Mr. Ilkka Ahtokivi (Finland) is Chief Editor in political weekly newspaper Nykypaiva and Finland’s biggest political online portal Verkkouutiset. He has been political secretary in the National Coalition Party specializing in election campaigns and speech writing. In 1996-2006 his main focus was in consulting online campaigns. Between 1991-2006 he was involved in local, parliamentary, European, and presidential elections.
Mr. Ahtokivi is a permanent member of the government minister’s group of Coalition Party chaired by the Prime Minister of Finland. He is president of the International Association of Political Consultants, IAPC. He is also a member of the European Association of Political Consultants (EAPC) and the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC).
Mr. Ahtokivi studied in Rome and Helsinki and made his Master’s degree at the University of Helsinki (1991) majoring in ancient Roman history. He has written a history of the Sicilian Mafia (1994, 406 pp).
Scott J. Brown
Scott Brown joined the Raymond James Equity Research Department in 1995 after two years as an economist in the firm’s Fixed Income Research Department. Before his arrival at Raymond James, he was manager of economic research at Pacific First Bank in Seattle and had previously been director of economic research at First Imperial Advisors in San Diego. He also worked as an economist for the San Diego Gas & Electric Company.
Dr. Brown earned his doctorate in economics from the University of California at San Diego, where he studied time series analysis and forecasting under Nobel Laureates Robert F. Engle and Clive W.J. Granger. Dr. Brown also holds an M.S. degree in statistics from the University of Illinois and a B.A. degree in mathematics from the University of California at Irvine. Dr. Brown serves on the Economic Advisory Committee of the American Bankers Association and is a member of the Bond Market Association’s Economic Advisory Committee. He has also served as a member of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors for the state of Florida.
After a 37 year career, Ambassador Butler recently retired from the US Foreign Service after serving as the Political Advisor to the US Commander of Forces in Europe. He served as the Deputy High Representative to implement the Dayton Peace Plan in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from 2008-2010 advised the US Commander of Forces at Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq, in the transition to civilian rule there. He has serve in Serbia and Kosovo, and was Ambassador to Macedonia. He likewise served President Clinton in the accords that resulted in the peace in Northern Ireland.
Charles L. Campbell
Mr. Campbell retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 as a member of the Senior Intelligence Service following a 40 year career which included serving as the Deputy Inspector General and in several senior field and headquarters leadership assignments in the National Clandestine Service. He received the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal and the Donovan Award for his service. Since retiring from the CIA, Mr. Campbell has been employed by several firms on contracts providing services to Intelligence Community components on counterterrorism and counterintelligence programs. Since 2010, Mr. Campbell has served as President of the CIA Retirees Association.
Barbara Carlin is currently an adjunct professor of law at Duquesne University School of Law where she teaches international criminal law. She was a federal prosecutor at the US Attorney’s office in the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1983 until 2010. From 2002 until 2010 she was the resident legal advisor at the US Embassy, Skopje and then at the US Embassy Sarajevo. In that position she presented over 100 training programs for judges, police and prosecutors to advance the rule of law. At the request of the US Department of State she gave presentation on trafficking in persons in Turkey, Cyprus, Greece and Croatia. She also did presentations in Finland for the OSCE on how to prosecute a human trafficking case. In 2011 she made presentations on the rights of the accused at the request of ABA/ROLI in Dubai and Bahrain. As the resident legal advisor she took groups of Macedonian and Bosnian judges to the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and to the International Court of Human Rights where she moderated programs allowing the judges of those international courts to interact with their counterparts from the Balkans. At the invitation of the ICTY she participated in a conference at The Hague where she discussed ” US Efforts to Build Capacity in the Former Yugoslavia” which was later printed in ASSESSING THE LEGACY OF THE ICTY published by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. As the education leader for the Corporation for Professional Conferences for legal study trips to Peru, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Egypt, South Africa, China. Russia, and Turkey, she gave lectures on comparative law of the US and the country visited to judges, prosecutors, and attorneys.
Dr. Don Chambers is an Associate Professor of Marine Science at the University of South Florida, who specializes in using satellite observations such as radar altimetry and satellite gravimetry to better understand ocean dynamics. His primary research focus is quantifying and understanding sea level variability, especially trying to separate natural climate variability from anthropogenic climate change. He in interested in all the dynamical processes that cause sea level change, including ocean circulation, ocean heat storage, ocean mass redistribution, and influx of fresh water from the continents and ice sheets.
Dr. Chambers has been a member of several NASA satellite Science Teams, including TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, and is currently a member of the NASA Ocean Surface Topography and GRACE Science Teams, and is one of four U.S. scientists to serve on the joint NASA/European Space Agency working group on future satellite gravity missions. He also served as a Lead Author on the latest climate assessment by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published this year.
