Spring 2019 Dean’s Coffee Talks
Jeffrey Feltman, John C. Whitehead Visiting Fellow in International Diplomacy in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution
March 26, 2019
Jeffrey Feltman is the John C. Whitehead Visiting Fellow in International Diplomacy in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. He is also a senior fellow at the Washington-based United Nations Foundation. Feltman has a master’s in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a bachelor’s degree in history and art from Ball State University. In May 2013, Ball State University awarded Feltman an honorary doctorate.
Before joining Brookings, he served for nearly six years as the under-secretary-general for political affairs at the United Nations in New York. In that capacity, he traveled extensively and was the chief foreign policy advisor to both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. From 2016 until his April 2018 retirement from the U.N., he also was the special envoy for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559 (2004). As part of his U.N. responsibilities, Feltman was the chairperson of the U.N.’s Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the executive director of the U.N. Counter-Terrorism Center from July 2012 until July 2016. He oversaw U.N. mediation and conflict prevention work and also served as the U.N.’s focal point on election assistance to approximately 50 countries annually.
Feltman was a U.S. foreign service officer for over 26 years, focusing largely on the Middle East and North Africa. Feltman was the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from 2009 until his retirement from the State Department, with the rank of career minister, in May 2012. Before his 2004-08 tenure as U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, Feltman also served in Erbil, Baghdad, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tunis, Amman, Budapest, and Port-au-Prince. Feltman is a recipient of State Department awards, including several Superior Honor Awards and the James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence in Leadership. The American Foreign Service Association conferred the Christian A. Herter Award for Constructive Dissent and also the Sinclaire Language Award.
Dr. Azar Nafisi, SFS Centennial Fellow
February 13, 2019
Azar Nafisi is best known as the author of the national bestseller “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books,” which electrified its readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. The book has spent over 117 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, has been translated in 32 languages, and has won diverse literary awards. In 2009 Reading Lolita in Tehran was named as one of the “100 Best Books of the Decade” by The Times (London).
Between 1997 and 2017, Azar Nafisi was a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC, where she was a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature, and taught courses on the relation between culture and politics. She was also Director of The Dialogue Project & Cultural Conversations. She earned her Ph.D. at University of Oklahoma and then went on to teach at the University of Tehran. In 1981, she was expelled for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil and did not resume teaching until 1987. Dr. Nafisi returned to the United States in 1997 — earning national respect and international recognition for advocating on behalf of Iran’s intellectuals, youth, and especially young women. Since then she has written many novels, the most recent being her book on Vladimir Nabokov, That Other World, which will be published by Yale University Press in 2019.
Dr. Christina Hanna, (SFS’08, M’14)
February 8, 2019
Dr. Christina M. Hanna completed her training in the combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
residency program at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Dr. Hanna’s medical and public health work centers on serving the health needs of vulnerable populations in the United States and globally. Currently, Dr. Hanna is pursuing a joint role as a CHOP bone marrow transplant hospitalist and as a Partners in Health general pediatrician/oncologist in Rwanda prior to applying for a pediatric oncology fellowship. During her residency, Dr. Hanna has worked in Botswana, Rwanda, and Egypt. Previously, Dr. Hanna worked with the World Health Organization to expand adolescent health services globally. As a Fulbright Fellow in Egypt, she worked on tobacco prevention efforts among street youth. Dr. Hanna holds an MD from Georgetown University, where she currently serves on the Medical School Alumni Board. She also holds a Masters in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where was awarded The Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service, and a Bachelors in Science, Technology, and International Affairs from Georgetown University.
Fall 2018 Dean’s Coffee Talks
Dr. Scott Guggenheim, former Senior Advisor to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
December 4, 2018
Dr. Scott Guggenheim is an anthropologist with 25 years experience in international development. He is particularly interested in how local knowledge and local voice can be heard in development, and most of his work in development has been about how to reconcile large-scale development with giving poor people more agency in how decisions get made. He’s lived through some tumultuous events, starting with helping Indonesia pick up the pieces after the East Asia crisis and then the Aceh tsunami, to his ongoing work in Afghanistan, where he worked with President Ashraf Ghani and his team on trying to sort through development in a time of conflict.
