Members Weekend 2017

October 13 & 14 • InterContinental Hotel, Century City, CA
The Pacific Council’s Members Weekend brings together leaders from business, government, academia, and beyond to discuss the most pressing global issues of our time.







  • 13 October
  • 14 October

Karen Bass

Representative (D-CA 37)
U.S. House of Representatives
Congressmember Karen Bass was re-elected to her fourth term representing the 37th Congressional District in November 2016. Congressmember Bass serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa. She was selected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus, as Organization, Study and Review Chair. Congressmember Bass is also playing a leadership role in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), where she serves as Second Vice Chair for the 115th Congress.

Throughout her career, Representative Bass has maintained a focus on our nation’s foster care system. In her first term, she created the bipartisan Congressional Foster Youth Caucus along with co-chair U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), which aims to transform the foster care system in America.

Prior to serving in Congress, Representative Bass made history as the first African American woman to serve as Speaker of the California Assembly. In this powerful state legislative role, she helped California to recover from the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Representative Bass will be our lunch keynote speaker.

Colleen Bell

Ambassador to Hungary (2015-2017)
U.S. State Department
Ambassador Colleen Bell was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the United States’ Ambassador to Hungary and was confirmed by the United States Senate in December 2014.

Ambassador Bell presented her credentials to President of Hungary János Áder on January 21, 2015.

Prior to her diplomatic service abroad, Ambassador Bell was a leading business executive at an award-winning production company responsible for some of the most-watched television programming in the world, reaching more than 40 million people in more than 100 countries across five continents. While a producer at Bell-Phillip Television Productions in Los Angeles, Ambassador Bell’s work frequently earned the field’s most prestigious recognition for creative content, social awareness, and public-health education. Ambassador Bell’s artistic vision has been recognized for its pioneering impact on the lives of a wide array of marginalized populations in the United States and abroad.

In addition to her long career in international business and the arts, Ambassador Bell is a dedicated philanthropist and an industry-leading advocate committed to tackling some of the United States’ most vexing domestic and global public policy challenges. Ambassador Bell’s public service work and her successful record of strategic and organization planning have led to the implementation of critical initiatives in natural-resource protection, child-abuse prevention, crime victim counseling and care, public-health awareness, and art accessibility. Prior to assuming her role leading Embassy Budapest, Ambassador Bell served on the boards of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, UCLA Medical Center’s Rape Treatment Center Foundation, the Children’s Institute, Inc., and the Natural Resource Defense Council’s Los Angeles and Global Leadership Councils.

Ambassador Bell is a graduate of Sweet Briar College. She is married to writer/producer Bradley Bell, with whom she has four children.

Ambassador Bell concluded her service as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary on January 20, 2017.

Ambassador Bell will moderate the Resurgence of Nationalist Populism panel.

Andrea Belz

Vice Dean
USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Andrea Belz, the Director of the National Science Foundation Innovation Node – Los Angeles, serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence (Technology) with faculty appointments in the Marshall School of Business, the Viterbi School of Engineering, and the Roski School of Design. Dr. Belz is Managing Director of Kinetic Intelligence, an intellectual property strategy consultancy and has previously guided strategic planning for world-class innovators including Avery Dennison, BP, California Institute of Technology, CVI Melles Griot, Korea Institute for the Advancement of Technology, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Occidental Petroleum, and UCLA. The author of The McGraw-Hill 36 Hour Course: Product Development, Dr. Belz has also consulted to many venture capital firms and university technology startups. She currently serves on the boards of ITUS and Caltech spinoff laser manufacturer Ondax. She holds a B.S. in physics from the University of Maryland at College Park, a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology, and an M.B.A. in finance from the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business.

Dr. Belz will speak on the Future of Automation: The Next Industrial Revolution panel.

Mabel Berezin

Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Harvard University
Dr. Mabel Berezin’s research asks how shared cultural meanings and practices shape 1) political institutions such as the state; 2) social processes around political movements and ideologies; and 3) agents through the construction of political identities. Her methodology is primarily comparative and historical.

Her current work focuses on contemporary sites of social, political and cultural change–places where political arrangements have collapsed and new institutions and identities are in the process of formation.

Dr. Berezin will speak on the Resurgence of Nationalist Populism panel.

Art Bilger

Founder & CEO
Working Nation
Art Bilger, Founder & CEO, is currently an active venture capital investor. He has been an investor in and director of various private companies including Akamai Technologies, Inc., where he also served as Vice Chairman. He was also President, Chief Operating Officer and a director of New World Communications Group, Inc.; a founding partner of Apollo Advisors, LP and Executive Vice President, Co-Head of Corporate Finance and a Director of Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc.

Art serves on the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School Board of Overseers and sits on the Board’s Executive Committee. He is also Vice Chairman of the Skirball Cultural Center; a Board member of Bet Tzedek; an Advisory Board Member for the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging, and a member of the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs.

He was an Executive Producer for the film 20 Feet From Stardom, which won the 2013 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and the 2013 award for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards. Art’s career began with the completion of his B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and subsequent MBA from The University of Chicago.

Art will speak on the Future of Automation: The Next Industrial Revolution panel.

Robert B. Brown

Commanding General
U.S. Army Pacific
General Robert B. Brown assumed command of the United States Army's largest Service Component command, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), April 30, 2016. The command is headquartered at Fort Shafter, Hawaii with portions of the command-forward deployed and based throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific. USARPAC's 106,000 Active, Reserve Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians support the nation's strategic objectives and commitment to the region.

Prior to this assumption of command, General Brown most recently served as the Commanding General, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he led the synchronization of education; leader development; training support & development; and the development and integration of the doctrine the U.S. Army uses to fight and win our Nation's wars.

During various times during his service, General Brown has served twelve years with units focused on the Indo-Asia Pacific region, including Commanding General, I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Deputy Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division including a second deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom; Training & Exercises Director J7, United States Pacific Command (USPACOM); Executive Assistant to the Pacific Command Commander; Plans Officer, United States Army Pacific (USARPAC); and Commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division including a deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

General Brown was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry from the United States Military Academy in May 1981, and has served in many leadership positions from platoon to Corps, including as Platoon Leader and Company Commander in mechanized infantry units at Fort Carson, Colorado; Battalion Commander of 2-5 Cavalry, a mechanized infantry battalion at Fort Hood, Texas including a deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of OPERATION JOINT FORGE; and Commanding General of the Maneuver Center of Excellence (Infantry and Armor Forces) and Fort Benning, Georgia.

