Each year the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs continues to improve the quantity and caliber of our high-profile panelists. This year is no exception. With over 30 Panel Discussions, the 2019 Conference will feature speakers and panelists of intelligence officials, diplomats, media and academic experts for 3-1/2 days of discussions about critical international issues. Below are the speakers that have confirmed their attendance. Check back often, because more are added right up to the last minute.

Board Members

Douglas McElhaney

Douglas McElhaneySt. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs Instigator

Doug is the instigator of the St Pete Conference on World Affairs, having participated in a similar event last year in Boulder, Colorado. When he moved to St. Petersburg in 2007 to take care of aging parents, he noted that international issues did not get the time and attention in the lives of busy Floridians that they warranted. The presidential elections only reinforced his conviction that an international conference in St. Pete that talked about issues, and unfettered by political rhetoric, would be a true contribution to the community. Doug was a career Foreign Service Officer at the US State Department and retired with the rank of Ambassador after a 34-year career. He served in Europe: Brussels, Rome, Milan, Paris, Lisbon, Sarajevo, and for three years in Cairo. He was the US Deputy Permanent Representative during both the Bosnia and Kosovo wars, and he worked for several years in the late seventies on the negotiations that later resulted in the independence of Namibia. At the Embassy in Cairo, he worked on the peace process as well as liaison with the Egyptian military. As Ambassador to Bosnia, he renegotiated wide changes to the wartime constitution, which in 2006 were ultimately rejected by the ethnically-based parties in power in 2006. He was the Distinguished Ambassador in Residence at the University of Miami from 2008-2012. Ambassador McElhaney is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Diane Seligsohn

Diane SeligsohnAmerican Journalist and University Lecturer

Diane Seligsohn is an American journalist and university lecturer who has lived in Paris for over 3 decades and now divides her time between France and St Petersburg, Florida. Diane received her BA from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and her MA from NYU. She began her career in journalism at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's New York office, where she worked for 5 years before moving to France.

Thomas Smith

Thomas SmithUSF Professor of Political Science

Thomas W. Smith is professor of political science and director of the Honors Program at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He co-founded the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs with Ambassador Doug McElhaney. Smith holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the College of William & Mary and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. He has published numerous journal articles in the fields of human rights, international humanitarian law, and Turkish politics and foreign policy. He also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Contemporary Korean Studies. From 1997-2000 he taught international relations at Koç University in Istanbul. His second book, Human Rights and War Through Civilian Eyes, was just published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Iqbal Paroo

Iqbal ParooFormer University President, Foundation President; Domestic & International Health Care Executive

Former University President, Foundation President; Domestic & International Health Care Executive

Michel Amblard

Michel AmblardTreasurer, Finance executive, retired CFO

Maurice Kurtz

Maurice KurtzBoard Member, PR Chair

Willi Rudowsky

Willi RudowskyProgram Manager (Ret), Retailer (Ret), Civic Activist

Carol Cason

Carol CasonIndep. Court Reporter (Ret), Franchise Regional Developer (Ret), Past Pres. nonprofit BOD