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The LCDR J. J. Connell Opening Keynote Address

"The Threat of Polarization"

Admiral Dennis Blair '68, USN (ret.)

Blair.pngAdmiral Blair is the Knott Professor of the Practice at the University of North Carolina. He previously served as the Director of National Intelligence from January 2009 to May 2010. He led sixteen national intelligence agencies, administering a budget of $50 billion and providing integrated intelligence support to the president, Congress, and operations in the field. Prior to this appointment, he held the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies with the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and served as Deputy Director of the Project for National Security Reform.

Before retiring from the Navy in 2002, Admiral Blair served as Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Command, the largest of the combatant commands. During his 34-year Navy career, he served on guided missile destroyers in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and commanded the Kitty Hawk Battle Group. Ashore, served as Director of the Joint Staff and held budget and policy positions on the National Security Council and several major Navy staffs.

From 2003 to 2006, Admiral Blair was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded research and development center based in Alexandria, Virginia, that supports the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Intelligence Community.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Admiral Blair earned a master’s degree in history and languages from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and was a White House Fellow at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He has been awarded four Defense Distinguished Service medals and three National Intelligence Distinguished Service medals and has received decorations from the governments of Japan, Thailand, Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

Panel 1 Discussion
"The Roots of Polarization"
Professor Nolan McCarty

McCartyPicture2021.jpgDr. Nolan McCarty is the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs and Vice Dean for Strategic Initiatives at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. He served as the chair of Princeton Politics Department from 2011-2018.

He has written on a variety of topics related U.S. politics and political economy ranging from the causes and consequences of political polarization, economic and politic inequality, regulation, and the political role of business. He has also engaged in the development of statistical methodologies and the application of game theoretic models to political questions.

He has authored or co-authored four books: Political Game Theory (2006, with Adam Meirowitz), Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches (2016 second edition with Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal), Political Bubbles: Financial Crises and the Failure of American Democracy (2013 with Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal) and Polarization: What Everyone Needs to Know (2019). With Frances Lee, he co-edited Can American Govern Itself? (2019) In 2010, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He earned his A.B. in Economics from the University of Chicago and his PhD in Political Economy from Carnegie Mellon University.

The Honorable Michelle S. Giuda

Michelle S. Giuda was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs on February 3, 2018. Giuda brings a wealth of global strategic communications experience to the Department, having served as senior vice president of Global Corporate Communications and managing strategy across 81 countries for Weber Shandwick in New York until January 2018. On February 5, 2019, Secretary of State Pompeo delegated to Ms. Giuda the authorities of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

Prior to Weber Shandwick, Giuda was a political communications strategist in Washington, DC, serving for five years as a lead member of former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s communications team, including her role as National Deputy Press Secretary during the Speaker’s 2012 presidential campaign. Giuda also served as Communications Director of GOPAC, working to elect and advance the country’s next generation of top state and local leaders.

 Associate Professor Jeff Koseff

Kosseff.pngAssociate Professor Jeff Koseff is currently an associate professor of cybersecurity law in the United States Naval Academy’s Cyber Science Department. As an associate professor, Jeff Koseff finds interest in researching topics such as cybersecurity regulation, online intermediary liability, and the law of armed conflict as applied to cyberspace. Jeff Koseff’s career in law included practicing cybersecurity, privacy, and First Amendment law at Covington & Burling. Furthermore, he clerked for Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. His education includes receiving a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. and M.P.P. from the University of Michigan as well. 

Forrestal Address

Iván Duque 

duque.jpgIván Duque Márquez took office as president of the Republic of Colombia on August 7, 2018, and, for four years, ruled this South American country with his tenets of legality, entrepreneurship, and equality.

He is the author of the books Monetary Sins (2007); Machiavelli in Colombia (2010); Orange Effect (2015); IndignAction (2017); The Future Is at the Center (2018); Archaeology of My Father (2018); Humanism Matters (2019); and Road to Zero (2021). He is also co-author, together with Felipe Buitrago, of the books on creative economy The Orange Economy: An Infinite Opportunity (Inter-American Development Bank, 2013); and Orange Economy: An Infinite Reality (Ministry of Culture of Colombia, 2021).

His public career began as an advisor at the Colombian Ministry of Finance in 2000, from where he left for Washington, DC as Colombia’s senior advisor to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) between 2001 and 2010. From there he joined the investigative panel on the incident between Israel and Turkey in relation to the Israeli incursion on the ship Mavi Marmara. He then returned to the IDB as head of the Culture, Creativity and Solidarity Division from 2011 to 2013.

He became senator of the Republic of Colombia from July 20, 2014 to April 10, 2018, where he promoted five laws on the extension of maternity leave, promotion of electric mobility, availability of defibrillators in public places, creation and promotion of the figure of BIC companies (Benefit of Collective Interest), and promotion of creative industries (Orange Law) . He resigned his seat in the Senate to devote himself to the presidential campaign that was taking place in the country, where he was ahead in all the polls that, placing him as the main favorite to occupy the first administrative position in the country.

