Jean AbiNader is a public affairs and marketing professional with specializations in strategic communications and messaging, international training and education, and workforce development focusing on the Arab world and Africa. He has long played a leading role in promoting US-Arab business relationships as Executive Director of the Moroccan American Trade & Investment Center (MATIC) www.moroccoonthemove.com, the President/CEO of the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, and producer of multiple large-scale promotions for Arab governments and agencies and US clients. He designs and manages education and training assignments for government agencies, international institutions, and private enterprises. His portfolio includes soft-skills training in leadership, team building, negotiations, project management, and multi-cultural staff supervision, as well as consulting on strategic communications for both Arab and US clients. He publishes blogs related to his specializations at www.jeanabinader.com and has taught graduate level courses at Georgetown University and Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco.
Ambassador Dan Benjamin
Bio Coming Soon.
Ambassador Linc Bloomfield
Ambassador Bloomfield has broad international experience, serving as U.S. Special Envoy for MANPADS Threat Reduction (2008-2009); Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs (2001-2005); Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1992-1993), Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs (1991-2002), and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (1988-1989). He is currently Chairman of DC based Stimson Center; President of Palmer Coates LLC; Senior Advisor to Seatrec, Inc.; Non-Attorney Senior Advisor to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Director and National Executive Committee Member, U.S. Water Partnership, www.uswaterpartnership.org.
Sandra L. Charles
Sandra Charles is President and CEO of C&O Resources, Inc., a foreign policy and business advisory firm with primary focus on the Middle East, formed in 1992 and based in Washington, DC to provide insights to senior foreign government officials, including Heads of State, and foreign and US business executives on Middle East developments. With over 16 years of USG service in both the National Security and Foreign Policy communities; she served as Director, Near East and South Asia, National Security Council staff under Presidents Reagan and G.H.W. Bush, in the White House and as Deputy Assistant Secretary (acting) of the Near East/South Asia Office of the Secretary of Defense, and other positions in international Security Affairs. She has expertise in Middle Eastern, South Asian and African issues and programs related to US national security and foreign policy goals and objectives. She has participated in high level negotiations and policy development on security cooperation, international agreements, foreign military sales, peace initiatives, and crisis management, including the first Bush Administration's policy for Operation Desert Storm.
Hagar Hajjar Chemali
Hagar Chemali is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Greenwich Media Strategies, LLC, www.greenwichmedia.com, a firm providing strategic communications consulting and public affairs services to governments and the
private sector globally. Greenwich Media Strategies focuses specifically on the areas of national
security, illicit finance, and business communications solutions. Hagar held numerous senior USG public
affairs and policy-making positions over 12 years, including Director of Communications and
Spokesperson for US UN Mission and Ambassador Samantha Power, directing strategic and media
communications, public messaging, and public diplomacy, as well as issues related to international
security and Ambassador Power’s public engagements. She was Spokesperson for Terrorism and Financial
Intelligence at US Treasury Department handling communications and public affairs related to sanctions
policy, illicit finance, and enforcement actions. She also worked at Treasury as Middle East Policy Advisor,
focusing on illicit finance and sanctions policy in the Levant and Iraq, and as Special Advisor to Deputy
Assistant Secretary Daniel Glaser. From 2010-2012, she served as NSC Director for Syria and Lebanon,
advising on and coordinating implementation of US policy for Syria and Lebanon. She started her career as
Legislative Fellow for Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT). She has been featured in numerous US and
foreign press outlets, including Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Reuters, AP, Bloomberg, and CNN.
Sherry Cooper has over 25 years' experience in the Diplomatic Corps in Washington, DC working for several foreign governments. With expertise in the Middle East and Africa, she most recently served as Personal Assistant and Scheduler to the last three consecutive Saudi Arabian Ambassadors to the United States. Prior to joining the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, she served as Personal Assistant and Legislative Aide to the Counselor: Political at the Embassy of South Africa in Washington, DC. She organized numerous trips by high level dignitaries from Saudi Arabia, as well as organizing, coordinating and managing the Ambassador's schedule, trips and Embassy hosted events which required maintaining a comprehensive, up to date rolodex of key current and former USG officials, as well as foreign leaders, the diplomatic community, business executives and academic contacts.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker
Ambassador Crocker retired from the Foreign Service in April 2009 after a career of over 37 years but was recalled to active duty by President Obama to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in 2011. He served as U.S. Ambassador six times: Afghanistan (2011-2012), Iraq (2007-2009), Pakistan (2004-2007), Syria (1998-2001), Kuwait (1994-1997), and Lebanon (1990-1993). He also served as the International Affairs Advisor at the National War College, where he joined the faculty in 2003. From May to August 2003, he was in Baghdad as the first Director of Governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from August 2001 to May 2003. He has also had State Department assignments in Iran, Qatar, Iraq and Egypt, as well as Washington, including the American Embassy in Beirut during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the bombings of the embassy and the Marine barracks in 1983. He is Dean and Executive Professor at the George Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University where he holds the Edward and Howard Kruse Endowed Chair. He also has an appointment as the James Schlesinger Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia. From 2012-2013, he served as the first Kissinger Senior Fellow at Yale University. He is Fluent in Arabic and speaks Farsi.