Scott Guggenheim served as Senior Advisor to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, where his work was all about putting development and conflict theory into actual practice. He was part of a small team sitting in the President’s Office and the Ministry of Finance which helped President Ghani rebuild (or, more accurately, just build) core systems of government – planning, budgeting, civil service, rule of law – all amidst a pretty bloody conflict that was not getting any better. It was a close-up view not just of conflict or how a poor country develops, but also of the difficulties that even the most visionary and knowledgeable leader faces trying to navigate donor politics, the aid system’s dysfunctionality, inherited histories, and the turbulent political economy of a force-fed and yet basically popular democracy.
Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis (SFS’76) (ret.), former U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Cuba
November 19, 2018
Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis comes to Georgetown after a year at the Harvard Kennedy School as a Senior Diplomatic Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project. A 27-year veteran of the Foreign Service, he served as the first Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana Cuba following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Prior to taking up his Cuba post in August 2014, he was the Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Previously, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs and Security Council Coordinator at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
Ambassador DeLaurentis began his State Department career in 1991 as a consular officer in Havana, and returned to Cuba as Political-Economic Section Chief in 1999-2002. In Washington, he served as Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Director of Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. Ambassador DeLaurentis retired from the State Department in August 2018. He is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Columbia University Graduate School of International and Public Affairs. He is married to Jennifer Lee DeLaurentis, a former senior official of the United Nations Secretariat.
James Politi (SFS’99), World Trade Editor at the Financial Times
November 8, 2018
James Politi is the World Trade Editor at the Financial Times. He is a proud Roman, the son of an American mother and Italian father. Following graduation from the School of Foreign service as an undergraduate with a degree in international politics, Politi moved to London to attain an international relations Master’s degree from the London School of Economics. Thereafter, he joined the Financial Times graduate training program. He rose through the paper’s hierarchy, becoming the Rome bureau chief, before his appointment to this current position.
Valla Vakili (SFS’95), Director, Head of Ventures Studio, Citi Ventures
November 5, 2018
Valla Vakili has spent his career driving digital transformation across industries by identifying growth opportunities for companies and developing products and teams that win. As Head of Ventures Studio at Citi Ventures, Valla engages with external ecosystems and Citi colleagues to develop solutions that meet the evolving expectations that people, businesses and cities have for the banking industry. Valla began his career at Yahoo, where he built new profit streams and products that were instrumental in Yahoo becoming the web’s dominant content portal. After Yahoo, Valla founded a startup and new platform for exploring and consuming digital content across all media. His founder experience gave Valla valuable insight into how to manage startup peaks and valleys, which has influenced his work at Citi Ventures today. Valla is a graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and conducted doctoral research at the University of Oxford. In addition to holding patents for inventions in interactive television content delivery and commerce, Valla is fond of fine whisky, great fiction and good movies.
Meroe Park (SFS’89), former Executive Director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”)
October 26, 2018
Meroe Park is at Georgetown University as an Executive-in-Residence. She was most recently the Executive Director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”), serving as the Agency’s chief operating officer in its most senior career post. Prior to her retirement in June 2017, Ms. Park was a 27-year career intelligence officer and one of the US Government’s leading professionals. She held increasingly senior positions at the CIA, including Chief of Human Resources and a Senior Mission Support Officer for locations in Eurasia and Western Europe. Ms. Park successfully led key strategic initiatives, including the modernization of the CIA’s technology systems and organizational structure, and the implementation of talent initiatives focused on workforce development and inclusion. Ms. Park earned a number of awards during her career, and has twice been the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, the Executive Branch’s highest honor for Government career professionals. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University.
Stéphane Dujarric (SFS’88), Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres
October 22, 2018
Stéphane Dujarric of France has been the Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General since 10 March 2014. Mr. Dujarric had previously served as Spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan from 2005 to 2006 and then as Deputy Communications Director for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from 2006 to 2007. Just prior to his current appointment, Mr. Dujarric was the Director of News and Media for the United Nations Department of Public Information and previously, Director of Communications for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In the private sector, Mr. Dujarric worked for ABC News television for close to ten years in various capacities in the network’s New York, London and Paris news bureaux. He traveled extensively on assignment to cover major stories throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Born in France, Mr. Dujarric has been living in the United States for the most part of the last 30 years. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1988. Mr. Dujarric is married and has three children.
Greg Miller, National Security reporter at The Washington Post
October 16, 2018
Greg Miller is a reporter at the Washington Post covering the intelligence beat. He was among the Post reporters awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of U.S. surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden. He was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories, “Permanent War,” on the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies. He is co-author of a book, “The Interrogators,” and has made reporting trips to countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Turkey and Serbia. Miller previously worked for the Los Angeles Times. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of California at Davis, and a master’s degree from Stanford University.
General (ret.) Wesley K. Clark, SFS Centennial Fellow
October 11, 2018
Wesley K. Clark is a businessman, educator, writer and commentator. General Clark serves as Chairman and CEO of Wesley K. Clark & Associates, a strategic consulting firm; Chairman and Founder of Enverra, Inc. a licensed investment bank; Senior Fellow at UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations. A best-selling author, General Clark has written four books and is a Trustee of the International Crisis Group, and a Director of the Atlantic Council.
Clark retired as a four star general after 38 years in the United States Army. He graduated first in his class at West Point and completed degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University (B.A. and M.A.) as a Rhodes scholar. He was the principal author of both the US National Military Strategy and Joint Vision 2010, prescribing US warfighting for full-spectrum dominance. He also participated with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke in the Dayton Peace Process, and helped write and negotiate significant portions of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. In his last assignment as Supreme Allied Commander Europe he led NATO forces to victory in Operation Allied Force, a 78-day air campaign, backed by ground invasion planning and a diplomatic process, saving 1.5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing.
Frederic Wehrey, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
October 10, 2018
Frederic Wehrey is a senior fellow, working in the Middle East Program, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His specialty areas are post-conflict transitions, armed groups, and identity politics, with regional focuses on North Africa, particularly Libya, and the Gulf. Wehrey has briefed numerous U.S. and European politicians on North African and Middle Eastern affairs, testified before both houses of Congress, and served as a consultant to the United Nations in southern Libya and advisor to the Multi-National Force-Iraq. His articles have appeared in publications, including The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Foreign Affairs, and the Chicago Journal of International Law. He is the author of two books on the Middle East: The Burning Shores: Inside the Battle for the New Libya and Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings, which was designated as the “Best Book on the Middle East” by Foreign Affairs in 2014.
Wehrey served his country in the U.S. Air force for 21 years with tours across the Middle East and North Africa. He holds a Ph.D from Oxford University in international relations, a Master’s in Near and Middle Eastern studies from Princeton, and a Bachelor’s from Occidental College.
Prasenjeet Yadav, Molecular Ecologist and Photographer
October 5, 2018
Prasenjeet Yadav is a molecular ecologist turned photographer and a National Geographic Explorer. Prasenjeet holds a masters degree in molecular biology and has pursued research in molecular ecology for several years at National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India. Early in his scientific career, he realized that his real passion lay in storytelling. He now combines his experience in research with his photography skills to popularize ecological and conservation sciences in the wider society. Prasenjeet is one of the very few photographers who integrates science deeply into his photo stories. He chooses ignored subjects, landscapes, and species and find ways to develop engaging and accessible photos. For every story, he collaborates with researchers, managers, policymakers as well as conservationists. Along with the larger stories, he also produces stories that are directed at specific audiences who have the power to create lasting change.
