Thomas R. Pickering

Thomas R. Pickering is Chairman of the Board of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He holds the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service. In a diplomatic career spanning five decades, he was U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. From 1989 to 1992 he was Ambassador and U.S. Representative to the United Nations in New York. His last assignment with the Department of State was as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 1997 to 2000.

Upon leaving government, Ambassador Pickering served as Senior Vice President for International Relations and a member of the Executive Council of the Boeing Company for five and one half years. He is currently Vice Chairman at Hills and Company, which provides advice and counsel to a number of major US enterprises.

Pickering received his bachelor’s degree with high honors in history from Bowdoin College and his Master’s from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He received a second master’s degree while a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He speaks French, Spanish and Swahili and has some fluency in Arabic, Hebrew and Russian.

Ambassador Pickering is this years Aresty speaker at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs.


Golfo Alexopoulos

Golfo Alexopoulos is Professor of History at the University of South Florida in Tampa and Director of the USF Institute on Russia. She completed her PhD in Russian History at the University of Chicago and her MA in Russian and East European Studies at Yale University. She is the author of Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin’s Gulag (Yale University Press, 2017) and Stalin’s Outcasts: Aliens, Citizens and the Soviet State (Cornell University Press, 2003). Her teaching and research concern twentieth century Europe, Stalin and Stalinism, comparative communism, health and medicine, and genocide and human rights. She is currently editing the Gulag memoir of Jacques Rossi.

Alfredo Anthony

Alfredo Anthony retired from the United States Army as a lieutenant colonel after serving for 21 years as a career military intelligence officer. His military assignments included multiple tours in the Middle-East, Europe, South Korea, and the Continental United States.  He has worked with the Iraqi National Counter-Terrorism Forces; the Organization for Security and Cooperation, Europe (OSCE); the United Nations Mission in Bosnia (UNMIBH), and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Mr. Anthony has guest-lectured at the University of Central Florida’s Defense Intelligence Agency-sponsored Center for Academic Excellence program, and the National Security Strategy Class.  He serves on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation.  

Wendy Baker

As Director of USFSP Global Initiatives, Ms. Baker is responsible for leading campus-wide internationalization efforts and promoting a global culture at the university by sending University of South Florida St. Petersburg students on international experiences and bringing international students and programming to the university. USFSP Global Initiatives comprises Education Abroad, International Student Services, International Partnerships, international programming such has International Education month, and international recruitment.

Ms. Baker came to USFSP from the USF Muma College of Business, where she held the position of Assistant Director of Graduate Studies for fourteen years. During her tenure at the Muma College of Business, she served as the Advisor in Residence for the USF Know Europe program and has traveled internationally to recruit students. Prior to that she worked in USF Human Resources as a Sr. Personnel Representative (Classification and Compensation) and for the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs as an Administrative Assistant. She is beginning her 23rd year as a USF System employee. Prior to joining USF and pursuing her MBA, she worked as a Human Resources Manager for Montgomery Ward department store. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Georgia and an MBA from the University of South Florida. She is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Program Development from the University of South Florida.

Raja Benchekroun

Raja Benchekroun is a former Arabic Instructor at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. She obtained a Fulbright Grant to teach Arabic in the United States for the year 2011/2012. Prior to joining USFSP, Raja taught Arabic to American students at The Center for Language & Culture Morocco, in partnership with the U.S. State Department Language Programs NSLI-Y Program (National Security Language Initiative for Youth, Academic Year Program). ALI Program (Arabic Language Institute, Legacy International Summer Program), as well as English to Moroccan and European students.

Spending 12 years in education, Raja directed her energy to studying communication and foreign language teaching with a focus on cultural awareness and diversity. She obtained a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies from Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech Morocco, and another one in Liberal Arts Studies from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She eventually started a project called Khatawaat, an Arabic word for Step by Step which aims at teaching Modern Standard Arabic known as MSA, and the Arab culture to Non-Arabic Speakers, through a learner’s textbook with accompanying videos.

Raja Benchekroun has a passion for bridging between cultures via open intercultural dialogues. She says, “If nations don’t understand each other’s culture (both verbal and nonverbal), they will fail to have a fair conversation, where both sides’ opinions are clearly heard and understood”.

Frank Benyon

Following law studies at Bristol University and at the College of Europe, he practiced as a solicitor with Allen & Overy in London before becoming a partner with Clifford-Chance, working successively in their Brussels, Dubai and Paris office, dealing, in particular, with company, commercial and banking matters. He joined the Legal Service of the European Commission in 1980, advising on and drafting legislation, as well as preparing and negotiating treaties with third countries. He also appeared for the Commission in a great number of cases before the European Court of Justice in a variety of areas of EU law. From 2000 to 2010 he was Director in charge of the Legal Service’s Business Law Team, dealing with the Capital, Establishment and Services freedoms, in particular in the banking, telecommunications and transport sectors.

After retiring from the Commission in 2010, he was made Senior Fellow in the Law Department of the European University Institute in Florence and the seminars he held there led to two publications, ‘Direct Investment, National Champions and EU Treaty Freedoms,’ (Oxford, Hart 2010) and ‘Services and the EU Citizen (Hart 2013). He has given university courses and lectures in Italy, Belgium, the UK and elsewhere and contributes to various publications, most recently the work edited by Bobek & Prassl entitled Air Passenger Rights Ten Years On (Hart January 2016) and a Wiley Compendium of EU law.

Paul S. Berg

Paul Berg, a member of the U.S. Foreign Service since 1983, most recently served overseas as Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome; prior to that, he was Senior Civilian Representative at the Regional Platform Southwest at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  He was promoted into the Senior Foreign Service (SFS) Fall 2011, following a tour as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) of the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, also accredited to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.  From 2007 to April 2009, he was Deputy Director of the Western Hemisphere Bureau’s Office of Policy, Planning and Regional Coordination.  From 2003-2006, he was Principal Officer of the U.S. Consulate General in Medan, which he reopened.   During his three years there, he was the U.S. government’s point man on the insurgency in Aceh and oversaw USG response to the December 2004 Aceh tsunami and March 2005 Nias earthquake.  In March 2007, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued him a Distinguished Honor Award for his achievements there.  He has also received four individual Superior Honor Awards.

Prior to his service in Indonesia, Mr. Berg served as Plan Colombia Director at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia 2001-2002.  He was Deputy Chief of the Political Section at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam 1998-2001.  Before that, he oversaw law enforcement and political-military affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City 1994-1997.  He has also served in Rome, Brussels, Bombay and Washington, DC.  Mr. Berg’s languages are French, Italian, Arabic, Spanish, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesia and Pashto.

Mr. Berg is a 2007 graduate of the National War College in Fort McNair, Washington DC, with a Masters in Strategic Studies.  He has Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University in the City of New York.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he was Acting Executive Director of International House in New York City, and before that was a local politician in Wisconsin, elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors in 1977.  He likes to box and grapple, hunt, bike, run, scuba dive, mountain climb, read, write, cook, and collect art.

Joannie Bewa

Joannie Marlene BEWA is a physician, and an international expert in public health from Benin Republic. She is currently enrolled as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, specializing in public maternal and child health.

Passionate about public service and international development, she is the founder and the CEO of the Young Beninese Leaders Association (YBLA), since its inception in 2010. Among others, YBLA received a grant from the First lady Michelle Obama Young African Women Leaders Small Grant Program and empowered and trained more than 3000 girls and women through capacities building and mentoring on sexuality education, reproductive health, leadership and entrepreneurship. She is leading the African German Youth Initiative in Benin, an exchange program that aims at building skills and mutual understanding between Africa and Germany.

Joannie was also a freelance consultant who worked for various organizations such as United Nations Fund for Population UNFPA Benin, One World UK, OXFAM, HIV Young Leaders Fund, and collaborated as an expert with the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison (UN NGLS). Selected by the State Department to attend to the ‘International Visitor Leadership Program’ under the “Young African Leaders” (YAL) in 2012, she became the same year, a fellow of the Secretary Clinton Women in Public Service Project (WPSP). Joannie was elected as the first president of the US Ambassador’s Youth Council in Benin in 2013 and she attended to various negotiations at the United Nations Headquarters on Population, International Development and Health. She is the current observer, representing the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, Children’s Health (PMNCH) Adolescent and Youth Constituency in the PMNCH Academic and Research Institutions Constituency. She was featured on Melinda Gates’ list of six influential women on the topic of global access to contraception in 2016, is as a semi-finalist of the “UN Special Envoy Youth of Courage Award“, and won the University of South Florida (USF World)Global Achievement award. In 2017, she was a candidate for the United Secretary General Special Envoy on Youth position.

Sonia Bouketo

Trained as a historian at Paris IV-Sorbonne , Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in History and Civilizations of Africa, Sonia Bouketo specialized in the Siddhis, a people of African descent established in Karnataka – a South Indian State,  under the supervision of Elikia M’Bokolo. She became a hard news reporter at the French  National television  channel France 3, and from 2007 onwards she has specialized  in radio feature stories and later radio documentaries. She works on subjects and audio postcards  with a strong social issues  focus in France and abroad: disabilities, education, environment, exile,  gender issues, human rights, identity, memory, migration, prison, etc. Her work has been broadcast  in French and English programs of Radio France Internationale, Radio Télévision Belge and on the Radio Télévision Suisse.
She participated as an assistant on the Prize winning CD set Mémoire de Tirailleurs and L’Afrique littéraire 50 ans d’écriture in 2008. She still intervenes on matters dealing with the Siddis, and she plans to work on a film documentary.
Curious and always eager to learn, she is exploring audio-related fields. Sonia Bouketo wrote songs on Breakfast, the album of the Swiss-based recording  artist French Danitsa. More recently,  she created the sound design of the artist, scenographer and costume designer Carolina Espirito Santo’s exhibition De Nauzenac à Ubaye at the EDF Bort- les-Orgues dam in France. As an opportunity seizer, she is awaiting more encounters to pursue her exploration.

