2013-2014 SPEAKERS


Date:            Tuesday,  May 13, 2014

Speaker:     Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky

Topic:         Keynote Address at 2014 ACFR Conference

Note: The original scheduled speaker was to talk about the Ukraine, but had a flight cancelled in Chicago and was unable to make the meeting.  As a substitute, a video was shown of Ambassador Paula Dobriansky’s opening speaker presentation at the ACFR 2014 Annual Conference in Washington, DC on April 24, 2014.  Being of Ukrainian descent, her coverage of current issues included considerable focus on that issue.

Ambassador Dobriansky , is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University's JFK Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Chair of the World Affairs Councils of America. Previously, she was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs from 2010 to 2012 at Thomson Reuters. She also held the Distinguished National Security Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy.

From 2001-2009, Ambassador Dobriansky served as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; and in February 2007, she was appointed the President's Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. She received the Secretary of State's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal for her work in these positions.

She has a B.S.F.S summa cum laude from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an M.A. and Ph.D in Soviet political/military affairs from Harvard University.


Date:            Tuesday,  April 15, 2014

Speaker:     Mr. Fred Fleitz

Topic:         Origins and Possible Outcomes of the Syria Crisis

Fred Fleitz, is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy and founder of the Langley Intelligence Group Network (LIGNET), Newsmax Media’s global forecasting and intelligence website. Previously, he served in senior positions with the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of State, and the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Over a 25 year career, Fleitz specialized in international and economic security, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, peacekeeping and the United Nations. He is the author of Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990’s and a forthcoming book on how 9/11 changed the role of U.S. intelligence.

Fleitz holds an MA in Political Economy from Fordham University and a BA in Politics from Saint Joseph's University.


Date:             Tuesday,  March 27, 2014

Speaker:       Mr. James Clad

Topic:           The World of Changing Energy Landscape

James Clad is a senior adviser at the Center for Naval Analyses, Jane’s Defence, and Cambridge Energy Research Associates. From 2002-10, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia, and as senior counselor at both the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Agency for International Development. Previously he held a Georgetown University Luce Foundation professorship.

Trained as a New Zealand lawyer, his career has focused on Asian and Middle East commercial and security affairs. He also served in the New Zealand diplomatic service. He has had fellowships from Oxford, the Carnegie Endowment, and Harvard’s Center for International Affairs. His most recent book is: The Borderlands of Southeast Asia.


Date:             Tuesday,  February 18, 2014

Speaker:       Dr. Ross Johnson

Topic:           Communicating with Unfree Societies - - -
                      from Cold War Broadcasting to New Liberation Technologies

Dr. Ross Johnson is a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center (recently rated as the “Think Tank to Watch”) in Washington, D.C. Johnson is also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and senior advisor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Previously Johnson served as director of Radio Free Europe, and senior staff member of the RAND Corporation, where he specialized in Eastern Europe and Soviet security issues.

Among Johnson’s publications are: Today’s Liberation Technologies; Cold War Broadcasting: Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond; and Communicating with the World of Islam.

Johnson holds international relations degrees from Columbia University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and Stanford University.


Date:            Monday, January 20, 2014

Speaker:     Charlotte Ponticelli

Topic:         Women in Afghanistan: Prospects after NATO Withdrawal

Charlotte (Charlie) Ponticelli , serves as the Program Officer for the American Committees on Foreign Relations. Previously she has held numerous high level Executive Branch positions including Deputy Under Secretary for International Affairs in the Department of Labor; Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues, and Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration in the Department of State; and Assistant Commissioner for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

A graduate of NYU and Catholic University, Ponticelli has published and lectured extensively around the world. Her particular interest in Afghanistan stems from her service on the boards of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council; the Bayat Foundation; and the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women.


Date:            Monday, December 9, 2013

Speaker:     Fred Wahl

Topic:         Syria, Energy, and Cyber monitoring impacts on Foreign Policy

Mr. Wahl is the Vice President, Government Affairs for L-3 Communications. He is responsible for executing the corporate legislative affairs program, building and maintaining relations with the U.S. Congress and assisting L-3 Communications companies with legislative strategy.

A former Naval Intelligence Officer, Mr. Wahl served as the special assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence and was a U.S. Senate professional staff member for four years. He then was progressively appointed to a number of management positions at E-Systems (acquired by Raytheon Systems Company) before joining a technology start-up company, ComCept, which was acquired by L-3 Communications.

Throughout his years at E-Systems, Raytheon and ComCept, he managed Political Action Committees and developed and executed successful legislative affairs programs. In other accomplishments, Mr. Wahl was selected to attend the Harvard JFK School of Government's Executive Course for National/International Security Executives and the Penn State Executive Development Forum.


Date:            Monday, November 25, 2013

Speaker:     Abdulwahab Alkebsi

Topic:         Islam and Democracy in a Post-Arab Spring Middle East

Abdulwahab Alkebsi is the Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East at the Center for International Private Enterprise in Washington, D.C. CIPE’s stated mission is “to strengthen democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform.”

Previously, Mr. Alkebsi served as Director of the Middle East and North Africa division of the National Endowment for Democracy; and the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, a non-profit think tank, dedicated to studying Islamic and democratic political thought.

A native of Yemen, Mr. Alkebsi has been frequently interviewed by U.S., European, and Middle East media.


Date:            Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Speaker:     Dr. Charles E. Ziegler

Topic:         The Great Game in Central Asia:  Oil, Autocrats, and Terrorists

Charles E. Ziegler , a Distinguished University Scholar at the University of Louisville, is a specialist in the foreign policies of Russia and Eurasia. He is co-editor of The Russian Far East: A Region at Risk; and the author of The History of Russia and his forthcoming book, Civil Society and Politics in Central Asia.

Among his awards, Dr. Ziegler received a Fulbright Fellowship; an International Affairs Fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations; and a Hoover Institution National Fellowship. In addition, he has been a visiting scholar at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London; the founder of Center for Asian Democracy; and the director of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.


Date:            Monday, September 16, 2013

Speaker:      Dr. Adam Garfinckle

Title:             The Strange Death of American Grand Strategy

Adam Garfinkle is editor of The American Interest, an independent bi-monthly magazine of American policy, politics and culture, published in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, he was a speechwriter to the U.S. Secretary of State, and editor of The National Interest. He has taught U.S. foreign policy and Middle East politics at the University of Pennsylvania and at the School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Garfinkle has also served as a staff member of the National Security Study Group of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (the Hart-Rudman Commission), an aide to General Alexander M. Haig, Jr., and a special assistant to Senator Henry M. Jackson.

His book Telltale Hearts: The Origins and Impact of the Vietnam Antiwar Movement (St. Martin’s) was named a “notable book of the year” (1995) in the New York Times Book Review. Dr. Garfinkle is also the author of Politics and Society in Modern Israel: Myths and Reality (1997; 2nd edition 2000); War, Water, and Negotiation in the Middle East (1994); Israel and Jordan in the Shadow of War (1992); The Politics of the Nuclear Freeze (1984); and Western Europe’s Middle East Diplomacy and the United States (1983). He is the editor of A Practical Guide to Winning the War on Terrorism (2004).

Dr. Garfinkle holds his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.