General Brown has also served in numerous staff positions including: Assistant Professor of Military Science and Deputy Director, Center of Enhanced Performance, United States Military Academy; Plans Officer at USARPAC; Operations Officer, Executive Officer and Chief, G-3 Training in the 25th Infantry Division including a deployment in support of OPERATION UPHOLD DEMOCRACY in Haiti; Personnel Assignment Officer in Human Resources Command; Aide-de-Camp/Assistant Executive Officer to the Vice Chief of Staff, Army; Plans Officer in the Department of the Army G-3/5/7; a Program Analyst in the Dominant Maneuver Assessment Division, Joint Staff (J8); Executive Assistant to the U.S. Pacific Command Commander and Director, J-7 (Training and Exercises) at USPACOM; and Chief of Staff United States Army Europe (USAREUR) / Deputy Commanding General U.S. Army NATO.

His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters) and the Army Achievement Medal. He has earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge, and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

General Brown holds a Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy, a Master of Education from the University of Virginia, and a Master of Science in National Security and Strategic Studies (Distinguished Graduate) from National Defense University.

General Brown will be our opening keynote speaker on Saturday morning.

Samuel Chu

Contributing Fellow
USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture
Samuel Chu is a contributing fellow with the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at University of Southern California where he engages in research, writing and teaching around community organizing, public leadership and the role of religious institutions in social change.

Chu is a nationally recognized organizer for social change. He currently directs the national synagogue and advocacy strategy for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, where he oversees over 900 synagogue partners and organizes a growing political constituency that has effected numerous changes, including $8 million in new state funding to provide free school lunch to 62,000 additional low-income students in Minnesota, universal breakfasts for over 1,000 public school campuses in Texas and improved access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly know as “food stamps”) for thousands of families, seniors, veterans and homeless minors in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts and California.

He is the founding chair and president of OneLA-Industrial Areas Foundation, one of the nation’s largest and most diverse community organizing networks, where he helped to create successful projects such as the largest community-based enrollment program for the Affordable Care Act in California and the nation’s first publicly funded mortgage principle reduction plan during the Great Recession.

A first generation immigrant from Hong Kong and the son of a Southern Baptist minister, Samuel came to America in 1990 when he was 12 years old. He completed an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of California, San Diego and a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

He pastored at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Koreatown in Los Angeles from 2002 to 2009, where he served a community of mainly undocumented immigrants and a diverse congregation with members from 70 different nationalities.

Samuel served as the executive director of California Faith for Equality and California Faith for Equality Action Fund from 2008 to 2011, and was the first straight person to head a statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender supportive organization. Under his leadership, CFE filed some of the largest amicus briefs to the courts in support of marriage equality at both the state and federal levels. In 2011, Chu was recognized by the City of Los Angeles with the LGBT Pride Award for his leadership in promoting and organizing religious support for LGBT civil rights and marriage equality.

From 2007 to 2014, he was board president of 1010 Development Corporation, a non-profit affordable housing developer in Los Angeles rooted in the United Methodist tradition.

Chu also directed special projects for Consumer Watchdog as well as the social justice program, Minyan Tzedek, at IKAR, a Jewish spiritual community that stands at the intersection of spirituality and social justice in Los Angeles, led by Rabbi Sharon Brous.

Samuel will speak on the Unease in China? Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Religious Unrest panel.

Sharyl Cross

Global Fellow
Kennan Institute
Dr. Sharyl Cross is Director of the Kozmetsky Center at St. Edward's University in Austin and Global Policy Scholar at the Kennan Institute Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

Dr. Cross was Professor (2005-20013) at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany where she was Director of Academics for both the Program in Advanced Security Studies and Senior Executive Seminar, and served in key leadership capacities for the Marshall Center’s strategic outreach engagement initiatives in Russia, Eurasia and South East Europe. She also directed a project on countering violence extremism involving participation of some 60 nations. While residing in Germany, she routinely lectured on NATO-Russia security issues for courses at the NATO School in Oberammergau and presented policy relevant research briefings for the U.S. State Department, Department of Defense, Congress, and European Command. Prior to the Marshall Center, Dr. Cross had been appointed Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. She was a resident Senior Fulbright Scholar in Moscow serving on the faculty of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MGIMO) and Institute of USA and Canada Studies in the Russian Academy of Sciences.

She earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was a resident fellowship scholar and consultant at the RAND Corporation completing programs in Russian area and policy studies. Dr. Cross has published widely on US/NATO-Russia security issues, Russian foreign policy, Sino-Russian relations, and security and defense sector reform in Eurasia and South East Europe. Her most recent book (co-authored with Paul J. Bolt) China, Russia, and Twenty First Century Global Geopolitics with Oxford University Press is scheduled for release in January 2018. She currently co-directs a project on religion and international security in cooperation with NATO Public Diplomacy involving collaboration with experts throughout Eurasia and South East Europe.

Dr. Cross will speak on the Decoding Russia’s Geopolitical Ambitions panel.

Shihoko Goto

Senior Associate for Northeast Asia, Asia Program
Wilson Center
Shihoko Goto is the senior Northeast Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center's Asia Program, where she is responsible for research, programming, and publications on Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. She is also a contributing editor to The Globalist, and a fellow of the Mansfield Foundation/Japan Foundation U.S.-Japan Network for the Future for 2014 to 2016. Prior to joining the Wilson Center, she spent over ten years as a journalist writing about the international political economy with an emphasis on Asian markets. As a correspondent for Dow Jones News Service and United Press International based in Tokyo and Washington, she has reported extensively on policies impacting the global financial system as well as international trade. She currently provides analysis for a number of media organizations. She was also formerly a donor country relations officer at the World Bank. She received the Freeman Foundation’s Jefferson journalism fellowship at the East-West Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s journalism fellowship for the Salzburg Global Seminar. She is fluent in Japanese and French.

Ms. Goto will speak on the Unease in China? Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Religious Unrest panel.

Nina Hachigian

Deputy Mayor for International Affairs
City of Los Angeles
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the appointment of Ambassador Nina Hachigian as Deputy Mayor for International Affairs on August 4, 2017.

Ambassador Nina Hachigian was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on September 19, 2014. In her capacity as Chief of the U.S. Mission to ASEAN, Ambassador Hachigian is responsible for working with ASEAN member states and other stakeholders to advance U.S. interests in a peaceful, prosperous, and integrated Southeast Asia that supports human dignity and a rules-based regional order. The Mission's five priorities in the U.S. relationship with ASEAN are: supporting economic integration; expanding maritime cooperation; cultivating emerging leaders; promoting opportunity for women; and addressing transnational challenges.

Previously, she was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Ambassador Hachigian was the editor of Debating China: The U.S. – China Relationship in Ten Conversations (Oxford University Press, 2014) and co-author of The Next American Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise (Simon & Schuster, 2008), as well as many reports on Asia policy.

Prior to American Progress, Ambassador Hachigian was a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and served as the director of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy for four years. From 1998 to 1999, she was on the staff of the National Security Council in the White House.

Ambassador Hachigian has published numerous reports, book chapters, and articles, including in Foreign Affairs, The Washington Quarterly, Democracy, and Survival, as well as op-ed pieces appearing in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the South China Morning Post. She also co-authored The Information Revolution in Asia (RAND, 2003). Ambassador Hachigian has been a guest on a variety of news programs.