Marcia S. Cohen
Marcia S. Cohen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Roosevelt University of Chicago, a Masters degree in Music Composition from Northwestern University, and received her Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law in 1984. Since becoming a member of The Florida Bar, she has practiced almost exclusively in the area of labor and employment law with a concentration in employment discrimination and sexual harassment, and has the distinction of having had a successful case before the U.S. Supreme Court as co-counsel with the EEOC. She became a certified mediator in 1990 and a certified arbitrator in 1995.
Ms. Cohen has been a guest lecturer on U.S. civil rights and employment discrimination law at the University of Paris at Nanterre, and was an Adjunct Professor of Feminist Jurisprudence at Stetson University College of Law and the University of South Florida. She was Chair of the International Law Section of the St. Petersburg Bar Association from 2006 to 2009, is a member of the Legal Panel of the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and was the 2007 recipient of its Gardner Beckett Civil Rights Award.
She has spoken widely on women’s legal rights and US equal pay law, most recently at the Millennia2015 Conference at UNESCO in Paris, and at Hunter College in New York City. She was a delegate of the Destree Institute of Namur, Belgium at the UN Conference on the Status of Women in March, 2013. On March 14, 2013, she received the first annual Woman of Achievement award from the Stetson University College of Law chapters of NOW, the ABA, and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers.
Marcia Cohen divides her time between Florida and Paris, France, where she is Of Counsel to the international law firm of Cimadevilla Avocats.
Adriana Dinis is an attorney with the Immigration Law Group of Florida, P.A. (“ILGF”) representing individuals before immigration court, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, Immigration Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Patrol and the various U.S. consulates and Embassies. She also provides in-service training and technical assistance for law enforcement, community based organizations and attorneys on the immigration benefits available to individuals. In addition to her work at ILGF she continues to represent immigrant children through the GLS CHILD (Children’s Immigration Legal Defense) Project of Gulfcoast Legal Services.
Adriana earned her Bachelor’s degree, with honors, from the University of Florida in 2005 majoring in criminology and sociology and minoring in anthropology. She received her law degree, with honors, from Stetson University College of Law in 2008. While in law school, Adriana was an intern at the Attorney General’s Office, Children Legal Services Division, in Tampa, Florida and a Diversity Fellow with Carlton Fields, PA.
In 2010 Adriana was awarded the Hero Award from the Intercultural Advocacy Center in Clearwater, Florida for her work with undocumented children.
Adriana is a citizen of the United States, Venezuela and Portugal and is fluent in Spanish.
Thomas N. Edmonds
Thomas N. Edmonds is a veteran Republican media consultant and strategist. He is a past president of both the International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC) and American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC). He is also a recipient of the AAPC’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mr. Edmonds is the co-author of two books on politics and public policy, producer of the official documentary on Ronald Reagan, and has won over 100 awards for political commercials. He has spoken on the impact of American style political campaigns on democracies in numerous venues around the world including Austria, France and, most recently, Oxford University’s Rothermere Institute of American Studies.
William F. Felice
Dr. Felice teaches courses in international political economy, international law, international organization, and human rights. His research and scholarship focuses on normative issues of rights and justice within our global society. Dr. Felice previously served as a representative to the United Nations for a human rights non-governmental organization. He is the author of Taking Suffering Seriously, The Global New Deal and How Do I Save My Honor?. Dr. Felice was named the 2006 Florida Professor of the Year by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The U.S. Professors of the Year Program, administered by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), is the only national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
Ralph Fernandez was born in Havana, Cuba, on January 24, 1952. He left Cuba with his parents as political exiles in 1960. He lived in Puerto Rico for a year prior to moving to Tampa, Florida. He graduated from Jesuit High school in 1969 and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He graduated from MIT in 1972, completing his engineering degree in three years. At MIT he was a recipient of the Clapp and Poliak Engineering Design Award as well as the Admiral Luis de Flores Award for Creativity and Ingenuity. Fernandez worked as a nuclear engineer for Westinghouse Electric in the design of nuclear power plant components. In 1974 he became a club professional at the Club Tennis complex in Tampa and began tournament competition in the sport of racquetball. He became one of the top ranked players in Florida while at the same time enrolling at the Stetson College of Law. He graduated with a juris doctorate in 1977. Upon graduation he became a criminal prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Florida. He left the State Attorney’s Office after having become the chief of narcotic prosecutions for the circuit at the age of twentyseven. In 1980 Fernandez began the practice of law as a solo practitioner, specializing in trial work. He is now the managing partner of the Law Office Ralph E. Fernandez, P.A., in Tampa. He has belonged or belongs to a number of professional associations. He has had the privilege of handling a significant number of high profile cases. Fernandez has been married since 1972 to his high school sweetheart. His daughters have attended undergraduate and graduate school at Harvard, Yale Law, Brown, Duke and Georgetown.
