Yavuz Akdag

Yavuz Akdag

Yavuz Akdağ is a Master’s student in the Department of Government and International Affairs at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He holds a bachelor`s degree in International Relations from Selcuk University in Konya, Turkey. In 2011 he spent a semester as a Socrates-Erasmus student studying at Wroclaw University of Economics in Poland. Subsequent to his graduation, he began an MA Program in Public Administration in Dicle University in Diyarbakir, the city where he was born. In 2014, he qualified for a Turkish government scholarship to pursue graduate studies in the United States. Before starting his graduate work at USF he spent a year studying English at the University of Texas at Austin.

Mary Armstrong

Mary Armstrong

Specializing in state and local government evaluation and policy analysis, Dr. Armstrong is the Executive Director of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, and Associate Professor, Department of Child and Family Studies, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida. Dr. Armstrong’s specific areas of interests include the impact of state level reforms on at risk children and families including health care reform, IV-E Waivers and child welfare privatization, cross-system financing of effective systems of care, evaluation of intensive technical assistance to state and tribal child welfare systems, informal supports and mental health literacy for caregivers of at risk children, and the effectiveness of out of home settings for children with behavioral health needs.

Dr. Armstrong serves as a board member and is President of the American Orthopsychiatric Association. She is an active member of the Mental Health Section of the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Social Workers and a frequent contributor to journals and books.

Amelia H. Arsenault

Amelia Arsenault

Amelia Arsenault is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Department at Georgia State University and Media and Democracy Research Fellow at the Center for Global Communication Studies at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication. Before joining the faculty at Georgia State she served for two years as the George Gerbner Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School. Her scholarly interests center on how different international and domestic actors have attempted to leverage the changing dynamics of communications systems, and the ramifications of those activities for international relations, political and social power relationships, and north/south inequality.  In this capacity, she has conducted research on global media ownership, the impact of international donors in the southern African communications development, network theory, new media, and public diplomacy. Her current research projects include: an analysis of the new media operations of the influential right-wing activist, Andrew Breitbart; a longitudinal investigation of the activities of international actors in the communications sector in southern Africa; and a co-edited book project (with Rhonda Zaharna and Ali Fischer) on the subject of collaborative and networked public diplomacy.  Her scholarly work has appeared in the International Journal of Communication, International Sociology, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and Information, Communication, and Society.

In complement to her academic research, Professor Arsenault remains actively engaged with the community of practitioners and policy makers involved in strategic communications, public diplomacy, and media development activities around the world. In this capacity, she has authored several commissioned reports and organized conferences on pressing issues facing international communication including the 2010 and 2011 Milton Wolf Seminar on Media Diplomacy in Vienna, Austria, and Evaluating the Impact of Media Interventions in Conflict Countries Workshop in Caux, Switzerland.  She also serves as a co-organizer for the Annenberg Oxford Summer Institute on Media Law and policy, a two-week program that brings together young communication scholars, media regulators, and media development professionals to discuss important recent trends in technology and its influence on information policy.

Professor Arsenault received her PhD in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.  While at USC she also served as the Wallis Annenberg Graduate Fellow to Manuel Castells and as a Research Associate at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. She also holds a B.A. in Film and History from Dartmouth College and an MSc in Global Media and Communication from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to beginning her academic career, she served as the film coordinator for the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust, a non-profit arts and culture organization dedicated to promoting visual literacy in Zimbabwe.

Raymond Arsenault

Raymond Arsenault

Raymond Arsenault is the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History and Chairman of the Department of History and Politics at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, where he has taught since 1980. A specialist in the political, social, environmental, and civil rights history of the American South, he has also taught at the University of Minnesota, Brandeis University, the University of Chicago, the Florida State University Study Abroad Center in London, and the Universite d’Angers, in France, where he was a Fulbright Lecturer in 1984-85. A native of Cape Cod, he was educated at Princeton University and Brandeis University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1981. He served as Associate Director of the Fulbright Commission Summer Institute in American Studies from 1980 to 1988, and he has lectured on American history and culture in a number of countries, including France, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Tunisia, and Jordan. Arsenault is the author or editor of eight books, including The Wild Ass of the Ozarks: Jeff Davis and the Social Bases of Southern Politics (1984); Crucible of Liberty: 200 Years of the Bill of Rights (1991); The Changing South of Gene Patterson: Journalism and Civil Rights, 1960-1968 (2002), co-edited with Roy Peter Clark; Paradise Lost? The Environmental History of Florida (2006), co-edited with Jack E. Davis; Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (2006); and The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America (2009). His most recent book, co-edited with Orville Vernon Burton, is Dixie Redux: Essays in Honor of Sheldon Hackney (2013). Freedom Riders, published by Oxford University Press, was awarded the 2007 Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Prize of the Southern Historical Association, as the most important book published in the field of Southern history in 2006. The abridged version of Freedom Riders, published in 2011, is the companion volume to the acclaimed American Experience documentary film Freedom Riders, which won three Emmys and a George Peabody Award. Arsenault is currently writing a biography of the legendary African-American tennis star Arthur Ashe.

Tom Badey

Tom Badey

Tom received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland, University College, in 1986 and earned a Master’s degree in Political Science focusing in Military and Security Studies, from the University of South Florida in 1987. In 1993 he was awarded a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg in Germany Founded in 1386 the University of Heidelberg is one of the oldest Universities in Europe. Tom served nine years as a Security Policeman in the United States Air Force. After completing his Ph.D., he worked almost five years as an adjunct and visiting professor at the University of South Florida. In 1998 Tom accepted a position as an assistant professor in the Political Science Department at Randolph-Macon College. He is currently a Professor in the Political Science Department and the director of the International Studies Program at Randolph-Macon College. He teaches a number of courses including courses on International Terrorism and Terrorism and Homeland Security. He served twice as the president of the International Studies Association/Southern region. Tom is the two anthologies: Annual Editions: Violence and Terrorism currently in its 15th edition and Annual Editions: Homeland Security. He has published many research articles in the fields of terrorism and political violence.

Bryan Baier

Bryan Baier

Bryan Baier is a licensed attorney with over twenty years experience advising elected officials, regulators, trade groups and health plan executives on legislative and regulatory changes to the health system.

Mr. Baier has held leadership roles with numerous health care payer organizations directing issue advocacy, business development, and regulatory compliance initiatives.

Currently Mr. Baier is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of RevFind, a legal services company which assists health care payers and providers recover medical reimbursements lost in litigation awards.

Previously as the Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs at WellCare, a Medicaid and Medicare health plan with $10 billion in annual revenue, Mr. Baier served as the functional lead for the organization’s Government Affairs department where he oversaw public policy initiatives, advocacy and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Prior to joining WellCare, Mr. Baier founded the Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans, where he represented the industry’s viewpoints to the legislature, regulators, executive branch and media. Mr. Baier successfully lobbied for marketing and enrollment changes to the state of Illinois’ Medicaid program and annually negotiated actuarially sound rates on behalf of the industry.

Before founding the Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans, Mr. Baier held leadership roles with Amerigroup of Illinois, the Healthcare Leadership Council and Prudential Health Care.

Prior to his work in the health care industry, Mr. Baier served as a political consultant and legislative staff for state and federal elected officials.

Mr. Baier holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Kansas in Human Resources and Political Science and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in Chicago.