His previous projects helped bring light on sensitive issues such as climate change and its effects to high elevation Himalaya and effects of windmills on the surrounding ecosystems raising questions about how green is our green energy. He is a founder member of ‘Shoot for Science’ which is an initiative to train scientists in science communication. Under his explorer’s project, he produced a story on the evolution of species in the Shola Skyislands of the Western Ghats which was published and exhibited at National Geographic, Telluride, Banff, NCBS, etc. He is represented by National Geographic Creative and is currently working in the Central Asia’s high mountains and the Western Ghats of India. Prasenjeet’s luggage is currently based in Bangalore, India and he is constantly on the move.
Sarah Margon (MSFS’05), Washington Director at Human Rights Watch
October 3, 2018
Sarah Margon is the director of the Washington office for Human Rights Watch, an international NGO that conducts research on and advocates about issues relating to human rights. In this role, Margon is the organization’s chief liaison with members of the United States government. As a result, she is charged with dispensing strategic and advocacy guidance, which involves legislative and policy development.
Before joining Human Rights Watch, Sarah Margon has acted as the associate director of sustainable security and peacebuilding at the Center for American Progress, senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), and staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs. Margon also frequently is published as a contributor in a wide range of outlets, including The Washington Post and Foreign Policy.
In addition to a Master’s from the School of Foreign Service, Margon holds a Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.
Catherine Novelli, former Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
October 2, 2018
Cathy Novelli is the, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to forging a new vision of U.S. international trade engagement. She previously served as Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment (2014-2017) where she promoted economic reform and open markets for U.S. products and services. As Under Secretary, Ambassador Novelli spearheaded the first-of- its-kind Our Ocean movement, which, during her tenure, resulted in $10 billion for Ocean conservation and has become a continuing global effort. She also launched the Global Connect Initiative, an innovative partnership with governments, multilateral development banks and the private sector to connect 1.5 billion people to the Internet. Novelli is a graduate of Tufts University, holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Laws from the University of London (with concentrations in international and comparative law at the London School of Economics School of Oriental and Asian Studies). Novelli served as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe and the Mediterranean from 1991 to 2005. She then served as Vice-President of Worldwide Government Affairs at Apple, Inc. from 2005 to 2013.
Molly K. McKew, CEO of Fianna Strategies, narrative architect at New Media Frontier
September 25, 2018
Molly K. McKew is a writer and expert on information warfare; she currently serves as narrative architect at New Media Frontier, a social media intelligence company. As an analyst and author; her articles have appeared in Politico Magazine, the Washington Post, and other publications. She is a frequent radio/TV commentator on Russian strategy, and briefs military staff and political officials on Russian doctrine and hybrid warfare. McKew is also CEO of Fianna Strategies, a consulting firm that advises governments, political parties, and NGOs on foreign policy and strategic communication. Her recent work has focused on the European frontier — including the Baltic states, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine — where she has worked to counter Russian information campaigns and other elements of hybrid warfare.
Kara Swisher (SFS’84), Executive Editor of Recode, host of the Recode Decode podcast
September 20, 2018
Kara Swisher is the executive editor of Recode, host of the Recode Decode podcast and co-executive producer of the Code Conference. Recode and Code are wholly owned by Vox Media, a company with an audience of 170 million worldwide. Swisher co-founded former Recode and Code owner Revere Digital and, before that, co-produced and co-hosted The Wall Street Journal’s “D: All Things Digital,” with Mossberg. It was the major high-tech conference with interviewees such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and many other leading players in the tech and media industries. The gathering was considered one of the leading conferences focused on the convergence of tech and media industries.