Trudy Bower

Trudy Bower, a native of Princeton, N.J., obtained a Master’s degree at the Columbia School of International Affairs in 1978 and immediately embarked on a career in humanitarian assistance, first with CARE in India and Bangladesh followed by two decades with the UN World Food Programme in Sub-Saharan Africa. There she served as Programme Advisor in East Africa and Country Director in the West African nations of Cote d’ivoire and Ghana while raising a family of two daughters. Before retiring in 2012 in Rome, she had enjoyed multiple assignments in WFP headquarters there in the areas of fundraising and grants management. She recently repatriated to St. Petersburg in 2016.

Leroy Bridges

Leroy oversees all of the digital marketing and public relations at Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the official tourism marketing agency for Pinellas County. He manages a budget of $4 million and a team of 5 with the goal of inspiring travelers to visit St. Pete/Clearwater. He loves a good craft IPA, Fright night Shuffleboard, the local mural art and fresh Gulf grouper.

Rear Admiral (lh) (ret.) Adriaan Buma

Rear Admiral (lh) (ret.) Adriaan Hopperus Buma is a public health physician who served in the Netherlands Navy for 38 years in various Fleet, Marine Corps and Joint Command and Staff functions. Among others he served as Medical Plans Officer at NATO HQ in Northwood (UK), Dep. AFOR Medical Advisor (Albania) and Senior Medical Officer on St. Martin after Hurricane Luis. As Senior Fleet Surgeon he was in charge of the national medical planning for UN missions to Eritrea (UNMEE) and Liberia (UNMIL). He was Commanding Officer of the joint deployable surgical teams which brought him to Iraq and Afghanistan. His final position was Inspector-General Military Health Care.

Admiral Buma is a graduate of Utrecht University and received his public health training in Leiden.

His Ph.D.-studies during the UNTAC-mission (Cambodia) comprised studies on health surveillance, malaria and hepatitis. He is a founding examiner of the Diploma in Conflict & Catastrophe Medicine for the Society of Apothecaries of London, preparing military and civilian doctors for disaster and humanitarian relief operations. He is editor of the textbook on Conflict & Catastrophe Medicine. He is the recipient of the 25th Michael E. DeBakey International Military Surgeons Award (USUHS, Bethesda MD) and has been knighted to Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.  He has fellowships of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (UK) and the New Westminster College, Vancouver B.C.

Since his retirement from the Navy (2012) he works as senior consultant in the Harbour Hospital Rotterdam (Dept. Tropical & Travel Medicine) and lectures at the Netherlands School of Public and Occupational Health (Utrecht) and the KIT Royal Tropical Institute (Amsterdam). He was auditor for the Mental Health Care System for Veterans and member of the Supervisory Council of the Dutch Burns Foundation. He also served as specialist investigator for the Dutch Safety Board.

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.

Katherine H. Canavan

Katherine Hubay Canavan (formerly Peterson) was a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State for more than 35 years. She retired after a distinguished career in November 2011, with the rank of Career Minister, the second highest in the Foreign Service. Since retiring, she has supported a number of military exercises and courses as a subject matter expert, particularly those which emphasize comprehensive, non-combat approaches incorporating various U.S. Government agencies, international and non-governmental organizations.

In her last posting (2008-2011), she served as the Civilian Deputy and Foreign Policy Advisor to ADM James G. Stavridis, the Commander of the United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Prior to that, Ms. Canavan served as United States Ambassador to Botswana (2005-2008), Director of the Foreign Service Institute (2001-2005), and Ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho (1998-2001).

Following her entry into the Foreign Service in 1976, Ms. Canavan served in a number of positions in Washington as well as overseas, including as Deputy Chief of Mission in Windhoek, Namibia (1993-1996), Chief of American Citizen Services in Tijuana, Mexico (1987-1990), and Non-immigrant Visa Chief in Kingston, Jamaica (1979-1981). Prior to entering the Foreign Service, she spent three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and attended the National War College (Class of 1993). She lives in South Carolina with her husband, Lieutenant General Mike Canavan, U.S. Army, retired.

Herman J. Cohen

A career Foreign Service Officer and specialist in African and European affairs, Ambassador Herman J. Cohen retired from the US Foreign Service in November 1993. His last position prior to retirement was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President George H. W. Bush (1989-1993). During his 38-year career, he served in five African countries and twice in France. He was the American Ambassador to Senegal, with dual accreditation to the Gambia, from 1977 to 1980.

During assignments in Washington, Mr. Cohen served as Special Assistant to President Reagan and Senior Director for Africa on the National Security Council staff (1987-89), and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research (1980 to 1984).

Mr. Cohen’s honors and awards include the French Legion of Honor, the Belgian Order of Leopold II, the US Foreign Service distinction of Career Ambassador, and the Townsend Harris Distinguished Alumni Award of the City College of New York.

From 1993 to 1998, he was a senior adviser to the World Bank on African governance. Since 1998, he has worked with the US private sector as a consultant in the firm Cohen and Woods International.

Mr. Cohen is the author of two books: “Intervening in Africa: Superpower Peacekeeping in a Troubled Continent.” Macmillan, New York 2000, and “The Mind of the African Strong Man: Conversations with Dictators, Statesmen and Father Figures,” New Academia, Washington DC, 2015.

Marcia S. Cohen, P.A

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. Ms. Cohen currently serves as Legal Counsel to the National Organization for Women (NOW).

A former appointee to The Florida Bar Special Committee on Gender Equality, Ms. Cohen was Chair of the Equal Opportunities Law Section of The Florida Bar. She is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Section, as well as the Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar. For the St. Petersburg Bar Association, she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Law Program.

Ms. Cohen serves Of Counsel to the international law firm of Cimadevilla Avocats in Paris, France, and has been a guest lecturer on U.S. civil rights and employment discrimination law at the University of Paris at Nanterre. She was an Adjunct Professor at Stetson University College of Law and the University of South Florida. She is a member of the Legal Panel of the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and was the recipient of its Gardner Beckett Civil Rights Award. She has been both a planner and panelist at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs.

Marcia Cohen has spoken widely on women’s legal rights and US equal pay law, including the University of South Florida St. Petersburg World Affairs Conference, the Millennia2015 Conference at UNESCO in Paris, and at Hunter College in New York City, the Institute for Science and Human Values conference at Columbia University in New York. She was a delegate of the Destree Institute of Namur, Belgium at the UN Conference on the Status of Women, and received the Woman of Achievement award from the Stetson University College of Law chapters of NOW, the ABA, and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers

Dorothy Davis

Dorothy Davis is a pioneer, social entrepreneur, writer, film creator, innovator, and strategic thinker. She specializes in identifying, connecting, and executing common interests between people, cultures and business from local to global levels to produce positive, effective, and sustainable results.

Ms. Davis’ innovative business, Dorothy Davis Inc., is a New York based global thought leadership and project management firm specializing in image building, branding through storytelling and building common ground to create an impactful holistic development approach to issues including gender, entrepreneurship, health (Ebola and HIV/AIDS), creative economy, diasporan relations, Africa as a global citizen, and South-South and triangular cooperation. Her clients have included: The Africa-America Institute (AAI), UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), AMREF, UN Women, UN-OHRLLS, IFAD, WHO, UNECA, the Executive Office of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, the African Women’s Development Fund, Femmes Africa Solidarite, and the Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders on HIV/AIDS in Africa (AMICAALL). Partners include: the African Union, the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations, UN Secretariat, UNESCO, ILO, FAO, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNEP, and a spectrum of local to national governments, civil society organizations and private sector in the U.S. and spanning the globe.

As part of the 50th Anniversary Independence celebrations of Barbados in 2016, Ms. Davis appears in the first film about the country’s Founding Father The Rt. Excellent Errol W. Barrow, “Barrow: Freedom Fighter,” narrated by 82nd US Attorney General Eric Holder. In May 2015, Ms. Davis received the 21 Leaders of the 21st Century 2015 Award from Womens eNews in the category of Seven Who Interrupt Legacy Narratives as a Transcontinental Developer of African Economic Justice. She received the Global Poverty Award from the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in April 2014. She was previously recognized by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) for her pioneering work for Fortune Magazine promoting US overseas investment.

Born in Liberia of U.S. Foreign Service parents, Ms. Davis grew up in Tunisia, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the United States. Over the course of her career she has traveled to 40 countries in Europe, North and Sub Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. She received her Bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and film with a minor in political science from Boston University and her M.S. degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

David Dlouhy

David is a retired United States Foreign Service Officer with 35 years of public service. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in International Economics and taught at the American Graduate School of  International Management “Thunderbird”.  David entered the United States Foreign Service in 1975 and served in the Department of State until 2008.  During his career, he was Deputy and Acting United States Ambassador to El Salvador, Luxembourg and Bolivia.  He also served in Guinea and Chile. Following the signing of the Dayton peace treaty for Bosnia, David was appointed U.S. representative to the treaty implementation organization.  In 2008, David founded the Government Employees Retirement Planning Foundation, a 501 (C)(3) financial literacy training organization.