During his presidency, Iván Duque, led the fight to solve the social and economic problems derived from the COVID 19 pandemic, starting with the difficult decision to decree mandatory preventive isolation throughout the country from March 2020.

Panel 2 Discussion

"Polarization: Regional Perspectives"

Professor Shibley Telhami

Telhami.pngProfessor Shibley Telhami, one of the leading experts on U.S. policy in the Middle East, earned his doctorate in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. He currently serves as the University of Maryland Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, as well as a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Professor Shibley Telhami, is a recipient of the Excellence in Public Service Award, awarded by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents in 2006, and the University of Maryland's Honors College 2014 Outstanding Faculty Award.


Professor Amitav Acharya

Acharya.pngProfessor Amitav Acharya is the UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance and a Distinguished Professor at the School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC. He is the first non-Western scholar to be elected (for 2014-15) as the President of the International Studies Association (ISA), the largest and most influential global network in international studies. Previously he was a Professor at York University, Toronto, and the University of Bristol, U.K. He is currently Honorary Professor at Rhodes University, South Africa, and Guest Professor at Nankai University, China. He was the inaugural Boeing Company Chair in International Relations at the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University, Fellow of Harvard’s Asia Center and John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Christensen Fellow at Oxford.

Commander Rachael Gosnell '01, USN

Gosnell.pngCommander Rachael Gosnell has earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the United States Naval Academy, a Masters in International Security Studies from Georgetown University, a Masters of Engineering Management from Old Dominion University, and is currently pursuing doctoral studies in International Security and Economic Policy at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. As a Surface Warfare officer, Commander Gosnell served aboard USS SHILOH (CG- 67), USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN-75), and USS STOCKDALE (DDG 106). At the Pentagon, she continued to impress on the Navy Staff in OPNAV 513 Strategy & Policy and as the Speechwriter for the 30th Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Greenert. Commander Rachael Gosnell has previously taught at the United States Naval Academy, however, she currently serves as a European Command Foreign Area Officer. In this position, she is a Special Assistant to the Commander, Allied Joint Forces Command Naples and US Naval Forces Europe/Africa.

The Honorable Stanley Legro Keynote Address

Professor Qamar-ul Huda


Dr. Qamar-ul Huda is the Michael E. Paul Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Affairs at the United States Naval Academy. Dr. Huda co-founded and served as the Vice President of the Center for Global Policy (CGP), a nonpartisan think-tank that focuses on U.S. security and foreign policies in the Muslim-majority world. Dr. Huda established CGP’s Security and Violent Extremism Program, where he supervised the Program’s research activities and was instrumental in interfacing with U.S. policymakers, Congressional leadership, and academic researchers.

Dr. Huda was a Senior Policy Advisor for U.S. Department of State Secretary John Kerry’s Office of Policy Planning, and the Office for Religion and Global Affairs (S/RGA) where he focused on civil society, religious communities, and religious leaders with U.S. foreign policy. Before joining S/RGA, the U.S. State Department recruited Dr. Huda to serve as the first Director of the Department of Dialogue and Collaboration to Hedayah: The International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He ensured the Hedayah organization strategically collaborated with joint projects with the United Nations, European Union, African Union, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), North African and Sub-Saharan African countries. 
Prior to the State Department, Dr. Huda served at the United States Institute of Peace, in Washington, DC, as an expert in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, peace processes, and in teaching conflict management courses to international non-governmental organizations. His courses became foundational courses in conflict resolution for universities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Philippines, and Libya.

Dr. Huda was listed in the Muslim 500: The World’s Most Influential Muslims in 2016-2023 published by the Royal Strategic Islamic Centre in Amman, Jordan. He has over fifty peer-reviewed articles in academic journals, authored four books (now translated in six languages), and has provided interviews on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, PBS NewsHour, The Atlantic MonthlyTime MagazineNewsweek, Al-Jazeera, and other major news outlets.

Dr. Huda earned his doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in political history, and his Master of Arts in political economy and history of Asia & the Middle East. He earned his Bachelor of Arts (honors) from Colgate University in International Relations & Philosophy and Religion."

The Honorable Robert H. McKinney Keynote Address

Professor Sam Potolicchio


Dr. Sam Potolicchio was named one of “America’s Best Professors” by the Princeton Review, the Future Leader of American Higher Education by the Association of Colleges and Universities and was also profiled in a cover story on his leadership curriculum by Newsweek Japan as the "Best Professor in America". Potolicchio is the Founding Executive Director of American Councils For International Education's Center for Global Leadership and President of the Preparing Global Leaders Forum.

Potolicchio also teaches in Executive Education EMBA programs at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown and at the Mannheim Business School (Germany). He is a visiting lecturer at University of Bologna (Italy) and teaches two classes (US Political Systems and Preparing to Be President) to Georgetown University undergraduates.