Pierre Guerlain is a Professor of American Studies at Université Paris Ouest Nanterre, France. His fields of research are US foreign policy, Discourse Analysis, and Intercultural Studies. Professor Guerlain has done a lot of work on “anti-Americanism” and the image of the US abroad. He has also published a number of articles on social and political movements in the US. Professor Guerlain’s book about the mutual perceptions of the Americans and the French is titled Miroirs transatlantiques: la France et les Etats-Unis entre passions et indifférences. It was published by L’Harmattan in 1996.
George E. Hamilton
George Hamilton is Chairman of National Payment Corporation (NatPay), a Tampa Bay-based technology company, specializing in electronic payments and electronic document services. He was an investment banker with Raymond, James & Associates, and later started and sold his own securities firm. A former Foreign Service Officer, he holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Mr. Hamilton divides his time between Tampa, FL and France.
Judith M. Heimann
Judith M. Heimann is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer and a non-fiction writer. One of the first Foreign Service spouses to become a diplomat in her own right, Judy spent most of her adult life abroad — chiefly in Western Europe but also in Southeast Asia (the location of most of her books) and Central Africa. With 15 years as an accompanying spouse followed by 20 years as a fellow officer of her late husband and 15 years as a rehired Foreign Service annuitant, she has had a long and varied career. Judy followed closely and reported on the development of the political aspects of the European Union, starting in the early 1980s up till 2011 – her last assignment to an EU presidency country. In the course of assignments to cover the internal politics in, respectively, Belgium, France and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she helped promote efforts to eliminate the trafficking of conflict diamonds, helped find and document the reasons for the rapid growth of the Airbus Industrie and kept Washington informed of the (failed) efforts of the Mobutu regime’s peaceful dissidents to obtain the democratic structures they sought. Two of her books, reconstructing historical events in 20th century Borneo, have been made into TV documentaries; she is currently working on a book of her personal memories of working-level American diplomacy abroad, primarily in the pre-internet era. She speaks French, Dutch and Indonesian/Malay.
Burton Hersh was raised in Minneapolis and attended The Blake School. He proceeded to Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1955 with high honors after winning the History and Literature Prize and the top Bowdoin Prize. As a Fulbright scholar, he attended Karl Ludwig’s Universitaet in Germany, where he studied philosophy with Martin Heidegger and roamed Europe for eighteen months. He was drafted, and returned to Germany as a team chief on a radio unit on the Czech Border and a German translator for the Seventh Army. He lived in Austria until 1961, when he returned to New York and began a career as a writer, both fiction and nonfiction. He is best known for The Old Boys, the definitive account of the early decades of the CIA, and as Edward Kennedy’s principal biographer and the historian whose treatment of the assassination of JFK, Bobby and J. Edgar, is increasingly shredding the Warren Commission coverup. He recently finished a trilogy of novels, establishing his reputation for major fiction.
Aida A. Hozic
Aida A. Hozic is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Florida. Originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, she received her M.A. in International Affairs from The Johns Hopkins-SAIS in 1989 and her PhD from the University of Virginia in 1998. Her research is situated at the intersection of political economy, cultural studies, and international security. She is the author of Hollyworld: Space, Power and Fantasy in the American Economy (Cornell University Press, 2002) and a number of articles in journals and edited volumes. Her work has been supported by the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation, IREX, Institute for Turkish Studies, Open Society Institute, University of Florida Humanities Fund and many other fellowships. For three years (2008-2010), she co-directed a State Department program on U.S. foreign policy for foreign scholars at the University of Florida.
Myriam Irizarry received her Juris Doctorate degree from Rutgers-Newark School of Law in 1980 and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers College in New Jersey in 1977. She graduated from New Brunswick High School in 1973.
Myriam is a licensed member of both the Florida and New Jersey State Bars. Myriam was admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court in 2006. Prior to moving to Florida, Myriam established a private practice in New Brunswick. Previously she served as an Assistant Deputy Public Defender for the Middlesex County Public Defender’s Office. Upon graduating from law school she served as a Staff Attorney for the Middlesex County Legal Services Corporation. Myriam was an Adjunct Instructor for Rutgers University where she taught law-related undergraduate level courses and is currently serving as an Adjunct Instructor for the St. Petersburg College.
Presently Myriam is the Chief Deputy Director over the Court and Operational Services Division and General Counsel for the elected Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.
