The 2019 St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs was a huge success. The 3-1/2 Day event at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg drew hundreds of people to over 30 Panel Discussions. Speakers and panelists included distinguished diplomats, military, media, and academic experts discussing critical international issues of the day. Stay tuned for details about the 2020 St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs scheduled for February 18 - 21, 2020.
Our Speakers
Each year the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs continues to improve the quantity and caliber of our high-profile panelists. 2019 was no exception. With over 30 Panel Discussions, the 2019 Conference featured speakers and panelists of intelligence officials, diplomats, media and academic experts for 3-1/2 days of discussions about critical international issues.
Michael RannebergerFormer Ambassador

Ambassador Michael Ranneberger is the President of World Insight Consulting, the firm he established following his retirement in 2016 from the Department of State. He is chairman of the board of Afridokta, Florida-based company, which is working to expand access to health care in Africa through its telemedicine platform. During his distinguished diplomatic career, he represented the United States in Latin America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

Michael BurchProfessor of Political Science

Michael Burch (Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Colorado at Boulder; M.A. in Security Policy, George Washington University) currently teaches at Eckerd College, emphasizing the role of rebel and criminal actors in shaping globalization with a focus on the Middle East and Africa. Recent publications examine how rebel groups fund conflict and how the international community decides to support rebel groups during civil war. He is currently researching the use of violence against journalists and also why certain communities engage in xenophobic violence in sub-Saharan Africa. Before working at Eckerd, he taught at Wabash College, worked in Washington, DC and completed fieldwork in Ghana, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Kathy StultsImpact and Engagement Director

Kathy has spent 43 consecutive years working with at risk youth in school settings including opening up a school for girls rescued from sex trafficking in 2015. She has been a volunteer for the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Institute (RMWFI) for 18 years. She started the Youth Outreach Program for the Institute and it continues to bring filmmakers and youth together in the Pikes Peak region. Kathy also serves as the Chair of the Development Committee for the RMWFI and is looking forward to bringing this experience to the Youth Documentary Academy.

Manu SamnotraAssistant Professor of Political Science

Manu Samnotra is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of South Florida. He received his B.A. in Economics and Politics from Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY, an M.A. in Politics from the New School for Social Research in New York, NY, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Florida, in Gainesville, FL. He has been living in the Tampa Bay area since 2015.

Monique QuesadaDiplomat in Residence, MIU and MDC

Monique Quesada is the Diplomat in Residence (DIR) based in Miami at Florida International University and Miami Dade College. She covers the Florida educational district that spans from Daytona Beach to Key West, as well as Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. As the DIR, she engages with University and High School students, as well as with professional organizations, to raise awareness about careers and internship opportunities in the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service and Civil Service corps.

Jim VerhulstJournalist, Tampa Bay Times

Jim Verhulst edits the op-ed page at the Tampa Bay Times and writes editorials as a member of the editorial board, mostly about science, education, environment and civil rights. He was a 2016 Pulitzer finalist in public service for editorials based on Failure Factories, a series about St. Petersburg schools that were allowed to resegregate, become almost exclusively poor, and then were denied the resources to serve their challenged students. The series went on to win the local reporting Pulitzer for three of the Times' metro reporters. He has contributed on occasion to PolitiFact, the fact-checking website owned by the Poynter Institute, which, in turn, owns the Times.

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