2015-2016 SPEAKERS


Date:           Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Speaker:     Michael Gonzalez

Topic:         Europe’s Breeding Ground for Terror

Michael Gonzalez, senior fellow at the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies in Washington, D.C., worked in journalism for some twenty years, mostly abroad. Subsequently, he became a speech writer for the U.S. State Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, during the George W. Bush Administration.

Gonzalez, who was born in Cuba, wrote a Wall Street Journal column on the stock market for eleven years, and later served as deputy editorial page editor for both the Asia and Europe editions. He is the author of a recent book , A Race for the Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic America.

Gonzalez received his MBA from Columbia University Business School.


Date:            Monday, April 18, 2016

Speaker:     Former Congressmen Tim Roemer and Tom Petri

Topic:         The Water’s Edge: Congress and U.S. Foreign Policy

Congressman Tim Roemer, a former six term Democratic Representative from Indiana, most recently served as U.S. Ambassador to India, one of America’s largest diplomatic missions. In Congress he focused on international trade and investment, education policy, and national security. He also served as a member of the 9/11 Commission.

Since leaving Congress, he has served as President of the Center for National Policy; as a member of both the Aspen and the Washington Institutes; and as Senior Counselor to APCO Worldwide. He holds a Ph.D. from Notre Dame University.

Congressman Tom Petri is a former eighteen term Republican Representative from Wisconsin, where he focused on reforms in health care, welfare, and student loans, as well as transportation issues as Chairman of the Highways and Transportation Subcommittee.

In addition, he served as Chairman of the U.S. House -British Parliamentary Exchange; the U.S. House-Japanese Diet discussions; and the House French and German Caucuses. For his work, he was made an honorary Officer of the British Empire; and he received honorary membership in the Order of the Rising Sun. He holds a law degree from Harvard University.


Date:            Monday, March 14, 2016

Speaker:     Canadian Consul General James K. Hill

Topic:         U.S. - Canadian Relations: The Next Chapter

Amb. James Hill has been a Career Diplomat since 1989 and served abroad most recently as Chargé d’affaires at the Canadian Embassy, Kuwait (July 2014 - November 2014) and Deputy Head of Mission at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan (2012-2014) preceded by assignments as High Commissioner of Canada in Maputo, Mozambique, Consul General of Canada, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Head of the Canadian Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission in Prishtina, Kosova (Yugoslavia), Consul and Trade Commissioner at the Consulate of Canada in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and as Second Secretary & Vice Consul at the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, Iran.

At the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development in Ottawa, Mr. Hill has held positions as Director for Middle East & Africa Commercial/Economic relations, Director for Europe & Central Asia Commercial/Relations, Deputy Director of the Latin America Division, Deputy Director of the Western Hemisphere Summits Office and as Senior Desk Officer in the Trade Commissioner Service Strategic Planning Division.

Mr. Hill was born and raised in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada. He earned History and Education degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and completed his graduate studies in International Studies at the University of Cândido Mendes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Date:            Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Speaker:     Kirk Sherr

Topic:         Kurdistan Region of Iraq: Solution, Problem or Both?

Kirk Sherr is President of Clearview Strategy Group, LLC, a Washington-based energy strategy and policy consultancy. He is also Executive Director of the American Committees on Foreign Relations and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service focusing on energy and security. Mr. Sherr has deep experience in energy project development and infrastructure operations including upstream, pipelines, power plants and gas distribution companies. He worked extensively on upstream projects and seismic operations in the Kurdistan area of Iraq from 2004 to 2014, and has also developed energy projects in Latin America and Africa.

Previously, he was Latin American practice leader at the Scowcroft Group where he helped diverse energy sector and manufacturing clients throughout Latin America. Mr. Sherr also led Texas Utilities natural gas distribution and pipeline development operations in Mexico and worked for many years in Brazil developing thermal power plants and natural gas pipelines. He began his career as a diplomat, working in the Philippines, El Salvador, Colombia and Washington, D.C.

Mr. Sherr received his AB in economics, government and Spanish from Franklin and Marshall College, and received his JD from the University of Denver and is a member of the Colorado Bar Association. Mr. Sherr is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Information from Mr Sherr's Topic


Date:            Thursday, January 14, 2016

Speaker:     Ambassador Thomas Pickering

Topic:         Major Challenges Facing U.S. - Foreign and Security Policy

Ambassador Thomas Pickering is one of the United States’ most distinguished diplomats. Among his many diplomatic appointments, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and to six countries including Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan. Additionally, he served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the number three position in the State Department, where Time Magazine declared him the “five star general of the diplomatic corps.” He holds the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Currently, he serves as Co-Chair of the International Crisis Group; Chairman of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress; Chairman of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy; and Chairman of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Pickering is also a member of the Global Leadership Foundation, which works to support democratic leadership, resolve conflicts and promote good governance; the American Iranian Council, devoted to the normalization of the US.-Iran relations; and the Constitution Project’s bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee.