Brig. Gen. Duke DeLuca, (Ret.)
Brig. Gen. Duke DeLuca, (Ret.) served for 32 years in Army, Joint, Multi-national and Interagency environments. He has Commanded Joint-service and Army formations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in peace and war. He has run multi-billion dollar annual construction programs in Iraq and in the U.S., Europe, Israel, and Africa supporting foreign militaries, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, the family of DoD and other Federal Agencies, municipalities and states of the northeast U.S. He served as Commandant of the U.S. Army Engineer Branch and School running an enterprise that taught over 270 courses to all ranks from basic trainee through Colonel, at five locations across the U.S. and set standards and requirements for the Army engineer forces in the National Guard, Army Reserve and active Army. A life of Army service allowed him to work professionally in 33 U.S. states and 27 countries including as Director for Russia and the Caucasus in EUCOM. He also had three years in formally declared U.S. Combat zones and significant additional time in other war-torn areas in which the U.S was not a party to the conflicts. This service has offered opportunities for both remarkable experiences and opportunities to work with the finest and most amazing American citizens and foreign partners.
Colonel P. J. Dermer, (Ret.)
P.J. Dermer is one of the military’s foremost Middle East regional experts and a national security
practitioner with a career of over 30 years, including both conventional and special operations arenas spread over a wealth of challenging spectrums including national levels of the U.S. government. He has extensive coalition-building experience working with international counterparts to foster the Middle East Peace Process, the rebuilding of Iraq, and navigating the conflict states of Libya and Syria. He had the unique opportunity to operationalize national level strategy from vision to execution on the ground in multiple complicated Middle East and East European environments. He has also advised, negotiated and written extensively for the nation’s senior military and civilian leadership. Postmilitary, he has used his experience and skills to advise and mentor discrete ventures and foster private business enterprise development. He is a Wounded Warrior Peer Mentor and Mission Continues Fellow, as well as a published author and is multilingual.
Elisa Catalano Ewers
Elisa Catalano is a foreign policy and national security expert with over a decade of service in the U.S. Government, most recently as a Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. Prior to her position at the White House, she served as a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and before that to Deputy Secretary of State, advising each on foreign and national security policy with a focus on Middle East and counter-terrorism policy. Her State Department positions included Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, and Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State's Coordinators for Iraq and for the Gulf and Southwest Asia. Prior to government service, she spent eight years at various private sector firms including Booz Allen Hamilton and Wellington Management Company. She resides in Washington, DC with her husband Major General John R. Ewers Jr., USMC.
Ambassador Robert Ford
Bio Coming Soon.
Ambassador Chas Freeman, Jr.
Chas Freeman is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
(during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Chargé d'affaires in both Bangkok and Beijing. He began his diplomatic career in India but specialized in Chinese affairs (was the principal American interpreter during President Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972). He Chairs Projects International, Inc., a Washington, DC-based firm that for almost four decades has helped American and foreign clients create ventures across borders, facilitating their establishment of new businesses through the design, negotiation, capitalization, and implementation of greenfield investments, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, franchises, one-off transactions, sales and agencies in other countries. For more information, visit www.projectsinternational.com/about/management-2/.
Robert Gordon is President of R. Gordon Associates LLC, a consulting firm that represents U.S. and foreign interests that pursue and undertake cooperative international business opportunities, mainly in the Middle East. Gordon also is President of Limatt Middle East, LLC that connects major Chinese and Middle Eastern companies. He is actively working on rebuilding the energy infrastructure in Iraq and has done so for the past 11 years. Mr. Gordon is an accomplished international development expert with proven leadership skills who has led for-profit and non-profit international development organizations for the last 30 years. Prior to his position as president of R. Gordon Associates, Mr. Gordon was Director of Operations at Creative Associates International, where he lead the effort to rebuild 1000 schools in Iraq and provide provisions to 2 million school children. As Vice President of the Institute of International Education (IIE manages the Fulbright Fellowship Program) Mr. Gordon managed the largest education and training program in the history of USAID for the people of Egypt.