He is a columnist for Newsweek Japan, a Distinguished Global Scholar at the Canterbury School of Fort Myers, and the lecturer on Leadership at the Library of Congress for COIL, an international leadership program of the United States Congress.

Potolicchio has served as the Distinguished University Professor, Department Chairman and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at RANEPA, Director of Global and Custom Education at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy, a visiting Professor at NYU's DC campus and co-taught with Senator Richard Lugar at UIndy's Semester in Washington Program.

Potolicchio has delivered lectures in over 85 countries, from Oxford, LSE, Cambridge and Yale to Iraq's Komar University and Donetsk State University. As a middle-school basketball coach he led his Little Hoyas to 6 league titles and previously served as a 5th grade Latin teacher, public high school teacher of Law and History and secondary school admissions officer.

B.A. Government, Georgetown; B.A. Psychology, Georgetown; M.T.S. Theology and Culture, Harvard; PRSE, Harvard; MA, Government, Georgetown; PhD, Government, Georgetown

Panel 3 Discussion

"Strengthening Democracy in the 21st Century"

Ambassador Roman Popadiuk

Popadiuk.pngRoman Popadiuk is a retired member of the career Senior Foreign Service. He served as the first U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine in 1992-1993. He has written about and is frequently interviewed on issues relating to U.S.-Ukraine relations, the situation in Ukraine and other national security and global issues. He currently serves as President of the Diplomacy Center Foundation, a non-profit engaged in a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of State in building an American diplomacy museum at the State Department. 

Roman began his career in the Foreign Service in 1981. He served in Mexico City from 1982-1984 where he did consular and political work and was special assistant to the ambassador. From 1989-1992, Roman served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs under President George H.W. Bush, positions he also held toward the end of President Ronald Reagan’s administration. 

He served as International Affairs Advisor and senior civilian on the staff of the Commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (Eisenhower School) from 1995-1998. Prior to serving in that capacity, Roman spent two years as a member of the faculty of the school of Area Studies at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. From 1999 to 2012 he served as the executive director of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation at Texas A&M University. 

Roman served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the World Affairs Councils of America from 2015 to 2020. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of The Leadership of George Bush and a co-author of Privileged and Confidential: The Secret History of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. He has been awarded the State Department’s Meritorious and Superior Honor awards. 

Roman graduated with a B.A. from Hunter College and received a Ph.D. from the Graduate Center, CUNY. He and his wife Judith have four children.

Mr. Marc Polymeropoulos

Polymeropoulos.pngMr. Marc Polymeropoulos is a nonresident senior fellow in the Forward Defense practice of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. Polymeropoulos worked for twenty-six years at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) before retiring in July 2019 at the Senior Intelligence Service level. He was one of the CIA’s most highly decorated operations officers, serving in multiple field and headquarters assignments for the US government. Polymeropoulos received the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the Intelligence Commendation Medal, and the Intelligence Medal of Merit. He specialized in counterterrorism, the Middle East, and South Asia, spending extensive time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just prior to his retirement, Polymeropoulos served at CIA headquarters and was in charge of the CIA’s clandestine operations in Europe and Eurasia.

Professor Miles Yu

Yu.pngDr. Miles Yu is a senior fellow and director of the China Center at Hudson Institute. He is also a professor of East Asia and military and naval history at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Dr. Yu specializes in Chinese military and strategic culture, US and Chinese military and diplomatic history, and US policy toward China. Dr. Yu joined the Trump administration and served as the China policy adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In that capacity, he advised the secretary on all China-related issues, helped overhaul US policy toward China, and participated in key US government interagency deliberations on major policy and government actions with regard to China and other East Asian countries, including Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Closing Banquet Address

Admiral Mike Mullen '68, USN (ret.)

admmullen2.jpgAdmiral Mike Mullen is President of MGM Consulting which provides counsel to global clients on issues related to geo-political developments, national security interests, and strategic leadership. He served as the 28th Chief of Naval Operations from 2005-2007 and as the 17th Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff for Presidents Bush and Obama from 2007 to 2011. He led the military during a critical time of change and transition.

Admiral Mullen advanced the rapid fielding of innovative technologies, championed emerging and enduring global partnerships, and promoted new methods for countering terrorism. He spearheaded the elimination of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, ushering for the first time in US military history the open service of gay and lesbian men and women. 

Admiral Mullen is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a Distinguished Graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School, a Distinguished Alumni of Harvard Business School, a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, and served as a Trustee at Caltech. Since his retirement from the United States Navy in November 2011 after 43 years of honorable service, Admiral Mullen joined the corporate boards of General Motors from 2013-2018 and Sprint from 2013-2019. He continues to serve on numerous boards including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Naval Academy Foundation, Naval Postgraduate School Foundation, Harvard Business School, and a wide array of non-profit organizations dedicated to improving the growth, development, recovery, and transition of military veterans and their families. 

Additionally, he taught National Security Decision-Making and Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University from 2012- 2018 and continues to teach advanced ethics and leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy.

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