Myriam served as President of the Clearwater Bar Association consisting of 900 plus lawyers. She is also a member of the St. Petersburg Bar Association and immediate past President of the Intercultural Advocacy Institute for the Hispanic Outreach Center.
Myriam was the recipient of the 2012 Florida Bar’s President Pro Bono Award for the Sixth Judicial Circuit for her active participation in legal self-help related activities in the community. She also received the Clearwater Bar’s Ralph Richard Award for leadership and support to the Bar and the community in 2012. In that same year she received the Hispanic Leadership award from the Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc. for her work with the Hispanic community. In May 2013 she received the Clearwater Bar President’s Award, the Mount Carmel Law Day Award and in June 2013 will be inducted into the New Brunswick High School Hall of Fame with a Distinguished Alumni Award.
Clarence H. Juhl
Mr. Clarence Juhl is a retired member of the United States Senior Executive Service whose career spanned nearly forty-seven years of combined military and civilian service. He was last posted to US Mission, NATO, Brussels, Belgium, serving from 1996 through 2007 as the Deputy to the Secretary of Defense Representative Europe and the Deputy Defense Advisor, US Mission, NATO. Prior to this, Mr. Juhl served as the Principal Director for European and NATO Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He also held positions as the Director NATO Policy and Director for Burden Sharing and NATO Budgets. He was a key player in the development of the Partnership for Peace Program, NATO Enlargement, NATO Defense Capabilities and several Alliance Strategic Concepts. He has represented the US at numerous international and bilateral working groups and is a veteran of many Heads of State and Government Summits dealing with NATO Strategy, Afghanistan, Iraq, Alliance military capabilities, multinational strategic lift, rapid response/reaction forces, streamlined Command and Control and resource management modernization. His twenty-four year military career includes nearly five thousand hours as a Naval Aviator both as a flight instructor and Command pilot. His military career also includes extensive Staff experience on both the NATO Atlantic Command as well as Allied Command Europe. Mr. Juhl is a recipient of the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive, several Secretary of Defense Meritorious Service Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal and many other awards and recognition. Since retiring, Mr. Juhl has been active in his own consulting company working on projects for private companies, the Institute for Defense Analysis, Joint Forces Staff College and the Department of Defense. He and wife, Kathleen, have one son, a 1994 graduate of the US Naval Academy, and two grandsons. The Juhls are at home in Charlotte, NC.
Erin Kennedy is a veterinarian and epidemiologist with a special interest in diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. She graduated from the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in science and from Colorado State University with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. She has a master’s of science degree from Colorado State University and a master’s of public health in epidemiology from Emory University.
Dr. Kennedy has worked in public health with rabies, parasitic diseases, influenza, immunizations and preparedness. She has worked in Haiti, India and Africa and recently returned from Sierra Leone where she worked with government agencies in a multinational Ebola response.
A native of Pinellas County, FL, Kennedy now lives and works in Atlanta, GA.
Edward Kissi is Associate Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of South Florida (Tampa Campus). He works on the economic and diplomatic history of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa; history of US foreign relations (with Africa) since the 20th Century; and the comparative history of genocide and human rights. He is the author of Revolution and Genocide in Ethiopia and Cambodia (2006), and has published many articles and book chapters on genocide, famine, international relief aid, and US foreign policy towards Africa in notable books and peer-reviewed journals. His most recent article, “Paradoxes of American Development: Diplomacy in the Early Cold War Period” appears in the May 2012 issue of Past and Present. In 2009, Kissi wrote “The Holocaust as a Guidepost for Genocide Detection and Prevention in Africa” for the landmark United Nations’ Discussion Papers Journal, and has since been involved in major international activities on Holocaust and Genocide Education, including UNESCO’s initiative on Holocaust and Genocide Education in Africa.
Joshua Landis is Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma’s College of international Studies. He writes “Syria Comment,” a daily newsletter on Syrian politics that attracts over 100,000 readers a month. Dr. Landis travels frequently to Washington DC to consult with government agencies and speak at think tanks. Most recently he has spoken at the Woodrow Wilson Institute, Brookings Institute, USIP, Middle East Institute, and Council on Foreign Relations. He was educated at Swarthmore (BA), Harvard (MA), and Princeton (PhD). He has lived over 14 years in the Middle East and speaks Arabic and French fluently. He has lived four years in Syria, and spent most summers in Damascus until the revolution began. He is a frequent analyst on TV and radio. Most recently he has appeared on PBS News Hour.
Janet C. Long
Commissioner Long is no stranger to public service. Her career in government began as a Legislative Aide working in the Old Capitol. The year was 1975 – before word processing, computers, copy machines, fax machines and electronic communication. It was a time when the legislative process was all done by hand.