Daniel "Kaz" Kasmierski
Daniel Kasmierski currently serves as OSD Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) /
Emerging Capabilities and Prototypes (EC&P)/Joint Capability Technology Demonstrations Program
Office Oversight Executive support for (JCTDs), Enabling Technology (ET) Initiatives with USAID and US
Institute of Peace, and actively shapes and executes activities related to US and DoD policy & technology
development in support of new US policy on Peace Operations. He played a key role in the success of Foreign
Military Sales to UN in support of UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Central
African Republic (MINUSCA), and current and future technology initiatives to improve effectiveness of
UN Peacekeeping Operations (PKO). He joined JCTD Program Office in 2014 after 4 years as OSD Science
and Technology Advisor, US Africa Command (USAFRICOM) on JCTDs, Coalition Warfare Programs, ETs
and Inter-Agency S&T project management, programming, execution, and implementation of Building
Partnership Capacity (BPC) programs across Africa. His BPC portfolio highlights: PEAK water purification
JCTD in Djibouti and Kenya, renewable energy in Niger, Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC)
Malaria Task Force, animal infectious disease detection and necropsy projects with Agriculture
Department in The Gambia, and Personnel Recovery Systems for deployed personnel. He also served 7
years in Office of Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Advanced Systems and Concepts/Special
Capabilities as technical advisor and program manager within SIGINT and MASINT disciplines utilized by
Combatant Commands, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Office (JIEDDO), Defense Intelligence
Agency (DIA), and Military Services. Prior experience includes 3 years on National Reconnaissance Office
MASINT Staff and as NASA Earth Observing One project manager that brought hyperspectral sensor data
and products into Intelligence Community (IC) and Civil arenas.
Nate Mason founded Mason Trade Strategy LLC in April 2013 to help companies expand their export sales. He also serves as a senior adviser to C&O Resources for North Africa and economic and commercial issues. In the USG, he served as the Commercial Attaché at the US Embassy in Tripoli, Libya from December 2011 to March 2013 working with US companies in a wide variety of sectors seeking to do business in Libya, developing a broad network of Libyan government and business leaders in the process. He was embedded as the sole USG adviser to the Liberian Ministry of Commerce & Industry from April to September 2011, contributing to the Liberian National Export Strategy and sought to reduce bureaucratic barriers to trade. From 2005 to 2010 he served as the North Africa Desk Officer at the US Commerce Department, responsible for advising US companies seeking to export to and invest in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Prior to USG service, he worked in the software industry in Silicon Valley as a technical instructor for a supply chain management company. He has traveled around the world assisting Global 100 companies automate their international supply chain processes.
Vice Admiral John W. Miller, USN (Ret.)
John W. Miller is a retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral. His last assignment was as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. FIFTH
Fleet based in Manama, Bahrain. He spent more than seven of his ten years as a Flag Officer living in, deployed to, or directly working on issues relating to the Middle East. Miller currently works as a senior policy consultant in Washington DC.
Kevin O'Connell is President and CEO of Innovative Analytics and Training, LLC (IAT), a professional services firm that advises clients on decisionmaking and analysis related to strategic direction and emerging market opportunities. He advises clients on understanding high technology and emerging markets, including deep expertise on anticipatory/futures analysis, cyber, threat finance, cloud technology, and satellite remote sensing. With over 35 years of experience in U.S. national security and intelligence issues, including positions in the Office of the Vice President, National Security Council and the Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, has developed and led major new security research and analysis program during a decade at RAND. He served on a number of national boards and panels, including Staff Director of NIMA Commission (1999-2000) and Chairman of the Department of Commerce Advisory Board on Commercial Remote Sensing. He serves as senior advisor to the U.S.G. on analytic and geospatial issues. He has an extensive teaching background in RAND Graduate School and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service on global and comparative intelligence issues.
Tanya Rahall is Managing Director of RTK Consulting Group LLC. She specializes in public and government relations primarily for energy-related companies, domestic organizations and foreign government and business interests in the Middle East and Central Asia. She is frequently called upon for institution building and management, messaging and communications work, and crisis management. She has extensive experience with the U.S. Congressional legislative process and particular expertise with the Congressional authorization and appropriations process. She also has federal election campaign work experience, which led to a staff position with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. She was then recruited to the position of Director of Government Relations and Grassroots for a trade organization focused on U.S.-Middle East relations. She subsequently co-founded and directed the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL), the American Foundation for St. George Hospital and the Makassed Foundation. She is Secretary of the ATFL Legislative Council, an Executive Board Member of the ATFL, a Board Member of the Rene Moawad Foundation, and member of the Congressional Relations Committee for the World Affairs Council - DC.