Peter Betzer

Peter Betzer

Dr. Peter R. Betzer serves as the President of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, a group that has been pivotal to the emergence of St. Petersburg as a major center for marine research in the United States. The author of over 60 publications, including several in NATURE and SCIENCE, he has presented invited lectures in Russia, Australia, England, China and Spain. Dr. Betzer participated on many oceanographic expeditions and was a key part of expanding USF’s College of Marine Science and converting an industrial backwater into a major marine research complex with 10 agencies. Special highlights include: 1) winning a national competition for a United States Geological Survey Laboratory in 1988; 2) procuring state funding for a 140,000 square foot research complex in 1991; 3) starting the Center for Ocean Technology in 1994 and 4) helping attract SRI to Saint Petersburg in 2006. The programs he is especially proud to have initiated and partially endowed during his tenure as a USF faculty member are The Oceanography Camp for Girls and the Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship.

He feels his greatest contributions to USF’s Marine Science Program were the 17 endowed fellowships he raised during his tenure as Department Chair and Dean of the College because they enabled talented young graduate students to become scientists.

Sheryle Bolton

Sheryle Bolton

Sheryle is an experienced public and private company CEO, corporate executive and business strategy consultant with a passion for bringing innovation to education and health care. Ms. Bolton was previously CEO of Sally Ride Science, Inc., and Chairman and CEO, Scientific Learning Corporation, where she led a highly successful IPO. Previously, she was an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and led strategy for Home Box Office. She also has extensive experience on the boards of private and public corporations in technology and financial services, including 40 domestic and international Scudder-Kemper mutual funds.   Recently, Sheryle has been an invited speaker at conferences on entrepreneurship and board governance at Harvard and Stanford Universities, and in Shanghai, Marrakech, Addis Ababa, and Sydney. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Hult International Business School. Sheryle has had two Stanford Business School cases written about her career and, in 2013, was recognized as one of the 50 most influential female Harvard Business School graduates in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Kees Boterbloem

Kees Boterbloem

Kees Boterbloem is a Professor of History at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he teaches European history. He received his Ph.D. from McGill University in 1994. He has published seven books on Russian and Soviet history.

Karin Braunsberger


Karin Braunsberger, Ph.D., is a tenured, full Professor of Marketing in the Kate Tiedemann College of Business at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP). She was awarded a Masters of Arts in Education at Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universitaet in Frankfurt, Germany, and received both her MBA and Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Originally from Frankfurt/Main, Germany, Karin traveled, trained, and worked across Europe before moving to the United States in 1986. Further, before joining USFSP in 2001, she taught at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, North Africa, and at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, AR. While at USFSP, she has developed a graduate course focusing on Sustainable Business Development in Emerging Markets that visits Guatemala to help social enterprises create and implement sound business and marketing strategies. She has further developed a two-semester course in Social Entrepreneurship that guides graduate students through the founding of their own mission-driven social enterprise.

In addition, she is a co-founder of weignite.org, a nonprofit that supports new social enterprises through their first years as new organizations. She is also a founding board member of Para Adelante, a nonprofit designed to provide scholarships to fund higher education for impoverished women in Latin America. Finally, she is a founding member of USFSP’s Sustainability Work Group and involved in bringing sustainability programs to USFSP. Due to her initiatives focusing on the advancement of social/environmental issues and civic engagement, she has been awarded the Bank of America Endowed Professorship for 2014/2015.

 Karin is an active researcher, and her research interests are in the areas of consumer behavior and consumer activism. Currently she is working mostly on introducing marketing into the wildlife conservation area, consumer boycott behavior, and edible ethics. As an acknowledgement of her research productivity, she received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship in 2009. Previously, in 2006, she received the Researcher of Year Award as well as the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from the College of Business at USFSP.

Scott J. BrownBrown 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.

Maria Butina

Maria Butina

Maria was born in Siberia a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall and spent her childhood navigating the sometimes rocky transition from communism to capitalism. Political rights were initially more plentiful than food as the Russian Federation rose from the ashes of the Soviet Union. Butina distinguished herself early, being named one of the top 100 Russian Federation high school students who in 2007 participated in a joint U.S. / Russian Federation diplomatic legislative seminar entitled “Project Harmony.”

She launched a small chain of furniture stores in her hometown of Barnaul after graduating from college and was the executive director of her local International Rotary Club. But the lure of Moscow – where 1/3 of the Russian population lives – soon drew her west where she founded a public relations firm which she heads to this day. Maria has been engaged in political journalism since 2005 and is fluent in three languages.

Maria’s interest in the expansion of the rights of average Russian citizens soon caught the attention of the most senior leaders of the Russian Federation. In 2011 she was named the founding Chairman of “The Right to Bear Arms.” This organization was created in 2010 as one of the last wishes of Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov (the inventor of the AK-47). “The Right to Bear Arms” is the national non-profit organization that unites aspiring gun owners in the Russian Federation in their pursuit of the right to civilian ownership of firearms for the protection of themselves and their families. As the public face of gun rights in the Russian Federation, she is a fixture on Russian television and in multiple print publications. She is a member of the international shooting organizations IPSC and IDPA and is a certified judge for the International Practical Shooting Confederation.

With over 70 chapters and over 10,000 members, “The Right to Bear Arms” is a member of the “International Association for the Protection of Civilian Rights.” Its partners are similar organizations defending civil gun rights in such countries as Estonia, Greece, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Israel, Czech Republic, Italy and the United States. Its honorary Russian members include First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation (and now State Secretary Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia) Senator Alexander Torshin, show business stars, bloggers, journalists and other public authorities.

Maria is the co-author of multiple reports on potential reforms of Russian weapons law. Her reports have been published under the auspices of the upper house of the Russian Parliament (the Federal Assembly – the Russian Senate) and are a synthesis of other countries’ experiences with such reforms. Thanks to the work of “The Right to Bear Arms” and the Government of the Russian Federation, the “Castle Doctrine” was passed in the Russian Parliament in 2013. This would allow civilians the right to defend themselves in their homes. It awaits President Putin’s signature.

In 2015, Maria was also named as a special assistant to the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia.

Maria received twin Masters Degrees (“Specialist Degrees” in Russian parlance) in political science and education from The Altai State University in 2010, as well as a teaching certificate. (Altai State is located in Maria’s hometown of Barnaul, Altai Region, Russian Federation.) She is a candidate for a PhD in 2015 – her dissertation is focused on the challenges of political organizations as alternatives to traditional political parties.

Mayra Calo

Mayra Calo

Mayra Calo is a highly qualified in immigration lawyer, with a depth of experience in counseling clients from around the world. While her knowledge and unique problem solving skills apply to all areas of immigration law, she has found great success in deportation defense, and refugee/asylum. Her knowledge of international legal, regulatory and policy issues allows her to provide clients with strategic advice and effective and efficient immigration solutions to assist them in achieving and maintaining lawful status in the US.

Nationally known for her lecturing and litigation, Ms. Calo is often asked to speak at national seminars, community round tables and by local media. Ms. Calo lived in Puerto Rico for many years and grew up in New York City before establishing herself and her family in Tampa in 1990. She attended the University of South Florida where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies before going on to complete her Juris Doctor at Stetson University-College of Law.

Ms. Calo is admitted to practice in the State of Florida, before the United States Supreme Court, the 11th Circuit United States Circuit Court, United States District Court, Middle District, and has been a Notary Public for the State of Florida since 1996.