She and Mossberg were also the co-executive editors of a tech and media website, AllThingsD.com. Swisher worked in The Wall Street Journal’s San Francisco bureau. For many years, she wrote the column, “BoomTown,” which appeared on the front page of the Marketplace section and also on The Wall Street Journal Online at WSJ.com. Previously, Swisher covered breaking news about the Web’s major players and Internet policy issues and also wrote feature articles on technology for the paper. She has also written a weekly column for the Personal Journal on home issues called “Home Economics.” Previously, Swisher worked as a reporter at the Washington Post and as an editor at the City Paper of Washington, D.C. She received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and her graduate degree at Columbia University’s School of Journalism.
Swisher is also the author of “aol.com: How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads and Made Millions in the War for the Web,” published by Times Business Books in July 1998. The sequel, “There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner Debacle and the Quest for a Digital Future,” was published in the fall of 2003 by Crown Business Books.
Kathleen H. Hicks, Senior Vice President at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
September 19, 2018
In addition to being senior vice president, Kathleen Hicks holds the Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and the directorship of the International Security Program at CSIS. Hicks worked in the Obama administration as the principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy and deputy under secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and forces. 2003-2006 Hicks served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, rising from her initial position as an intern to the Senior Executive Service. She describes herself on Twitter as a “Pentagon survivor”.
While working in her role at CSIS, Ms. Hicks is the Donald Marron Scholar at the Kissinger Center of Global Affairs. She serves on the board of both the Truman Center and SoldierStrong. She also frequently writes and lectures on geopolitics, national security and defense. Kathleen Hicks holds a Ph.D. in political science from MIT, an M.P.A. from UMD and a B.A. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Mount Holyoke College.
Tom Purcell (SFS’93), former Co-Chief Investment Officer at Viking Global Investors
September 13, 2018
Tom Purcell manages his family office, Lake Trail Capital, which invests in public securities as well as private business. Mr. Purcell worked for Viking Global Investors from 1999 until March 2015. Mr. Purcell managed portfolios at Viking from 2003 until 2014, served as Co-Chief Investment Officer from 2012-2014 and was on the Management and Executive Committees. Prior to joining Viking Mr. Purcell worked for Tiger Management, ING Equity Partners and Solomon Brothers. Mr. Purcell is a graduate of Harvard Business School (1999) where he was a Baker Scholar and of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (1993).
Spring 2018 Dean’s Coffee Talks
Ambassador Dr. Hamdullah Mohib, Afghan Ambassador to the United States
April 17, 2018
Dr. Hamdullah Mohib has served as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States since September 2015. He also serves as non-resident Ambassador to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Columbia. During his tenure, Ambassador Mohib has focused on redefining Afghanistan’s narrative in the United States to reflect the new realities of the country as a young democracy moving steadily on a path to prosperity and peace as a result of the social change and institutional development that has taken place over the past 16 years.
As Ambassador, he has focused on highlighting the critical yet under-credited role of cultural and peace initiatives, women, and youth in re-creating Afghanistan. To this end, his priorities have included engaging with the Afghan diaspora across the United States; elevating the efforts of Afghan women toward social, political, and economic development; engaging with active US military and veterans who have served in Afghanistan; and implementing a comprehensive cultural and public diplomacy initiative within US schools, universities, and local organizations.
Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Myanmar, Cambodia, and Lao
April 16, 2018
Ellen Goldstein is the World Bank’s Country Director for Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao PDR, based at the World Bank Office in Yangon, Myanmar. Prior to this position, she was the World Bank’s Country Director for the Western Balkans, which includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, based in the World Bank Office in Vienna, Austria. Other previous roles included World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Nepal, in which she led the policy dialogue with government and stakeholders, and collaborated with development partners to promote greater aid effectiveness. In these two countries she managed a portfolio of more than 50 operations totaling nearly US$ 6 billion in soft IDA Credits.
Goldstein joined the World Bank in 1985 as a macroeconomist. Through her career she has worked in West and Southern Africa, South Asia, and Central Europe as a macroeconomist, human development specialist, and as Country Manager in both Burkina Faso and FYR Macedonia. She also was the founding manager of the World Bank’s Results Secretariat.