William Dowell

William Dowell spent more than a decade as a foreign correspondent for TIME Magazine in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Prior to that he worked for both NBC and ABC News on a wide range of foreign assignments that included the war in Vietnam, the revolution and post revolution in Iran, the civil war in Lebanon, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, various conflicts in Africa and international terrorism, along with the impact of climate change on developing countries. In addition, he has published several books. He co-authored, In the Shadow of the Dragon, an account of private sector Chinese companies which now challenging the leading multinationals in the global market place and he did an English translation of leading French Arabist, Francois Burgat’s The Islamic Movement in North Africa, which includes exclusive interviews with many of the leading thinkers of the Islamic movement. He also recently co-edited the 4th Edition of the Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan. Prior to that he worked on information management for an emergency response team at CARE International providing quick response to major disasters in the Third World. The areas covered in the field were drought in the Horn of Africa, earthquakes in the Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan, floods and cyclones in Bangladesh. He also worked on assignment in Aceh Province in Indonesia for the Swiss-based Henri Durant Center for Humanitarian Dialogue where he organized town meetings throughout the province in an effort to arrive at a peace settlement between the Indonesian government in Jakarata and separatist rebel movement. He also carried out numerous reporting and writing assignments for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He had substantial editing assignments with the United Nations Environmental Program, and he worked on writing assignments for the International Trace Center, a bridge organization linking the United Nations and the World Trade Organization on developing export strategies for Myanmar (Burma), Kyrgyzstan, India, and the Horn of Africa.

Torben Due

Torben Due is a Danish National with a Degree in political science from University of Aarhus, Denmark. He joined the United Nations Development Programme, Nicaragua, as Junior Officer in 1982 and moved to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in 1986.

During the following 30 years with WFP, he worked in Development and Humanitarian issues in headquarters and the field, with postings in Sudan 86-89, Mexico 92-96, Iraq 2002-2005, North Korea 2008-2010, India 2014-2015 and Yemen 2016-2017 ( 4 months). He was the WFP Representative in Iraq when the UN offices were destroyed by an Al Qaeda truck bomb, killing and wounding UN staff.

At the UN WFP headquarters, he occupied senior positions, including Director for the WFP’s operational activities worldwide.

Jeffrey Edmonds

Jeffrey Edmonds is an expert on Russia and Eurasia. His research focuses on the Russian military, foreign policy, Russian threat perceptions, and Russian information and cyber operations.

Most recently, Edmonds served as the Director for Russia on the National Security Council and acting Senior Director for Russia during the 2017 presidential transition. While on the NSC, Edmonds advised the president and his senior staff on Russia-related national security topics including the Ukraine and Syria crises, Russian military, foreign policy, threat perceptions, and information operations. Edmonds was also the lead director during a review of the United States policy towards Russia, culminating in a presidentially approved strategy that had global impact.

Prior to the NSC, Edmonds served as a military analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency, covering Eurasian militaries. He has served in the U.S. Army on both active duty and the reserves for 22 years, with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Edmonds holds an M.P.A. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, an M.A. from Boston University in Religious Studies, and a B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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.

Eliane 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.

Nancy Ely-Raphel

Ambassador Nancy Ely-Raphel served as the Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia from 1998 to 2001. She most recently served as Vice President and Managing Director of Save the Children.  Prior to that appointment she was the Counselor on International Law in the Department of State.

Ambassador Ely-Raphel served as Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons where she established that office and led the State Department’s efforts to develop and implement policy to combat trafficking in persons until January 2003.  From 1998 until 2001 she served as the United States Ambassador to Slovenia.  Prior to her service in Slovenia, she served as the Coordinator for Bosnia, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and Assistant Legal Adviser for African Affairs and Nuclear Affairs.

She has worked as an Assistant United States Attorney, Associate Dean of Boston University School of Law and senior trial attorney with the Organized Crime Strike Force of the Department of Justice.  A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she is the recipient of various awards, including the Presidential Rank Award of Distinguished Executive in 1991 and 1999, in 2001 the University of San Diego’s Author E. Hughes Award for lifetime career achievement and in 2004 the Director General’s Cup of the Department of State.

Olivia Enos

Olivia Enos, policy analyst in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, specializes in human rights and transnational criminal issues. These include human trafficking and human smuggling, drug trafficking, religious freedom, refugee issues, and other social and humanitarian challenges facing Asia. Enos, who joined Heritage in 2013, has published numerous papers on human trafficking in Asia, human rights in North Korea, and reforming the U.S. refugee program, among other subjects. She contributes to the Asian Studies Center’s Asia Update, a book of charts detailing why Asia matters to America.

Enos has a bi-monthly column in Forbes where she writes on the intersection between human rights challenges and national security concerns. Her commentary has also appeared in The Washington Post, The National Interest, The Diplomat, and Real Clear World, among other publications. Enos has written for scholarly publications, including Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Providence: A Journal of Christianity and Foreign Policy, and the Population Research Institute.

In 2014, she co-founded the Council on Asian Affairs, a group for young Asia policy professionals in Washington, D.C. The group meets monthly and provides a networking, brainstorming, and publishing platform for up-and-coming Asia experts.

Enos received a bachelor’s degree in government from Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., and received a master of arts degree in Asian studies at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

She and her husband Zach currently reside on Capitol Hill.

Brigadier General (ret) C. William Fox, Jr. M.D.

Brigadier General (ret.) C. William Fox, Jr. M.D. is a Urologic Surgeon, Flight Surgeon, and has served in a variety of Army surgical, command and staff positions including Special Forces Military Surgeon and Commander of the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M.A.S.H.). He is a veteran of Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Iraq, Operation Joint Guardian in Macedonia and Kosovo, Operation Enduring Freedom in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has accumulated extensive first hand experience with the complexities of treating trauma on the battlefield and the behavioral and complex medical needs of wounded Soldiers and their families. He has expertise in designing and implementing multinational medical humanitarian missions.

General Fox has served in command of a variety of medical units in combat operations and deployed to Afghanistan in Feb 2003 where he served as Director, of the Combined and Joint Forces, while also serving as the Command Surgeon for the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, NC, and Commanding General of the 44th Medical Command. BG Fox was then Commanding General for the Great Plains Regional Medical Command. The 10 Army hospitals in the region provided medical care to forces that were mobilizing, deploying, and redeploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. BG Fox elected to transition to civilian service in 2005, and joined Project Hope, a humanitarian healthcare organization, as the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President.

His awards include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, 4 Legions of Merit, Bronze Star, 4 Meritorious Service Medals, the Special Forces tab(Green Beret), Airborne wings, Air Assault wings, the Expert Field and Combat Medic badges, and parachute wings from 5 different foreign countries. In 2011, General Fox received the Military Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S. He also received a   Lifetime Association Award from the American Urologic Association.

He is a graduate of the Uniformed Services University Medical School, Army Command and General Staff College, and the US Army War College. In 2016, he completed a Master of Biblical Studies and today addresses many groups on how to face and overcome adversity in life, providing a message of hope as he continues to progress in his recovery from wounds suffered in a 2008 terrorist attack in Basra, Iraq.

Michael Francis

Conductor Michael Francis has quickly established himself internationally. Known for maintaining a diverse repertoire while paying particular homage to the composers of his native Britain, Francis enjoys great reception throughout North America, Europe and Far East Asia.

This season, Francis debuts with Berlin Radio Symphony, Philharmonia, Minnesota and Pacific Symphony orchestras. He returns to Komische Oper Berlin, Seoul Philharmonic, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis Symphony orchestras. Furthermore, he will conduct the international ARD competition with Bavarian Radio Symphony.

Other guest and return appearances in North America have included Cleveland Orchestra, New York, Cincinnati, Houston, Atlanta and Pittsburgh, as well as the symphonies of Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. His European engagements have included Dresden Philharmonic, MDR Leipzig, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pflaz, Helsinki Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica de RTVE Madrid and Mariinsky Orchestra. In the UK, his has worked with London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and BBC Scottish Symphony. In Asia, Maestro Francis has conducted the NHK Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan as well as Hong Kong and Japan philharmonics and has returned to Malaysia and Seoul philharmonics.

Working with young musicians has always been a priority for Maestro Francis. Aside from a six-city Canadian tour with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Francis has made frequent visits to Miami’s New World Symphony and recently returned to the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

After several years as a tenured double-bass player in the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), he came to prominence as a conductor in January 2007, replacing an indisposed Valery Gergiev for concerts with the LSO during the BBC’s Gubaidulina festival at the Barbican Centre. Just one month later, Francis was asked, this time with only two hours’ notice, to replace the composer/conductor John Adams in a performance of his own works with the LSO at the Philharmonie Luxembourg and soon after in January 2009, he replaced André Previn leading a German tour of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony with Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Soloists that he works with include Lang Lang, Arcadi Volodos, Itzhak Perlman, Christian Tetzlaff, Vadim Gluzman, Nicola Benedetti, Javier Perianes, Jamie Barton, Truls Mørk, Håkan Hardenberger, Daniel Müller-Schott, Miloš, Benjamin Grosvenor, Emanuel Ax, Ian Bostridge, James Ehnes, and Rufus Wainwright. Francis’ discography includes the Rachmaninov piano concertos with Valentina Lisitsa and the London Symphony Orchestra, Wolfgang Rihm’s Lichtes Spiel with Anne-Sophie Mutter and the New York Philharmonic and the Ravel and Gershwin piano concertos with Ian Parker.

Now in his third season as Music Director of The Florida Orchestra, Michael Francis’ contract has already been extended to 2021. He is also Music Director of the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, where he has launched an ambitious multi-year exploration of Mozart’s life. He was recently Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra from 2012 to 2016.