In 1980, Janet served as the Assistant to the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation until 1986 when she was appointed by Commissioner Bill Gunter as the Deputy Insurance Commissioner for the Florida Department of Insurance with primary day to day management and oversight of the Regional Office located in Pinellas County. She was reappointed by Commissioner Tom Gallagher and again by Commissioner Bill Nelson.
In 2002, Commissioner Long was elected to the Seminole City Council and elected again in 2004 without opposition. In 2006, she was elected as a Democrat to the Florida House of Representatives from District 51 and served through 2010. In her first year of office, she managed to pass five out of her six bills. She has created an electronic newsletter which keeps her constituents abreast of her activities and those of the legislature. In an effort to ensure that her constituents have a voice, she has held various town hall meetings in her district and around Pinellas County on property taxes, the Lealman fire district and the Pinellas Park Water Management District.
While a member of the Florida Legislature she served on the Military & Veterans Affairs Policy Committee; the Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Council; the General Government Policy Council; the Insurance, Business & Financial Affairs Policy Committee; the Education K-12 Committee and the Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Committee.
Janet Long was elected countywide to a seat on the Pinellas County Commission in 2012. Commissioner Long serves on the Industry Certification Training Center board of Directors, the Homeless Leadership Board, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Health and Human Services Leadership board. In addition to her Pinellas County Board of County Commissioner appointments; she also serves as Vice President for the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, and is on the Largo Medical Center Board of Trustees and the Clearwater Central Catholic Advisory Board.
Janet has been married to her husband, Richard, a retired officer with the Seminole Fire Department, for more than 30 years. Her daughter is a nurse. Her oldest son was a United States Army Captain and Apache Pilot who recently returned from combat duty in Afghanistan. He now flies for a private company. Her youngest son is a police officer with the city of Clearwater and a National Guard Reservist. She has a daughter-in-law who is a police officer with the city of Clearwater and a Navy Reservist and another daughter-in-law who was a state prosecutor for seven years and now works in a private law firm in St. Petersburg. Commissioner Long also has three grandchildren.
Norine MacDonald is President and Lead Field Researcher of ICOS, an international research organization. Since founding ICOS in 2002, Ms MacDonald has been responsible for the management of its field research and other projects across the globe, for living and working for many years in Afghanistan with projects in Somalia, Iraq, Columbia, Brazil, UAE and Syria.
Ms MacDonald’s has also extensive international experience in law, academic research, advocacy and philanthropy. She has testified before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and Standing Committee on National Defence in Canada, the House of Commons’ Defence Committee in the United Kingdom and the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control in the United States.
Ms MacDonald co-edited Philanthropy in Europe: A rich past, a promising future (2008) and Global Philanthropy (2010). Her work has been featured in publications including the Sunday Times, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Daily Telegraph and she has also appeared on CNN, BBC, CBC, CTV and Al Jazeera International in relation to her work in Afghanistan.
She is a Canadian citizen and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey.
Kathlyn M. Mackovjak
Kathlyn M. Mackovjak is shareholder and co-owner of Immigration Law Group of Florida, P.A. She has been practicing immigration law for over 10 years. Before opening her own firm, she supervised the immigration unit at Gulfcoast Legal Services and coordinated an immigration law clinic for Stetson Law School. Her focus while at legal aid was working with victims of human trafficking, immigrant victims of domestic violence and immigrants unlawfully detained in the U.S.
Kathlyn has a degree in environmental engineering from the University of Florida, and graduated cum laude from the Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, DC. In the early 1990’s she was a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa. She then worked as an environmental engineer for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Rwanda, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Her law firm has offices in St. Petersburg and Clearwater and offers immigration law services in both Spanish and French. Kathlyn is licensed to practice law in New York and Florida.
Luis Felipe Mantilla is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Dr. Mantilla obtained his M.A. and Ph. D. in Government from Georgetown University (2012) and B.A. from Dartmouth College (2004). His research interests cover a variety of topics in comparative politics, including religion and politics, political parties, social movements and democratization. He frequently engages in systematic comparisons of the Middle East and Latin America, drawing on a variety of sources and methods to leverage the similarities and differences between the two regions. He has published articles in Party Politics, Politics & Religion, and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, along with co-authored chapters in two edited volumes. He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Religious Parties and Secular Politics in Mexico and Turkey.
Kelly McBride is a writer, teacher and one of the country’s leading voices when it comes to media ethics. She is the Vice President for Academic Programs at the Poynter Institute. The world’s largest newsrooms, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR and the BBC, frequently quote her expertise.
After getting her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, she began her career as a police reporter in the hills of the Idaho Panhandle, covering meth dealers and white supremacists. She earned a master’s degree in theology from Gonzaga University and gained a national reputation as a religion reporter.
At Poynter, she has served as the director of the college fellowship program, ESPN’s ombudsman, and the founder of the Sense-Making Project, a Ford Foundation initiative examining the effects of technology on democracy. In 2015 she is lead faculty for the Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Journalism.
Kelly co-edited the groundbreaking book, “The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century,” which argues for a new set of ethical guidelines for journalists, communicators and students and includes chapters by 14 thought leaders examining the challenges of building trust and ensuring credible media in service of community and democracy.
Douglas L. McElhaney
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.
Dr. Messina is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, she completed her pediatric residency at University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center/Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, followed by a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship at UT/Southwestern Medical Center. She was a staff pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX from 2001-2006. She joined the medical staff of All Children’s Hospital in 2006. She is an assistant volunteer professor on the adjunct faculty of University of South Florida Morsani School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Dr. Messina is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. She is a member of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, the American Society for Microbiology and the Infectious Disease Society of America. Dr. Messina serves as a reviewer for the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.
Gary Mormino is professor emeritus of history at USF St. Petersburg, where he currently holds the position of scholar in residence at the Florida Humanities Council.He is the author or co-author of a number of books dealing with immigration and Florida, most notably The Immigrant World of Ybor City, Spanish Pathways in Florida, and Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams.
Melissa R. Ruggiero
Melissa Ruggiero is a lawyer from Pittsburgh, PA. She is a 2003 graduate of Duquesne University School of Law. After earning her LL.M in Human Rights and Criminal Justice (Cross Border) from Queen’s University Belfast and National University of Ireland, Galway in December 2007 she has spent the past seven years working in the field of international justice. She was a legal officer providing legal support to judges for four years in the War Crimes Chamber at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and then for nearly two years in the Appeals Chamber at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Recently, she has worked on projects as a consultant for the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, and as a Staff Attorney for a project by the Rural Women Leadership Institute in Vermont with its partner the International Association of Women Judges funded by the US State Department providing judicial and leadership training in Vermont to six Afghan Women Judges.
The most recent case Ms. Ruggiero worked on was the appeal judgment of Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Charles Taylor was the former head of Liberia and was charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for atrocities committed by rebels against civilians during the civil war in Sierra Leone. On September 26, 2013, the Appeals Chamber upheld Mr. Taylor’s conviction on 11 counts and affirmed the 50 year sentence imposed by the Trial Chamber. The SCSL is the first international court since Nuremberg to indict, try and convict a former head of state.
Robert W. Schaefer
NBC’s on-air Security Analyst for their official coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Robert Schaefer is a U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret), Foreign Area Officer, senior analyst, and diplomat specializing in the Eurasia region. He has extensive experience with counterinsurgency and counter-terrorist operations around the world and has lived and worked in many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia as a diplomat and adviser to foreign governments and militaries. He is the recipient of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and the OSS Society’s Award of Excellence (The Singlaub Award) as the U.S. Special Operations Command Person of the Year for his historic achievements with Russian airborne forces. He obtained his M.A. from Harvard University, and is a member of the Editorial Board for the Caucasus Survey (a peer-reviewed professional journal), as well as a consultant to several government agencies, universities, and a frequent contributor to major media outlets (CNN, NPR, BBC, VOA, and others). His critically-acclaimed book “The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus” won multiple national awards and was named to Kirkus Reviews “Best of 2011,” and the “Top 150 Books on Terrorism and Counterterrorism.”
Michael J. Smith
Michael Joseph Smith is the Thomas C. Sorensen Professor of Political and Social Thought at the University of Virginia. A product of public schools in Yonkers, New York, he holds a B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, and an M.Phil. from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Prof. Smith came to the University of Virginia in 1986, and has taught a wide variety of courses on human rights, political thought, ethics, and international relations. Since 1999 he has directed the Program in Political and Social Thought, an honors interdisciplinary major for undergraduates. Professor Smith has been active in promoting the inclusion of ethical questions in university courses on international politics, leading faculty workshops at places ranging from West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy, to Harvard, Boston and Columbia Universities. He serves as a Trustee of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Relations in New York, and he is a founding faculty associate of the Institute of Practical Ethics and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. Professor Smith is the author of Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger; co-editor and co-author of Ideas and Ideals; and of many essays and articles on the ethical dilemmas raised by contemporary international politics. He was a research consultant and contributor to the UN-sponsored International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty that resulted in the report The Responsibility to Protect; he has just published a paper on the “Ethical Dilemmas of Encountering Other Cultures,” as part a project for the U.S. Army Research Institute.