Prior to becoming the Country Director for Bangladesh and Nepal, Goldstein spent three years on special assignment at the African Development Bank in Tunisia, where she established and led the Quality Assurance and Results Department.
Goldstein earned Master’s degrees in public health from the John Hopkins University and in public affairs from Princeton University.
Mark Landler (SFS’87), White House Correspondent at The New York Times
April 10, 2018
Mark Landler is a White House correspondent at The New York Times. In 24 years at The Times, he has been diplomatic correspondent, bureau chief in Hong Kong and Frankfurt, European economic correspondent, and a business reporter in New York. He is the author of “Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle over American Power” (Random House).
Ben Rowswell (SFS’93), Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela (2014-2017)
April 6, 2018
Ben Rowswell, a pioneer in the practice of digital diplomacy, served until recently as Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela (2014-17). Currently on leave from Global Affairs Canada, he is exploring the future of citizen diplomacy through Perennial Software, a tech startup venture he recently established with Farhaan Ladhani to build phone apps for citizen engagement and change. He also founded Cloud to Street, to connect democracy activists with Silicon Valley technologists.
At Global Affairs Canada he was director of innovation and director of Iran/Iraq/Arabian Peninsula from 2012-13. A veteran of ‘hotspot diplomacy’, he was part of the United Nations operation in Somalia in 1993, and also served in Egypt (1996-8), as chargé d’affaires in Iraq (2003-5), in Afghanistan (2008-10) as deputy head of mission in Kabul, and as Canadian representative in Kandahar.
He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (1989-93), holds a Masters of Phil International Relations from Oxford (1998-2000), and spent a sabbatical at Stanford University from 2010-11 as a visiting scholar in liberation technology at the Center for Democracy Development and the Rule of Law.
Ambassador Richard Verma (L’98), U.S. Ambassador to India (2014-2017)
April 5, 2018
Richard Verma is Vice Chairman and Partner at The Asia Group and co-chairs the Center for American Progress’ U.S.-India Task Force. He previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to India (2014-2017), where he led one of the largest U.S. diplomatic missions and championed historic progress in bilateral cooperation on defense, trade, and clean energy. Ambassador Verma also oversaw an unprecedented nine meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi – leading to over 100 new initiatives and more than 40 government-to-government dialogues. Ambassador Verma was previously the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs and served for many years as the Senior National Security Advisor to the Senate Majority Leader. He was a member of the WMD and Terrorism Commission and a co-author of their landmark report, “World at Risk.” He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and his military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal. Ambassador Verma is the recipient of the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award, the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship, and was ranked by India Abroad as one of the 50 most influential Indian Americans. He holds degrees from the Georgetown University Law Center (LLM), American University’s Washington College of Law (JD), and Lehigh University (BS).
Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution
April 4, 2018
Benjamin Wittes is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution. He co-founded and is the editor-in-chief of the Lawfare blog, which is devoted to sober and serious discussion of “Hard National Security Choices,” and is a member of the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on National Security and Law. He is the author of Detention and Denial: The Case for Candor After Guantanamo, published in November 2011, co-editor of Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change, published in December 2011, and editor of Campaign 2012: Twelve Independent Ideas for Improving American Public Policy (Brookings Institution Press, May 2012). He is also writing a book on data and technology proliferation and their implications for security. He is the author of Law and the Long War: The Future of Justice in the Age of Terror, published in June 2008 by The Penguin Press, and the editor of the 2009 Brookings book, Legislating the War on Terror: An Agenda for Reform.
His previous books include Starr: A Reassessment, published in 2002 by Yale University Press, and Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times, published in 2006 by Rowman & Littlefield and the Hoover Institution.
Between 1997 and 2006, he served as an editorial writer for The Washington Post specializing in legal affairs. Before joining the editorial page staff of The Washington Post, Wittes covered the Justice Department and federal regulatory agencies as a reporter and news editor at Legal Times. His writing has also appeared in a wide range of journals and magazines including The Atlantic, Slate, The New Republic, The Wilson Quarterly, The Weekly Standard,Policy Review, and First Things.
