“Russia 2018:  Putin’s Last Act?”

Thursday, November 16, 2017
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

John R. Beyrle, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, 2008-2012 and recipient of the Presidential Distinguished Service Award

After 18 years as Russia’s unchallenged leader, what does Putin want — or need — from the March 2018 Russian elections? And with all the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. Administration and Putin, where are relations headed? After speaking to a sold-out IAF crowd 4 years ago, we are thrilled that Ambassador Beyrle will return to help us understand this hottest of topics!


John R. Beyrle

John Beyrle served as an American diplomat for three decades in a career focused on the Soviet Union and Russia, and Central and Eastern Europe.   He was twice appointed ambassador: to Bulgaria (2005-08), and to Russia (2008-12). During the latter assignment, he helped to foster improved U.S.-Russia relations, highlighted by the signing of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Ambassador Beyrle’s diplomatic service included two earlier tours at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, including as Deputy Chief of Mission. He served as counselor for political and economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic, and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the CFE arms control negotiations in Vienna. His Washington assignments included special adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell for the New Independent States, and director responsible for Russia policy on the staff of the National Security Council under President Clinton.

Ambassador Beyrle received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Obama, and the Presidential Meritorious Service Award during the administration of George W. Bush.   Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally presented him with the Distinguished Service Award, the State Department’s highest honor. He retired from the Foreign Service in 2012 as a Career Minister (a diplomatic rank equivalent to a three-star general) and serves as a trustee or adviser for a number of business and non-profit institutions, including the US Russia Foundation.

Ambassador Beyrle received a B.A. with honors from Grand Valley State University and an M.S. as a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College, where he later taught as a visiting professor of national security studies. He speaks Bulgarian, Czech, French, German and Russian.

“Meeting America’s Global Education Challenge – Why Our Kids Need Passports and Should Use Them!”

Thursday, October 19, 2017
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

Allan Goodman, President and CEO, Institute of International Education, responsible for more than 250 American exchange programs with 175 nations, including the venerated Fulbright program.

Our kids today can Tweet and Snapchat to “friends” anywhere on the planet. But less than 10% of U.S. undergrads study abroad, and only about one-third of Americans have passports. Hear directly from the man who runs America’s largest exchange programs on why “study abroad” programs are essential to our global competitiveness.



Allan E. Goodman
President and CEO
Institute of International Education 

Dr. Allan E. Goodman is the sixth President of IIE, the leading not-for-profit organization in the field of international educational exchange and development training. IIE conducts research on international academic mobility and administers the Fulbright program sponsored by the United States Department of State, as well as over 200 other corporate, government and privately-sponsored programs. Previously, he was Executive Dean of the School of Foreign Service and Professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of books on international affairs published by Harvard, Princeton and Yale University Presses. Dr. Goodman served as Presidential Briefing Coordinator for the Director of Central Intelligence and as Special Assistant to the Director of the National Foreign Assessment Center in the Carter Administration. Subsequently, he was the first American professor to lecture at the Foreign Affairs College of Beijing, helped create the first U.S. academic exchange program with the Moscow Diplomatic Academy for the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, and developed the diplomatic training program of the Foreign Ministry of Vietnam. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a founding member of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Co-President of the Partner University Fund (PUF) Grant Review Committee, and a member of the Jefferson Scholarship selection panel. He also serves on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation International Quality Group Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees of the Education Above All Foundation. Dr. Goodman has a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard, an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.S. from Northwestern University. He was awarded the inaugural Gilbert Medal for Internationalization by Universitas 21.


Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, author, and writer for The New Yorker

Thursday, June 15, 2017
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

forever war image

Dexter Filkins is a fearless truth teller and one of the premier combat correspondents of his generation. After spending a decade reporting from the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq, Filkins penned in 2007 The Forever War, a definitive account of America’s conflicts and a searing exploration of its human costs.

A decade later, the U.S. remains mired in “forever war”, even as we continue to hear official assurances that we are “on track, making progress and meeting our goals.” Meanwhile, the rise of new forms of media have helped create audiences who reject truth-telling from the frontlines and hunger for versions of events that affirm their own points of view. For many in this politically charged world, facts have become optional.

Join Dexter and IAF’s own Bob Giles for a wide-ranging discussion that will explore challenges to journalism at home and abroad and consider the effectiveness of U.S. policy toward the Middle East and Afghanistan.


Dexter Filkins joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2011. He has written about the murder of a journalist in Pakistan, the uprisings in Yemen, the war in Afghanistan, the crises in Syria and Lebanon, the Prime Minister of Turkey, and a troubled Iraq war veteran who tracked down the surviving members of a family his unit had opened fire on.

Filkins worked at the Miami Herald and the Los Angeles Times, where he was the paper’s New Delhi bureau chief, before joining the New York Times, in 2000, reporting from New York, South Asia, and Iraq, where he was based from 2003 to 2006. In 2009, he won a Pulitzer Prize as part of a team of Times journalists covering Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In 2006-07, he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and, from 2007 to 2008, a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has received numerous prizes, including two George Polk Awards and three Overseas Press Club Awards. His book, “The Forever War,” won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, and was named a best book of the year by the Times, the Washington Post, Time, and the Boston Globe.


Sam Visner, Senior VP/General Manager, Cybersecurity, ICF International

Thursday, May 18, 2017
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

Cybersecurity is a term heard almost daily in connection with the “hacking” of the Democratic National Committee, stealing of USG’s personnel records, “WikiLeaks” revelations, and more. Some cyber-attacks seem intended to steal financial data, others are aimed at national security targets. One famous attack – “Stuxnet” – reportedly brought down Iran’s nuclear program for many months, bringing to light a new form of conflict where the attacker is hidden and it’s not clear who is behind the attack.

With 35 years of experience, Sam Visner is one of America’s foremost authorities on cyber-security. He is an associate of the National Intelligence Council and held executive leadership positions at CSC Global Cybersecurity, SAIC, and the National Security Agency. He teaches courses on Cybersecurity at Georgetown University and continues to serve as an adviser to the US government and commercial enterprises.


Samuel Sanders Visner is the Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cybersecurity and Resilience, ICF International. Sam also serves as co-chair of the Cyber R&D Task Force of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, and as co-chair of the Cyber Committee of the Professional Services Council.

Sam is an adjunct professor of Science and Technology in International Affairs at Georgetown University, where he teaches a course on cybersecurity policy, operations, and technology. Sam is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an Intelligence Associate of the National Intelligence Council.

Sam served previously as Vice President and General Manager, CSC Global Cybersecurity, as a Senior Vice President at SAIC, and as Chief of Signals Intelligence Programs at the National Security Agency, from which he received the Agency’s highest award for civilian service. Sam also served as a member of the Board of Directors, CVG/Avtec.

Sam holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Politics from Georgetown University and a Master’s degree in Telecommunications from George Washington University. Sam served twice on the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force of the Defense Science Board, and has published articles on national and cybersecurity in World Politics Review, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and the Defense Intelligence Journal. Sam is married to Antoinette (Toni) Burnham, Washington DC’s leading urban beekeeper.

“Turkey at the Crossroads”

Lawrence Mandel, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, Turkey , 2014-16

Thursday, April 20, 2017
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

Event sponsored by:

glit logo rev new

Turkey is a key member of NATO and America’s most important Muslim ally. It plays a crucial role both in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and in Europe’s struggle to deal with the flood of refugees and migrants. Indeed, Turkey has taken in more than 3 million Syrians. But following a failed coup last summer and an increase in terrorist attacks within its borders, Turkey seems to be undergoing a transformation.

Lawrence Mandel, fresh from service as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey (2014-16), brings to the International Affairs Forum an authoritative view of recent events and how they might impact the foreign policy of the new Administration in Washington.

How is President Trump likely to deal with Turkish President Erdogan, who moved quickly following the coup to consolidate power and shut down the opposition, including the jailing of journalists? How will terrorist attacks in Turkey’s main cities affect the American presence in Turkey as well as tourism? How will Turkey’s relations with the Kurds, Russia and Iran influence U.S. policy in the region?

Mandel retired in September 2016 after a 30 year career as a U.S. diplomat.


Lawrence (Larry) Mandel retired from the U.S. Department of State in 2016 after working as a diplomat for over 32 years. Most recently he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

Larry’s other overseas assignments included Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, Counselor for Management Affairs at the U.S. Embassies in Jakarta, Tel Aviv and Budapest, Procurement Director in Tokyo, Consular Officer and Ambassador’s Aide in London, and General Services Officer in what is now St. Petersburg, Russia.  He served on school boards in Budapest, Tel Aviv and Jakarta, where he was instrumental in making new school campuses realities.

In Washington Larry’s assignments included the 24-hour Operations Center and the Office of the Legal Advisor.  Larry served as Director, Office of Performance Evaluation from 2011 to 2013, where he oversaw promotions in the Foreign Service.  Previously he was responsible for an annual budget in excess of $1 billion and coordinated overseas operations among over 40 federal agencies as Director of the ICASS Service Center.  He also served as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Management, and as a Post Management Officer for posts in the Near East and South Asian regions.

Larry received numerous State Department awards, and held the rank of Minister Counselor – equivalent to a two star general in the military.  Before joining the State Department in1984 Larry was an attorney in Massachusetts, and prior to that worked as a retail executive for a chain of stores in Chicago.  He and his wife Judy have four children.  He holds a B.A. from American University in Washington, DC, and earned his J.D. at Northeastern University in Boston.

“Keeping up with the Drones’:  Challenges and Opportunities for the US”

USAF Major General (ret.) Marke “Hoot” Gibson, Senior Advisor on UAS Integration, FAA

Thursday, March 16, 2017

6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

Artificial intelligence. Whirring rotors. Imbedded cameras. Remote controls. Unmanned robots in the sky. These are elements of drones, the robotic machines at the heart of Northwestern Michigan College’s phenomenally successful training program.

The NMC program, known formally as Unmanned Aircraft and Submersible Systems, is built on a rapidly moving technology with military and civilian applications. The program, one of the first in the country, is creating opportunities for NMC graduates and drawing attention to Traverse City as a center for local use of drones which now includes:  aerial photography and videography (used by realtors, tourism bureaus and manufacturers), agricultural surveying, law enforcement, wildlife management and newsgathering. Meanwhile, Google, Walmart and Amazon are racing to see who can develop faster the ability to deliver products to your door via drones.

But along with these opportunities come troubling challenges for the U.S. including in the areas of safety, privacy, and national security where militant groups are already demonstrating their ability to weaponize drones and use them to attack Allied forces.

Our fascination with drones will be explored for an International Affairs Forum audience by MajGen (ret.) Marke “Hoot” Gibson who held senior command and staff positions during a 33 year career in the U.S. Air Force and who now is the FAA’s special advisor for integrating drone technology.


In September 2015, Marke Gibson joined the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the Senior Advisor, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration. He provides executive direction and high level leadership to the FAA with responsibility for oversight of the work related to UAS. In addition, he is responsible for developing and delivering business and strategic plans for enterprise-level UAS initiatives, analyzing integration progress, engaging in scientific and research activities, and maintaining liaison with internal and external stakeholders.

Prior to joining the FAA, Mr. Gibson served as the Executive Director of the NextGen Institute (NGI). The primary role of NGI is to provide a mechanism through which the private sector actively engages with the USG in defining, developing, and implementing NextGen. In that position, he promoted the NextGen Institute throughout the industry, created awareness and gained new support for NextGen initiatives. During his tenure at NGI, he led two UAS Spectrum working groups, an FAA Global Leadership Roundtable, and commenced work on an ADS-B initiative on behalf of the Deputy Administrator.

Mr. Gibson also served as the President and CEO of a highly successful aerospace consulting practice in Colorado. He retired in 2011 as the Air Force’s Director of Current Operations and Training. In that role, he led the standup of a new cyber career field and its integration into Air Force operations. He also worked on behalf of the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force ways to better integrate Unmanned Aircraft Systems into our national airspace. This involved continuous engagement within the interagency (FAA and Homeland Defense) and numerous congressional delegations. As the Director of Training, he was also responsible for the standup of a separate career field and unique training path for those who fly Air Force Remote Piloted Aircraft today.

Mr. Gibson was at Cheyenne Mountain on 9/11 and worked as the Director of North American Aerospace Defense Command Operations to establish many of our Nation’s integrated defense measures that are still in effect today. He has extensive operational leadership experience as an Air Force pilot and Commander. His expertise includes aerospace operations (both military and civil), UAS operations, cyber operations, command and control (C2), and homeland defense.

Mr. Gibson earned a Bachelor of Economics and Management from the United States Air Force Academy. He also received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master of National Security Affairs from the National War College. He completed a national security fellowship with Syracuse University and trained in lean six-sigma management through the University of Tennessee.


Monday, March 6, 2017
6pm at Location To Be Determined


A provocative new documentary based on Wall Street Journal reporter Bret Stephens’ book, America in Retreat? that will be broadcast on PBS at the end of March.

Special Guests Kip Perry and Elan Bentov (Producers/Directors) will join for post film Q/A discussion together with Leland-based Tom Skinner (Executive Producer) and IAF Co-Chair Jack Segal.

This will be a FREE event with donations collected to send this year’s AWQ winning High School team to attend the National Academic WorldQuest Competition in Washington DC in April!  Stay tuned for details.

“The Fractured Middle East:  Connecting to the Next Generation” 

Humaira Wakili

Thursday, February 16, 2017
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

The US is engaged in a competition for the hearts and minds of a new generation in this country and around the world. That competition occurs in cyberspace, the “dark web”, and in “communities” of like-minded youngsters that exist only on computer screens. How to reach these young people and divert them from radicalism, violence and values that go against our core beliefs is one of the great challenges facing western society.  But social media also offers an opportunity to reach disaffected youth wherever they are – a new form of “soft power” that could help in formulating policies in an emerging world that, for many of us, is an alien landscape.

Born in Afghanistan, Humaira Wakili is part of America’s inspiring entrepreneurial generation combining a deep knowledge of technology with work abroad. Join us for a special conversation on stage focused particularly on Humaira’s work with youth and women in the Middle East.


David Titley is a Professor of Practice in Meteorology at the Pennsylvania State University and the founding director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk. He served as a naval officer for 32 years and rose to the rank of rear admiral.  Dr. Titley’s career included duties as commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; oceanographer and navigator of the Navy; and deputy assistant chief of naval operations for information dominance.  He also served as senior military assistant for the director, Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  While serving in the Pentagon, Dr. Titley initiated and led the U.S. Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change.  After retiring from the Navy, Dr. Titley served as the deputy undersecretary of commerce for operations, the chief operating officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Dr. Titley serves on numerous advisory boards and National Academies of Science committees, including the CNA Military Advisory Board and the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  Dr. Titley is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

“Our Separate Ways: The Struggle for the Future of the US-Israel Alliance”

Steven Simon, author and former White House Director for the Middle East

Thursday, November 17, 2016
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

Our Separate Ways book cover

Anger and distrust have strained the U.S.-Israeli alliance as the Obama administration and Netanyahu government have clashed over Israeli settlements, convulsions in the Arab world, and negotiating with Iran. While some have blamed the tension on bad karma between Obama and Netanyahu, in fact powerful demographic, cultural, and strategic currents are driving the two countries apart. In America, the once-solid pro-Israel consensus is being corroded by partisan rancor, which also pits conservative Jews against the more liberal Jewish majority. In Israel, surveys of young Jewish citizens reveal a disdain for democracy, and, in some cases, a readiness to curb the civil liberties of non-Jews. Prospects for preserving a liberal Zionism against the pressures for “Greater Israel” are dimming as hopes for a two-state solution fade.

Given the anarchic conditions prevailing in Israel’s neighborhood and the profound political changes occurring in both the US and Israel, where does the US-Israeli relationship go from here? Can the gap between the two countries be narrowed?

Steven Simon served as senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs at the White House during the Obama Administration and is now a visiting lecturer at Dartmouth. He is a prolific and award-winning author who has published a number of books on international relations and the Middle East. He has held senior positions at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations, and RAND Corporation.

Our Separate Ways is essential reading—a revelatory inside account of the U.S.-Israeli alliance in the Obama years and a searching, insightful analysis of the spreading fissures in that alliance. Anyone concerned about the future of U.S.-Israeli relations should read this book.” —Steve Coll, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, and staff writer, New Yorker

“For an Israeli who believes that American support is crucial to my country’s safety and well-being, Our Separate Ways is a painful wake-up call. And for a journalist who has watched the turmoil and tempests of the Obama-Netanyahu years, it is an unmatched source of inside knowledge and sharp analysis.” —Aluf Benn, editor in chief, Haaretz



David Titley is a Professor of Practice in Meteorology at the Pennsylvania State University and the founding director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk. He served as a naval officer for 32 years and rose to the rank of rear admiral.  Dr. Titley’s career included duties as commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; oceanographer and navigator of the Navy; and deputy assistant chief of naval operations for information dominance.  He also served as senior military assistant for the director, Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  While serving in the Pentagon, Dr. Titley initiated and led the U.S. Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change.  After retiring from the Navy, Dr. Titley served as the deputy undersecretary of commerce for operations, the chief operating officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Dr. Titley serves on numerous advisory boards and National Academies of Science committees, including the CNA Military Advisory Board and the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  Dr. Titley is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

“The U.S. National Security Risks of a Changing Climate”

Rear Admiral David W. Titley, USN (ret.)

Thursday, October 20, 2016
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

With global sea levels projected to rise several feet in the next century, the U.S. military has recognized climate change as one of our greatest national security challenges. U.S. military bases, global shipping routes, ports, sea lanes and harbors will all be affected. Conflicts and dislocations caused by desertification, floods and crop failures represent another layer of effects that have compelled military planners to consider how to prepare and to minimize the impact on U.S. security.

Rear Admiral David W. Titley, USN (ret.) is a nationally known expert in the field of climate, the Arctic, and National Security. A naval officer for 32 years, Dr. Titley initiated and led the US Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change and later served as the head of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). He is the founder of Penn State University ’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, where he is Professor in the Department of Meteorology.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear from one of America’s leading military planners on the national security challenges presented by a changing climate.

“Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water.” (U.S. National Security Strategy, February 2015)


David Titley is a Professor of Practice in Meteorology at the Pennsylvania State University and the founding director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk. He served as a naval officer for 32 years and rose to the rank of rear admiral.  Dr. Titley’s career included duties as commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; oceanographer and navigator of the Navy; and deputy assistant chief of naval operations for information dominance.  He also served as senior military assistant for the director, Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  While serving in the Pentagon, Dr. Titley initiated and led the U.S. Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change.  After retiring from the Navy, Dr. Titley served as the deputy undersecretary of commerce for operations, the chief operating officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Dr. Titley serves on numerous advisory boards and National Academies of Science committees, including the CNA Military Advisory Board and the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  Dr. Titley is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

“Coming to America: The Muslim Experience”

Sally Howell, Director of the Center for Arab American Studies, U-M Dearborn

Thursday, September 15, 2016
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

Old Islam in DTW book cover                        Arab Detroit 9:11 book cover

This year’s terrorist attacks have given rise to much soul-searching, particularly in west European countries, about the assimilation of their Muslim communities and what can be done to promote better integration into western societies.

We need look no further than our own state of Michigan to understand the complex challenges facing Muslim communities today. While the Detroit area has long been home to the nation’s oldest, most diverse Muslim communities, it is now also receiving the newest waves of Muslim immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South Asia. These new immigrants are filling in and reshaping neighborhoods, transforming education and creating vibrant ethnic marketplaces. But they also face considerable obstacles as crimes against Muslims have become commonplace in the wake of 9/11 and more recent terrorist attacks.

Sally Howell (Ph.D) is Director of the Center for Arab American Studies and Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is the author of numerous definitive books and articles about the Muslim community in the greater Detroit area including, Old Islam in Detroit, and co-author of Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit after 9/11 and Arab Detroit: Life in the Terror Decade. She is currently completing a book about the new Muslim residents of Metro Detroit and the impact they are having in communities across south-east Michigan.


Sally Howell is Director of the Center for Arab American Studies and Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She received her Ph.D. from the American Culture Program at University of Michigan in 2009. Her books include the co-authored Citizenship and Crisis (2009, Russell Sage Foundation Press), co-edited Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade (2011, Wayne State University Press), and Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past (2014, Oxford University Press).  Old Islam in Detroit was named a Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan and given the Evelyn Shakir Award by the Arab American National Museum. Howell is currently completing a book entitled Halal Metropolis: Mosques, Markets, and Neighborhood Development which explores the mutual constitution of local publics and religious minorities across the urban and suburban landscape in Michigan.



Robert S. Ford, U.S. Ambassador to Syria until 2014

Thursday, June 16, 2016
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

Robert Ford was the last resident ambassador in Syria and advised the President on US-Syria policy through the most unstable period in the region’s history. He broke with the Obama administration over its handling of the Syrian civil war and is now a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute. This is a unique opportunity to hear first hand about Syria President Assad’s catastrophic handling of internal unrest and the resultant rise of ISIS. Ambassador Ford also served in Algeria, Bahrain and Iraq. He is the recipient of U.S. State Department’s highest award, as well as the annual Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston for his stout defense of human rights in Syria.


Robert S Ford is currently a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington where he writes about developments in the Levant and North Africa. Mr. Ford in 2014 retired from the U.S. Foreign Service after serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014. In this role Mr. Ford was the State Department lead on Syria, proposing and implementing policy and developing common strategies with European and Middle Eastern allies to try to resolve the Syria conflict.

Prior to this, Mr. Ford was the Deputy U.S. Ambassador to Iraq from 2008 to 2010, and also served from 2006 until 2008 as the U.S. Ambassador to Algeria, where he boosted bilateral education and rule of law cooperation.  Ford served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Bahrain from 2001 until 2004, and Political Counselor to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2004 until 2006 during the tumultuous establishment of the new, permanent Iraqi government.

In 2014 he received the Secretary’s Service Award, the U.S. State Department’s highest honor.  He also received in April 2012 from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston the annual Profile in Courage Award for his stout defense of human rights in Syria.  He has appeared on CNN, PBS, Fox, MSNBC, NPR, the BBC and Arabic news networks as well as in the New York Times and Foreign Policy.

Mr. Ford has a B.A. in international studies, Johns Hopkins University; M.A. in Middle East studies and economics, Johns Hopkins SAIS; Advanced Arabic studies, American University of Cairo.

“The Bumpy Road to Global Polio Eradication”

Dr. John F. Modlin, Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “Every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life”

Thursday, May 19, 2016
6pm at NMC’s Milliken AuditoriumRotary logo RI

Supported by Traverse City Rotary Clubs

Polio was once a disease feared worldwide, striking suddenly and paralyzing mainly children for life. Right here in our own region, Munson Medical Center was a center for polio care in the last century and local Rotary organizations continue to actively work to defeat polio. This crippling viral infection now survives only among the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities, such as in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is our great honor to welcome Dr. John Modlin, Deputy Director of the Gates Foundation, to give his first-hand view on how close the world has come to eradicating polio – and what remains to be done.


Dr. John F. Modlin is deputy director for research on the Polio Strategy Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He holds the title of professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, where he served as chair of the Department of Pediatrics and senior advising dean until he joined the Foundation in July 2013.

He is a graduate of Duke University and Duke University School of Medicine. His clinical training in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases was interrupted for a two-year assignment by the U.S. Public Health Service’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Since 1978, he has served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Dartmouth College.

Dr. Modlin’s research and academic interests include perinatal viral infections, poliovirus immunization, and vaccine public policy. In the 1980s, he helped design and conduct clinical studies of enhanced potency in poliovirus that were instrumental in the decisions to change polio vaccination policy in the United States in 1997 and again in 2000.

Dr. Modlin has authored or co-authored more than 250 medical papers. From 1997 to 2003, he was chair of the Center for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices during a period when the ACIP faced a number of contentious issues, including mercury in childhood vaccines, emergency use of anthrax vaccine, and re-institution of smallpox vaccine for military personnel and health care workers. Dr. Modlin has also served as Chair of the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Dr. Modlin lives in Seattle with his wife of 33 years, Sharyn Modlin, a former advertising executive and child advocate. Their son, Andrew, is an environmental biologist and their daughter, Chelsea, is a student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. They have a second home in northern Michigan.

“Canada: PM Trudeau’s New Directions”

The Honorable David Collins, former Senior Executive in Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs

Thursday, April 21, 2016
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

Justin Trudeau, a 43-year old ex-teacher with no government experience but a famous pedigree, is taking Canada’s Liberal government in new directions.  Among his immediate challenges as prime minister are Syrian refugees, free trade, climate change, and how to confront the Islamic State. Join Canadian diplomat David Collins for a discussion of Canadian foreign policy, including issues in Michigan’s backyard.


David Collins is a retired senior executive officer of International Trade and Development in the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. He served as ambassador and high commissioner in Romania, Pakistan, Malaysia and Kenya in addition to a number of appointments as a senior trade commissioner. In Ottawa, he was senior departmental assistant to the International Trade minister, director general at the Department of National Defense, and inspector general of the Foreign Service. At NATO headquarters in Brussels, he was counselor to the Canadian delegation and director of Defense Partnership and Cooperation on the International Staff.  Collins was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Navy and served for 17 years in the active Navy Reserve as a Supply and Naval Control of Shipping officer.

He holds undergraduate degrees from Queen’s University and Concordia University, and a graduate degree from the University of Durham in England.

Collins now serves as a director of the Conference of Defense Associations Institute. He is a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. In 2013 he was in Kabul as interim Canadian ambassador. In 2014 he observed the presidential election in Ukraine and, in 2015, he completed a tour with HSBC Singapore as senior vice president of financial crimes compliance.

David is married to Jacquie, a pediatric occupational therapist. Their son, Nicholas, is an officer with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

“North Korea: The Hermit Kingdom”

Special Fundraiser Lecture

Monday, April 11, 2016
6pm at TC Central High School Auditorium

With U.S. Air Force MajGen (ret) Brian Bishop, former Deputy Chief of Staff, UN Command & US Forces Korea

Introduction by World Champion Sailor & Athlete Linda Lindquist-Bishop

“Is ISIS a Threat to Central Asia?”

Dr. Martha Brill Olcott, visiting professor, James Madison College, MSU and visiting professor at al-Farabi Kazakh National University

Thursday, March 17, 2016
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

The countries of Central Asia, once part of the Soviet Union, are predominantly Muslim and have historically charted a course based on secular rather than religious principles. Do these secular traditions risk falling prey to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism? Does ISIS, now operating in nearby Afghanistan, pose a terror threat to aging autocratic regimes such as in Uzbekistan? No one knows this region better than Dr. Martha Brill Olcott, America’s leading authority on Central Asia.


Dr. Olcott was a senior associate with the Russia Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. She now is a visiting professor at the James Madison College at Michigan State University and is the co-director of the al-Farabi Carnegie Program on Central Asia in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She served as chairman of the Political Science Department at Colgate University from 1984 through 1990. She holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Olcott is the author of several scholarly works on Central Asia for the Carnegie Endowment including Tajikistan’s Difficult Development Path: In the Whirlwind of Jihad ; Central Asia’s Second Chance; Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise, and Preventing New Afghanistans: A Regional Strategy for Reconstruction.

Soon after 9/11, Washingtonian magazine listed her as one of “71 People the President Should Listen To” about the war on terrorism.

In July, 1994 Dr. Olcott was named by President Clinton to be director of the Central Asian American Enterprise Fund. Earlier, she was consultant on Central Asian Affairs for former acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.

Germany: Merkel’s High Stakes Gamble” 

Dr. Ingrid Sandole-Staroste, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University 

Thursday, February 18, 2016
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

As Europe grapples with increasing demands including from terrorism and the refugee crisis, Angela Merkel remains Europe’s pre-eminent leader. Now in her third term, Merkel is under increasing pressure, engaged in a balancing act that will determine her political future – and that of Germany.  Join Dr. Ingrid Sandole-Staroste, a German-American expert, who will share insights on where Angela Merkel and Germany go from here.


Dr. Ingrid Sandole-Staroste was born in northern Germany, near Hamburg. She was educated in Germany, England and the United States. Although she currently resides in the United States, she spends most summers in Germany and remains in touch with the women in eastern Germany whom she interviewed for her book, Women in Transition: Between Socialism and Capitalism, to keep up with developments and their impact on the country, including the current refugee crisis. Dr. Sandole-Staroste also stays informed about events and research on Germany through, among others, the Institute for Contemporary German Studies, the German Historical Insitute, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and the Goethe Institute, all of which have offfices in Washington DC.

Dr. Sandole-Staroste now teaches at Virginia’s George Mason University in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the Sociology and Anthropology Department. She is a scholar of transitioning societies whose research reflects an integrative approach connecting the fields of sociology, women studies, and conflict analysis and resolution.  She received her doctorate from the University of Virginia and was a visiting research fellow at the International Gender Studies Center at Oxford University in England.

Her book, Women in Transition: Between Socialism and Capitalism, explores the experiences of East German women in reunified Germany. She co-edited the Handbook of Conflict Analysis and Resolution,” which captures the multidisciplinary complexity and richness of conflict analysis and resolution.  A forthcoming article, Making the Case for the Private Sector in Peacebuilding in Fragile, Violent Conflict-Affected States in Africa, will be published this December in Conflict Resolution Quarterly.b

“Diplomacy in an Election Year:

What’s at Stake?” 


Thursday, November 19, 2015
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

There is no shortage of acute challenges facing the United States in this election year. Putin’s Russia, religious extremism, the vast movement of people as a result of political instability and environmental devastation in the world… 

Thomas Pickering ‘s service in seven demanding ambassadorial posts over four decades qualifies him uniquely to help us understand the impact of the coming presidential campaign on U.S. foreign policy.  Pickering is a diplomatic legend, once described as the “five star general of the diplomatic corps.”  He handled tough ambassadorial assignments — Jordan, Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, the United Nations, India and Russia — and was renowned for his strategic approach to global issues.  His years of senior experience and insight brought him to the pinnacle of foreign policy decision-making as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the number-three position in the State Department. Pickering now holds the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service.


Thomas R. Pickering is Vice Chairman of Hills & Company. Ambassador Pickering served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (1997-2000) and as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador; Nigeria, and Jordan. He also was the U.S. Ambassador and Representative to the United Nations in New York, where he led the U.S. effort to build a coalition in the UN Security Council during and after the first Gulf War. He has held additional positions in Tanzania, Geneva, and Washington, including as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans, Environmental and Scientific Affairs and as Special Assistant to Secretaries of State William P. Rogers and Henry A. Kissinger. After retiring from the State Department in 2000, Ambassador Pickering joined The Boeing Company as Senior Vice President, International Relations and member of the Executive Council. He serves on a number not-for-profit boards. He holds degrees from Bowdoin College, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the University of Melbourne and speaks French, Spanish, and Swahili fluently and also Arabic, Hebrew and Russian.

“Thieves of State:

Why Corruption Threatens Global Security”

SARAH CHAYES, AUTHOR (photo by Kaveh Sardari)

special location

Thursday, October 15, 2015
7 pm at the City Opera House
Partnership Event with the National Writers Series
Tickets through NWS – http://nationalwritersseries.org

Question:  Is acute corruption around the globe responsible for the greatest security challenges facing America today?

THIEVES FK 0701.indd  Join us for a unique opportunity to hear from one of America’s leading independent and creative thinkers, Sarah Chayes, joined on stage by former diplomat Jack Segal.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in the room when world leaders puzzle over pressing problems, here is your chance to listen in and engage as these two foreign policy experts wrestle with today’s most intractable issues.

As a star National Public Radio correspondent covering the fall of the Taliban regime, Sarah Chayes made the unusual decision of settling in the former Taliban heartland, Kandahar, Afghanistan. While a new, NATO-led war unfolded around her, she founded Arghand – a start-up manufacturing cooperative where men and women worked together to produce fine skin care products for export. Running Arghand in downtown Kandahar gave her an extraordinary vantage point for observing how U.S. policies enabled — and benefited from – corruption in Afghanistan.

In Thieves of State, Ms. Chayes takes her keen analysis and hands-on insight to consider the problem of corrupt regimes around the globe. From Syria to Nigeria to Ukraine and Afghanistan, she draws a connection between countries with kleptocratic governments and global issues that just keep getting worse. Are Washington policymakers aware of the connection? And can they do anything to break the cycle?

You’ll definitely want a seat at this table!



Sarah Chayes, author of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, served as special assistant to the top U.S. military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.  She participated in Cabinet-level decision-making on Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Arab Spring, traveling with Mullen frequently to the region.  He tapped Chayes for the job after her work as special advisor to two commanders of the international troops in Afghanistan (ISAF), Generals David McKiernan and Stanley McChrystal.  She contributed her unique knowledge of the Afghan south to the ISAF command.

It was a sense of historic opportunity that prompted Chayes to renounce her journalism career in early 2002, after covering the fall of the Taliban for National Public Radio, and to remain in Afghanistan to help rebuild the country.  She chose to settle in the former Taliban heartland, Kandahar.

In 2005, Chayes founded Arghand, a start-up manufacturing cooperative, where men and women working together produce fine skin-care products for export.  (www.arghand.org)  The goal was to revive the region’s historic role in exporting fruit and its derivatives, to promote sustainable development, and expand alternatives to the opium economy.  Running Arghand in downtown Kandahar proved to an extraordinary vantage point for observing the unfolding war.

From 1996-2001, Chayes was NPR Paris correspondent.  For her work during the Kosovo crisis, she shared the 1999 Foreign Press Club and Sigma Delta Chi awards.

She is now a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in the Democracy and Rule of Law and South Asia programs.  Her work focuses on the security implications of acute corruption.

Along with Thieves of State, Chayes is is the author of The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban (Penguin, 2006) and contributes to The Los Angeles Times, The Washington PostForeign Policy, and Defense One among other publications.

“Water Insecurity: 

Reporting on a Global Crisis”


Thursday, September 17, 2015
6pm at NMC’s Milliken Auditorium

The global competition for water, food and energy has become one of the world’s most dangerous crises. Major global aquifers are declining at an alarming rate while, across California and the American West, an epic drought is upending long-held assumptions about water supply and growth. Access to water has already spawned regional conflicts and the competition grows apace with the urbanization of India, China and beyond.

How companies, governments, and people respond to these risks that could disrupt supply chains, political stability, and cultures is the topic of J. Carl Ganter’s discussion. He will take you on a journey to front lines of the world’s water crises and reveal how urgent challenges involving water insecurity are sometimes meeting innovative solutions – and sometimes not.

BOX:  Special Opportunity for NMC and High School Students

J. Carl Ganter’s presentation will be simulcast at NMC’s Scholars Hall where Circle of Blue team members will be onsite before and after the presentation to lead discussion and answer questions. So gather with your friends to enjoy a snack and special conversation.




J. Carl Ganter is founder and director of Circle of Blue, the Traverse City-based center for frontline reporting, research, and analysis on the world’s water resource issues and their relationship to food and energy in a changing climate. Ganter is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and photojournalist whose work has appeared in most major magazines, newspapers, and television and radio networks. He earned his MSJ in investigative and magazine reporting at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism after graduating with honors from the University’s American Studies Program. He is past vice chairman and current member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Water Security, and is recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Award.

Circle of Blue

Founded in 2000 by leading journalists and scientists, Circle of Blue provides relevant, reliable, and actionable on-the-ground intelligence about the world’s resource challenges. With an intense focus on water and its relationships to food, energy, and health, Circle of Blue has created a breakthrough model of front-line reporting, data collection, design, and convening that has evolved with the world’s need to spur new methodology in science, collaboration, innovation, and response. Making connections from localized occurrences to global trends, Circle of Blue publishes its award-winning, original content and informs academics, governments, and the general public, catalyzing participation across disciplines, regions, and cultures. Circle of Blue has presented at the World Economic Forum, the World Food Prize, the Aspen Ideas Festival, Tallberg Forum, DLD-Munich, and many other leading international events. Its Choke Point series has been credited with informing the recent U.S. and China agreement on climate change.

June 18, 2015

Is a Free Press Dangerous? 

With award-winning newspaper reporter, editor, and IAF Board member, Robert H. Giles

The role of a free press in the United States is rapidly evolving. The digital era has given the press powerful tools to hold governments accountable, yet hard times for news organizations mean fewer reporters are bearing witness to violence and progress in distant lands. Whistleblowers leaking government secrets to reporters are raising alarms about government over-reach while, some believe, violating national security. Independent bloggers are making their mark in the daily news cycle, sometimes drowning out careful analysis. Polarized politics are shaping how people consume the news. Is the press pushing its First Amendment freedoms too far?

Bob Giles is former editor and publisher of The Detroit News and curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He now lives in Traverse City.



Robert H. Giles served 11 years as curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, retiring in July 2011. He came to Harvard in 2000 after a career of nearly 40 years as a newspaper reporter and editor.

In his role as curator, he directed a mid-career fellowship program for working journalists from the U.S. and abroad that was established at Harvard in 1938. He also served as publisher of Nieman Reports, a quarterly magazine of commentary and criticism about the news media.

Under Giles’s leadership, the Nieman Foundation established programs to enlarge the foundation’s outreach to the larger world of journalism, including the Nieman Journalism Lab, the Nieman Narrative Journalism Program and the Nieman Watchdog Reporting Project.

In March 2012, Giles joined GlobalPost, an international online news organization, as commentary editor.

Giles was a Nieman Fellow in 1966.

Giles’s most recent newspaper assignment was as editor and publisher of The Detroit News, which he joined in 1986 as executive editor.

From 1977-1986, Giles was executive editor and then editor at the Democrat & Chronicle and the Times-Union, in Rochester, N.Y.  His newspaper career began in 1958 at the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, where he held several reporting and editing positions before becoming managing editor and then executive editor.

As managing editor of the Beacon Journal, Giles directed coverage of the campus shoots at Kent State University in 1970 and shared with his staff a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.

Bob was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended DePauw University where he majored in English and was editor of the student newspaper. He next went to the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, graduating in 1956 with a master’s degree. He served two years in the United States Army, and was a public information specialist at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

From 1986 to 1997, he was executive editor and later editor and publisher of The Detroit News. In 1994, the paper, under this leadership, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for its disclosures of a scandal in the Michigan House Fiscal Agency.

In 1997, Bob retired from The News and became a senior vice president of the Freedom Forum and executive director of its Media Studies Center in New York City. At the Freedom Forum, he was editor in chief of the Media Studies Journal and directed an extensive examination of fairness in the news media.

In 2000, Harvard invited Giles to become curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, a position he held until his retirement in July 2011.

In 2003, Giles led a successful capital campaign that enabled the foundation to expand its quarters at Walter Lippmann House, just off the Harvard campus, adding a seminar room and library. The new facilities enabled the Nieman Foundation to organize conferences and seminars for Nieman Fellows and other journalists on topics in the news.

Over his long journalism career, Bob has held leadership positions in a number of newspaper industry organizations. He served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and, for 12 years, was a board member of the ASNE Foundation. He was president of the Associated Press Managing Editors and founding president of the APME Foundation. He was president of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. He is a trustee of the William Allen White Foundation of the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He serves on the editorial advisory board to GlobalPost.com. While at Harvard, he served on the board of directors of Harvard Magazine.

Bob won the Scripps-Howard Foundation Distinguished Journalism Citation in 1978 for “outstanding public service in the cause of the First Amendment” for columns focusing on the issue of open courts.  He has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror eight times since 1970, most recently in 2000.  He was named the 2000 winner of the Gerald M. Sass Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism Education. In 1996, he received an honorary doctorate in Journalism from DePauw University. In 2007, he received the Alumni Award from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.  In 2012, he was elected a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

He is the author of a textbook, Newsroom Management: A Guide to Theory and Practice.  Columns and articles by Bob have appeared in a number of newspapers and magazine publications, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Daedalus.

Bob’s wife of 54 years, Nancy, is a psychologist and a specialist in trauma. They have three children: David is vice president, deputy general counsel and corporate ethics officer for Scripps in Cincinnati; Rob lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and two daughters, where he is a lawyer with the U.S. Navy. Megan, a former television journalist, lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, with her husband, a vice president with Pepsico, and their two children.

May 21, 2015

The Next Africa

With Traverse City native Jake Bright, Whitehead Fellow at The Foreign Policy Association and a contributing writer for The Financial Times

Be prepared to change the way you think about Africa! Jake Bright has a new book out that recasts the African continent as an emerging powerhouse. Bright details cross-cutting trends prompting Silicon Valley venture capital funds and firms like GE, IBM, and Proctor & Gamble, as well as global players like China, to make major investments in African economies, and describes how Africans are stimulating Milan runways, Hollywood studios, and London pop charts! The old narrative of an Africa disconnected from the global economy is fading and a wave of transformation driven by business, modernization, and a new cadre of remarkably talented Africans is thrusting the continent from the world’s margins to the global mainstream.

The Next Africa is a paradigm-shifting guide to the events, trends, and people reshaping Africa’s relationship to the world.


Jake Bright is a writer, consultant, and Whitehead Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association with a focus on international business. He contributes as an editor and independently, including for The Financial Times This Is Africa, Bloomberg LP, U.S. News & World Report and The Atlantic’s Quartz. Mr. Bright is also active in driving thought leadership programming as a producer, moderator, and speaker in various forums. Over the last several years, he has developed an expertise documenting and explaining Africa’s business transformation, including the continent’s technology movement, across many forums.

Bright is a frequent commentator to media outlets such as Bloomberg News. He also co-produces The New Business of Africa series at the Foreign Policy Association, which has comprised partners CNN, Newsweek, PwC, the Carlyle Group, and Blackstone. Bright’s business reporting has received “Best Business Column” distinction by The Week magazine. His first book  HYPERLINK “http://us.macmillan.com/thenextafrica/jakebright” “The Next Africa: An Emerging Continent Becomes a Global Powerhouse” is in production with Macmillan/Thomas Dunne.

Prior to his current activities, Bright spent 10 years in international finance as an officer at The Bank of New York Mellon. Before that he served in the Clinton administration in The Department of Commerce and on White House staff as a speechwriter and chief aid to senior international economic advisers.

Mr. Bright earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations with a certificate in African Studies from Michigan State University. He also attended Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, attaining a Master of International Affairs degree concentrated in international economics. Bright’s pastimes include open water distance swimming and alpine ski racing. Jake was born and raised in Northern Michigan and attended Northwestern Michigan College for one year before transferring to MSU.

Reference Links:

http://www.jakebright.com WEBSITE

http://jakebright.com/COPY.html PUBLICATIONS

http://jakebright.com/MEDIA.html MEDIA/PUBLIC SPEAKING

April 16, 2015

The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East

Juan Cole, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Michigan

The renowned blogger and Middle East expert Juan Cole illuminates the role of today’s Arab youth—who they are, what they want, and how they will affect world politics. In his stunning new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East, Cole outlines the history that led to the dramatic changes in the region, and explores how a new generation of men and women are using innovative notions of personal rights to challenge the authoritarianism, corruption, and stagnation afflicting their societies. Can the Millennials shift from being a catalyst for rebellion to a governing force? Was the rise of the Internet as central to these social movements as reported in the western press? Are western governments prepared to engage with the Millennial Generation to promote democratic change?

For three decades, Cole has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. Don’t miss this unique opportunity!



Juan R. I. Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three and a half decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East (Simon & Schuster, July 2014). He also authored Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and many other books. He has translated works of Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran. He has been a regular guest on PBS’s Lehrer News Hour, and has also appeared on ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, the Today Show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes All Inn, the Colbert Report, Democracy Now! and many others. He has given many radio and press interviews. He has written widely about Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia. He has written about the upheavals in the Arab World since 2011, including about Sunni extremist groups and Shiite politics. He has a regular column at Truthdig. Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads Turkish, knows both Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years, and continues to travel widely there. A bibliography of his writings may be found here.

April 8, 2015

Special IAF Panel Presentation on Putin’s Russia and Ukraine!

 7:00 pm

Lars Hockstad – Central Grade School

301 Seventh Street, Traverse City, MI 49684


Edwin G. Dolan – a specialist on the Russian economy with an MA from the Russian-East European Institute of Indiana University and a PhD in Economics from Yale. He has recently resettled in Northport and writes a highly successful Econ Blog at http://dolanecon.blogspot.com.

Tracy Nichols Busch – an expert on domestic conditions in Russia who frequently works and travels in Russia. She received her PhD from Georgetown University in Russian studies and currently teaches History at Ferris State University.

Jack Segal – retired diplomat with an extensive background in Russian and Soviet affairs at the US Depart- ment of State and at NATO. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, he and his wife Karen opened the first US Consulate General in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

March 19, 2015

The Geopolitics of Energy:  Winners and Losers

With Dr. Mary Karol Cline, Associate Partner, Longview Global Advisors

Global energy markets are changing and, with it, the geopolitical environment we’ve become accustomed to over the last few decades.  Is the energy world as we’ve known it for the past 50 years on its way out? Who are the winners and losers in this complex game and what is the likely impact for geostrategic politics as well as business? Join Dr. Mary Cline, an expert on the politics of energy and a strategic advisor to business executives.  Mary was a Russia expert at the US Department of State and also spent time in Dubai where she wrote on issues of energy security facing Middle East governments.


Mary Karol Cline, PhD

Research and Consulting Leader

Associate Partner

Mary Cline’s mission is to help corporate leaders and investors make sense of critical political, economic, and social issues shaping the business environments in which they operate around the world.

In 2013, Mary joined Longview Global Advisors, a consultancy that works with clients on a range of tasks from market intelligence to thought leadership and executive and corporate positioning. To this end, Mary leads Longview’s research and the firm’s network of country, sector, and issue experts around the world. Backed by this well-sourced team, Mary develops insights that help executives get political, economic, and social – to look beyond, and be bigger than, their business. ahead of a quickly changing global environment.

In addition, Mary is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, where teaches on political risk analysis and is developing a course on the role of the private sector in development.

Prior to joining Longview Global Advisors, Mary worked at Eurasia Group in Washington with responsibility for global trends, new product development, and adding global corporate and sector relevance to the firm’s political risk analysis. She served on the operating and product development committees and managed strategic client relationships. Previously, Mary was a Scholar in Residence at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Affairs in Dubai, and a Research Fellow at the Dubai School of Government, where she focused on Middle East energy politics and regional economics.

Mary also served at US Department of State in Washington as an expert on Russian affairs in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and on the Central Asian and Caucasus Affairs desk. She contributed regularly to the Secretary of State’s intelligence assessments, and she produced political assessments distributed to the White House, National Security Council, Congress, and Intelligence Community. Mary also has worked as a political and policy analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, Defense Group International in Washington, Stiftung Wissenshaft und Politik in Ebenhausen, Germany, and the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California.

Mary received her BA from Bowdoin College and her PhD from UCLA in political science, with specialties in Russian and comparative politics and quantitative analytic methods.

Mary may be reached at mary@longviewglobal.com

February 19, 2014

Cuba: Time for Change?

Elaine Diaz Rodriguez is a Cuban blogger, journalist and professor at the University of Havana. She is currently a Nieman Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

After more than 50 years of rule under Fidel and Raul Castro and an embargo by the United States, the US stands at a crossroads in Cuba. A shift in US public opinion doubting the effectiveness of the embargo may force the issue into the 2016 presidential campaign. The embargo has not achieved the primary objective of removing Fidel Castro from power, yet it has brought economic pain to the Cuban people and stymied any possibility of reconciliation between the two nations. What might a post-embargo Cuba look like? What would an opening to Cuba mean to the US economy, to travelers from the US, to the Cuban people, to the US standing in Latin America?

Diaz Rodriguez brings a keen insight into current Cuban society and the capacity of digital communication to promote public discussion and consensus building in Cuba and possibly a path to normalization.


Charlier Duelfer pix

November 20, 2014

IRAQ: The New Homebase for Terror?

Dr. Charles Duelfer led the Iraq Survey Team investigating Iraq’s WMD and penned the “Duelfer” report which became the definitive work on WMD in Iraq.

With Syria and Iraq both immersed in turmoil and the U.S. role in the region increasingly mired in controversy, U.S. policy in the region is at a crossroads. Join Charles Duelfer who led the Iraq Survey Group investigating Iraq’s WMD and who penned the “Duelfer” report which became the definitive work on WMD in Iraq. Mr. Duelfer is one of America’s most respected voices on Iraq and the Middle East. He will discuss the hunt for Saddam’s WMD and the situation today in this violent and dangerous region.


Charles Duelfer is Chairman of Omnis, Inc., a consulting firm in aerospace, defense, intelligence, training and finance.   He was CEO of a small space launch company, Transformational Space, Inc. from 2005-2008.

Mr. Duelfer was formerly Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence for Iraq’s  Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and led the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) that conducted the investigation of Iraq’s WMD. The ISG was a unique intelligence organization of over 1700 military and civilian staff that investigated the personnel, facilities, documentation and intelligence associated with Iraqi WMD. The ISG’s definitive work — known as the Duelfer Report — described in detail the relationship of the Saddam Regime to WMD and was presented to the President and Congress in October 2004 and published with previously classified addenda in 2005.