Suzanne Carlson

Suzanne Carlson

Suzanne Carlson, President of Carlson Maritime Travel has been a travel professional for over 30 years in the Tampa Bay Area. Carlson Maritime holds appointments with OFAC- The Office of Foreign Asset Control, (U.S. Treasury) IATA- International Air Transportation Association, ARC- Airline Reporting Corporation, CLIA- Cruise Lines International Association, MPI, Meeting Planners International, and is a licensed Florida Seller of Travel. Holding an O.F.A.C license authorizes Carlson Maritime Travel to arrange and sell legal travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens. She is also contracted directly with Havanturs, Celimar the government owned travel provider in Havana Cuba which has facilitated her success in producing and handling dozens of legally O.F.A.C. licensed groups from all over the U.S. to Cuba.

Suzanne was on the board of directors and was an integral part of International Port Corp.- a Miami based shipping company that worked for years to legally send the first ship from the U.S. to Cuba in over 50+ years. (July 2011) She has been invited to speak as an authority on legal travel to Cuba on several panels including the Florida Bar International Law Seminar “CUBA 2014: What the U.S. Legal and Business Communities Need to Know” sponsored by Gray Robinson Law Firm, Miami as well as “Forum on the New Cuba Regulations 2015” held by Representative Kathy Castor, Tampa, Fl.

Carlson Maritime Travel is an approved travel vendor for the Pinellas County School Board and specializes in niche group markets for many prestigious local customers as well as for clients extending internationally. Suzanne has worked closely with not-for-profit foundations such as Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, Greenwich, Ct. to help promote cultural exchanges that increase mutual understanding, cooperation, reconciliation, and the ability for cultures to meet in meaningful ways. She believes that Cultural Tourism in Cuba and internationally can be a huge resource for communities, businesses, and organizations seeking sustained growth and development.

Growing up a military brat has afforded Suzanne to live and attend schools abroad in Asmara, Ethiopia and at S.H.A.P.E. Belgium – Supreme Headquarter Allied Powers Europe. She has travelled extensively throughout Africa, Europe, The Caribbean, China, and Cuba.

 Betty Castor

Betty Castor

Betty Castor has had a long and distinguished career as a public servant and educator, most notably as the President of the University of south Florida, Commissioner of Education and President of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She has had a lifelong interest in international affairs which began early as a college student. Her global interests were recognized recently with her appointment by President Obama to the William J. Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Castor’s civic and governmental career began in Hillsborough County in 1972 when she was elected to the Hillsborough County Commission, the first woman to achieve that distinction. She later ran successfully for the Florida Senate, the fourth female elected to that chamber where she served three terms.

In 1986 following a statewide campaign, Castor became the Commissioner of Education and the first woman elected to the Florida Cabinet. During her tenure she helped to establish the state’s first preschool early childhood programs and was a tireless advocate for better funding for education.

Castor is the recipient of numerous awards. Leadership Florida recently presented her their prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010 she received the International Woman of Commerce Award from the Tampa World Trade Council. She received her undergraduate degree from Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey and her Master’s Degree from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.

Janet Chrzan

Janet Chrzan

Janet Chrzan is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania and holds a Ph.D. is in Physical/Nutritional Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research explores the connections between food security, social activities, dietary intake and maternal and child health outcomes in pregnant teens, as well as food security issues relating to agricultural sustainability, food policy and global economics. She teaches a variety of courses related to nutritional anthropology, food and culture, maternal and child health, public health nutrition and global hunger.

Ms. Chrzan is an enthusiastic advocate of community food education, and founded and runs a not-for-profit farmers market near Philadelphia that provides nutritional education programs to the community. She is the author ofAlcohol: Social Drinking in Cultural Context (Routledge, 2013), editor of Research Methods for Anthropological Studies of Food and Nutrition (Berghahn, forthcoming 2016) and her next project is a textbook on organic food and agriculture to be published by Berg in 2017.

Roy Peter Clark

Roy Peter Clark

Dr. Roy Peter Clark has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, The Today Show, CNN and many other news programs, magazines and newspapers. He is the author or editor of eighteen books. His most recent include Writing Tools, The Glamour of Grammar, Help! For Writers, How to Write Short, and The Art of X-ray Reading.

Roy has taught writing at The Poynter Institute  to students of all ages since 1979. He has served as Poynter’s first full-time faculty member, dean, vice-president, and senior scholar. He contributes regularly to Poynter.org on topics such as writing, reporting, editing, coaching writers, reading, language and politics, American culture, ethics, and the standards and practices of journalism.

Ralph S. Clem

Ralph ClemRalph S. Clem (Ph.D., Columbia University, 1976) is Professor Emeritus of Geography and formerly Director of the Center for Transnational and Comparative Studies (1999-2005) at Florida International University in Miami where he was a faculty member from 1974-2009. He also taught in the graduate program in International Administration at the University of Miami (2009-2011). His research, published in many books and articles, focuses primarily and most recently on the electoral geography of states transitioning from authoritarian regimes to pluralist democracies, in particular Russia. He has secondary interests in the study of the demography of ethnicity and migration and labor force issues in ethnically plural states. Professor Clem is the recipient of the Professorial Excellence Award of the State University System of Florida and the Ryder Corporation Excellence in Teaching Award. He has held several prestigious fellowships, including those at the W. Averell Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union and the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies. Professor Clem has been the principal investigator on research grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of State, and the National Council for Russian and East European Research. He has traveled extensively throughout Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia and has lectured for the American Geographical Society on trips in Russia, including the Trans-Siberian route, and for the National Geographic Society. He retired in January 2004 from the Air Force Reserve with the rank of Major General, having served at the squadron and wing level and at the National Security Agency and the Air Intelligence Agency as an intelligence officer, and in the Pentagon on the Air Staff. His military decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Defense Superior Service Medal.

Janet Crane

Janet Crane

Janet Crane was a payments executive in the Finance Industry for 30 years.  Following Senior Vice President positions at Mellon Bank, MasterCard and Wells Fargo, she was the CEO of Mondex, USA; Vice Chairman of Mondex, Intl. and the CEO of eBay’s first payment company. She was on the Boards of Cirrus, Mondex USA, Mondex Intl and several non-profits. She is currently the President of the Parkshore Plaza Condo Assn and sits on the Board of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.

John Dumas

John Dumas is a Supervisory Special Agent with the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). HSI is a critical investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security and is a vital U.S. asset in combating criminal organizations illegally exploiting America’s travel, trade, financial and immigration systems. SS/A Dumas has over 23 years of law enforcement experience and currently serves as the supervisor of the financial investigation group at the HSI Tampa office the Special Agent in Charge and also serves as the HSI Tampa Liaison to SOCOM.

Padmini Durr

Padmini Durr

Padmini Durr was born in India to a family of traditional Indian Artists. Her father Mohan Raj was a musician and composer. Her mother Rajamani, an internationally known Classical Indian dancer, taught her art to her daughter at an early age. Mother and daughter traveled throughout Europe performing dance recitals. Padmini lived and studied in London, later in Geneva Switzerland. She was also a student at the alliance Française, and a member of the Indian association of Geneva, and an active member of La Maison Des Jeunes, a youth club where she performed Temple Dances and taught Classical Indian dance. Padmini met her husband, Dr. Jacques Dürr, in Geneva. In 1978 they moved to Chicago, where their son Nicolas was born.