Benjamin Wittes was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1990, and he has a black belt in taekwondo.
Anne C. Richard (SFS’82), Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration in the Obama Administration
March 26, 2018
Anne Richard served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration in the Obama Administration (2012-2017). Previously, she was Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy for the International Rescue Committee. In addition to the State Department, she served at Peace Corps Headquarters and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget earlier in her career. She has enjoyed fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Ms. Richard is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and has a Master’s degree in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago. Since leaving office in January, 2017, she has taught at Georgetown University and been a visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House.
Ambassador Dana Smith, Former U.S. Ambassador to Qatar
February 21, 2018
Ambassador Dana Smith is a former American diplomat and career foreign service officer who served as U.S. Ambassador to Qatar from July 2014 to June 2017. Smith joined the State Department at age 21, right after graduating from University of California San Diego with a degree in political science and Middle East studies in 1992. She served in numerous diplomatic roles at U.S. embassies in Cairo, Tel Aviv, Amman and Dubai.
Smith also held positions in Washington, D.C., including Senior Adviser to the Director General of the Foreign Service and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the Bureau of Public Affairs. While serving in the latter role, she established an office of international social media engagement, pioneering the State Department’s use of Twitter in Arabic. On July 2014, the Senate confirmed her as U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, the last role she held served in until her retirement on June 2017.
Shéhérazade Semsar-de Boisséson (SFS’89, MSFS’90), Managing Director at Politico Europe
February 14, 2018
Shéhérazade Semsar-de Boisséson is managing director of POLITICO’s European operation, a joint venture between POLITICO and Axel Springer. Shéhérazade was previously owner and publisher of European Voice, the leading media in Brussels covering EU policy, which she acquired from the Economist Group in 2013. In December 2014, POLITICO and Axel Springer jointly acquired European Voice and Paris-based Development Institute International (Dii), France’s leading event promoter in the public affairs space, a business Shéhérazade co-founded in 1993.
A native of Tehran, Iran and a French national, Shéhérazade graduated from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University in 1990 with a B.A. and a M.S. in International Finance. Shéhérazade serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Georgetown University, Washington D.C. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Georgetown’s Master of Science in Foreign Service. In addition, Shéhérazade serves on the Board of Directors of the French-American Foundation. From 2008 to 2010, Shéhérazade served on the Board of Directors of Femmes Forums, a leading women’s club in Paris, France. She represents Dii at two French think tanks: the Institut Français des Relations Internationales and Institut Montaigne.
Tim Hughes (SFS’94), Senior Vice President and General Counsel at SpaceX
February 9, 2018
As Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Tim Hughes leads SpaceX’s legal, regulatory, and government affairs efforts. Joining SpaceX in 2005 as its first in-house counsel, Hughes has defined the legal and government affairs functions from the ground up. Based in SpaceX’s Washington, D.C. office, his responsibilities span the company’s corporate, contracting, export control, insurance, litigation and launch licensing portfolios, as well as SpaceX’s federal and state government affairs agenda. Prior to joining SpaceX, Hughes served as Majority Counsel to the Committee on Science and Technology in the United States House of Representatives. In this capacity, he provided counsel to the Science Committee, with a particular focus on the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee.
Hughes was the principal attorney responsible for drafting and shepherding the passage of commercial human spaceflight legislation, H.R. 3752 and H.R. 5382, and the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 (enacted into law as P.L. 108-492), which established the legal and regulatory framework for commercial human spaceflight in the United States. A graduate of William and Mary Law School and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Hughes previously worked as a senior associate with the Communications and Litigation groups of Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, as well as the Office of the Chief Counsel for the United States Secret Service.
Dr. Mara Karlin, Associate Professor of the Practice of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins-SAIS and Nonresident Senior Fellow for Security and Strategy at Brookings
January 31, 2018
Dr. Mara Karlin is Associate Professor of the Practice of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, Associate Director of the school’s Strategic Studies Program, and nonresident senior fellow at Brookings. Karlin has served in national security roles for five U.S. Secretaries of Defense, advising on policies spanning strategic planning, defense budgeting, future wars and the evolving security environment, and regional affairs involving the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
As Levant director, she formulated U.S. policy on Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel-Palestinian affairs. As South Asia country director, she formulated U.S. policy on India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh, focusing on terrorism, governability, security sector reform, and nonproliferation. Most recently, she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development. In that role, her office crafted strategies for navigating the future of international security as a means to guiding the development of a prepared, capable, and effective U.S. military.
Ambassador Gérard Araud, French Ambassador to the United States
January 25, 2018
Gérard Araud, 64, a career diplomat, was appointed Ambassador of France to the United States in September 2014. He previously held numerous positions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, notably including that of Director for Strategic Affairs, Security and Disarmament (2000-2003), Ambassador of France to Israel (2003-2006), Director General for Political Affairs and Security (2006-2009), and, most recently, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations in New York (2009-2014).
Over the course of his career, Mr. Araud has developed specialized knowledge in two key areas: the Middle East and strategic & security issues. As regards the latter, he was the French negotiator on the Iranian nuclear issue from 2006 to 2009. In New York, at the Security Council, he notably contributed to the adoption of resolutions on Libya (#1970 and #1973), Côte d’Ivoire (#1975), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and the Central African Republic, and participated in debates on the Syrian and Ukrainian crises.
Fall 2017 Dean’s Coffee Talks
- Claudia Escobar, Former Magistrate, Court of Appeals of Guatemala
- Kimberly Nelson (SFS’84), Senior Vice President, External Relations; President, General Mills Foundation
- Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, U.S. Department of State
- The Honorable Nasser S. Judeh (SFS’83, P’18), Former Foreign Minister of Jordan
- Ambassador Kristie Kenney, Career Ambassador, U.S. Department of State
- Colin Kahl, Associate Professor, Security Studies Program
- Dr. Joachim von Amsberg, Vice President for Policy and Strategy at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
- Ambassador Peter Wittig, German Ambassador to the United States
- Ambassador Nancy McEldowney, Director, Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) and Distinguished Professor of the Practice
Spring 2017 Dean’s Coffee Talks
- Sarah McAvoy (SFS’88), Managing Director in Corporate Treasury at Bank of America
- Dexter Goei (SFS’93), Chairman and CEO of Altice USA and President of the Board of Altice NV
- Samantha Vinograd (SSP’07), Director of Public Policy at Stripe
- Anastasia Norton, Intelligence Analyst
- Kaya Henderson (SFS’92), Former Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools
- Luke Murry, Staff Director of the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee for the House Foreign Affairs Committee
- Jamie Geller (SSP’15), Professional Staff Member and Deputy Communications Director for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Susan Hennessey, Fellow in National Security in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and Managing Editor of Lawfare blog
Fall 2016 Dean’s Coffee Talks
- Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis (SFS’76), Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba
- Alexis Early, Associate at Steptoe and Johnson
- Lauren Gaffney, Assistant General Counsel for TerraForm Power
- Ludmilla Savelieff, Associate at Squire Patton Boggs
- His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Former Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States
- Tamara Kofman Wittes, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings
- Ambassador Peter Wittig, German Ambassador to the United States
- Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief for The Atlantic
- Ambassador James Dobbins, Senior Fellow, Distinguished Chair in Diplomacy and Security
Spring 2016 Dean’s Coffee Talks
- Andrew Steer, President of the World Resources Institute
- HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates
- Michael Williams (’98, L’01), Partner Kirkland & Ellis LLP
- Shanta Devarajan, Chief Economist for Middle East and Africa, The World Bank
- Trae Stephens, Principal at Founders Fund