Ambassador Hachigian was on the board of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Affairs at Stanford University. She was a member of the State Department's Foreign Affairs Policy Board, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Ambassador Hachigian received her B.S. from Yale University and her J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Ambassador Hachigian will moderate the keynote discussion with General Robert B. Brown.

Grant Harris

Chief Executive Officer
Harris Africa Partners LLC
Grant T. Harris is CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC and advises companies and organizations on strategy, policy, and mitigating risk with respect to doing business in Africa.

For four years, Harris served as the principal advisor to President Barack Obama on issues related to Africa, serving as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the White House from August 2011 to August 2015.

In this role, Harris initiated and coordinated U.S. policies toward the 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including political, economic, and security matters. Harris conceived of and was a primary lead in implementing the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, in which President Obama hosted 51 African Leaders in Washington, DC in August 2014. The Summit generated $37 billion in new commitments to support trade, investment, and development across Africa.

Harris also initiated and coordinated the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, to encourage greater U.S. trade and investment; launched the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative, to support emerging leaders; and conceived and was the primary architect of the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, signed by President Obama in 2012. During his time at the White House, Harris also oversaw U.S. efforts to create and implement the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, and led the U.S. response to various peace and security crises across Africa.

Prior to this position, Harris was Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet. Previously, Harris was an associate at the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, where he focused on international business transactions. Prior to that, Harris served in the African Affairs Directorate at the National Security Council at the White House under President Bill Clinton and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations under Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

Harris holds a law degree from Yale Law School, a Master’s in Public Affairs, with Distinction, from Princeton University, and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of California, Berkeley. His writings have appeared in such publications as Forbes; HuffPost SA; The Hill; Yale Journal of Law & Policy; Berkeley Journal of International Law; Horizons; Israel Law Review (peer-reviewed); and The San Francisco Chronicle. He is a frequent conference speaker and has been widely quoted on Africa issues in U.S., international, and African media. In January 2017, Harris was appointed by President Obama to serve on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Harris also serves as a non-executive independent director on the board of the Africa Finance Corporation, an international financial institution that has invested more than $4 billion in infrastructure projects across Africa.

Harris will moderate the keynote discussion with Karen Bass.

David Helfenbein

Senior Vice President
Main & Rose
David Helfenbein is a strategic communication and public affairs expert focused on branding, crisis communication and government relations. Under President Obama, David was appointed Social Media Coordinator for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Assistant to the Secretary in the Office of White House Liaison, both at the U.S. Department of State. Before the State Department, he worked on Clinton’s Senate staff, focusing on appropriations and grants. David also worked for The Brookings Institution for congressional scholar Thomas E. Mann and MSNBC’s Morning Joe television show. He hosts The Gaggle Podcast and writes for HuffPost.

David will moderate the A State Department Benched? panel.

Suedeen G. Kelly

Jenner & Block
Suedeen G. Kelly is a highly recognized energy practitioner and former commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). She represents a variety of clients in the electric and natural gas industries on business, regulatory, litigation, enforcement and policy matters such as electricity and gas markets, renewable energy, electricity transmission, natural gas and oil infrastructure, LNG, electricity reliability standards, hydro licensing, carbon emissions, smart grid, energy efficiency and distributed generation.

Ms. Kelly’s knowledge of the national electric and natural gas industries includes significant experience in infrastructure development and operation, market structures and financial products, emerging technologies, federal and state laws and regulations, impending policy changes and domestic/international market interrelations. She is an experienced litigator on energy and environmental matters in federal and state courts.

Nominated by Presidents George H. Bush and Barack Obama to three terms as a FERC Commissioner, Ms. Kelly resolved 7,000 disputes with published Commission decisions and personally authored 100 separate statements during her tenure. She is credited with spearheading change in numerous regulatory policies, including transmission interconnection and planning reform, integration and deployment of renewables and smart technology into the grid, the inclusion of smart grid demonstration grants in the stimulus effort, and natural gas quality standards.

Ms. Kelly has served as chair of energy industry practices at two international law firms. She served as regulatory counsel for the California Independent System Operator, and in 1999, she worked as a legislative aide to Senator Jeff Bingaman, then the ranking member of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. For more than 15 years, she was a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law where she taught energy law, utility regulation, administrative law and legislative process. She also served as chairwoman and commissioner for the New Mexico Public Service Commission and was a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council and US Environmental Protection Agency.

Ms. Kelly will speak on the Energy Sector Post-Paris panel.

Ernie Liu

Security Consulting Services
Ernie Liu is the Director of Mandiant’s Professional Services with over a decade of experience in professional services and information security. He has led Mandiant’s teams to help his clients respond to some of the most complex and high-profile information security breaches. Mr. Liu has expertise conducting enterprise-wide incident responses, high-tech crime investigations, complex litigation support efforts, and providing strategic security consulting to business and technology executives. He has supported clients in a number of industries including financial services, high technology, energy, mining, legal, and defense industrial base.

Mr. Liu oversees Mandiant's Los Angeles office and all Southern California professional services personnel. As Director, he is also responsible for recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent and ensuring Mandiant provides unsurpassed services to clients around the world.

Prior to joining Mandiant, Mr. Liu was a Manager with Deloitte Financial Advisory Service's Analytic and Forensic Technology group. There, he managed and coordinated international teams who collected, analyzed, and reported on evidence related to internal and external corporate investigations, including extensive Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) requests, often working hand-in-hand with corporate counsel and special committees to develop investigative strategies.

Mr. Liu will speak on the Cybersecurity Today: Understanding U.S. Adversaries and What Can Be Done panel.

Karlo Barrios Marcelo

Program and Development Manager
Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles
Karlo is a public-private partnership professional for the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. His main role is to connect philanthropy and the private sector with programs and projects at the Mayor’s office, in order to drive innovation and transformation. His main duties include program management and strategy, fundraising, and contracts and negotiations. Outside of his MFLA role, he is a Contributor with the Economist Intelligence Unit, the consultancy side of The Economist magazine. He conducts business insight analysis through interviews and surveys with executives at Fortune 500 companies and large foundations. He also serves on the board of the L.A. River Public Art Project whose mission is to foster an arts and culture infrastructure for the city’s largest development project this century.

As a trained economist and statistician, Karlo got his start as an analyst at CIRCLE, and later became the national expert on young voters during the 2006 and 2008 elections. His research and analysis was featured on CBS News, Al-Jazeera, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, The Economist, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and many others. After CIRCLE, he leveraged his experience in media and communications to work as a consultant for The Aspen Institute, InterAction, See3 Communications, and others before being recruited by the Truman National Security Project to launch a nationwide media surrogate initiative. At the Truman Project he opened up new surrogate chapters that helped to create a media narrative and echo chamber throughout the country.

Karlo completed his B.A. from the University of Maryland in Economics and Government, where he was also a CIVICUS Associate, Senior Marshal, and Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow. He was a Rackham Graduate Fellow at The Ford School of Public Policy at The University of Michigan, where he received his M.P.P. with a focus on quantitative analysis. He is a lifetime alumni member of both Universities. He is also a New Leaders Council Fellow and Truman National Security Project Political Fellow.

Karlo will moderate the Cybersecurity Today: Understanding U.S. Adversaries and What Can Be Done panel.

Elisa Massimino

President and CEO
Human Rights First
Elisa Massimino is President and Chief Executive Officer of Human Rights First, one of the nation’s leading human rights advocacy organizations. Established in 1978, Human Rights First’s mission is to ensure that the United States is a global leader on human rights. The organization works in the United States and abroad to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law. Massimino leads a staff of 100 with offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Houston.

Massimino joined Human Rights First as a staff attorney in 1991 to help establish the Washington office. From 1997 to 2008 she served as the organization’s Washington Director. Previously, Massimino was a litigator in private practice at the Washington law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where she was pro bono counsel in many human rights cases. Before joining the legal profession, she taught philosophy at several colleges and universities in Michigan.

Massimino has a distinguished record of human rights advocacy in Washington. As a national authority on human rights law and policy, she has testified before Congress dozens of times and writes frequently for mainstream publications and specialized journals. Since 2008, the influential Washington newspaper The Hill has consistently named her one of the most effective public advocates in the country.

Massimino appears regularly in major media outlets and speaks to audiences around the country. She has written for and been quoted in numerous print and online news sources, including: New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and other global publications. She has been featured on ABC News, NBC Dateline, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio, BBC, and many other news outlets.

The daughter of a nuclear submarine commander, Massimino was instrumental in the organization’s efforts to assemble a group of retired generals and admirals to speak publicly against policies authorizing the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. This coalition of military leaders has played a pivotal role in the effort to restore compliance with the Geneva Convention’s standard for treatment of prisoners.

Massimino holds a law degree from the University of Michigan where she was an editor of the Journal of Law Reform. She holds a Master of Arts in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University, and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Massimino serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches human rights advocacy, and has taught international human rights law at the University of Virginia and refugee law at the George Washington University School of Law. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the bar of the United States Supreme Court.

Massimino will speak on the A State Department Benched? panel.

Edward Muller

Vice Chairman (Ret.)
NRG Energy, Inc.
Edward Muller is the retired vice chairman of NRG Energy, Inc., a competitive energy company that produces and sells electricity in the United States. Prior to the merger in 2012 of GenOn Energy Inc. and NRG, he was chairman and chief executive of GenOn which produced and sold electricity in the United States. Before the formation of GenOn through the merger in 2010 of Mirant Corporation and RRI Energy, he was chairman and chief executive of Mirant Corporation. During his tenure, Mirant also produced and sold electricity in Curacao, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Philippines and Trinidad. Previously, he was president and chief executive officer of Edison Mission Energy, the wholly owned global power subsidiary of Edison International, which during his tenure had major activities in Australia, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Prior to joining Edison Mission, Muller was vice president, chief financial officer, general counsel and secretary of Whittaker Corp., a Los Angeles-based conglomerate with activities in aerospace, chemicals, healthcare and metals. From 1991 to 1993, in addition to his duties at Whittaker, he was also vice president, general counsel and secretary of BioWhittaker, Inc., a Maryland-based biotechnology firm spun off by Whittaker.

Muller is a director of AeroVironment, Inc., a producer of unmanned aircraft systems and efficient energy systems, and of Transocean Ltd., an offshore oil and gas driller. He previously has been a director of Contact Energy, Ltd., a New Zealand electric company; Edison Mission Energy; Interval, Inc., a provider of Internet-based tools for automotive retailers; GenOn Energy Inc.; Mirant Corporation; NRG Energy, Inc., Oasis Residential, Inc., an apartment REIT; Ormat Technologies, Inc., a developer, builder, owner and operator of geothermal power plants; RealEnergy, Inc., a developer, owner and operator of on-site generation for commercial office buildings; RigNet Inc., a provider of information and communication services for drilling rigs; Strategic Data Corp., an Internet personalization and datamining firm; The Keith Companies, Inc, an engineering firm; and Whittaker Corp.

He is chair of the Board of Trustees of the Riverview School and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy, and previously was Chairman of the U.S.-Philippines Business Committee and Co-Chairman of the International Energy Development Council.

Muller received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and law degree from the Yale Law School.

Muller will speak on the Energy Sector Post-Paris panel.

Michael Nacht

Thomas and Alison Schneider Professor of Public Policy
UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy
Michael Nacht holds the Thomas and Alison Schneider Chair in Public Policy. From 1998-2008 he was Aaron Wildavsky Dean of the Goldman School. He is a specialist in U.S. national security policy; science, technology and public policy; and management strategies for complex organizations.

He is the author or co-author of six books and more than eighty articles and book chapters on nuclear weapons policy; regional security issues affecting Russia and China, the Middle East and East Asia; cyber and space policy; counter-terrorism and homeland security; international education; and public management. He recently co-edited and co-authored Strategic Latency and World Power: How Technology Is Changing Our Concepts of Security published by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Center for Global Security Research.

Nacht served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs (2009-2010), after unanimous U.S. Senate confirmation, for which he received the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Department’s highest civilian honor. Previously, he was Assistant Director for Strategic and Eurasian Affairs of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1994-97), during which time he participated in five Presidential summits, four with Russian President Yeltsin and one with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

He is currently chair of the Policy Focus Area for the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium led by the U.C. Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering. He is also co-investigator of a new Department of Defense Minerva Research Project on “Deterring Complex Threats” with colleagues from UC San Diego.

He received a B.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics and an M.S. in Operations Research from New York University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University.

Dr. Nacht will participate in the Was Barack Obama's Foreign Policy a Success? debate.

Robert C. O'Brien

Managing Partner
Larson O'Brien LLP
Robert C. O’Brien’s practice focuses on complex litigation and domestic and international arbitration. He has expertise in entertainment, intellectual property, oil and gas, and contract and business tort matters.

Mr. O’Brien has tried numerous cases to verdict in state and federal courts in both jury and bench trials as well as in domestic and international arbitral proceedings.

In addition, he has been appointed chair and wing arbitrator in more than a dozen domestic and international arbitrations. Mr. O’Brien has been a federal court-appointed discovery master in several of the largest recent cases in the Central District of California, including MGA v. Mattel (“Barbie v. Bratz”), United States v. Standard & Poors and In re Allergan Securities Litigation. He was named one of the top 100 lawyers in California by the Daily Journal. In 2016, The Los Angeles Business Journal named him as one of the 500 most influential people in Los Angeles.

Prior to establishing Larson O’Brien LLP with Stephen G. Larson, Mr. O’Brien was the California managing partner of a national AMLAW firm. He grew the California offices from 10 lawyers to more than 110 in seven years.

Mr. O’Brien served as the U.S. Alternate Representative to the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which met in New York from 2005 through 2006. In July 2008, Mr. O’Brien was appointed by the President to serve a three-year term on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. Government on the Convention on the Cultural Property Implementation Act. He was the founding Co-Chairman of the Department of State Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2011, serving under Secretary of State Rice and Secretary of State Clinton.

Mr. O’Brien was a Major in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Army Reserve. He served as a senior legal officer at the UN Security Council (UNCC) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1996 to 1998, where he handled government claims against Iraq arising out of the first Gulf War.

Mr. O’Brien’s articles on international law, the right of publicity and civil procedure have been published in leading law reviews and journals. His essays and editorials on foreign policy and national security regularly appear in national publications. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN and The Hugh Hewitt Radio Show. His book, While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis was published by Encounter in 2016.

Mr. O’Brien served on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Fowler School of Law at Chapman University. He was a member of the International Republican Institute (IRI) delegations that observed the presidential election in the Republic of Georgia in October 2013 and the parliamentary election in Ukraine in October 2014. Mr. O’Brien served as a Pacific Council on International Policy observer of the 9/11 Military Commission proceedings in Guantanamo Bay.

He has been a senior advisor to Governor Mitt Romney and Governor Scott Walker in their presidential campaigns.

Mr. O’Brien graduated, cum laude, from UCLA, and received his JD degree from the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).

Mr. O'Brien will participate in the Was Barack Obama's Foreign Policy a Success? panel.

Karen Richardson

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Karen Richardson is the former Public Engagement Advisor responsible for conducting outreach to the international community, which includes domestically-based advocacy and non-governmental organizations, amongst others, working on a variety of foreign policy issues. Her portfolio also included conducting outreach to the health care and seniors community, a role she assumed in January 2009 as health care outreach coordinator for the White House Office of Health Reform and the White House Office of Public Engagement. Richardson has also been Senior Advisor to Ambassador Melanne Verveer at the U.S. State Department. Richardson began working for President Obama at his Senate Office in August 2005, serving as Deputy to the Policy Director. Shortly after Obama announced his presidential run, Richardson joined the Obama for America campaign as the State Policy Director for Iowa, a role she assumed in several states throughout the presidential primary. In July 2008 Richardson became the Policy Director at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and also joined the DNC as part of then-Senator Obama’s Congressional Liaison team. After the presidential general election, she joined the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team. Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Los Angeles, California, Richardson has a BA from Howard University, a JD from Howard University School of Law, and a Masters in International Affairs from the London School of Economics.

Richardson will speak on the A State Department Benched? panel.

David M. Satterfield

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
U.S. State Department
Ambassador Satterfield entered the Foreign Service in 1980 and holds the rank of Career Minister. He most recently served from July 2009 until August 2017 as the Director General of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai Peninsula. At the Department of State, Satterfield served as Coordinator for Iraq and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Iraq, Assistant Secretary of State (Acting) for Near Eastern Affairs, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Chief of Mission in Cairo, and U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon.

His Middle East experience spans almost forty years and also includes assignments in Syria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and two tours in Lebanon. Ambassador Satterfield served as Director of Arab and Arab-Israeli Affairs in the Department of State and as Director for Near Eastern Affairs on the National Security Council Staff from 1993 to 1998, where he worked primarily on the Arab-Israeli peace process. He is the recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the Department of State Distinguished Honor Award, the Presidential Distinguished Executive Award and the Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award. His languages include Arabic and French.

Ambassador Satterfield attended the University of Maryland and Georgetown University.

Ambassador Satterfield will speak on the Challenges & Opportunities for the U.S. in the Middle East plenary.

Kori Schake

Research Fellow
Hoover Institution
Dr. Kori Schake is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. She is the editor, with Jim Mattis, of the book Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military. She teaches Thinking About War at Stanford, is a contributing editor at the Atlantic, and also writes for War on the Rocks and Foreign Policy. Her history of the Anglo-American hegemonic transition is forthcoming (2017) from Harvard University Press.

She has served in various policy roles including at the White House for the National Security Council; at the Department of Defense for the Office of the Secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff and the State Department for the Policy Planning Staff. During the 2008 presidential election, she was Senior Policy Advisor on the McCain-Palin campaign.

She has been profiled in publications ranging from national news to popular culture including the Los Angeles Times, Politico, and Vogue Magazine.

Her recent publications include: Republican Foreign Policy After Trump (Survival, Fall 2016), National Security Challenges for the Next President (Orbis, Winter 2017), Will Washington Abandon the Order?, (Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2017).

Dr. Schake will participate in the debate, Was Barack Obama's Foreign Policy a Success?

Dan Schnur

Director of Los Angeles Region
American Jewish Committee
Dan Schnur is the Director of the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles Region.

Dan comes to AJC after a career in communications and advocacy in California and national politics, and, more recently, teaching at the University of Southern California and the University of California – Berkeley.

Since 2004, Dan has taught at the University of Southern California, where he taught popular classes in politics, communications and leadership. He has been Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, founder of the USC/LA Times statewide political poll, and faculty advisor to the Trojans for Israel and SC Students for Israel organizations. In addition to his position at USC, Dan is an Adjunct Instructor at the University of California at Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. Dan also has held the post of Visiting Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University and taught an advanced course in political campaign communications at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.

Earlier in his career, Dan spent almost twenty years in state and national politics, working on four presidential campaigns and three campaigns for governor of California. He served as chairman of the California Fair Political Practice Commission, communications director for Governor Pete Wilson, and, later, for Senator John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign. In 2011, Dan changed his party registration to No Party Preference. He was a founder and co-chairman of the Voices of Reform project, the bi-partisan statewide effort whose work laid the foundation for California’s landmark redistricting reform.

Dan has been an advisor to the William & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Broad Education Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the James Irvine Foundation, the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stuart Foundation on a variety of K-12 education and college and workforce preparedness efforts.

Dan will moderate the Was Barack Obama's Foreign Policy a Success? debate.

Ann M. Simmons

Global Development Writer/Editor
Los Angeles Times
Ann M. Simmons is a global development writer/editor on the foreign desk of the Los Angeles Times, where she covers global sustainability issues. In her most recent role she served as a video and multimedia journalist. She has worked as a metro reporter and national and foreign correspondent. She has been based in Russia, Kenya and South Africa and has reported from Iraq and several other countries across the globe. A Brit, Simmons holds a double honors bachelor’s degree in Russian and Norwegian from the University of Anglia in Norwich, England, and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School Journalism. She was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 2003.

Simmons will moderate the Decoding Russia’s Geopolitical Ambitions panel.

Matthew Spence

William J. Perry Fellow
Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation
Dr. Matthew Spence is the William J. Perry Fellow at Stanford University, where he teaches the CISAC Fellows Policy Seminar. He is also partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Prior to entering the private sector, Dr. Spence spent six years in senior national security positions in the U.S. government. From 2012 to 2015, Dr. Spence served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy, where he was the principal advisor to three Secretaries of Defense for U.S. policy towards the Middle East. He was responsible for fourteen countries, including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Israel, Egypt, and the Gulf states. During his time at the Pentagon, Dr. Spence traveled to the region over 30 times, and played a central role in U.S.-Israel military planning, the cyber attack on Saudi Aramco, arms sales, and policy dialogues about Iran, Syria, Egypt, and the Middle East Peace Process.

Dr. Spence also served in a senior role on Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s confirmation and transition team. He received the Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding Public Service.

From 2009 to 20012, Dr. Spence worked at the White House on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Economic Affairs and as Senior Advisor to two National Security Advisors. In that capacity, he traveled with and briefed President Obama in trips to over 30 countries, participated over 300 national security meetings with the President’s cabinet, and prepared the National Security Advisor for over 500 of the President’s Daily Intelligence Briefings He worked on issues ranging from cyber security, trade, Asia policy, and the operation against Osama bin Ladin. He also served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team.

Dr. Spence is a Senior Fellow at the Yale Law School Center for Global Legal Challenges and the NYU Center on Law and Security. Dr. Spence is the co-founder of the Truman National Security Project, was a Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford University, and has been widely published in national security and foreign policy, including in the Yale Law Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. Trained as a lawyer, Dr. Spence also practiced criminal and international law in California, and served as a law clerk for Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. A Marshall Scholar and Truman Scholar, Dr. Spence received his doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University; J.D. from Yale Law School; and B.A. and M.A. in International Policy Studies from Stanford University. He was born and raised in southern California.

Dr. Spence will participate in the Was Barack Obama's Foreign Policy a Success? debate.

Seth Stodder

Former Assistant Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Seth Stodder was appointed by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Border, Immigration & Trade Policy in March 2016. Assistant Secretary Stodder leads a team advising Secretary Johnson and DHS leadership on border security and the facilitation of legitimate travelers and commerce across U.S. and international borders. Leading the offices of Immigration Policy and Immigration Statistics, he also advises the Secretary and DHS leadership on all immigration matters, including immigration reform, visa policy, global asylum/refugee policy, immigration services, and immigration enforcement. He also oversees DHS policy regarding trade, cargo and supply chain security, transportation security, as well as DHS national security reviews of foreign investments and FCC license applications through the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) and the “Team Telecom” review process. In addition, Assistant Secretary Stodder oversees all DHS engagement with and policy issues regarding the countries of the Western Hemisphere, including bilateral and multilateral engagements with Canada, Mexico, and the countries of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Previously, Assistant Secretary Stodder served as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Threat Prevention and Security Policy. Appointed by President Obama in June 2015, Assistant Secretary Stodder led a team advising Secretary Johnson and senior DHS leadership on a wide variety of issues relating to security threats to the U.S. homeland. Among other things, Assistant Secretary Stodder oversaw DHS policy on the screening of people, including the Visa Waiver Program and the security vetting process for refugee applicants, as well as law enforcement policy, and the negotiation of international information sharing agreements bolstering counterterrorism and law enforcement cooperation, with a particular focus on transatlantic cooperation in addressing the Syrian migration crisis. Assistant Secretary Stodder also served as Co-Chair of the DHS Social Media Task Force.

A longtime expert in national and homeland security law and policy, Assistant Secretary Stodder also teaches Counterterrorism, Civil Liberties, and Privacy Law at the University of Southern California Law School. Prior to his appointments at DHS, Assistant Secretary Stodder was a lawyer in private practice, focused on appellate and constitutional law. He also served as a Senior Associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and is a member of the Pacific Council for International Policy.

This is Assistant Secretary Stodder’s second tour of duty at DHS. Earlier in his career, Assistant Secretary Stodder served in the Bush Administration as Director of Policy and Planning for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In that role, he helped lead the development of U.S. border policy in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, and the creation of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), the Container Security Initiative (CSI), and the National Targeting Center (NTC), among a variety of other initiatives focused not only on securing the borders of the United States, but also on facilitating the secure flow of lawful travel and trade.

Assistant Secretary Stodder is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court and California bars, has a J.D. from the University of Southern California Law School, and a B.A. from Haverford College.

Assistant Secretary Stodder will speak on the Energy Sector Post-Paris panel.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Chancellor's Professor, History School of Humanities
University of California, Irvine
Jeffrey Wasserstrom is the Chancellor's Professor in the History School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. He is also a professor (by courtesy) in the School of Law. He serves as a Historical Writing Mentor of Literary Journalism in the School of Humanities. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989, his M.A. in East Asian Studies from Harvard University in 1984, and his B.A. in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1982.

His research interests include China, protest, globalization, gender, and urban. He is a specialist in modern Chinese history with a strong interest in connecting China's past to its present and placing both into global perspective. He has contributed to many academic periodicals, including the China Quarterly, the Journal of World History, the Journal of Global History, and History Workshop Journal, and has also written commentaries and reviews for general interest magazines (e.g., Time, The Nation, and the TLS), newspapers (Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times), and many online publications, including the Huffington Post. He is the Editor of the Journal of Asian Studies, the flagship publication of the Association for Asian Studies, and is an advising editor for of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Dr. Wasserstrom will speak on the Unease in China? Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Religious Unrest panel.

Yuval Weber

Global Fellow
Kennan Institute
Yuval Weber is an Assistant Professor at the National Research University - Higher School of Economics in the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs. He joined the Faculty from the University of Texas, where he defended his dissertation “Petropolitics and Foreign Policy: Fiscal and Institutional Origins of Soviet and Russian Foreign Policy, 1964-2012” in August 2014. Dr. Weber has served as a researcher at the Carnegie Moscow Center and New Economic School, and previously earned a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago. Dr. Weber has forthcoming publications in Survival, Cold War Studies, and Orbis, and is working on a project on the sources of liberal and anti-liberal dissatisfaction for powers in the international system and the strategies they employ to stake their claims for revising the international order.

Dr. Weber will speak on the Decoding Russia’s Geopolitical Ambitions panel.

Ehsan Zaffar

Senior Advisor
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Ehsan was born overseas and came to Los Angeles as an immigrant fleeing war. His family had nothing at first, but because of the incredibly hard work of his parents, his sister and Ehsan spent their youth in progressively better conditions. It was their dedication to service that sparked his. Like many immigrants they experienced their share of discrimination and racism, but also great compassion and generosity.

He teaches students about their rights and their freedoms - those that their ancestors fought for. The right to speak truth to power. The right to practice your faith without persecution. The right to live in safety, privacy and dignity.

He works with others to advise the government on civil rights issues - to ensure that our leaders don't abridge our freedoms in their legitimate quest for safety.

He started a legal clinic to bring legal care to those who needed it most. A non-profit student organization to mentor young adults. And now a way for people all over the country to fight hate and bigotry by standing up for what is right.