Padmini was a co-chair of the Medical Wives Group of the University of Chicago. She was also an active member of Cross Roads International, which promoted friendship on the campus of the University of Chicago. The Dürr family moved to Denver in 1981. Padmini was a member of the Swiss American Club, both in Chicago and in Denver. While living in Denver, Padmini was a board member of the Sister Cities International, the Medical Wives group, the Unesco club, the Welcome to Colorado Club, The Indian Association, and the South East Asian Association.

Padmini teaches classical Indian dance and performs for many local and international organizations in Europe, India, Chicago, Colorado, and Florida. She continues to perform and teach in the United States, Europe and India, and some of her former students are also teaching this traditional art. In Florida also, Padmini has continued her community involvement, and has served on the boards of The Brandeis women’s club, and the Collectors Circle of the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. She is also a member of the Hindu Temple of Florida and is active in the Indian community in the Tampa Bay area.

Padmini founded the Welcome to Tampa-Bay International Club (WTBI). Padmini and Jacques live in Tampa Bay, Florida and their son Nicolas is an architect currently residing in London.

Eliane Elmaleh

Elaine Elmaleh

Eliane Elmaleh is a Professor in American civilization who teaches at the English department of Université du Maine, Le Mans, France. Her fields of research are contemporary art, African-American art, feminist and political discourses, the American media and identity politics. She has published a number of articles in scholarly reviews such as Annales du Monde Anglophone, Revue Française d’Etudes Américaines, European Journal of American Culture, E-rea and LISA e-journal. She recently co-edited a book entitled Résistances, which describes and analyses the different political movements which recently emerged in countries such as Canada, Cuba, Spain, the US, Greece, France or Tunisia as a reaction to the global economic crisis.

Jean-Charles Faust

Jean-Charles Faust

A graduate of the European Business School in Paris, Jean­-Charles Faust’s career started at France ‘s largest Homebuilder, Societe des Maisons Phenix, in Paris. In 1981, Faust was transferred to Clearwater to head the sales and marketing efforts of a joint venture with US Home. In 1986 he opened a commercial real estate brokerage firm, Faust Realty, Inc. Faust is a certified Building contractor and a licensed real estate Broker in Florida.

Faust is the current President of the French American Business Council of West Florida, a member of the network of 20 French American Chambers of Commerce in the United States, and is the Honorary Consul of France for the west coast of Florida.

David P. Fidler

David Fidler

David P. Fidler is the James Louis Calamaras Professor of Law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and an adjunct senior fellow for cybersecurity at the Council on Foreign Relations. His latest book is “The Snowden Reader” (Indiana University Press, 2015). He is one of the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity law and policy, cyberspace and international law, international law and global health security, the rule of law in counterinsurgency and stability operations, biosecurity threats, arms control and non-proliferation concerning weapons of mass destruction, the international legal implications of “non-lethal” weapons, and the globalization of baseball.

Ralph Fernandez

Ralph Fernandez

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.

Albert A. Fox, Jr.

Albert Fox

Albert A. Fox, Jr., a graduate of the University of Maryland, is the Founder and President of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, a nonprofit organization formerly based in Washington, DC, and now headquartered in Tampa, Florida. The Alliance was founded in November 1998 to re-establish trade and diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Through his work with the Alliance, he has made more than 100 legal visits to Cuba in the past seventeen years, under the belief we should interact with the Cuban government as it is, not as we wish it to be. These visits have included nine meetings with former President Fidel Castro, President Raul Castro, numerous meetings with the highest ranking Cuban officials and visits to homes of ordinary Cuban citizens.

Nosarieme Garrick

Nosarieme Garrick

A citizen of the World, with roots in Nigeria and the United States, Nosarieme Garrick is passionate in exposing the rapid cultural and technological advancements exploding among the youth in Africa. As a writer, she covers African Culture, writing for outlets like MTV Staying Alive, CNN, Afripopmag, Africa is a Country, and Women’s eNews. Her articles helped her establish fresh new connections with young African political, economic, technological and cultural leaders. In 2010, she founded Vote or Quench, a youth empowerment campaign educating young Nigerians on the importance of their vote in local and national elections. Nosarieme also spearheaded the live production of the first youth centered presidential debate. Before starting My Africa Is as a web-based series, she interned with the Economist newspaper and was mentored by the company’s CEO on the business of media. Nosarieme shares the stories of young people, living, thriving, inspiring and connecting the world community through My Africa Is.

Pierre Guerlain

Pierre GuerlainPierre 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 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.

Timothy R. Heath


Timothy Heath is a senior international defense research analyst at the RAND Corporation and member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. Prior to joining RAND, he served as the senior analyst for the USPACOM China Strategic Focus Group for five years. He worked for more than 16 years on the strategic, operational, and tactical levels in the U.S. military and government, specializing on China, Asia, and security topics. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, he has extensive experience analyzing China’s national strategy, politics, ideology, and military, as well as of Asian regional security developments.

Beth Houghton

Beth Houghton

Beth Houghton is the Executive Director of St. Petersburg Free Clinic. She says that, after a varied career that included both non profit and for profit roles, she is elated to be giving her time and talent to St. Petersburg Free Clinic. St. Petersburg Free Clinic is supported largely through philanthropy, and has effectively, efficiently and compassionately been assisting the poor and working poor in our community for 45 years. St. Petersburg Free Clinic focuses on basic needs: food, shelter and medical care.

Besides her role at the Free Clinic, she serves as Chair of the Hospital Board of H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.

Beth received her B.A. and M.B.A. from Tulane University and her JD from Stetson. She is licensed to practice both law and public accounting.

Ms. Houghton has received many awards for her community service, including being named 2013 Ms. Sun by the St. Petersburg Suncoasters.

Frederick Hutchinson, Jr.

HF Hutchinson

Mr. Hutchinson has experience in strategic planning, operational evaluations, change management, adaptation of technology to operations, and in international economic and political affairs.

He has twenty years of senior management experience in the Central Intelligence Agency, to include several years as Counselor to one Director of Central Intelligence and served as the head of an internal consulting group for three other Directors. He served twice as the Vice Chairman and once as the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, producing intelligence estimates on global issues to support Presidential decisions. He has worked on a variety of projects with the Department of State, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the US military services and commands, and foreign governments and companies. These projects involved matters such as negotiations of agreements, peacekeeping operations, major satellite technology programs, development of technologies for foreign government programs, personnel reliability programs for US agencies and foreign governments, security of embassy facilities and information, and counterinsurgency programs.

His foreign affairs experience has included living, working, and studying in the Middle East and participating in joint government projects in the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia. These assignments involved negotiations with foreign officials, development of peacekeeping organizations and their protocols, technology development and procurement for joint government ventures, and the application of technology to foreign defense, intelligence and management requirements.

Mr. Hutchinson served as a US Army officer in several overseas areas to include service as an infantry officer in Vietnam. He also has served as a political and commercial officer in embassies. His private business experience is in the area of land development and small retail operations.

He has a BA in Political Science and History from West Virginia University and an MA in Public Law & Government from Columbia University.

