the State Department. During his over 25 year career, Yamashita served as a USAID Foreign Service Officer, attaining the rank of Career Minister, the highest rank in the Senior Foreign Service at USAID. Immediately prior to his retirement, Yamashita served as a White House Senior Executive Service Appointee as the Associate Director for Global Operations at Peace Corps. In this role, Yamashita was responsible for all operational aspects of Peace Corps programs and offices in over 60 countries supporting over 7,000 volunteers. Prior to this appointment, Yamashita was the U.S. State Department Coordinator for Economic Assistance, Rule of Law and Law Enforcement at Embassy/Kabul. In this Ambassador-rank position, Yamashita directed policy and operational coordination across 13 US Departments, Agencies, and Offices operating in Afghanistan on matters related to economic and development assistance, law enforcement, and rule of law. He was the principal point of contact for NATO and US military assistance in Afghanistan. Yamashita is one of the few three-time Mission Directors at USAID, having served in Kosovo, Colombia, and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he was the first Mission Director to serve two consecutive years after USAID re-started its operations in 2002. In this role he oversaw the surge in development personnel from 250 to 500 and an annual program budget of over $2.0 billion. He was instrumental in starting the first ever Women’s Empowerment program in Afghanistan and the largest of its kind in USAID worldwide. In Colombia Yamashita was instrumental in starting the first-ever dedicated program for Afro-Colombians and Indigenous Colombians. In South Africa as Director of the Health Office, Yamashita and his team started the USAID’s first HIV/AIDS program for the country. This program and the Regional Corridors program that Yamashita directed were key inputs into the design and creation of the PEPFAR program. Yamashita brings over 35 years of development experience in policy and field operations across all major regions of the world. In addition to his leadership in policy and program matters, he has been instrumental in inspiring and empowering staff by serving as mentor and coach. He has been recognized for his service and accomplishments, including a Presidential Rank Meritorious Award in 2008.

Rob van der MeerPublic Health Physician

Brigadier General (ret.) Rob van der Meer is a public health physician who served in the Netherlands Army for 38 years in various operational and staff positions. Among others he served as Company Commander of a Field Hospital, Medical Plans Officer at Army Corps HQ, Staff Officer for the Army Surgeon General and Commander Joint Health Forces. He was deployed to Afghanistan as Commander Netherlands Forces Afghanistan. He served from 2009 – 2012 as Chairman COMEDS (Committee of Chiefs of Medical Services in NATO), NATO’s most senior medical advisor. His final position was Surgeon General of The Netherlands Armed Forces.

Libby LiuPresident of Radio Free Asia

As Radio Free Asia’s President, Libby Liu has 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 has overseen 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 utilizes 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.

Linda WhitefordProfessor of Anthropology and Founding Co-Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Social Marketing

Linda M. Whiteford holds a PhD and MA in Anthropology, and a Master’s degree in Public Health. She is a Professor of Anthropology and Founding Co-Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Social Marketing for Social Justice at USF. She helped establish the dual degree program between the USF department of anthropology and the College of Public Health; and graduate certificates in ‘Health, Water, and Culture’ with USF anthropology and the Colleges of Engineering and Public Health; a graduate certificate in Medical Anthropology; helped establish the USF Centers for Community and Public Scholarship, Sustainability, and USF World. In addition, she has represented USF internationally in Ghana, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Exeter, Dubrovnik, and London.

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