Ray Gallon

Ray Gallon is co-founder of The Transformation Society, a research and consulting organization oriented to social transformation, dealing with complexity and technological change for business executives, educators, and other society leaders. He is also the owner of Culturecom, a company that provides business process improvement through communication.

Ray has over 40 years as a communicator, first as an award-winning radio producer and journalist (CBC, NPR, France Culture, Radio Netherlands International, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Deutsche Welle), then in the content industries. His management experience includes a stint as program manager of WNYC-FM, New York City’s public radio station.

Ray has always been interested in the meeting point between technology and culture, and has used his broad experience to advantage with companies such as IBM, General Electric Health Care, Alcatel, 3M, and the OECD, as well as in smaller companies and startup enterprises.

As an educator, Ray was associate professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, in the Film/TV/Radio department, and has led workshops and courses at institutions around the world, notably The New School Graduate Media Programme (New York), Université Paul Valéry (Montpellier, France), Centre d’Etudes Littéraires et Scientifiques Appliquées (CELSA, Paris Sorbonne), Université de Paris Diderot, Université de Toulouse Le Mirail, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, Temasek Polytechnic (Singapore), and other institutions in Europe and North America. He is currently co-chair of the Primary and Pre-primary Education Research and Development Community of the Association of Teacher Educators in Europe (ATEE) and teaches Masters Level courses in Radio at the Universitat de Barcelona school of Belles Arts, and is developing a new Masters level course in Information Techniques for the Université de Strassbourg (France).

He is a speaker at events throughout the world, and recently delivered a keynote address to the TCUK conference in Britain. He has contributed articles and chapters to many books and periodicals and is the editor of the recently published “Language of Technical Communication” (XML Press).

Ray, who is Canadian with the zeal of a convert, shares his life between the Languedoc region of France and Barcelona, Spain.


Pragati Ghimire-Aryal

Pragati Ghimire-Aryal is a medical and public health professional with over ten years of experience in medicine, public health education and promotion, public health program design and evaluation, human development, women empowerment, health and quality of life outcome evaluation, public health research methods, healthcare data analysis. She has experience working in China, Nepal and the United States and is fluent in five languages. She has a medical degree from Fudan University School of Medicine (Shanghai, China) and a Masters of Public Health from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

She is currently also pursuing a doctoral student in Public Health(Epidemiology) at University of South Florida, College of Public Health. She has also created research opportunities and collaborations between USF and institutions in Nepal and intends to continue her efforts long term.

In her free time, she likes to cook different cuisines, watch movies and documentaries in different languages, travel etc. She is also involved in a few organizations/associations and likes to mentor new immigrants and foreign students in the US, high school/college students both in the US and in Nepal.


Pierre Guerlain

Pierre Guerlain is Professor emeritus of American Studies at Université Paris-Nanterre, France. His fields of research are US foreign policy, US politics and social movements, 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. HamiltonGeorge 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.

Robert C. Heckman

Robert C. Heckman is a veteran political and public affairs consultant with over 25 over years of experience in national, state and local campaigns and issues advocacy efforts.  He has served in seven presidential campaigns, including the candidacies of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Jack Kemp and Phil Gramm.  He most recently served as a member of the Senior Staff in the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain.  He is a recognized expert in coalitions building and grassroots outreach.  As chairman of the Fund for a Conservative Majority he helped more than 200 successful Republican candidates for Congress, including  Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Samuel Hoskinson

Samuel Hoskinson is a Founding Partner and Board Member of Jefferson Waterman International, a leading international business and political consulting firm based in Washington D.C. Mr. Hoskinson is a former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the body responsible for providing the President and his National Security Council with intelligence assessments concerning major international developments. During the George H.W. Bush Administration, Mr. Hoskinson served as the Deputy to the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. As a senior member of the NSC staff at the White House, he served under three National Security Advisors–Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski–working on Middle East, South Asian and intelligence policy affairs. In the private sector, Mr. Hoskinson was the manager for international corporate strategy at the Bechtel Group in San Francisco. Mr. Hoskinson has been awarded the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement for his service to the Intelligence Community.  He was awarded the State Department’s Superior Honor Award and received a personal letter of commendation from President Bush for his contributions to the 1990 G-7 Summit.  Mr. Hoskinson holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa and a M.A. in International Relations from Georgetown University.

Vicki Huddleston

Ambassador Vicki Huddleston is an American diplomat with expertise in foreign, defense, and development policy. She was a senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense and led American diplomatic missions in Mali, Madagascar, Cuba, and Ethiopia. In Haiti she was Chief of Party for a USAID Value Chain project. Vicki is currently a consultant with Transnational Strategies Group. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and as a Congressional Fellow worked on the staff of former Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru and worked with housing cooperatives. Vicki’s opinion pieces on Cuba, Mali, and Ethiopia have appeared in The New York Times, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post. She co-authored “Learning to Salsa – New Steps in U.S.- Cuban Relations.” Her book Our Woman in Havana: A U.S. Diplomat’s Chronicle of our Long Struggle with Fidel Castro’s Cuba,” will be coming out in February. Vicki is a popular speaker at foreign affairs groups and universities, recently participating in the Colorado World Affairs Week, Meridian International Center, the Montana and Cleveland Councils on World Affairs, the Naples Yacht Club, and the Air Force Academy.

Judge Myriam Irizarry

On July 13, 2015, Governor Rick Scott appointed Myriam Irizarry to serve as a Pinellas County Court Judge.  She was re-elected to the position in August 2016.  She currently sits in the Misdemeanor Division at the Criminal Justice Center, Clearwater, Florida. Prior to her appointment to the County Court bench, Myriam was 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 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.  Upon graduating from law school she served as a Staff Attorney for the Middlesex County Legal Services Corporation.  Prior to moving to Florida, Myriam established a private practice in New Brunswick.  She previously served as an Assistant Deputy Public Defender for the Middlesex County Public Defender’s Office.  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.

Myriam served as President of the Clearwater Bar Association consisting of 900 plus lawyers.  She is a member of the St. Petersburg Bar Association and immediate past President of the Intercultural Advocacy Institute for the Hispanic Outreach Center.

In May 2013 Myriam received the Clearwater Bar President’s Award, the Mount Carmel Law Day Award and in June 2013 was inducted into the New Brunswick High School Hall of Fame with a Distinguished Alumni Award.  In 2012 she was the recipient of the 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, as well as, the Clearwater Bar’s Ralph Richard Award for leadership and support to the Bar and the community.  In that same year she received the Hispanic Leadership award from the Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc. for her work with the Hispanic community.

Myriam 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.

William Jordan

William Jordan served for 30 years (1981-2011) as a political officer in the U.S. Foreign Service specializing in the Arab world and France. His overseas assignments included Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; Tunis, Tunisia; Damascus, Syria; Amman, Jordan; Paris, France; and Algiers, Algeria, where he served in his final posting was as Deputy Chief of Mission. His responsibilities in the Arab world included reporting and analyzing foreign policy trends, especially as they related to the United States, as well as internal politics, human rights conditions, and the rise of radical Islamist forces. From 1997-2001, Mr. Jordan was the reporting officer in Paris for labor issues and internal politics. He returned to Paris in 2007-2009 to work on the Near East and North Africa as well as Russia (including during and after the 2008 Georgia crisis).

Since retiring in Paris, Mr. Jordan has become an independent analyst, with frequent appearances on France 24, BBC radio, Radio France International, and CNN International. He has also lectured on foreign affairs at the French Ecole militaire and at the Paris campus of New York University.

Mr. Jordan’s foreign languages include Arabic and French.

Allan Jury

Allan Jury is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer, with a long career in the U.S. State Department and United Nations focused on international humanitarian affairs and East Asian regional issues.

His most recent positions have been with the non-governmental organization World Food Program USA. He was Vice President of Public Policy and, since May 2016, has been a consulting Senior Advisor at WFP USA. Mr. Jury previously served twelve years (2001-2013) with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). He was the Director of WFP’s Washington DC Office from September 2008 to March 2013, where he managed the organization’s relations with its major partners in the US government and the World Bank headquarters. He also held senior positions at World Food Program headquarters in Rome, Italy as Director of External Relations (2004-2008) and Chief of the Policy Service (2001-2004).

Mr. Jury came to WFP following a twenty-five year career with the U.S. Department of State. He has worked on international humanitarian and refugee affairs since 1987, with leadership positions in Washington, Geneva, and Bangkok. Earlier diplomatic assignments included postings at US Embassies in the Philippines, the Netherlands, and the Indonesia desk in the State Department.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Jury is a 1975 graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota with a B.A. in political science and Asian studies. He is married and currently living in West Bradenton, Florida.

David J. Kramer

David J. Kramer joined Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs as a Senior Fellow in the Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy in May 2017. Before moving to Miami, Kramer had worked in Washington, DC for 24 years, most recently with The McCain Institute for International Leadership as Senior Director for Human Rights and Democracy. Before that, he served for four years as President of Freedom House. Prior to that, he was a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Kramer served eight years in the U.S. Department of State, including as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus affairs as well as regional non-proliferation issues); Professional Staff Member in the Secretary’s Office of Policy Planning; and Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary for Global Affairs. He also was Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in Washington.

Before joining the U.S. Government, Kramer was a Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century; Associate Director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Assistant Director of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, all in Washington. Kramer has been an Adjunct Professor at the Elliott School for International Affairs at The George Washington University. He also is a member of the board of directors of the Halifax International Security Forum and a Member of the Advisory Council for the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Human Freedom Project.

A native of Massachusetts, Kramer received his M.A. in Soviet studies from Harvard University and his B.A. in Soviet Studies and Political Science from Tufts University.

Indira Lakshmanan

Indira Lakshmanan, the Newmark chair in journalism ethics at Poynter and a Boston Globe columnist, has covered coups, campaigns and revolutions, reporting from the US and 80 countries for the Globe, Bloomberg, the International New York Times, NPR, PBS and Politico Magazine. She traveled for seven years with Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and interviewed Clinton more than a dozen times for radio and TV. Indira wrote a “Letter from Washington” column for the international edition of The New York Times and Bloomberg. She has guest-hosted national public radio shows including “1A,” “The Diane Rehm Show,” “Here and Now,” “Weekend Edition” and “The Takeaway,” and is a frequent TV contributor.

At Poynter, Indira is spurring thought leadership on restoring trust in media across the political spectrum through transparency and accountability. She commissioned the first Poynter Media Trust Survey, and has convened leading national political editors, journalists and media critics in Washington to discuss the importance of free, fair, nonpartisan media in truth-telling to hold officials accountable and sustain democracy.

Before reporting from Washington, Indira spent a dozen years as a foreign correspondent, covering the Bosnian War and the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and interviewing and profiling leaders including Benazir Bhutto, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. She embedded with sea pirates in the Philippines, Maoist rebels in Nepal, and Khmer Rouge holdouts in Cambodia. Her reporting exposed child labor in Bolivia, illegal logging in Brazil, corruption in China, and helped end the incarceration of innocent children in Nepal.

Indira graduated from Harvard University and did graduate studies at Oxford University. Her awards include a Nieman journalism fellowship.

Leslie LaPolla

Leslie LaPolla obtained her Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, taught in Special Education, and tutors adults working to obtain a high school diploma. Her primary interest has been in the analysis and remediation of educational obstacles.

Lapolla has lived through the medical journeys of 3 family members, especially with her husband’s rise as a medical educator. It took an insider’s view to connect the dots on one particular educational obstacle. Having witnessed it from the sidelines for 50 years, Mrs. LaPolla became aware of the breakdown in medical education.

Over the last 5 years, more than 50,000 doctor graduates have been unable to complete the requirement to becoming a licensed physician – completion of a medical residency. Many of these doctors have had to leave Medicine permanently due to the residency shortage, which began in 1997. In view of the projected doctor shortage of 105,000 nationally in the next decade, this debacle seems incredible.

Mrs. LaPolla decided it would be wrong not to address this travesty and bureaucratic nightmare. In her quest to bring this cause to the Nation’s attention, Mrs. LaPolla is encountering educational challenges of her own in utilizing the areas of social media.

C. Knox LaSister

Over the past twenty five years, Mr. LaSister has provided multilevel Real Estate Development and Management Strategic Advisory, Design and Implementation Services with an emphasis on creating technologically-enhanced and environmentally sustainable affordable living communities to policy makers and practitioners in government, private sector, international agencies, and non-profit organizations from municipal to national levels.

Mr. LaSister served as Chairman of the American Bar Association’s HUD Policies and Programs Committee and as the Chairman of the Real Estate Division of the National Bar Association, and in many other positions. He founded Smart, Inc., now in its 24th year, which has been involved in the design, planning and implementation of over $1 Billion in integrated housing, community and economic development initiatives in 33 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Territory of the US Virgin Islands. He also participated in the efforts and findings of UN Habitat I, the First UN Conference on Human Settlement held in New Delhi, India in 2009, and Habitat II, the Second UN Conference on Human Settlement held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2010, and many other international housing and development initiatives.

Mr. LaSister has also been involved in disaster recovery efforts after Hurricanes Charley(2004), Ivan (2004), Katrina (2005), Rita (2005), and Gustav (2008) in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, post-Wilma (2005) in Delray Beach, Florida, post-earthquake in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, Haiti (2010) and post-Super Storm Sandy in New York and New Jersey (2012). Mr. LaSister has now embarked on the design, development and management of Aquaponics farms integrated into affordable mixed-income housing and mixed use new construction and neighborhood revitalization initiatives. His goal is to create a paradigm shift in the revitalization of urban and rural communities by creating new avenues to eliminate food deserts, create new Green-collar job training and employment opportunities, create educational and research collaborations with academic institutions, and supply healthy, natural, organic fish and vegetables to local residents and restaurants through the development of urban Aquaponics farms.


John Maguirejohn_maguire-web

John Maguire was named Director of International Relations and Cooperation of France Medias Monde in September 2013. Prior to that, from March 2012 to September 2013, he was Director of International Development, Audiovisuel Exterieur de la France; from May 2010 to March 2012 he served as Director of International Affairs, Radio France Internationale and from 2004 to 2010 he was head of RFI’s International Training Department. Before that he spent six years as Managing Editor of RFI’s English service.

Felipe Mantilla

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.

Edward Marks

Since retiring as a Senior Foreign Service Officer (Minister-Counselor) in 1995, Ambassador Marks has engaged in consulting, lecturing, and writing, primarily on terrorism, interagency coordination, United Nations affairs, and complex international emergencies. Ambassador Marks was recalled to active duty in 2002-5 to serve as the Department of State’s advisor on terrorism to the United States Pacific Command.

He is a Member of the Board of Directors, “American Diplomacy.” A member of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) since 1959, Ambassador Marks most recently served as a Retiree Representative on the Governing Board (2011-15) and Governing Board Liaison to the Award Committee. He has also served as elected Member of the Governing Council and Chairman of the FSJ Editorial Board, and Member of the Board of Governors of DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired).

Past activities include Distinguished Senior Fellow. George Mason University Program on Peacekeeping Policy, and a Senior Mentor at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.  Between August 2012 and November 2014, Ambassador Marks was a Director and then Washington Representative of The Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation, a program of the Command and General Staff College Foundation of Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.  He was a Founding Trustee of the CGSC Foundation.

Ambassador Marks was appointed to the Foreign Service in 1956 with early assignments mainly in Africa. Senior positions included Ambassador to the Republics of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, the Department of State’s Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Visiting Senior Fellow on terrorism at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Deputy Chief of Mission in Sri Lanka, Deputy United States Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in New York, and Senior Fellow at the National Defense University.

Born in Chicago, Illinois in April 1934, Ambassador Marks attended public schools in Detroit, Michigan and graduated from the Universities of Michigan (BA, 1956) and Oklahoma (MA Economics, 1976), the National War College (1981) and served in the United States Army (1956-58).  He has written extensively, and co-authored the books  “US Government Counterterrorism Programs: Who Does What” and “US Government Counterterrrorism Programs: Nixon to Trump”.

Douglas L. McElhaneydoug-speaking

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

 Jasper Mortimer

Jasper Mortimer is a journalist who finds other countries more interesting than his own. He was born in London and raised in Johannesburg, where he was trained by The Star newspaper in the days of apartheid. While traveling the world, he got waylaid in the Middle East, working on a kibbutz in Israel and for AP in Cairo for 10 years. He married a Turkish woman and settled in Ankara in 2007, becoming the English correspondent for France24 TV in Turkey. He is saddened by Turkey’s drift towards dictatorship but, having seen South Africa come right, he believes Turkey can revive as well. He is also optimistic about Cyprus, where people of goodwill are trying to effect a general change of heart.

Russell Neumanrussell-neuman-web

W. Russell Neuman is a specialist in new media and digital education. He was the John Derby Evans Professor of Media Technology in Communication Studies and Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan and also taught at the University of Pennsylvania where he directed the Information and Society Program of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. He served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy working in the areas of information technology, broadband policy and technologies for border security. His recent books include The Gordian Knot: Political Gridlock on the Information Highway (MIT Press, 1997), Media, Technology, and Society: Theories of Media Evolution (University of Michigan Press, 2010) and The Digital Difference: Technology and the Theory of Communication Effects (Harvard University Press, 2016). He was the Edward R. Murrow Professor of International Communication at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. He also taught at Harvard and Yale and was one of the founding faculty of the MIT Media Laboratory. His Ph.D. is from the University of California, Berkeley and his undergraduate degree is from Cornell University. Professor Neuman’s teaching and research focus on educational outcomes, online education, distance education and globalization.

Susan B. NeumanSusan-Neuman-web

Susan B. Neuman is a Professor of Childhood Education and Literacy Development at the Steinhardt School, New York University. Previously, she has been a Professor at the University of Michigan and has served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. In her role as Assistant Secretary, she established the Early Reading First program, the Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program and was responsible for all activities in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act. She has served on numerous boards of non-profit organizations, and is currently Co-editor of Reading Research Quarterly, the flagship journal in reading research. Her research and teaching interests include early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction, prek-grade 3 for children who live in poverty. She has written over 100 articles, and authored and edited 11 books, including “Changing the Odds for Children at Risk” (Teachers College Press, 2009) “Educating the Other America” (Brookes, 2008) and “Giving our children a fighting chance: Poverty literacy, and the development of information capital.” (Teachers College Press, 2012).

George Peirce

George Peirce joined the faculty at Stetson University College of Law in January 2017 after 36 years of legal experience in the public and private sectors. He is Stetson’s Culverhouse Distinguished Practitioner in Residence and teaches courses in international and national security law, civil procedure, federal courts, and trial advocacy.

Before joining the faculty, George served for more than 12 years as the Defense Intelligence Agency’s General Counsel. He and his staff provided advice and representation on all legal matters affecting DIA’s worldwide intelligence mission during global counterterrorism operations. While at DIA, he taught a national security law seminar as an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School.