In 2012, with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, Pickering co-chaired the State Department’s panel investigating the U.S. mission in Benghazi.


Date:            Monday, December 7, 2015

Speaker:      Ambassador Eric Boswell

Topic:           Conducting U.S. Diplomacy in a Dangerous World

Previously Ambassador Boswell held senior management and security positions in the State Department and the United Nations. He received the State Department’s distinguished honor award and the distinguished service award for his work during the Gulf War. He retired from the Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor.

Ambassador Eric Boswell served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security from 2008-2012, during the time of the attack on the Benghazi mission. As Assistant Secretary, he led a global force of some 34,000 special agents, engineers, couriers, security specialists, and other professionals who make up the security and law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of State. Concurrently, as Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, Ambassador Boswell managed reciprocity and immunity issues for foreign diplomats in the U.S.


Date:            Monday, November 9, 2015

Speaker:     Ambassador Frederic Hof

Topic:         A Problem from Hell: Dealing with the Crisis in Syria

Ambassador Frederic Hof, a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Center for the Middle East, previously served as Special Adviser for transition in Syria; and Coordinator for Regional Affairs to Senator George Mitchell, then Special Envoy for Middle East Peace./p>

Hof also directed the Jerusalem field operations of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee in 2001; and he worked on the Long Commission, which investigated the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine headquarters at Beirut International Airport.

He served as a U.S. Army officer in Vietnam; as U.S. Army Attaché in Beirut; and as Director for Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestinian Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

He has written extensively on Arab-Israeli issues including Galilee Divided: The Israel-Lebanon Frontier; Line of Battle, Border of Peace; and Beyond the Boundary: Lebanon, Israel and the Challenge of Change. His awards include the Purple Heart; the Department of State Superior Honor Award; and the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

Ambassador Hof has published his Boise Committee on Foreign Relations talk about Syria. It can be read at the following link: "A Problem from Hell: Dealing with the Crisis in Syria "

Anyone interested in getting updated on Syria from time-to-time, can go to the blog: SyriaSource. It's easy to access: Go to www.AtlanticCouncil.org and then the tab for blogs. And then once you're on the blog there's a one-time pop-up to subscribe (free).


Date:            Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Speaker:     Dr. Jay Davis

Topic:         An Assessment of the Iranian Agreement

Jay Davis, is past president of the Hertz Foundation and currently serves as Hertz Senior Fellow. The Hertz Foundation funds graduate studies in the applied physical sciences and engineering. He retired in 2002 from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he served as the first National Security Fellow at the Center for Global Security Research. For the three years prior to rejoining Livermore in July of 2001, he served as the founding Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the United States Department of Defense.

Dr. Davis has over eighty publications on research in nuclear physics, nuclear instrumentation, plasma physics, accelerator design and technology, nuclear analytical techniques and analytical methods, and treaty verification technologies. He holds patents on spectrometer technologies and methods for low-level dosimetry of carcinogens and mutagens, and for the study of metabolic processes. He has been a scientific advisor to the UN Secretariat, and has served on advisory committees for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, and the Institute for Nuclear and Geologic Sciences of New Zealand. He is on the Board of Distinguished Advisors for the American Committees on Foreign Relations, the Board of Trustees of ANSER Corporation, and the Board of Governors of Argonne National Laboratory.

He participated in two UN inspections of Iraq in the summer of 1991, having major operational and scientific responsibilities in the inspection process. He was selected as the only non-UN member of the team that briefed the UN Security Council after the confrontation at Fallujah on June 28, 1991 that produced the conclusive evidence of Iraqi evasion of the inspection process and violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Jay has spoken to BCFR three times before, to rave reviews.  The last time was in April of 2011 when he talked about "Taking the World to Zero Nuclear Weapons (and an evaluation of Fukushima)".


Date:            Thursday, September 10, 2015

Speaker:     Dean Cheng

Topic:         China’s Military and Technology Challenges to the U.S.

Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center at the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, brings detailed knowledge of China’s military and space capabilities. Cheng has written extensively on China’s military doctrine, technological implications of its space program, and “dual use” issues associated with its industrial and scientific infrastructure.

Previously Cheng worked as an analyst with Science Applications International Corp (SAIC), and with the China Studies Division of the Center for Naval Analysis. He has also worked for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and lectured at the National Space Symposium, the National Defense University, the Air Force Academy and the Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies.