2012-2013 SPEAKERS


Date:            Monday, June 17, 2013

Speaker:     Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz

Title:             Arctic Climate Change and Security

Kenneth Yalowitz served for 36 years as a career diplomat and member of the Senior Foreign Service, where he was U.S. Ambassador to the Republics of Belarus and Georgia. His other foreign assignments included tours of duty in Moscow, The Hague, and the US Mission to NATO.

Yalowitz joined George Mason University’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center as a diplomatic in residence in 2012, after serving as Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College. During his tenure, the Center expanded its programs to include Arctic studies and climate change.

Yalowitz has also served as a professor at the Foreign Service Institute, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and numerous universities and centers. He holds memberships in the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Council on Foreign Relations.


Date:            Wednesday, May  22, 2013

Speaker:     Priscilla Clapp

Topic:          Building Demacracy in Burma

Priscilla Clapp served for 30 years in the Foreign Service, including service as the U.S. Charge d’Affaires (ranking officer) in Rangoon, Burma. Since retiring from the Foreign Service, she has worked with the Asia Society, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Blue Moon Fund in assisting the political transition underway in Burma.

Ms. Clapp is the author of numerous articles on Burma and several books including Building Politics and Foreign Policy. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.


Date:            Tuesday, April  23, 2013

Speaker:     Tamim Khallaf

Topic:          Egypt and the New Middle East: Challenges and Repercussions

Tamim Khallaf has served as a diplomat in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the past 12 years. From 2004 to 2008, he served in Egypt's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva dealing with disarmament and non proliferation issues and currently serves in Egypt's Embassy in Brazil. He was among numerous official Egyptian delegations to meetings of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. Prior to joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served in the Office of the Secretary General of the League of Arab States.

Mr. Khallaf was a Fellow at Harvard University’s ‘Weatherhead Center for International Affairs’ from 2008-2009. While at Harvard, he pursued research on nuclear non-proliferation and on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the Middle East. Mr. Khallaf was also a Visiting Fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. As a recipient of the 'British Chevening Scholarship Award,' he received a Master of Science (MSc) in International Relations from the London School of Economics (LSE). He was also the recipient of the 'Sasakawa Young Leaders Graduate Scholar Award' and received a Master of Arts (MA) in Political Science from the American University in Cairo. He also earned his Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Political Science from the American University in Cairo.

Mr. Khallaf was selected by the World Economic Forum in Geneva as a Young Global Leader in April 2011, an honor bestowed on 100 outstanding young leaders worldwide under the age of 40 for their potential in public leadership and commitment to society.


Date:           Wednesday, March  13, 2013

Speaker:     Col. Robert Cassidy

Topic:          War, Will, and Warlords:
                     Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Col. Robert Cassidy, Ph.D., is a military professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island, and a senior fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. Most recently he served as the special assistant to the commander of the ISAF joint command in Afghanistan.

An expert in strategy and irregular warfare, Cassidy is the author of War, Will and Warlords, which Foreign Policy magazine lauded as a “must read for all scholars, policymakers, diplomats, and military practitioners seeking to understand the Afghanistan-Pakistan nexus.”

Cassidy holds master’s degrees from Boston University and the Naval War College; a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy; and a Diplome d’Etudes Superieures de Defense from the Ecole de Guerre in France.

A  PDF copy of Col. Cassidy's notes can be copied from: Col Cassidy's Afghan Presentation Notes


Date:          Thursday, February 21, 2013

Speaker:  Dr. Brian Norris

Topic:       Charting a New Course: Mexico after the Election

Brian Norris , an assistant professor at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, has written extensively about Latin America, especially Mexico, where he has worked for several years. His research focuses on democratic development, pubic administration, and Mexico’s efforts in combatting organized crime. Norris holds degrees in international relations from the University of Texas and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Service, where he studied under the noted political scientist, Francis Fukuyama.

Following the remarks by Dr. Norris, the Consul of Mexico in Boise, Ricardo Pineda, who is a member of the BoiseCFR, also made some comments and answered questions.


Date:           Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Speaker:    Ambassador Molly Williamson

Topic:         The Geopolitics of Oil

Molly Williamson is a former Foreign Service Officer who achieved the highest rank of Career Minister. She served as the Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Energy with global responsibilities for energy policy. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, she was responsible for advancing trade relations in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. As Acting Assistant Secretary of State, she was responsible for U.S. policies affecting U.N. peacekeeping and humanitarian issues. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, she was engaged in operational defense structure reviews. She has had numerous postings to the Middle East including interim Ambassador to Bahrain and Chief of Mission in Jerusalem. Currently, Ambassador Williamson is a scholar with the Middle East Institute.


Date:            Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Speaker:    Ambassador Vicki Huddleston

Topic:        Al Qaeda in Africa, Mali to the Horn of Africa

Vicki Huddleston is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa. She has led four diplomatic missions: U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar and to Mali, acting U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, and Principal Officer at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba.

Ambassador Huddleston has served as a Visiting Scholar at the Brookings Institute; a Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; and as an American Political Science Association Fellow on Capitol Hill. She holds degrees from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the University of Colorado.


Date:          Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Speaker:  Blaine Harden

Topic:       North Korea: Totalitarian Forever?

Blaine Harden is an author and journalist who reports for PBS Frontline and contributes to The Economist. He has also been a correspondent for The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Harden’s most recent book, Escape from Camp 14, is the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only person to have been born and raised in a North Korean prison camp, and to have escaped to the West. Through the lens of Shin’s life, Harden unlocks the secrets of one of the world’s most repressive totalitarian regimes.

A Seattle resident, Harden has won the Ernie Pyle Award, the American Society of Newspaper Editors Award, and the Livingston Award for International Reporting.


Date:          Monday, October 15, 2012

Speaker:  Ambassador Ryan Crocker

Topic:       The United States and Central/South Asia:  Culture,
               Politics, and Security in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Ryan Crocker recently retired as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and served as Ambassador to Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon. For his distinguished diplomatic career spanning four presidencies, Ambassador Crocker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award in 2009. He holds the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the Foreign Service.

Currently on leave of absence as Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, he has been appointed as the first Kissinger Senior Fellow at Yale University. For his service in the cause of public discussion of foreign policy issues, Ambassador Crocker was named the 2011 recipient of the ACFR Distinguished Service Award for the Advancement of Public Discourse on Foreign Policy.

A native of Spokane, Ambassador Crocker received a B.A. degree from Whitman College and honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Whitman and the National Defense University. Among his many awards, he has been named an Honorary Marine, one of only 75 civilians honored in the Corps history.


Date:          Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SSpeaker:  Dr. Elizabeth Colton

Topic:       Foreign Policy Challenges in the 2012 Presidential Election

Liz Colton is the new Program Director of the American Committees on Foreign Relations, the parent organization of the BCFR. Previously she served as a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer including posts as Press Attaché in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. She also served as Chief of Staff in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she was an Emmy Award winning journalist for ABC News and other media organizations. She has also been a university professor, Fulbright Scholar, MacArthur Globalization Fellow, and Knight International Journalism Fellow.

Dr. Colton received her B.A. from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, two M.A.s from Vanderbilt University, and her Ph.D. from the University of London School School of Economics & Political Science. She is currently completing a book, Global Hot Spots: Diplomacy, Politics & the News Media, and her book on Indian Ocean politics is scheduled for publication next year. She has published widely on politics, the media, and foreign policy.