Ehsan will speak on the The Resurgence of Nationalist Populism panel.


Founded in 1978, QBI is a major provider of Human Capital Management solutions. QBI is one of the largest retirement plan administrators in the country and a regional payroll services provider in California. Our proprietary technology allows for integration of all employee benefits and HR solutions on one centralized platform. QBI’s client base includes over 4,000 corporations and partnerships. The firm primarily offers its services through investment advisors, insurance providers and CPAs.

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Nina Ansary

Dr Nina Ansary is a bestselling author, historian, and leading authority on women's rights in Iran. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the MOP Foundation (Magic of Persia), Barnard College, and the Iranian-American Women’s Foundation.

Her book Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran received international attention and has garnered multiple awards – including the 2016 International Book Award in ‘Women’s Issues’. Marie Claire has profiled Dr. Ansary as one of 14 privileged women to change the world and she has been honored as one of ‘The 21 Leaders of the 21st Century’ by Women’s ENews. Other recognitions include a feature in Angeleno Magazine's "Living Legacies of 2016" and selection as one of ‘Five Iranian Visionaries You Need to Know’ and ‘6 Women Who Build Bridges Not Walls' by The New York Times. She has appeared on Fox News, Larry King, The BBC and CBS Radio and been featured in a variety of top publications, including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The UK Daily Telegraph, Teen Vogue and the Yale Journal of International Affairs.

Dr Ansary is a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics Centre for Women, Peace and Security and regularly presents her work at top universities, including Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge, New York and and Harvard, as well as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C., the UN Social Good Summit, and worldwide conferences in Dublin, Milan and London. She also frequently moderates panels and discussions, most recently at the UN Women's Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship Industry Forum 2017. Ansary holds an MA in Middle Eastern Studies and a PhD in History from Columbia University (USA).

Read more.

If you are interested in sponsoring Members Weekend, please let us know by emailing

Registration Information

Register for Members Weekend 2017 here.

Registration rates are $850 for For-Profit Members and $600 for Not-for-Profit Members, including all meals.

We invite our members under the age of 35 to register here for a discounted rate.

Refund policy:
  • 100% refund for all cancellations received on or before August 1, 2017
  • 75% refund for all cancellations received on or before August 23, 2017
  • 50% refund for all cancellations received on or before September 22, 2017
  • No refund for cancellations after September 22, 2017

Discounted room rates of $279 are available at the InterContinental Hotel for Pacific Council members on October 13 and 14. Book your room here before September 23.

A Conversation with Representative Karen Bass on U.S.-Africa Policy

Saturday Lunchtime Keynote

A conversation with Representative Karen Bass (D-CA 37) about U.S.-Africa policy.


Representative Karen Bass, U.S. House of Representatives


Mr. Grant Harris, Chief Executive Officer, Harris Africa Partners LLC

A Conversation with General Robert B. Brown on U.S.-North Korea Relations

Saturday Morning Keynote

A discussion with General Robert B. Brown, commanding general of all U.S. Army Pacific troops, including all U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, on U.S.-North Korea relations and U.S. engagement in Asia.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have been higher than ever before in recent weeks, with both Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump escalating their rhetoric against the other. After news broke that North Korea might have the potential to reach the continental United States with ICBMs equipped with miniature nuclear weapons, President Trump said North Korea would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen before.” North Korea responded by threatening to launch missiles at Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific with a large U.S. military presence, but later backed down from that threat.

Has diplomacy failed with North Korea? How can the countries involved step back from the brink of nuclear war?

Please note: this session will be off-the-record.


General Robert B. Brown, Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific


Ambassador Nina Hachigian, Deputy Mayor for International Affairs, City of Los Angeles

Challenges & Opportunities for the U.S. in the Middle East

A plenary discussion on U.S. challenges and opportunities in the Middle East with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David M. Satterfield.


Ambassador David M. Satterfield, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. State Department

Was Barack Obama's Foreign Policy a Success?

A debate on President Obama's foreign policy.

Proponents of President Obama’s foreign policy applaud his administration’s cooperation with U.S. allies, its commitment to multilateralism, the ending of U.S. combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, its attempts to destroy al Qaeda’s core leadership including the killing of Osama bin Laden, its leadership in paving the way for the 2015 Paris Accord, its brokering of a nuclear deal with Iran, and the normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba, among other accomplishments. However, many of President Obama’s critics have accused him of ineffectively wielding influence on the world stage and that his foreign policy consisted of “leading from behind,” which they contend damaged U.S. credibility and leadership.

Did President Obama leave the global community stronger and more unified than when he was inaugurated, or have his policies made the world a more volatile and dangerous place? What parameters should be used to judge the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of his foreign policy?


Dr. Michael Nacht, Thomas and Alison Schneider Professor of Public Policy, UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy

Mr. Robert C. O'Brien, Managing Partner, Larson O'Brien LLP

Dr. Kori Schake, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution

Dr. Matthew Spence, William J. Perry Fellow, Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation


Mr. Dan Schnur, Director of Los Angeles Region, American Jewish Committee

Forecasting Mexico’s 2018 Presidential Election: A Coming Upset for the Ruling Party?

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on Mexico's 2018 presidential election.

Mexico’s Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) has been the country’s preeminent ruling party since its founding in 1929, but some predict it may be losing its grip on the executive branch. Scandals have stacked up against current President Enrique Peña Nieto, including allegedly kidnapped students and the discovery of government spyware targeting journalists, among others. Nieto was also criticized for inviting then-candidate Donald Trump to Mexico despite his stance on immigration and a border wall.

Does this foreshadow future instability for the PRI? Who are the relevant challengers in the upcoming presidential race? What could a party turnover in the executive branch mean for Mexico?

Decoding Russia’s Geopolitical Ambitions

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on Russia's geopolitical ambitions.

In the past few years, Russia’s renewed assertiveness on the international stage has manifested in bellicose political rhetoric, military aggression, and even territorial conquest. Some of Russia’s actions, such as annexing Crimea and entering the war in Syria, have exacerbated tensions with Western countries. The New York Times has attributed Russia’s recent behavior to the fact that “imperial memory is a powerful force, instilling a yearning for lost glories and an urge for new modes of influence, acknowledgment, and respect.”

Has this been the principal driving force behind Russia’s foreign policy decisions over the past decade? What impact does Russia’s long history as a great and storied empire have on its reinvigorated sense of nationalism today? What impact will Russia’s renewed assertiveness have on the future of its relationship with the West?


Dr. Sharyl Cross, Global Fellow, Kennan Institute

Dr. Yuval Weber, Global Fellow, Kennan Institute


Ms Ann M. Simmons, Global Development Writer/Editor, Los Angeles Times

Cybersecurity Today: Understanding U.S. Adversaries and What Can Be Done

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on the cybersecurity threats facing the United States.