Phillip Kasaija

Phillip Kasaija

Dr. Phillip Kasaija is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He holds a Ph.D. and L.L.M in International Law from Sussex University in the United Kingdom. He is an expert on armed conflict, conflict resolution, and transitional justice in the Great Lakes and Greater Horn regions of Africa. He served as the Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution Advisor at the Inter-governmental Authority on Development Secretariat, Republic of Djibouti (2008), and Assistant Facilitator for Somalia Peace and National Reconciliation in Ethiopia (2009). In 2009 he won the Mary Kinglsey Zochonis Lecture Prize from the African Studies Association of the U.K. In 2010 he was British Academy Visiting Scholar at the African Studies Center at the University of Oxford. In Spring 2016 he is the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Michael Lemmon

Michael Lemmon

Michael Lemmon served 34 years as a career Foreign Service Officer with postings in Moscow, Islamabad, Tunis, Rabat and Yerevan. He held a wide range of policy positions in Washington including as Deputy Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia. He then joined the Near East South Asia Center at National Defense University as executive director of the Regional Network of Strategic Studies Centers for some 30 thinks tanks from across North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey and South Asia. He currently serves as a consultant to the Department of State.

Robert Liberto

Supervisory Special Agent Liberto joined IRS Criminal Investigation in 1998 as a Special Agent assigned to the New York Field Office. While in the NYFO, he was assigned to the US Customs-led El Dorado Narcotics Money Laundering Task Force. In 2011, he was promoted to the Supervisory Special Agent position in the Tampa Field Office. He is a firearms instructor, and has also instructed at the US State Department sponsored International Law Enforcement Academy in El Salvador. Prior to joining Criminal Investigation, he was employed as an Investigative Attorney for the New York City Department of Investigation. Supervisory Special Agent Liberto holds a B.S. in Accounting from Pennsylvania State University and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Leslie Lieberman

Leslie Lieberman

Leslie Sue Lieberman, Ph.D., is a biomedical and nutritional anthropologist and currently an Emerita Professor of Anthropology and Courtesy Professor of Medical Education at the University of Central Florida. She was the founding Director of the UCF Women’s Research Center. In 2010-2014 she was a European Union Visiting Scholar teaching Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health in the Masters in Sustainable Regional Health Systems program to students from African, Asian and European countries. Prior to joining the UCF faculty in 2001 she was the Executive Director of the Center for Research on Women’s Health, Affiliate in the Department of Pediatrics and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida. Most of her research has focused on obesity and diabetes among US minority populations but she has recently published with colleagues from Croatia, Lithuania, Germany, Bangladesh, Uganda and Ethiopia. She is particularly interested in how human adaptation and evolutionary biology relate to the current obesity and diabetes pandemics. She is the former President of the National Association of Academies of Science, the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition and the Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association, the Florida Academy of Sciences, and both the UCF and UF Chapters of Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society. She is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and has received many academic and leadership awards. Her research and scientific activities have been supported by National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Florida Department of Health, American Association of University Women, Lockheed Martin, among others. She has co-authored or edited 11 books and published 85 journal articles and book chapters and more than 200 other works: reports, reviews, and editorials. She is devoted to her son and family, three cats and Zumba.

Michael Lynch

Michael Lynch

Dr. Lynch is a Professor in Organizational Leadership at Argosy University of Tampa Graduate School of Business and teaches Culinary management at the Art Institute of Tampa. He completed his Doctorate in Management from the University of Phoenix. Dr. Lynch holds a graduate law degree specializing in food law from DeMontfort University located near London. In addition, he has a master’s degree from Florida International University in Miami and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin where he attended both the Madison and Stout campus. He is also a CEC Certified Executive Chef, CCA Certified Culinary Administrator, and a Certified Food Executive, CFE.

He has been an instructor/specialist for the University of Florida, Department of Food Science, and guest lecturer at numerous colleges in the United Kingdom, Mexico, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, and Louisiana. For the last 15 years, he has worked as a consultant for hotels and casinos focusing on product liability issues for food and beverage operations. He has trained and certified team members and managers at major casinos and resorts in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami, New Orleans, London, Cancun, and Barcelona.

His career started as a culinarian and eventually he went on national tour with Paul Prudhomme in promotion and demonstration of Cajun cooking, cook books and spices. He was an Executive Chef in Miami’s “South Beach” and cooked privately for many of the world’s top bands. U2, Grateful Dead, Eagles, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Steely Dan, Metallica, Guns and Roses, Genesis and many more.

Presently Dr. Lynch is the Director of VIP Services for the Tampa Bay Blues Festival and the Co-Director of the VIP Lounge for the Clearwater Jazz Festival. These events have featured acts such as Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, Earth, Wind and Fire, Tower of Power, Average White Band, Trombone Shorty, Tab Benoit, Bonnie Rait, Dr. John, Avett Brothers, Ed Sheeran, and Buddy Guy.

Dr. Lynch has worked with the United States Marines, United States Air Force, United States Navy, and United States Coast Guard. Dr. Lynch has authored five textbooks, co-authored the inspirational book Reaching Cloud 9, and featured in numerous magazines and journals. He founded the first Charitable Culinary Student Organization, The Cook’s Club of Tampa Bay in 2006 which has helped raise over $2 million dollars for charity in the Tampa Bay community.

Anthony P. Maingot


Anthony P. Maingot is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Florida International University in Miami. He has also taught at Yale University where he was Director of the Antilles Research Program and at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad. Dr. Maingot has been the recipient of a Social Science Research Council grant to study Cuba and Haiti, as well as Carnegie, Rockefeller and Mellon Foundation grants in Caribbean Studies. He is co-author of A Short History of the West Indies, now in its fourth edition; Small County Development and International Labor Flows: Experience in the Caribbean (1991); The United States and the Caribbean: Challenges of an Asymmetrical Relationship (1994) of which there is a Spanish edition; The United States and the Caribbean in the Post-Cold War Era. He edited a special issue on the Caribbean of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (1994). Dr. Maingot co-authored The United States and the Caribbean: Transforming Hegemony and Sovereignty (2004). His most recent books: Venezuela’s Petro-Diplomacy ((2011), edited with Ralph Clem; Miami: A Cultural History. Forthcoming: Race, Ideology and the Decline of Caribbean Marxism (University Press of Florida, Fall 2015). He was born in Trinidad and was a member of the Constitutional Reform Commission of Trinidad and Tobago. He has been a visiting scholar at the Institute of Developing Economies (Tokyo, Japan), the Institute d’Etudes Politiques (Universite d’Aix en Provence, France as well as a senior social scientist at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica. Upon his retirement in 2004 he was awarded Florida International University’s Distinguished Service Medallion. For the past 30 years he has been a lecturer for the Smithsonian Voyages on cruises in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Daniel McDowel

Daniel McDowell

Daniel McDowell is an assistant professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. His research focuses on the political economy of the international financial and monetary systems. His book project, under contract with Oxford University Press, is entitled Brother, Can you Spare a Billion? America, the IMF, and the International Lender of Last Resort. It seeks to explain why the U.S. sometimes provides unilateral “bailouts” of foreign economies experiencing financial crises. He has published work on other topics, including China’s efforts to internationalize the yuan, in International Studies Quarterly and New Political Economy.

Douglas L. McElhaney

doug-speakingDoug 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.

Simi Mehta

Simi Mehta

Simi Mehta is a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellow at Ohio State University and a Ph.D. scholar at the United States Studies Division of the Centre for Canadian, United States and Latin American Studies (CCUS&LAS), School of International Studies (SIS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. She is working on the bilateral agricultural cooperation between the United States and India in the context of achieving food security around the world. Her research interests include India’s Foreign Policy, Indo-US Relations, International Political Economy, Government and Politics of South Asia and American Foreign Policy. A black belt professional in Karate, she has been engaged with civil society movements for better health and education services, gender equality and women empowerment in India. She is also the Secretary of Manavdhara, A Youth Social Organisation for Humanity, (https://www.facebook.com/manavdhara) which is engaged in voluntary social activities, striving for a just and peaceful society across the globe.