Thomas W. Smith
Thomas W. Smith is associate professor of Government and International Affairs and director of the Honors Program at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He holds a Ph.D. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. He is the author of History and International Relations (Routledge) as well as numerous journal articles in the fields of human rights, international humanitarian law, and Turkish politics. He is currently writing a book on human rights and war. From 1997-2000 he taught at Koc University in Istanbul.
Joseph M. Smoak
Joseph M. Smoak is a professor of biogeochemistry at the University of South Florida. Dr. Smoak’s research focuses on how coastal wetlands respond to climate change and sea-level rise. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, and his research sites range from Florida to locations around the world including Antarctica, Australia, Brazil, China, Iran, Mexico, and Venezuela.
Among numerous literary recognitions, Wole Soyinka is winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1986, and has authored more than 30 works in the medium of plays, novels, poetry, essays and biography. Many of his works have been widely translated, his plays performed internationally. He is active on both artistic and human rights organizations such as the International Theatre Institute, the UN Commission on Human Rights, and the International Network of Asylum for Writers, of which he was a former President. Until recently President’s Professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, he is currently Hutchins Fellow at Harvard University, Cambridge, and Emeritus Professor of Comparative Literature at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Wole Soyinka has received numerous international honors. His has been one of the earliest voices to warn of the dangers posed by religious fundamentalism through lectures and essays, and to denounce their atrocities. He currently serves as a member of UNESCO’s High Panel for Peace.
Neelofer Syed is a Pakistani American attorney who has practiced immigration law in Tampa Bay and Orlando Florida since 2005. Though living in the United States, Ms. Syed remains engaged in the promotion of women’s rights in Pakistan.
Ms. Syed obtained her law degree in Lahore, Pakistan from Punjab University Law College in 1994 and her Master’s Degree (LLM) with honors from Stetson College of Law in 2004, where she was awarded the Dean’s Award, the highest award given by the law school. Ms. Syed has also served as an Intern with the Office of Senator Bill Nelson Of Florida.
While engaged in active practice of law in Pakistan Ms. Syed successfully argued cases focusing on women rights all the way through the Pakistani Superior Courts. In addition, she was very involved in human rights organizations, especially those fighting for women rights and against child labor.
Ms. Syed’s migration to United States was also a result of her active participation in fight for the rights of women. It was under her legal representation that the question of Muslim women getting married without the consent of parents was raised for the first time before the Superior Courts. The same case attracted the opposition of religious fundamentalists who made attempts on the life of Ms. Syed. The failure of the Pakistani Government to ensure her safety led Ms. Syed to migrate to the U.S.
In Pakistan, Ms. Syed served as the Human Rights Coordinator for the Province of Punjab, as Secretary of the Punjab Chapter of the Pakistan People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, as a Director of Rugmark International, an organization dedicated to eradicating child labor, and as a collaborator with Fair Trade where she designed and implemented a micro credit program in Sialkot, Pakistan, designed to provide supplementary income to skilled laborers in the sporting goods industry to reduce the incidence of child labor and provide educational opportunities to children, especially to girls.
While in United States, Ms. Syed continues to strive for the betterment of women in Pakistan. She is currently engaged in providing educational opportunities to girls and improving the reproductive health of women of “Thar”, a neglected desert area in the South Eastern region of Pakistan. She is also actively contributing towards women’s education and has recently started a scholarship in her Mother’s name for college education for deserving women who cannot afford education otherwise.
Ms. Syed is also working with various Non Profit Organizations to gather support of various bills in the Parliament of Pakistan aimed at the securing legal rights for women.
Ms. Syed is listed in a Who’s Who of American Universities and Colleges and has been featured in the national legal magazine, National Jurist, as well as several newspapers. She is a recipient of the Woman of the Achievement Award from Women on the Way Organization.
Ms. Syed has been a fellow of the Foreign Relations Committee of Tampa Bay, and a member of the Advisory Board of Stetson Law School. She was also Co-Chair of the International Law Section of the Saint Petersburg Bar Association.
She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the Detroit Bar Association of Michigan, State Bar of Washington DC, the Lahore High Court Bar in Pakistan, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Tampa Chapter of the United Nations Association, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Bar Association in U.K.
Mauricio De Vengoechea
Mauricio De Vengoechea is a renowned political consultant, with more than 34 years of experience in Strategy, Public Opinion Research, Crisis Management, and Communications.
Throughout his career, he has advised sixteen presidential candidates, multiple political figures and political parties, as well as congressmen, governors, and mayoral candidates from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, United States and Venezuela. As an electoral consultant, he has been a strategist in five consecutive winning elections, in the Dominican Republic.