Previously, Mr. Duelfer was the Deputy Executive Chairman and then acting Chairman of the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) from 1993 until its termination in 2000. The Commission was established following the Gulf War by the UN Security Council to monitor and eliminate Iraq’s WMD.

Before joining UNSCOM, Mr. Duelfer was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for arms control and multilateral defense matters. From 1990 to 1992, he was in charge of defense trade matters as the director of the Center for Defense Trade and Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of State for politico-military affairs. In this capacity, he had responsibility for arms transfers, munitions licensing, and conventional arms control. From January to March 1991, he directed the State Department’s Task Force in support of Desert Storm.

Mr. Duelfer’s 25 years of government service involved policy and intelligence in the Middle East, Africa, Central America and Asia, and in the areas of nuclear weapons and space programs.  Earlier, Mr. Duelfer worked at the White House Office of Management and Budget (1977-1983), where he was responsible for Department of Defense strategic nuclear forces and space programs. He holds a B.A. from the University of Connecticut and a M.Sc. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In addition to the “Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq’s WMD, with Addendums (the Duelfer Report),” US Government Printing Office, April 25, 2005, Dr. Duelfer is the author of Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq, Public Affairs publishing (2009)

SP Photo

October 16, 2014


Steven Pifer, former Ambassador to Ukraine and member of the National Security Council, currently Director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the Brookings Institution.

Ukraine today faces its biggest crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union some 25 years ago.  What began as an internal political dispute has become a major international crisis, involving Russia, Europe, the United States and others.  Poised between east and west, Ukraine has consistently disappointed its supporters through deeply-rooted corruption, mismanagement and poor governance.  Meanwhile, events there have served to underscore the dark side of Russian President Putin’s leadership, and relations between Russia and the West have plunged to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. Hear the latest from one of America’s true experts on what we can expect as this dangerous confrontation continues.


The Ukraine Crisis:  Where Will it End? 

Steven Pifer, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, former Ambassador to Ukraine

Steven Pifer is a senior fellow and director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the Brookings Institution.  His more than 25 years with the State Department included service as  Ambassador to Ukraine and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State with responsibility for Russia and Ukraine during the George W. Bush administration.  In addition to Ukraine, he served at the U.S. embassies in Warsaw, Moscow and London, as well as with the U.S. delegation to the negotiation on intermediate-range nuclear forces in Geneva.

Among his many publications, Ambassador Pifer is co-author of  HYPERLINK “http://www.brookings.edu/research/books/2012/theopportunity” \t “_blank” The Opportunity: Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Arms (Brookings, October 2012), and author of “ HYPERLINK “http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2012/02/03-ukraine-pifer” \t “_blank” Ukraine’s Perilous Balancing Act,” Current History (March 2012); “ HYPERLINK “http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2009/07/ukraine-pifer” \t “_blank”Ukraine’s Geopolitical Choice, 2009,” Eurasian Geography and Economics (July 2009); “ HYPERLINK “http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2012/05/08-missile-defense-pifer” \t “_blank” Missile Defense in Europe: Cooperation or Contention?”Brookings Arms Control Series Paper #8 (May 2012); “ HYPERLINK “http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2011/07/19-arms-control-pifer” \t “_blank” NATO, Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control,” Brookings Arms Control Series Paper #7 (July 2011); “ HYPERLINK “http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2010/11/12-arms-control-pifer” \t “_blank” The Next Round: The United States and Nuclear Arms Reductions After New START,” Brookings Arms Control Series Paper #4 (November 2010).


Brookings website  HYPERLINK “http://www.brookings.edu/experts/pifers” http://www.brookings.edu/experts/pifers


September 18, 2014

Fault Lines of Faith:  Reporting on Sectarian Conflict Around the Globe

Kira Kay, Co-Founder of the Bureau for International Reporting and award-winning journalist who regularly reports for the PBS NewsHour, CBS 60 Minutes, and other national news organizations.

While sectarian conflict goes back to the dawn of time, today’s world seems marked as never before by divisions split upon religious lines: in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, as well as in Western democracies. As we kick off our new season, join award-winning journalist Kira Kay for a special presentation that will include video from her television series Fault Lines of Faith. Ms. Kay has reported from around the globe on sectarian conflict including anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence in Myanmar, recent Muslim-Christian tensions in Kenya, and inter-Christian warfare in Northern Ireland. Don’t miss it!


Kira Kay, Special Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and Co-founder of the Bureau for International Reporting


Kira Kay is the Co-Founder of the Bureau for International Reporting (BIR), a non-profit news organization dedicated to the coverage of “overlooked” foreign issues and regions. As the primary on-air correspondent and producer for the BIR, she regularly reports for PBS NewsHour and other national news organizations. Her reporting has earned many awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Award for International Journalism, a first place National Headliner Award and various Emmy Award nominations, including for best story of the year.

The highly successful Fault Lines of Faith series, supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, has been renewed for seven new installments in 2014 and 2015. The series has become a popular topic for public dissemination outreach activities and for educators to use as teaching materials in college and even high school classrooms.

Over the first two years of its existence, the Fault Lines of Faith series has brought coverage of six important but under-covered regions onto American airwaves. BIR’s reports include:

  • an in-depth examination of the human rights concerns at the root of the long-simmering Muslim Malay insurgency in Buddhist Southern Thailand
  • a nuanced look at how historical, cultural practices in Northern Ireland are slowing the process of reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants 14 years after the end of the conflict known as “the troubles.”
  • a profile of Hindu nationalist politician Narendra Modi, who became India’s Prime Minister this year but who remains blamed by many for bloody anti-Muslim riots that happened under his watch a decade ago.
  • the troubling rise of sectarian tensions in Burma which puts the movement of controversial nationalist Buddhist monk Wirathu, and its impact, into important political and societal context as Burma undergoes a still-fragile transition to greater democracy
  • Bosnia’s first census since before its brutal ethnic war, where counting numbers is not a mere technical exercise but a debate about religious and ethnic identity
  • Kenya, where the country’s intensive anti-terror policies have undermined the long-standing cohesion of Christians and Muslims on the Mombasa Coast

Prior to founding the BIR in 2007, Kira Kay was a network news producer for 15 years, reporting both internationally and domestically for PBS, ABC, CBS and CNN. Some of her non-BIR projects include covering U.S. military actions in Africa for Dan Rather Reports, an Emmy-winning story exploring the economic impact of a rising global middle class for NOW on PBS and reporting on the plight of Iraqi refugees in Jordan for the documentary series Wide Angle.  In 2004, Kay received an Emmy nomination for her reporting on the Darfur crisis for 60 Minutes. That same year, she was awarded a fellowship in residency at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where she focused on anti-terror operations in the Asia Pacific region. From 1992 to 2001 Kay was a producer for the ABC News magazine shows Primetime Live and 20/20.

Kay completed her master of arts in foreign policy at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University and was a Fulbright scholar in Southeast Asia. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a fellow of the US-Japan Foundation Leadership Program.


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