Richard Miniter


Richard Miniter is the Chief Executive Officer of American Media Institute, and an award-winning investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He writes the “National Security” column on Forbes.com. He was editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe and was a member of the famed investigative team of the Sunday Times of London. As vice president of The Washington Times, Miniter turned around an ailing division. He is the author of Losing bin Laden, Shadow War, Mastermind, Leading From Behind and most recently Eyes On Target. Miniter has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, Forbes, New Republic, National Review and others. He appears regularly on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and hundreds of radio programs every year.

Meg Moritz


Meg Moritz is a writer and documentary film producer who has covered media ethics for more than 25 years. Her work on news coverage of the gay rights movement has appeared in academic journals, the popular press and her films have been screened in the US, France, Spain, Sweden, South Africa and China. In 1999, she produced the documentary film Covering Columbine that examines the ethics of news media coverage of school shootings. Her most recent documentary, Taking the Lede, looks at high school journalists and their on-going struggles to give voice to the issues that impact young people today including gay rights and school violence. She is a UNESCO Chair in journalism education and professor emerita at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Bolajoko Ogunmefun

Bola Ogunmefun

Bola Ogunmefun is a Canadian lawyer and a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Bola was called to the Bar in 2011 and works primarily in the areas of Civil Litigation, Immigration law and Municipal law.

Her Civil Litigation practice covers a broad range of areas, including commercial and contractual disputes and estate litigation matters.

In her Immigration practice, Bola assists clients in preparing and submitting various permanent residence applications, including Family Class sponsorships (spouses/common-law partners,parents and dependent children) and Economic/Skilled Workers programs. Bola also assists with temporary residence applications, including work permit applications for employees and employers, temporary resident visas and student permits.

In her Municipal law practice, Bola has appeared before the Ontario Municipal Board, representing both private individuals and municipalities in various land-use planning matters. She represents municipalities in a wide range of civil matters.

Bola obtained a Juris Doctor from the University of Ottawa and holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University.

Bola is passionate about mentoring and has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada as an in-school mentor.

Gene Poteat

Gene Poteat

Gene is a retired Central Intelligence Agency Scientific Senior Intelligence Officer, who in retirement, also served as president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), a national association representing the Intelligence Community. He now is president-emeritus and advances AFIO’s mission to educate the American public on the critical need for an effective, professional, and accountable Intelligence Community.

Gene holds a BS in electrical engineering from The Citadel, a Masters Degrees and honorary doctorate in Intelligence Studies from the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school in Washington, DC, where he was a professor and mentor for students. He has studied intelligence at Cambridge University and lectured at Nottingham University. He began his career with the Bell Telephone Laboratories as a missile guidance development engineer.

His CIA work experience included the U-2 and A-12 OXCART (predecessor of the SR-71 black bird), Technical staff of the National Reconnaissance Office, and Technical Director of the Navy’s special programs office. He also managed the CIA’s worldwide network of monitoring sites. He developed innovative intelligence collection projects in support of our military.

Gene holds CIA awards for many innovations and the National Reconnaissance Office’s medal for Meritorious Civilian Service. He has appeared on the History Channel, C-SPAN, BBC TV as an intelligence, counterintelligence and terrorism expert, and been interviewed for scores of newspapers here and abroad. He served abroad in England, Scandinavia, the Mid-East, and Asia.  Gene presently teaches, writes and lectures frequently on intelligence and national security topics.

Joshua Potter

Joshua Porter

Colonel Joshua Potter is a US Army Officer who has served in several operational assignments in the United States, Europe, and South Western Asia. Upon graduating from West Point in 1993, with a Bachelor’s degree in International History, he served in a variety of Air Defense Artillery, Special Forces, and Civil Affairs assignments. COL Potter earned a Master’s of Science (MS) degree in Health Sciences from Touro University in 2009 and a MS in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy from National Defense University in 2014. Potter co-authored several professional articles, blogs, case studies, and sections of military Field Manuals (FMs) relating to influence techniques, counterinsurgency, and Security Force Assistance. He authored three books including American Advisors (Combat Studies Institute, 2011) and co-authored Ambush!: A Professionals Guide to Preparing or Preventing Ambushes (Paladin Press, 2010) with CDR (ret) Gary Stubblefield and Mark Monday, and co-authored The Son In Our Eyes (2009) with his son, Damon. He also authored a case study on ethical decision-making in combat for the Center for Complex Operations (CCO) titled, Right and Wrong, Balanced on the Edge of a Spear: U.S. Forces at a Mosque in Baghdad (NPS, 2010).

COL Potter has advised and partnered with military forces in Saudi Arabia (1994, 1995, and 1997), Republic of Georgia (2000), Russia (2004), Bulgaria (2004), Iraq (2003-2006, 2009-2010) and Afghanistan (2010-2011). He trained scores of Advisor Teams preparing for Iraq and Afghanistan while stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas from 2007 to 2010. Potter led teams which trained more than 12,000 deploying military and civilian advisors in the US and 22 supporting countries at the NATO Joint Forces Training Center, Poland as well as 50 Afghan officers and soldiers. He has further developed humanitarian demining operations with Georgian, Armenian, and Azeri military and civilian engineers in 2000.

A decorated officer, COL Potter earned four Bronze Stars, a Joint Commendation Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Combat Action Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal with five campaign stars and the Afghanistan Campaign medal with one campaign star for his multiple tours of service in combat in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Among other decorations, Josh earned the Purple Heart when he was wounded by a 60mm mortar attack in Iraq in August 2006. He went on patrol the following day with his 11-man Team and the Iraqi National Police in the streets of Baghdad. During that particular tour of duty (2005-2006), his Team conducted over 300 mounted and dismounted patrols, nabbed over 90 insurgents with his small US team and 700-man Iraqi National Police Battalion, and personally discovered and secured six IEDs and VBIEDS allowing EOD personnel to destroy them in place.

Currently, COL Potter is the Chief of the J36 (Transnational Threats Division), United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). As such, his Division is responsible for Counter Threat Finance (CTF), Counter Narco-terrorism (CNT), and Counter Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) programs for USSOCOM. The J36 is designed to detect, disrupt, defeat the threat networks who transcend traditional geographic and regional boundaries, primarily through attacking their financial structure.

For more than 22 years, COL Potter has been married to Tracey, a woman of singular grace, patience, and charm who raises their blessed three children – Damon, Peyton, and Bradyn while he is away.

Shawn Powers

Shawn Powers

Shawn Powers (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Georgia State University. His research specializes in international political communication with particular attention to the geopolitics of information and technology policy. Dr. Powers is also faculty affiliate of GSU’s Transcultural Violence and Conflict initiative and co-leads its British Council and U.S. Institute of Peace funded project on Civic Approaches to Religious Conflict. He is also an associate director at the Center for International Media Education and serves on the Board of Advisors for the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

Dr. Powers is the author of The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom. The book focuses on how nation-states adjust to an international system increasingly governed by information-driven financial, political and media networks rather than the geographic and temporal networks of old. His previous research essays have appeared in Media War & Conflict, Global Media & Communication, Ethnopolitics, Argumentation & Advocacy, Orbis and the Journal of Middle East Media and in edited volumes published by Oxford University Press, Palgrave Macmillan, Peter Lang Publishing, the New Press and Routledge.

Dr. Powers co-directs the annual Annenberg-Oxford Summer Institute on Media, Policy and Law at Oxford University (UK) and the GSU study abroad program to Istanbul, Turkey titled, “Media, Journalism and Business in a Global Context.”  Powers is also an occasional commentator for CNN International, The Guardian, Russia Today and National Public Radio. Previously, Powers was appointed to a visiting assistant professorship overseeing USC Annenberg’s London Program in conjunction with a research fellowship at the London School of Economics and Political Science for the 2009-2010 academic year. He has traveled widely in the Middle East connecting to his own ethnographic and social scientific research as well as to the study of public diplomacy, and has received funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Department of State, Deutsche Welle and the USC Center for Public Diplomacy.

Emmanuel Roux

Emmanuel Roux

Emmanuel Roux is the  Executive Director and President of Urban Food Park, Inc.. The Urban Food Park Project is the result of Emmanuel’s lifetime of experience in agriculture, food service and food manufacturing. Emmanuel is a graduate of the Institut International de Glion in Switzerland, where he received training in professional culinary and hospitality management.

Roux’s vision  of local food production and transformation of food from a commodity to a cultural and experiential phenomenon is a practical nutrition-based response to the national challenges  of an increasing diet-related public health crisis. It also offers a visionary and fundamental restructuring of our individual and collective relationships to food and food production as a constructive alternative to our current model of industrialized food production and centralized distribution.

In the 1980s, Emmanuel pioneered the upscale market for flavored specialty pasta through his Tampa start-up, the Gaston Dupree Pasta Company. After settling in St. Petersburg in 1992, he established a number of successful downtown restaurants including The Garden, The Lobby Bar, Redwoods and Haiku.

Since retiring from restaurant ownership in 2009 Emmanuel has been a leading advocate for the development of urban and peri-urban agriculture in the Tampa Bay area.Emmanuel serves on the board of Faith House an addiction Recovery Facility and the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition and manages the Oakdale Community Garden and Faith House Garden in St. Petersburg.

Hiram Ruiz


Hiram Ruiz retired in March 2015 from his position as Director of Refugee Services (State Refugee Coordinator) for the state of Florida. He is now a consultant on refugee policy and services at the domestic (U.S.) and international levels, focusing on all aspects of refugee resettlement. From July through December 2015, he undertook a consultancy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, evaluating refugee resettlement programs in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

The Refugee Services program Ruiz headed for six and a half years served the largest refugee/asylee/entrant population in the U.S., providing employment, adult education, youth and other services to some 27,000 new refugee clients every year through contracts with community-based organizations.

Ruiz holds an MSW from Florida State University. He spent 8 years as a social worker in predominantly immigrant neighborhoods in London, England and later worked in Vietnamese refugee resettlement centers in Scotland and England. Ruiz then spent two years working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Somalia, then as a field officer in camps for Chadian refugees in Darfur (Sudan). After returning to the United States, Ruiz joined the Government of the District of Columbia’s refugee program.

Ruiz subsequently spent 16 years as a Senior Policy Analyst with the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR), a private, Washington, D.C.-based refugee advocacy and public information group. Ruiz traveled to more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to assess the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons and advocate for adequate U.S. and international responses.

Ruiz authored more than 20 publications on refugees and contributed to a number of publications. Ruiz later served as Director of Communications for Immigration and Refugee Services of America. In 2004, Ruiz returned to Miami as the political director of a local of the Service Employees International Union until 2008, when he was appointed Director of Refugee Services for the State of Florida.

Robert W. Schaefer

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.”

Leo Seligsohn

Leo Seligsohn

Leo Seligsohn is a journalist who spent most of his career at Newsday, first as a reporter and later as theater critic and writer for the paper’s Sunday magazine. After a brief internship at the Paris bureau of International News Service in the early 1950s, he began his career in NBC’s radio news department in New York, starting as a gofer and advancing to the overnight radio news desk. Later, recognizing a preference for print journalism, with its greater emphasis on writing and news gathering at the source, he moved on to a paper in New Jersey before starting at Newsday in 1956, He retired in 1989. Leo and his wife, Adrea, live in Sarasota where he volunteers as a middle school language tutor. He also participates in a group called the Media Roundtable, where speakers are invited to discuss news and other matters of current interest. Once a news junkie, always a news junkie, Leo remains a voracious consumer of newspapers and news shows.

Tom Shepard


For 20 years, Tom Shepard has produced, directed, edited, and distributed documentary films. Four of his feature projects – SCOUT’S HONOR, KNOCKING, WHIZ KIDS and THE GROVE – have aired nationally on PBS (including POV, Independent Lens and PBS Plus). Coverage of his work has been featured prominently in the U.S. and foreign press, including reviews of three of his films in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe among others. Shepard’s films have played in more than 150 film festivals worldwide – including Full Frame, Silver Docs and the Sundance Film Festival (where he won two top awards for SCOUT’S HONOR in 2001.)  Shepard has raised two million dollars for production of his own work and has received funding from the Independent Television Service (ITVS) four times previously. He is the former Chairman of New Day Films and regularly teaches documentary film in California and Colorado. He graduated from Stanford University where he studied human biology and film.

Howard L. Simon

Howard Simon

Howard Simon has been Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida since October 1997. Prior to that, he was Executive Director of ACLU’s Michigan affiliate for 23 years, from 1974 to 1997. His more than four decades as ACLU affiliate Executive Director is the longest tenure in the nation.

Howard was raised in New York, graduated from the City College of New York and was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in legal and political philosophy and social ethics.Prior to his work with the ACLU, Howard taught philosophy at the University of Minnesota and at DePauw University in Indiana.

As Executive Director of the Florida affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, Howard has overall responsibility for ACLU’s legal, public education, legislative lobbying, and membership and fund-raising programs.Howard has been a frequent guest editorial writer in many Florida newspapers, and regularly appears in the media, challenging politicians and government policies that threaten constitutional freedoms.

During Howard’s tenure with the ACLU of Florida, the organization has played a central role in issues addressing school vouchers, religious practices in the public schools, abortion rights, the rights of LGBT people, the Terri Schiavo case and end of life care issues, and numerous controversies involving separation of church and state and freedom of speech and expression.

Since Howard’s arrival, the ACLU has also been extensively involved in addressing the need for electoral reforms in Florida, playing a key role in securing the end of paperless electronic voting systems in Florida, leading to the adoption of uniform voting technology throughout the state. The organization has also led efforts to end Florida’s Civil War-era constitutional provision requiring a lifetime voting ban of former felons.

Howard also oversaw the ACLU’s work in 2010 to secure passage of the Fair Districts Amendments and ongoing work during the current redistricting process to ensure that the amendments are enforced.

Since 2010, Howard has led the ACLU of Florida to the forefront of efforts to resist many of the anti-civil liberties initiatives of the Legislature and the Administration of Gov. Rick Scott. The ACLU filed numerous lawsuits challenging efforts to restrict the right to vote – legislation that makes it more difficult to register new voters, reduced the number of early voting hours and days and specifically banned voting on the Sunday before Election Day, and requiring more people to vote by provisional, rather than regular, ballot.

Legal action by the ACLU ended the Governor’s effort to mandate drug/urine screen tests for state employees. Another ACLU lawsuit resulted in a federal judge blocking the law requiring all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy families (TANF) to submit to a suspicionless drug/urine test.

The ACLU’s most recent major victory came in federal litigation – litigated jointly with civil rights lawyers in Jacksonville – that led to the overturning of Florida’s ban on marriages for same sex couples and the recognition of same sex marriages performed in other states in January 2015, preceding the ruling in June by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Richard B. Smith

Richard Smith

RICHARD B. SMITH, whose degrees are from the University of Virginia (B.S., Commerce), Trinity College (M.A., Economics), and the University of Connecticut (Ph.D., Economics), is an associate professor of economics in the Kate Tiedemann College of Business at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He joined the faculty in 2003 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. His focus is in health economics with research interests in the role and impact of patient knowledge in health care markets, hospital quality, and the economics of public health programs. He has been a consultant with World Bank, and prior to entering graduate school was a systems and investment analyst at the Travelers Insurance Cos.

Thomas W. Smith

Thomas SmithThomas W. Smith is associate professor of political science 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 has published numerous articles in the fields of human rights, international humanitarian law, and Turkish politics. From 1997-2000 he taught international relations at Koç University in Istanbul. His second book, Human Rights and War: Through Civilian Eyes, will be published next year by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Scott Solomon


M. Scott Solomon is Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs at the University of South Florida. He received his Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2002 and his M.A. in International Studies from the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1995. Prior to joining the University of South Florida in 2005 he taught at the New School University, New York University, and Lingnan University in Hong Kong, where he served as The Lingnan Foundation Teaching Scholar. His research interests include globalization, international political economy, and migration. In addition to authoring numerous book chapters and articles, he is the co-author (with Martin Griffiths and Steven Roach) of Fifty Key Thinkers in International Relations (Routledge, 2009) and (with Mark Rupert) of Globalization and International Political Economy: The Politics of Alternative Futures (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). He serves as Assistant Editor for the journal Globalizations. His current research centers on migration and development, particularly the issues of state initiated migration policies for remittance generation, policy responses to brain drain, and the political economy of labor migration and remittances.

Tony Sondhi


Ashwinpaul (Tony) C. Sondhi is the founder and President of A. C. Sondhi & Associates, LLC, a financial consulting, investment advisory, and executive training firm. He is currently a member of the Emerging Issues Task Force (EITF) of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). He is also a member of the Investor Advisory Group of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), and the Chairman of the Corporate Disclosure Policy Council of the CFA Institute. He has served as a member of the 2008 Expert Advisory Panel on Fair Value of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). In Spring 2012, he served as the Henry Kaufman Visiting Professor of Financial History at Yeshiva University in NY.

Mr. Sondhi is a co-author of the 2006 – 2009 editions of the CCH Revenue Recognition Guide, and The Analysis and Use of Financial Statements, Third Edition, which was a recommended text for the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) program. Mr. Sondhi has also edited Credit Analysis of Nontraditional Debt Securities, co-authored Impairments and Write-offs of Long-Lived Assets, and co-edited CFA Readings in Financial Statement Analysis, and Off-Balance Sheet Financing Techniques.

Mr. Sondhi serves on the Board of Directors of an investment advisory services firm. He is also an advisor to several U.S. and foreign companies. His consulting activities include revenue recognition practices in the software and contracting industries, revenue arrangements with multiple deliverables, consolidation policy issues related to variable interest entities, financial reporting requirements for foreign operations, securitizations and transfers of financial assets, credit analysis, and the analysis of company-wide financial reporting decisions. Mr. Sondhi has also served as an expert witness on many financial reporting issues.

Leonard E. Tagg

Leonard Tagg

Before joining the CIA in 1985, Leonard E. Tagg worked as a journalist in south Florida and as a high school social studies teacher in Massachusetts. At the Agency, he specialized in three main areas: Eastern Europe, Counterintelligence and the Middle East. As an analyst, he wrote hundreds of finished intelligence reports for the President, Vice President and other senior policymakers. These reports included the exclusive President’s Daily Brief, profiles of world leaders and contributions to several National Intelligence Estimates. His overseas assignments have included Bulgaria, Cyprus, Israel, Italy and Lebanon. Since retiring in 2012, he has written articles on the Middle East including Iraq: Intelligence or Policy Failure and The Iraq War: The Winners and Losers.

Tagg received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in government from Harvard University. While a junior at Northeastern, he was elected to the Weymouth (MA) Town Meeting.

Sajjad Wali

Sajjad Wali

Sajjad Wali is a native of Afghanistan, and worked for nine years as an interpreter for the US military in his native country. He learned English in Peshawar, Pakistan, and is certified in a number of US Special Forces categories. Last year he and his family arrived in the United States as refugees. Mr. Wali and family currently reside in Tampa, Florida.

Albert R.E. Wieringa

Albert Wieringa

Born in the Netherlands in 1946, Albert Wieringa has been a resident of St Petersburg, FL since 2002. He currently writes for the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf and the Belgian periodical Laatste Nieuws. He is a grand national athlete of the Netherlands, and also coaches sports.

Paul WilbornPaul Wilborn

Paul Wilborn is the Executive Director of the Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College. Under his leadership the Palladium has won numerous “Best of the Bay” awards and is recognized as the top venue for jazz, blues, choral music, chamber music and dance in the bay area.

Paul is a pianist, musician and bandleader. His American Songbook Series presents intimate cabaret shows at American Stage Theater and other venues around Florida.

He is a founding member of the WMNF and Studio at 620 Radio Theater Project and contributes radio plays to the project.

Prior to joining the Palladium, Wilborn worked for Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio as Manager of Creative Industries. Major accomplishments included increasing community support for artists and arts organizations, connecting the arts and the economic development communities, and directing Arte 2007, Tampa Bay’s Festival of Latin American Arts.

During his four years with the city, Wilborn worked closely with leaders in government, education, the arts and the community throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Before joining the city, Wilborn was an award-winning reporter and columnist for the Tampa Tribune, the St. Petersburg Times and the Associated Press in Los Angeles. He was a member of the St. Petersburg Times’ Editorial Board for two years. His writing was recognized nationally and statewide with numerous awards. In 1996 he was named Florida’s Reporter of the Year by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 1998 he was among 16 international journalists chosen for a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor that included a $70,000 stipend.

He is a graduate of the University of South Florida and a Tampa native. He and his wife, the actress Eugenie Bondurant, live in St. Petersburg.

Annemarie Wolfe

Annemarie Wolfe

Annemarie Wolfe is a British native who has presented on the U.K.’s National Health Service over several years. Annemarie has 25 years corporate management and consulting experience in the technology and ecommerce sectors in the U.S. and Europe. She specialized in IT innovation and global transformation in a number of business sectors for major companies including Yahoo! Inc. in Europe. She combines a technical background with extensive marketing experience, gained working for global advertising agencies in London and New York. Her career has taken her to many locations in Europe and the U.S. but she is now settled in Saint Petersburg, where she works as a consultant. She is an active member of the Project Management Institute™ where she leads a national technology forum and is a board member for the institute’s Suncoast chapter. Annemarie is real estate investor and a realtor in Saint Petersburg and passionate about the development of the St. Petersburg community.

Ilgiz Yanbukhtin

Ilgiz Yanbukhtin

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. From 2008 to 2014 was in charge of all international projects of the Moscow City Symphony – Russian Philharmonic, founded by the Moscow City Government. Since 2013 has been appointed CEO of the Moscow Region Philharmonic. Board member of the Ministry of Culture of the Moscow Region.


 2016 Program / Schedule