As a government consultant, he has served as an advisor to the president Leonel Fernández for eight consecutive years, and helped some of the most important political crises in Latin America and was also a consultant for succeeded security public policies applied in that region.
As an international speaker and political analyst for media, Mauricio is a current analyst for CNN and the Herald. He is also the author of multiple publications, such as: “7 Herramientas para Apagar una Crisis de Gobierno” (Lemoine Editores, Colombia 2008, Siglo XXI Editores, Mexico 2010).
Current member of the Reed Latino Hall of fame by Campaigns & Elections, he has also been honored for his work with eleven international awards, including four “Pollies”, bestowed by the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC).
He is a former president of the Latin American Association of Political Consultants, ALACOP, as well as the current vice-president of the International Association of Political Consultants, IAPC, and an active member in the American Association AAPC.
Jim Verhulst is editor of Perspective, the Sunday section of news and analysis at the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s largest newspaper. He is also a member of the Times editorial board, two members of which shared the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. In his role on the editorial board, he edits the daily op-ed page in addition to writing editorials. He has edited Perspective since 2006 and has worked at the Times since 1987. In earlier positions at the Times, he edited the front page during the collapse of the Soviet Union and Communism across Eastern Europe and during the first Persian Gulf war. Before coming to the Times, he was an editor, columnist and reporter at the Concord (N.H.) Monitor for six years. During that time, he edited the front page on the day that the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing seven astronauts, including Christa McAuliffe, who was a teacher at Concord High School and was to be the first teacher in space.
Verhulst grew up on a hog farm in in Prophetstown, Ill. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and from the University of Illinois with a master’s in journalism. A resident of St. Petersburg, he is married and has two sons.
Damon Wilson is executive vice president of the Atlantic Council. From 2007 to 2009, Mr. Wilson served as special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council. He managed interagency policy on NATO, the European Union, Georgia, Ukraine, the Balkans, Eurasian energy security, and Turkey, and planned numerous Presidential visits to Europe, including US-European Union and NATO summits.
Mr. Wilson has also served at the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq as the executive secretary and chief of staff; at the National Security Council as the director for Central, Eastern, and Northern European affairs; and as deputy director in the Private Office of NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.
Prior to serving in Brussels, Mr. Wilson worked in the US Department of State in various positions and served in Rwanda with Save the Children. He is a graduate of Duke University and completed his graduate studies at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs. Mr.Wilson also worked with the Unaccompanied Children in Exile refugee program in Croatia and Turkey.
Ann Marie Winter
Ann Marie Winter, Chief Operating Officer, Specialized Programs & Policy, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services based in Clearwater, Florida. She is responsible for the daily operations of the 35 million dollar non profit which is the 2nd largest Jewish Family Services agency in North America. Ms. Winter has 22 years’ experience working with complex domestic and multi-national social service and humanitarian organizations. Before joining Gulf Coast, she was the Regional Director of the United States Refugee Resettlement Program, based in Nairobi, Kenya assisting 20,000 refugees resettle from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States each year. Prior postings to Switzerland, Gabon, Turkey, Bosnia and Croatia afforded her the opportunity to identify durable solutions for marginalized and vulnerable populations. She is the Policy Chair on the Executive Committee of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs, sits on the ESFRM Grants Board and is an active member on various national working groups on refugee issues. She has written and published extensively on human rights and migration issues. She holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science from New York University, speaks French and Croatian and is the daughter of refugees.
Ilgiz Yanbukhtin Ph.D.
Graduated with honors from the Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU), Department of Philosophy, in 1994. Graduate of Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (1998). Dr. Yanbukhtin earned his doctorate in philosophy from MSU (2000). Visiting professor of the MSU Department of Philosophy. Since 2010 has initiated and launched “Diplomatic Readings” project at the MSU Department of Philosophy with the participation of the ambassadors and senior diplomats representing Asia, Europe, Middle East, North & Latin America. Dr. Yanbukhtin was a speaker at the 23rd World Philosophy Congress in Athens, Greece, in August 2013.Expert of the US-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation (1998-2001). Worked closely with the US Department of State, USAID, US Small Business Administration, Eurasia Foundation within the framework of Commission activities. Participant of APEC Young Leaders Forum in Shanghai, China (2001). Served in different top executive and advisory capacities in private sector (development & real estate business) since 2004. Since 2009 he has been in charge of all international projects of the Moscow City Symphony – Russian Philharmonic, founded by the Moscow City Government, one of the most important full symphony Russian orchestras nowadays. He is President of Russian Philharmonic USA Society, Inc. located in St. Petersburg, Florida.