Ambassador Robin Raphel
Ambassador Raphel retired from the State Department for a second time in October 2014 after being called back to manage the rapidly expanding assistance program in Pakistan and advise more broadly on Pakistan issues. She deployed to Iraq in 2003 with the first civilian contingent to help re-established the Iraqi administration, overseeing the restoration of the critical food ration system. She subsequently became Coordinator for Iraq Reconstruction, and then Deputy Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Amb. Raphel launched the Congressionally mandated South Asia Bureau in 1993, becoming its first Assistant Secretary of State. She served as Ambassador to Tunisia, and Vice President of the National Defense University. Her other positions included Political Counselor in U.S. embassies in South Africa and India; Middle East watcher in London; economic officer on the Israel Desk; economic analyst for USAID in Pakistan, economic analyst for Indonesia at the CIA, and lecturer in History at Damavand College in Iran. In between State Department tours she was Senior Vice President for international affairs for the consulting firm Cassidy and Associates, and served on the board of American International Contractors Inc. Ambassador Raphel has a BA in history and economics from the University of Washington and an MA in Economics from the University of Maryland. She currently advises clients on how to navigate political and economic challenges in South Asia and the Middle East.
Mara Rudman is a founder and principal at Quorum Strategies with years of experience in
both government and the private sector. She is also a Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow, Institute for
National Strategic Studies at National Defense University. She served in the Obama Administration as
Assistant Administrator for the Middle East at the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID); Deputy Envoy and chief of staff for State’s Office of the Special Envoy for Middle
East Peace; Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary to the National Security
Council. She served in the Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant the President for National
Security Affairs and Chief of Staff of the NSC, among other positions, coordinating NSC and
interagency departments with defense and foreign policy responsibilities, including Middle East
peace efforts. She was also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; a vice president and
general counsel for The Cohen Group, a DC-based consultancy founded by former Secretary of
Defense William Cohen; and chief counsel to the House Foreign Affairs Committee under
Chairman Lee Hamilton. Prior positions include a litigation associate at Hogan & Hartson, clerk
for the Honorable Stanley Marcus, now Eleventh Circuit in the Southern District of Florida. A
frequent media commentator, she appears on CNN, FOX, BBC, NPR, and in print media.
Michael Samra is a seasoned corporate executive and an international strategic management advisor to senior government officials and C-level corporate executives, with over 30 years of domestic and international business experience in more than 20 countries. Mr. Samra has led teams of management, technical, financial, and legal experts on high profile engagements including large governmental modernization programs, organizational restructuring, establishment of an Executive Program Office (EPO) overseeing multibillion dollar critical infrastructure investments, facilitating complex contractual dispute resolution, implementation of IT systems, capacity building and leadership development programs. Also, he has directed economic development and fiscal reform programs, private sector competitiveness, trade and investment initiatives, and assisted companies in expanding into foreign markets and facilitated strategic partnerships. Mr. Samra has served as the Executive Vice President for MPG International, Managing Director and Vice President with BearingPoint Inc., and held senior positions with KPMG, PWC, IIE, Chemonics, and Texas Utilities. Mr. Samra’s sector experience includes homeland security, drug enforcement, health, education, information technology, trade and investment, privatization, public-private partnerships, private sector development, telecommunications, oil & gas, and energy. Clients include US and foreign governments, the World Bank, multinational corporations, and international donor agencies.
Ambassador Ronald L. Schlicher
Ambassador Schlicher served in the US Foreign Service from 1982-2011. During these three decades, he was assigned almost
exclusively in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region, or working on Middle East-related
issues in the State Department and Washington interagency community. During his long
experience, he developed expertise on regional politics, the internal dynamics of and
relations between Islamist groups, on counterterrorism issues, and in crisis management.
His State postings: 2009-2011 Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau
of Near Eastern Affairs, an area of responsibility stretching from Morocco through Iran;
20082009 Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism; 2005-2008 U.S. Ambassador
to the Republic of Cyprus; 2004-2005 Deputy Assistant Secretary and Coordinator
for Iraq, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; 2003-2004 Director of the Office of Provincial Affairs,
Coalition Provisional Authority Baghdad; 2000-2002 Chief of Mission and Consul-General Jerusalem; 1997-2000 Director, Office of Egyptian and North African Affairs, Department of State; 1994-1997 Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy in Beirut; 1992
1994 Deputy Director, then Director, of Regional Affairs, Office of the Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism;
1991-1992 Chief Civilian Observer, MFO peacekeeping force in the Sinai; 1989-1991
First Secretary for Political Affairs, U.S. Embassy in Cairo; 1987-1989 Deputy Consul-General,
Alexandria, Egypt, from 1987-1989; 1986-1987 Staff Assistant, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs;
1984-1986 Consul, U.S. Embassy Damascus; 1982-1984 ViceConsul, American Consulate-General
in Dhahran Saudi Arabia. In addition to his consulting arrangement with C&O Resources, he also
serves as Distinguished Adjunct Professor at the Near East and South Asia Center of the
National Defense University in Washington, DC. He is fluent in Arabic (several dialects) and French.
Dr. Christopher Cole Shoemaker
Dr. Shoemaker is Senior Vice President of CEVA, an international consulting and
management firm specializing in health care systems, institutional capacity building, conflict resolution
and strategic planning. He is also senior consultant to the President of Uniformed Services University of Health
Sciences. For more than 15 years, he served as Senior Vice President for Strategy, L-3 Communications
Services Group and MPRI. In that capacity, he was responsible for long-term development of company
programs for post-conflict reconstruction, institutional capacity building, foreign security assistance
programs, democracy transition, strategic planning and support to national security establishments in
the United States and abroad. Prior positions: served in United States Army nearly 25 years,
commanding at all levels – from platoon to Division Artillery - in both peace and war; in 1979 National
Security Council staff under Presidents Carter and Reagan as advisor on defense and Middle East policy;
in 1993, he was selected for promotion to Brigadier General. He also authored several books on
international relations, including Patron-Client State Relationships (Praeger, 1984), The NSC Staff:
Counseling the Council (Westview, 1991), Structure, Function and the National Security Council
(Strategic Studies Institute, 1992), and Civilian-Military Cooperation in the Prevention of Deadly Conflict
(Carnegie, 1998), as well as numerous articles on national security. Recently, he completed his first two
novels, Echo Ring (to be published in winter, 2016) and West Exec, and his newest book, Seeking God:
Thoughts While Running, released last year.
Dr. Paul Sullivan
Dr. Paul Sullivan has been a professor of economics at the National Defense University (NDU) since July 1999, and an advisor to flag officers from the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and East Asia while at NDU. He has run field studies related to the energy, environment and agribusiness industries in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, Canada, and the US as part of his duties at NDU. He was part of the initial point team to help establish a National Defense College in the UAE. Dr. Sullivan is an Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University, where he has been teaching classes on global energy and security (which include analyses of energy issues for the EU, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, Japan, the U.S., Canada, and the Arctic.) for over 12 years. He is a Senior International Fellow at the National Council of US-Arab Relations, an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Future Global Resource Threats at the Federation of American Scientists. He taught classes on resource security issues (land, water, energy, and minerals) in Africa and the Middle East at Georgetown University for 5 years in the STIA Program. He was an adviser to the Sudan project looking at the potential resource impacts of a splitting of the country at the United States Institute of Peace for March 2009-July 2010, and continued advising on Sudan for the USIP for some time after that. He was Senior Fellow at the East West Institute (EWI) during 2007, and has continued an informal association with members of their board and others. Dr. Sullivan has been involved in the energy work at the UNCTAD with a focus on Africa. He has testified to Congress on issues related to the XL Pipeline and on the Nile River Basin and other water security issues. For six years before his time at NDU, Dr. Sullivan was at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, where he taught classes and did research on the economics, economic history, and political economy of the Middle East. He is particularly well traveled and well-connected in the Middle East and North Africa, but also has extensive experience in Asia, Europe, Australia and some other parts of the world. He has advised senior US officials, leaders in the private sector and NGOs and others on many issues related to energy, water, food, economic, political and military security issues related often to the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia at a very high level. He obtained his Ph.D. from Yale University with highest honors (1986) and graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University (1979). Dr. Sullivan is a graduate of the Seminar XXI Program at MIT (2006).
Ambassador Earl Anthony (Tony) Wayne
Ambassador Wayne is an accomplished diplomat, executive and policy maker. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
(2011-2015), and Argentina (2006-2009), Assistant Secretary of State for Economic
and Business Affairs (2000-2006), Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs, Afghanistan (2009-2010), Deputy Ambassador in Afghanistan (2010-2011), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (1997-2000). He is currently working with: HSBC
Bank, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Atlantic Council, the Center for
Strategic and International Studies, and US-Mexico CEO Dialogue. He is a member, Council on Foreign
Relations. He has Professional Spanish fluency and a working knowledge of French.