In March 2017, the Pentagon warned that China and Russia pose the most significant threat to America’s cybersecurity. Critical American infrastructure, including the nation’s electric grid, will remain vulnerable to catastrophic cyber-attacks from Russia and China for at least the next decade. In response to this ongoing threat, the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Science Board has concluded that these vulnerabilities must be mitigated by urgently developing new cyber deterrence capabilities, including offensive cyber weapons designed to inflict damage on our adversaries and their leaders.

Half a year after the publication of the Pentagon’s report, has the United States made any progress on following its recommendations? How quickly can the United States harden its defenses from cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, vital U.S. strike systems, other military assets, and intellectual property theft?


Mr. Ernie Liu, Director, Security Consulting Services


Mr. Karlo Barrios Marcelo, Program and Development Manager, Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles

A State Department Benched?

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on the State Department's budget cuts.

The Trump administration has proposed steep budget cuts of just over 30 percent to the State Department’s annual budget. This has generated sharp bipartisan criticism from the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations committees and concern from veteran State Department employees about gaps in leadership. Morale is low at the department as career diplomats resign and the administration shrinks the payroll or declines to fill key positions, including ambassadorships.

What real effect are budget cuts having on State Department operations at home and abroad? Where can we expect to see shortcomings? Will certain vital programs be absorbed elsewhere in the government?


Ms. Elisa Massimino, President and CEO, Human Rights First

Ms. Karen Richardson, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. State Department


Mr. David Helfenbein, Senior Vice President, Main & Rose

The Energy Sector Post-Paris

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on energy and climate change following the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Accord.

Despite President Trump’s announcement of his intention to withdraw the United States in June, the 2015 Paris Accord continues to represent historic action on the part of the global community to fight climate change. However, developing clean energy technology will be vital to ensure that the signatory countries are able to meet the ambitious reduction targets they set out for themselves.

What policies should these governments pursue to encourage investment in new clean energy technology? What role will states, municipalities, and non-government actors such as Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition play in leading the development of these technologies?


Ms. Suedeen G. Kelly, Partner, Jenner & Block

Mr. Edward Muller, Vice Chairman (Ret.), NRG Energy, Inc.

Mr. Seth Stodder, Former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Unease in China? Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Religious Unrest

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on religious unrest in China, as well as cooling relations with Taiwan and rising resentment towards Beijing in Hong Kong.

Cooling relations with Taiwan, rising tensions with Hong Kong, and increasing religious unrest has given Beijing much to be concerned about domestically. The long term battle for China’s spirit threatens to reach a breaking point if the country fails to change the status quo.

Will mainland China’s relationship with Taiwan continue to deteriorate? Will political tensions continue to grow between Beijing and the people of Hong Kong? Will widespread abuse of religious practitioners, including Christians, Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong continue? If so, will China find itself the inadvertent symbol of extremism?

Please note: this session will be off-the-record.


Mr. Samuel Chu, Contributing Fellow, USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture

Ms. Shihoko Goto, Senior Associate for Northeast Asia, Asia Program, Wilson Center

Dr. Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Chancellor's Professor, History School of Humanities, University of California, Irvine

The Future of Automation: The Next Industrial Revolution

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on the future of automation.

As the “automation revolution” continues to drive down production costs, streamline supply chains, and simplify operational processes, it simultaneously poses this daunting question: how will the rise of automation and artificial intelligence affect our labor market and the global economy? While some fear the worst when it comes to the potential loss of jobs and the impact that will have on the economy, others see opportunity and new possibilities. This dynamic is not new; movements like the Luddites in Britain in the early 19th century revolted against increased industrialization and new technologies. But the speed at which change is now happening across major industries such as energy and transportation—including the development of clean energy, electric, self-driving cars, and artificial intelligence—has the potential to radically disrupt and transform society in an unprecedentedly short period of time.

What policy solutions are required to remedy the inevitable, irreversible loss of jobs? Will governments eventually need to implement a universal basic income and comprehensive new training programs, and at what point should that take place?


Mr. Art Bilger, Founder & CEO, Working Nation

Dr. Andrea Belz, Vice Dean, USC Viterbi School of Engineering

The Resurgence of Nationalist Populism

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on the rise of populism.

Once viewed as a fringe phenomenon during the advent of globalization, populism has rebounded across numerous developed Western nations over the past few years. From the Brexit vote in Britain and the election of Donald Trump in the United States to the rise of far-right and anti-immigrant political parties like Alternative für Deutschland in Germany and elsewhere, populist movements have rattled the political establishment in the West and the liberal world order that has existed since the end of World War II.

What has caused the resurgence of populism, and should we fear it? Or do recent political events such as the French, Austrian, and Dutch presidential elections indicate that this “resurgence of populism in the West” has in fact been overstated?


Dr. Mabel Berezin, Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Harvard University

Mr. Ehsan Zaffar, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security


Ambassador Colleen Bell, U.S. Ambassador to Hungary (2015-2017)

Diplomacy, Development, and Trump’s "America First" Budget

The following is an advance reading by Elisa Massimino for the Members Weekend 2017 panel discussion "A State Department Benched?"

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements led many advocates of American leadership to fear the worst. Now, nine months into his tenure, his "America First" foreign policy is taking shape, and President Trump—from his explicit deemphasizing of human rights to his "Muslim ban" to his embrace of violent and autocratic leaders—has largely lived down to expectations.

There is no better reflection of the president’s foreign policy priorities than his proposed budget for the State Department. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is seeking to slash his department’s funding by about 30 percent. (In the Trump budget, only the Environmental Protection Agency faces a larger cut.) This is a blueprint for disaster, an abdication of leadership that would increase suffering in the world, weaken U.S. national security, and undermine the U.S. government’s capacity to prevent war and cultivate respect for human rights.

Read the full article in the Pacific Council's Newsroom.

Hong Kong on the Brink

The following is an advance reading by Jeffrey Wasserstrom for the Members Weekend 2017 panel discussion "Unease in China? Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Religious Unrest."

Since November 2016, a great deal has happened on both sides of the Pacific and both sides of the border separating Hong Kong from the Chinese mainland. New dramatic episodes have taken place in the ongoing David and Goliath struggle between Hong Kong activists on the one hand, and the forces within the city and China's capital eager to minimize the political differences between this special metropolis, on the other.

One example of this I witnessed during my current visit to Hong Kong involves the Goddess of Democracy statue located at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, a replica of the famous original that protesters erected in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Students have added a new skirt-banner to this enduring symbol of defiance. It is emblazoned with calls to work to support Hong Kong's "political prisoners," including Joshua Wong and Nathan Law. These two leaders of the Umbrella Movement were convicted of acts of civil disobedience and sentenced to community service, but then the local authorities pressured the courts to reconsider this punishment and impose a harsher one. Earlier this summer, Wong and Law began serving six and eight-month prison terms, respectively.

Read the full article in the Pacific Council's Newsroom.

Stay tuned for schedule details!

09:00 AM 10:00 AM

Stay tuned for schedule details!

09:00 AM 10:00 AM