Before coming to DIA, George served for eight years in the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, where he brought civil actions against polluters of our land, air and water resources, resulting in recoveries for the United States valued at over $260 million.

As an Army Reserve Colonel, he volunteered for active duty after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and served for a year as the Principal Deputy Staff Judge Advocate for U.S. Joint Forces Command. He and his colleagues advised the command on the many novel legal issues raised by initial combat operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Earlier in his career, George was an associate at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Steptoe & Johnson, where he focused on litigation, international law, and ethics. He began his legal career as an Army judge advocate, with assignments that included criminal prosecution with the 1st Infantry Division, duty at a strategic intelligence outpost in Turkey, and service at the Pentagon with the Army’s International Affairs Division and the Army General Counsel’s Office, where he dealt with ramifications of the Iran-Contra affair.

Before leaving active duty for the Army Reserve, George also served on the International Law faculty at the Army JAG School. His service in the Army Reserve included duty in Panama, Germany and in Belgium at the headquarters of the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

George holds a B.S. degree from West Point, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an M.S. in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University, and is also a graduate of the Army War College. He has published articles on international law involving arms control, the law of war, and the law of the sea, and has given presentations on intelligence law and ethics at Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, the National Defense University, and the University of Oxford.

Donna Petersen

Dr. Donna Petersen is Dean of the College of Public Health and Senior Associate Vice President, USF Health, University of South Florida.  She earned masters and doctoral degrees in maternal and child health from The Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.  She has held leadership positions in the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.   She is Editor Emerita of the Maternal and Child Health Journal, past president of the National Board of Public Health Examiners, immediate past Chair of the Council on Education for Public Health, and Chair of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.  From 2011- 2015, she chaired the ASPPH-sponsored task force, Framing the Future:  The Second Hundred Years of Education in Public Health.  She is on the Tampa Bay Partnership’s OneBay Healthy Communities Executive Committee, the Hillsborough County Health Care Advisory Board, the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg Board and the Board of Trustees of the Tampa Preparatory School.  Among her many honors, she was named Distinguished Alumna in 2011 by The Johns Hopkins University.

Gilles Raguin

Gilles Raguin is a medical doctor, trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases, and a global health specialist with more than 20 years of experience with governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Until recently, he was the director of the health department at EXPERTISE FRANCE, the French international agency for technical assistance (2006-2017) as well as a consultant in the department of infectious diseases at Hospital Saint Antoine in Paris.

He is also committed to humanitarian medicine, having spent nearly 10 years working for Medecins du monde, an international medical NGO, as a volunteer first, then a vice president and finally a director of international operations for 3 years (2002-2005).

Dr Raguin has also worked as an independent consultant for the French Agency for Development (AFD), the World Food Program and the Belgian Red Cross (2005-2007).

Combining a very good knowledge of global health actors and funders with a strong experience in humanitarian aid and technical expertise, Dr Raguin is particularly experienced in the fields of infectious diseases, global health security and humanitarian health in resource limited countries.

Marko Rakar

Marko Rakar (1972) is a Chief executive manager of the consulting company MRAK services ltd headquartered in Zagreb, Croatia. He has a lifelong experience in working/writing for media as well as dealing with the media. He combines his media knowledge with new technologies and was one of the earliest internet adopters in Croatia. He is a recognized lecturer and consultant the subjects of organisation, internet, new media as well as politics and statistics. Rakar ran or participated as consultant on a number of successful campaigns and races for organisations, parties and independent candidates on presidential, parliament and municipal elections in Europe, Asia and US.

He had worked on projects for various international institutions such as Council of Europe, European Fund for the Balkans, United Nations Development Programme, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), World Bank, Transparency International, U.S. State Department, Olof Palme International Center, Open Government Partnership and the Croatian Government. He has been for several years member of the jury for the Pollies award of the American Association of Political Consultants and a member of the jury for the World eDemocracy awards.In his work with governments and corporations he worked as a data scientist and architect of advanced statistical, BI and predictive analytics systems designed to identify, prevent, and/or disrupt criminal and fraudulent activities, predict customer behavior, increase process efficencies and simplify decision making.

Rakar studied Philosophy and Information sciences, University of Zagreb, speaks English fluently and is a regular columnist and author to a number of blogs, web sites, newspapers and magazines in Croatia and internationally.He is also recognized by World eGovernment forum as one of the “Top 10 who are changing the world of politics on the internet”. Marko Rakar is a president of EAPC (Europan association of political consultants), secretary of IAPC (International association of political consultants), “School of politics” alumni (by Council of Europe), non-government expert on the subjects of open governance and data transparency and president of Croatian NGO Vjetrenjača (english: Windmill) which is dedicated to bringing transparency and promoting open governance to Croatian and international public. Since 2012. he is also a junior fellow at the World academy of arts and sciences. In 2013. Marko Rakar received „Informatika“ medal awarded by Croatian Information Technology Association. This medal is given to the organisations and individuals for achieved results in expanding and promoting information technologies.

Sandra E. Roelofs

Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs (Netherlands, 1968) was initially educated as a translator at the Brussels State Economics Institute where she majored with French and German Her interest in other cultures as well as her humanitarian drive brought her to Georgia where she initially worked for the International Red Cross and the Dutch Consulate.

She set up her own charity foundation SOCO ( in 1999. When her husband Mikhei; Saakashvilil, a promising Georgian lawyer, got involved in politics she was teaching French at a Business School in Tbilisi and at the same time advised European companies as a business consultant. Her husband got elected President of Georgia in 2004 and served two terms till October 2013.

During her time as First Lady, Mrs. Roelofs was deeply involved in public health: she got a medical nursing degree in Georgia, set up breast and cervical cancer screening in Georgia, chaired ministerial councils on reproductive health and infectious diseases and was appointed goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organization.  She was also an advocate for healthy life style and palliative care and continues to assist children with rare diseases and disability.

Sandra and her youngest son Nikoloz reside in Georgia. Her oldest son Eduard works in Philadelphia as a journalist. Sandra presently often travels to her parents in the Netherlands and her husband in Ukraine. She is aspiring to start a PhD at John Hopkins School of Public Health and is awaiting approval of her application.

In Georgia, she works as an international consultant on public health, lectures master students at the University of Georgia and directs her charity foundation SOCO that has a medical mobile team, a study grant program and a project on rehabilitation for the disabled.

Sandra speaks Dutch, English, French, German, Russian and Georgian.

Robert Rowen


Rob Rowen is the President and Executive Director of Global Action Coalition an NGO working in Nepal, Djibouti and Kenya. He is also an Honorary Ambassador to the International Coalition of military officers serving at CENTCOM.  His involvement with international humanitarian operations began in 2007 when he was asked to help with relief efforts in Bangladesh after Typhoon Sidr.  Working with the Bangladesh Army and Buddhist Monk Bhante Wimala they brought supplies to the affected area and built 50 homes for the displaced refugees.  In 2009, Global Action Coalition was formed to start education projects in Nepal and has grown into becoming an expert on international educational challenges and working in many ways to solve this major issue in several 3rd world countries.

Renata Sago

Renata Sago is the Florida-based reporter for Marketplace, a national public radio show focusing on money, business, and the economy. Before joining the team, Renata brought national attention to the 2016 presidential race, juvenile incarceration, and mass migration from Puerto Rico as a reporter and anchor for 90.7 WMFE in Orlando.

Her work has been seen and heard on NPR, the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and Voice of America. Her reporting has also appeared on the floor of the Florida Supreme Court and received three consecutive awards from the Associated Press Broadcasters Association in Iowa and Florida.

Renata received her Bachelors in International Relations from Brown University and a Master’s in Political Science at Université des Antilles et de la Guyane

She is a proud Chicago  native.

Diane Seligsohn

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

As head of information for the international federation of newspaper publishers for two years, she gained knowledge of and insight into press freedom issues. She first visited Africa in 1997, when as Head of Media Relations for the French doctor’s group Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World), she led a press trip to visit the organization’s AIDS prevention and care programs in Uganda and Tanzania. Her work as a reporter for Radio France International and freelance journalism trainer has since taken her to 17 countries across the African continent. She has taught Masters-level courses on the images of Africa in the Western media at the Sorbonne’s journalism School, CELSA and at Sciences-Po Paris.

The pilot episode of her educational documentary film series, The African Slave Trades: Across the Indian Ocean, featuring Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, was shown at the New York African Film Festival.

Mirela Setkic

Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mirela Setkic immigrated to the United States with her parents and two younger sisters on December 18th, 1996, following the end of the Bosnian War of 1992-1995. She was 12-years-old and only knew a few words of English. Mirela’s parents left Bosnia after the war for economic reasons and educational opportunities for their children. While the family’s immigrant experience has not been easy, it has changed their lives in many positive ways. Fast forward 21 years, Mirela has two college degrees and is a co-owner of Kapok Marketing, a successful marketing agency here in St. Petersburg, Florida. Mirela’s goal in life is to be the voice for the voiceless and always be someone to those who have no one.

Michael Sheehan

Dr.  Michael Sheehan is an Irish born psychiatrist who emigrated to the US in 1987 to work at the University of South Florida as Director of their Substance Abuse Recovery Program. Since 1993 he has been Medical Director of Operation PAR, (the largest drug treatment program in West Florida with more than 4,000 clients in methadone treatment daily).  He also maintains a busy private practice in N Tampa.

He attended medical school at University College Dublin, graduating in 1977. He completed  adult and child psychiatry residency training in Dublin and became a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London England in 1983. He is board certified in both General and Addiction Psychiatry.

For the past twenty years, he was voted by his colleagues as one of the “Best Doctors in the United States”  an honor given to 2% of physicians. He has lectured extensively and been involved in more than 25 psychopharmacology trials.  He has most recently been involved in the evaluation of novel treatments for cocaine and opiate dependence, and in ADHD and addiction. He was investigator in 4 clinical trials of Buprenorphine. He has authored book chapters and articles on topics related to addiction.

He is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at USF, where he teaches medical students,  residents, and addiction fellows. He has been a national mentor for training physicians in the use of buprenorphine in the treatment of opiate dependence. He has been an expert witness in many legal cases pertaining to psychiatry. He is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

He has been an approved treatment provider for professional groups including  Florida Physicians, Lawyers and Nurses, as well as the National Football League, and Major League Baseball.

He has been the Scientific Advisor to the Tampa Bay Depressive and Bipolar Support Alliance for the last 20 years. He is also a photographic artist and his award winning images have been exhibited in many local Galleries and Museums.

Donald R. Shemanski

Donald R. Shemanski joined the faculty of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) on June 2, 2008, after serving for 23 years as a diplomat with the United States Foreign Service. Immediately prior to joining IST, Shemanski served as Counselor for Global Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, directing the Embassy office responsible for high-priority policy issues such as counter-terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, climate change, and international judicial assistance. He has had a number of postings in Washington and abroad, including tours in Italy, Pakistan, Cyprus, and Germany. His assignments have included serving as coordinator for State Department refugee assistance programs for the former Yugoslavia, delegate to the U.S. Delegation to the Vienna CSCE Follow-up Meeting, Deputy Special Envoy to the Afghan Mujahedin, and Alternate U.S. Delegate to the foundation, “Remembrance, Responsibility, and the Future,” which administered payments to former World War II-era forced and slave laborers of the Nazi regime.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Shemanski was an associate attorney with the international law firm Walter, Conston & Schurtman in New York City. He was admitted to the Bar in Pennsylvania and New York.

In addition to his studies in the United States, Shemanski studied German civil law at the Goethe University in Frankfurt pursuant to a Fulbright grant. His foreign languages include German, Italian, and Greek.

Shemanski is the recipient of two Superior Honor Awards and two Meritorious Honor Awards from the U.S. Department of State.

Publications: Shemanski is the author of a scholarly article on judicial assistance, “Obtaining Evidence in the Federal Republic of Germany: The Impact of the Hague Evidence Convention on German American Judicial Cooperation” (17 International Lawyer #3, Summer 1983).

Kristen Shepherd

Kristen Shepherd is the Executive Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida.

Ms. Shepherd completed her Master’s degree in History of Art with a focus on Pre-Raphaelite art. She is an expert in the work of Marie Spartali Stillman, and her thesis was a primary source in the recent retrospective Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman. Her work is cited in numerous publications regarding Pre-Raphaelite women artists.

Ms. Shepherd started her career at Sotheby’s auction house in New York. From 1999-2008 her work for Sotheby’s included leadership roles in strategic initiatives and special projects regarding publications, financial services, budgeting, real estate, and worldwide marketing ventures.

In October 2008, she joined the Whitney Museum of American Art as the Director of Membership and Annual Fund. Her team strengthened the Whitney’s membership program through online initiatives and strategic marketing projects that responded to members’ interests. She launched the Whitney’s innovative and award-winning Curate Your Own Membership program, and was also responsible for commissioning and launching the online microdonation fundraiser Clickistan, an art project created by digital media artists

Ms. Shepherd moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to accept a leadership position at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), focusing first on revitalizing the membership program and later leading the Audience Strategy and Services division. In that capacity, she was responsible for overall museum marketing strategy and implementation, optimizing the visitor experience, and creating synergies between On-site Services, Membership, and Development.

Ms. Shepherd is a frequent public speaker in both professional and public forums, and has been interviewed by numerous publications including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

She holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in History of Art from The George Washington University, and was selected as a Marshall Memorial Fellow by the German Marshall Fund in 2010. She was selected for the Arts Leadership Institute in New York in 2012. She resides in St. Petersburg, Florida with her partner, Todd, and has two rambunctious sons, Arthur and Henry

Joan Z. Shore

Joan Z. Shore was born in New York City, graduated from Vassar College, and has lived most of her life in Europe: first in Brussels where she was Art Editor of The Brussels Times, then Features Editor of The Bulletin; she also broadcast a weekly English-language program for Belgium’s RTBF radio. She founded ViVART (an art curatorial service) and W.O.E. (Women Overseas for Equality), working closely with Belgian and expatriate feminists.

Relocating to Paris, she joined CBS News, reporting daily on radio and television until the bureau was closed a decade later. She then joined Voice of America, broadcasting there for three years and contributing frequently to CNN. She also wrote extensively for The International Herald TribuneThe Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and several Condé-Nast publications. Additionally, for ten years, she was a monthly contributor to Boomer Times & Senior Life (Florida) and has been a regular columnist at The Huffington Post since its launch in 2006.

She has written two books, including “Saging – How to Grow Older and Wiser.” (Saging is a word she made up from sage and age, and she has given numerous lectures on cruise ships and to specialized audiences in Paris and Florida.) The other book, a novel, is “Red Burgundy,” which has recently been turned into a screenplay, awaiting a producer!

Charles B. Skinner

Charles Skinner has taught courses on foreign policy and diplomacy, twentieth-century history, and NATO at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) since 2009. A retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer, he served overseas in Jamaica (1980-82), Yugoslavia (1982-84), Germany (1984-87 and 1991-95), Belgium (1995-99), and Britain (2002-6). During the last half of his career, he was fortunate to work on central policy issues. He was the Berlin desk officer at the State Department in Washington when the Wall came down and German unification was negotiated. He also served as the first U.S. exchange diplomat in the German Foreign Office (1991-92). He worked on operations in the Balkans both at NATO headquarters in Brussels and the NATO desk at State, and then on the response to 9/11 both at State and at the U.S. embassy in London. A fourth-generation Floridian, born in Clearwater, he studied at Davidson College and Harvard University, where he completed his Ph.D. in modern European history in 1979. He also studied at the universities of Marburg (1967-68) and Berlin (1974-76) in Germany and served in the U.S. Army (1970-72). He is married and has a daughter and twin grandchildren.

Thomas W. Smiththomas-smith-pic-web

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

 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.

Neelofer Syed

Attorney Neelofer Syed is also the founding member of the International Immigration Law firm which has its offices in Tampa FL, Orlando FL, and Fairfax VA. Ms. Syed established this Law Firm with primary goal of helping clients not only by representing them in legal matters but also by treating them with compassion.

Neelofer Syed practices in the areas of Immigration Law and International Business Transactions throughout the United States and internationally. She handles a variety of immigration cases including employment based visas / adjustments, family based visas / adjustments, Labor Certification (PERM), visas for entertainment groups, asylum, battered spouse, deportation & removal, DACA, as well as citizenship. She also handles cases pertaining to International Business Transactions and offers to review cross border contracts entered into between private parties. She is also responsible for the firm’s affiliation with law firms in India, Pakistan and Egypt and, through those affiliations, offers legal services in India, Pakistan, and Egypt. Ms. Syed is licensed to practice Immigration Law in all 50 states of the United States and before all United States Consulates and Embassies. She is also licensed to practice law in Pakistan.

Ms. Syed obtained her law degree from Punjab University Law College in 1994 and her Masters Degree (LLM) with honors from the Stetson Law School 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 all the way through the Pakistani Superior Courts. In addition, she was very involved in human rights activities, especially in the area of rights for women, children, and laborers. These included serving 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.

Urszula Szczepinska

Urszula Szczepinska is the Curator of Education and Director of Research at The Florida Holocaust Museum. Prior to joining The FHM 13 years ago, she worked at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and at the State Museum at Majdanek in Lublin, Poland. Urszula is responsible for student, teacher, and community education provided by the Museum. She also conducts archival and historical research for Holocaust survivors as well as for exhibitions and other projects of the FHM. She has helped survivors discover the fate of their loved ones who they were separated from during the Holocaust. She leads the Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project at The FHM in cooperation with Yad Vashem – she has collected and submitted over 700 Pages of Testimony from local survivors with data about victims who perished in the Holocaust in order to ensure that they are not anonymous. She received the 2011 “Outstanding Achievement Award” from the Florida Association of Museums for her contributions to Yad Vashem’s Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project.  Urszula is the author of study guides and other educational resources, including a 155-page study guide for Yahad – In Unum’s traveling exhibition on the Holocaust by Bullets, i.e., mass shootings of Jews by the Germans and local collaborators during the Holocaust. As a representative of The Florida Holocaust Museum, she writes content for USC Shoah Foundation’s IWitness digital educational platform. She spoke to various audiences, including Honors Class at USF Tampa and Jewish Genealogical Society of Tampa Bay. She presented at the conferences organized by the Association of Holocaust Organizations, Florida Association of Museums, International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Florida Council of Social Studies, and others.

Martin Tadlock

Martin Tadlock is the Interim Regional Chancellor for USF St. Petersburg. He began serving USFSP in July, 2016 as Regional Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.

Martin was a faculty member and director of a center of excellence in middle level education at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville; faculty member, department chair, and interim dean at Utah State University; and Provost/Vice-President for Academic and Student Affairs at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College in northern Minnesota, after serving as Dean of the College of Professional and Graduate Studies from 2001-2006. He served as Assistant Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and as Provost and Interim President at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.

He is committed to internationalization efforts that bring affordable education abroad opportunities to students and faculty, increase the number of international students on campus, and creates opportunity for greater understanding of how we are all interconnected regardless of where we live, work, and play.

Susan Tuite

Susan Tuite is a Florida Board Certified Health Care Attorney who has been involved in the law and business of healthcare for more than twenty years.  Her current legal practice involves advising hospitals, health systems and university medical practices on legal and regulatory issues, with the goal of promoting superior patient care and business success.

Susan also has a passion for health policy and health reform.  After obtaining her MPH from Harvard University, she worked as a consultant in the design of several state health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.  She has also served as a consultant in Medicare payment reform projects.  Susan has a special interest in promoting health care access, broadening the site and scope of health services, and in developing innovative compensation models.

Toni Van Pelt

Toni Van Pelt, a longtime feminist and humanist activist, was elected president of NOW in July 2017. She is also president of the NOW Foundation and chair of the NOW Political Action Committee, and serves as the principal spokeswoman for all three entities. Van Pelt oversees NOW’s multi-issue agenda, which includes: achieving constitutional equality for women, advancing reproductive rights and justice, promoting racial justice, stopping violence against women, winning civil and human rights for the LGBTQIA+ community, and ensuring economic justice.

Spurred to action by attacks on reproductive rights in her home state of Florida, Van Pelt has served in leadership positions at all levels of NOW since 1989. She is a past president of Florida NOW (1996-2003) and past director of NOW’s southeast region–in addition to serving two terms on the national board (2010-2014). Van Pelt began her journey with the organization as the treasurer of the Upper Pinellas NOW chapter, and remains fiercely devoted to grassroots activists working at the local level.

Van Pelt is a longtime advocate for secular humanism, and the separation of church and state. Prior to joining the National Action Center full-time, she lobbied for policies driven by the empirical scientific evidence as opposed to faith. She is co-founder, president, and public policy director for the Institute for Science and Human Values. A former vice president and public policy director of the Center for Inquiry, Van Pelt organized and directed one of the first public policy offices of the secular humanist movement in Washington, D.C.

Van Pelt is a former member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and her past career as the owner of a travel agency specializing in international travel has given her the opportunity to expand her worldview through global travel. She is committed to building an inclusive, intersectional, and intergenerational feminist movement.


David Weiss

David A. Weiss is President and CEO of Global Communities (formerly CHF International), a large international non-profit organization working in 28 countries across all sectors of development and humanitarian assistance. Weiss took on his current leadership role in October 2010, having previously served on Global Communities’ Board of Trustees since 2002 and as Chairman of the Board from 2008-2010. David Weiss is a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition; InterAction, the largest alliance of US-based NGOs; and is on the Board of Advisors of New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s Global Pro Bono Initiative.

Prior to joining Global Communities, Weiss was Senior Policy Advisor at the global law firm DLA Piper for 13 years, where he advised on international trade and policy and successfully represented major industries seeking improved access to foreign markets and redress from unfair foreign trade practices. This built upon his 18 year career in the Federal Government where Weiss began as Special Assistant to the Director of the Peace Corps, then joined the US Foreign Service.

In the Foreign Service, Weiss served as Economic Officer in Haiti, Staff Aide to the Secretary of State and Senior Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State.

In his government career, Weiss was also Assistant United States Trade Representative for North American Affairs (in charge of NAFTA) and held other senior positions in the Office of the US Trade Representative. During his Federal service, Weiss received the U.S. Department of State’s Superior Honor Award.

Weiss grew up overseas in a Foreign Service family and has lived in India, Bangladesh, Haiti, Germany, Switzerland and the former Yugoslavia. He is currently based in the Washington, D.C. area. He has a BA from Hamilton College, New York, and a MSFS from Georgetown University, Washington D.C. His wife, Mamie Kresses, is a Senior Attorney at the Federal Trade Commission. They have a son and a daughter.

Susana Weymouth

Susana Weymouth is the Executive Director, Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts. She has long been involved with international education, culture and the arts. Prior to TBBCA, Susana held positions as Florida International University’s Coordinator for International Programs, and founding Executive Director of FIU’s Dean of Undergraduate Education Leadership Advisory Board. She previously was Development Director of the Film Society of Miami -Miami International Film Festival. Susana has lived and worked extensively overseas, including as Development Consultant for the post-graduate National Film and Television School, London, England, with Michel Soyer Assoc, Paris, France, and with KAI (AIG), Beijing, China. Susana began her career with the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Institute, Chinese Core Curriculum Project and the Government Research Corporation, founders of the Foreign Investment Conference and National Journal.

Susana is on the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s Culture & Arts committee. She is a supporter of the University of South Florida Institute for Research in Art’s Director’s Circle and serves on the USF-IRA Community Advisory Council. Susana is a member of the Tampa Collects group of the Tampa Museum of Art, and a supporting member/donor of The Tampa Museum of Art, The Dali Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts St. Pete, The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, Museum of Modern Art (NYC), The Whitney (NYC), the National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Warehouse Arts District, Tampa Theatre, Jobsite Theater, Stageworks Theatre, St. Petersburg City Theatre, and other arts and cultural organizations. She has served as an arts and cultural grant review panelist at city, county, and state levels. Susana and her husband, Franco-American architect Yann Weymouth, both served as Board Directors of the France Florida Foundation for the Arts. Susana is multilingual and multicultural, born in Havana, Cuba, raised in Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Georgetown University.

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.​
Since January 2018 – Program Director of “Cultural Management Strategy & Practice” program in the Moscow State University.

John Zogby

John Zogby, founder of the “Zogby Poll” and the Zogby companies, is an internationally respected pollster, opinion leader and best-selling author. He has joined with his sons Benjamin and Jeremy in a new company called John Zogby Strategies, a strategic visioning firm specializing in preparing companies and agencies for the coming wave of dynamic changes. A much sought-after speaker, he is represented by the American Program Bureau of Boston. Zogby is also the inaugural Director of the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship at his alma mater, Le Moyne College.

“All hail Zogby, the maverick predictor,” decreed The Washington Post, when John Zogby called the 1996 presidential election with pinpoint accuracy. And he did it again in the following two elections. His presidential polling remains among the most accurate through five elections. He has served as an on-air election analyst for NBC News, BBC, CBC, ABC (Australia), and has been featured by the Foreign Press Center in Washington every election night since 1998.

The Zogby Poll, the “second best known polling brand in the US today” (Washington Post), John Zogby remains the hottest and most accurate pollster and analyst of America’s political and cultural landscape. In addition to the global reach of his brand, Zogby Polls have been cited frequently in popular culture, including NBC’s West Wing, CW’s Gossip Girls, Netflix movie House of Cards, and numerous novels, game shows, and the 25th Anniversary edition of Trivial Pursuit. Zogby Polls are regularly cited on The Tonight Show and spoofed on The Late Show and NPR’s All Things Considered. Fortune Magazine, The New Yorker and Investor’s Business Daily have all profiled John Zogby. He has appeared on every major U.S. television network, the BBC and scores of U.S. broadcasts. His two appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart are among his favorites.

Called “The Prince of Polling” by political strategist Mary Matalin, John Zogby’s interactive methodology is a leader in the industry. He is the author of the best-selling The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream (Random House, 2008) and is co-author of the forthcoming First Globals: Understanding, Managing, and Unleashing Our Millennial Generation (with Joan Snyder Kuhl).

His newest book, published in 2016, is entitled We Are Many, We Are One: Neo-Tribes and Tribal Analytics in 21st Century America, is an exploration of the American people from the vantage point of their attributes and values, not demographics or geography.

Our Moderators

Michel Amblard

Born and raised in France Michel Amblard graduated in finance. His experience in finance as controller and CFO  took him to various European countries,Canada and the US,for acquisitions, financing, restructuring. He has been a resident of St Petersburg for 20 years now.

Iqbal Paroo

Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, and educated in the US, Iqbal Paroo is multi-lingual and brings almost 50 years of experience in the private, public and social sectors including health care, biotechnology, venture funded start-ups,  and philanthropy. He dedicates his energy, passion and intellect to empowering people and organizations to make a difference

Amy Radestsky

Amy Radetsky is the U.S. Department of State Diplomat-in-Residence at the University of Florida. She has dedicated 16 years of her life to the Foreign Service. She has completed tours in Brazil, Mexico, and with the African Affairs Bureau. Her last post was in Rio de Janeiro, leading reporting for a four-state consular district, focusing on the oil and gas industry, local politics, and the business environment.

Robert Sattin

Robert Sattin spent over 33 years as a business lawyer in Connecticut with an emphasis on business restructuring.  Following that,  he came to St. Petersburg and spent the next 8 years as the president of one of the largest international networks of its kind, consisting of over 270 law and accounting firms in 100 countries.

Robert Schaefer

Robert Schaefer served as a member of the 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 author of award-winning book, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus.

Robin Sussingham

Robin Sussingham is a reporter/producer and host at WUSF Public Broadcasting.  A native of Lakeland, Florida, she frequently reports on events and issues in Polk County. She has contributed stories to NPR and Marketplace, and has an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and online reporting. Robin majored in chemistry at Duke, and went to NYU for a Masters Degree in Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting. She’s reported on everything from the Olympics to the oil spill, but will jump at a chance to talk about food or books.

Wesley Wallace

Wesley Wallace is a retired Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Director at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in NH.  He  lived abroad in Japan with the US Army, has traveled to all the continents save South America, and keeps a keen interest in World Affairs.