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April 2020 Events

April 7 | World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth | MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known best by the acronym MBS, received praise from the western world when he appeared to be reforming and moving his country into the 21st century. As he consolidated his power, many of his actions began to disconcert observers around the world. And others, such as the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, have been widely condemned. Questions about this young (34), enigmatic ruler remain: reformer or dictator? friend or foe? The Council’s vice chairman Robert W. Jordan, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom from 2001 to 2003, will join Ben Hubbard, author of a new biography, “MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman.”


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April 7 | Upstate International | Spread the Word, Not the Virus: Communication in the time of COVID-19 with Dr. Shaniece Criss

There has been so much information about COVID-19, but how do communication strategies make a difference in protecting our community. Dr. Shaniece Criss will discuss the benefits of health crisis communication, and ways you can make a difference. How do we transfer words into actions to keep our community safe?

Join Dr. Criss, and our moderator, Nathan Stock, for a fascinating look at what to say, and not say, in times of crisis.

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April 8 | Colorado Springs World Affairs Council | How Do You Spy When the World is Shut Down?

Steve Recca is Executive Director of the Center for Human Security in the University of Colorado Colorado Springs School of Public Affairs. He concurrently serves as the Director of the University and Agency Partnership Initiative for the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Center for Homeland Defense and Security and as the Humanitarian Assistance Program Advisor with the Pacific Disaster Center. Steve’s previous positions include security policy assignments with the State Department, Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, and in academia. 

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April 8 | WorldOregon | Virtual Program: Testing Times for US-China Relations | Mel Gurtov

How has the out-of-the-blue event of COVID-19 affected apparent trends for U.S.-China relations? While the United States and China were celebrating an approaching trade deal and yet also clashing on other issues, the ripple effect of a global pandemic has been seismic. The response to the pandemic in both capitals has been flawed and serious mistakes in judgment have undermined public trust. Both the Chinese and U.S. governments were initially unwilling to face scientific facts, were late in responding to people’s needs, and tended to blame others. Sino-U.S. relations are being challenged at a time when a global humanitarian crisis might be one vehicle to revitalize engagement. The impact of the virus for China cannot be underestimated, but how is this influencing adjacent issues, such as ongoing repression in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and how is this shaping the U.S.-China relationship? Currently, experts worry that U.S.-China engagement is sinking and decoupling is the focus of much high-level discussion—so what can we expect and where will this lead?



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April 9 | World Affairs Council of Atlanta | The Gender Dynamics of Pandemics

Until recently, the transmission of COVID-19 to developing countries or those experiencing ongoing humanitarian emergencies have been limited, but such transmission is now on the rise. The dangers of the pandemic pose a substantially higher risk to those in developing countries, and aid workers are scrambling to combat the virus with constrained resources.

Social norms such as expectations that women and girls are responsible for doing domestic chores and nursing sick family members can expose women and girls to greater health risks. How is CARE USA ensuring the protection of women and girls? What has the organization learned about previous outbreaks that may help in the fight against COVID-19?

Join us via Zoom as we discuss with Camille Davis, Senior Manager, Humanitarian Resource Mobilization, CARE USA, the implications that COVID-19 will have on gender equality in the developing world.


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April 9 | World Affairs Council of New Hampshire | WACNH Live! Combating Extremism

On Thursday (4/9) starting at 4pm, the Council is very happy to be hosting Leanne Erdberg Steadman, Director of the U.S. Institute of Peace's Countering Violent Extremism program, for a discussion on the global issue that is violent extremism and the ways in which everyday people and civil society can help to combat it. Prior to joining USIP, Erdberg Steadman held several positions in the U.S. government, including as a senior adviser on the National Security Council staff at the White House; counterterrorism adviser in the State Department; and as a special assistant at the Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services. All questions can be emailed to or posted in the YouTube Live chat before or during the event, so tune in at and we hope to see you there!

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April 10 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | LIVESTREAM: Assessing COVID-19 in Italy

Italy’s first confirmed cases of COVID-19 were on January 31st, 2020. Within a matter of weeks, Italy became a global epicenter of the novel Coronavirus. By early March the virus was in all regions of the country and on March 21st, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte closed all non-essential businesses and industries nation-wide, with additional restrictions to the movement of people. Italy has been looked to as a country that suffered early and hard from COVID-19. However, on April 1st, Italy saw one of its lowest daily increases in deaths. Some believe the virus may be plateauing while others argue these numbers are attributed to difficulties in reporting cases because of testing limitations. What is the current state of COVID-19 in Italy? And, what can the early onslaught of Coronavirus in Italy teach other countries who are now only starting to deal with the novel virus?  

To give an overview of what happened in Italy, what the country is learning, and how this knowledge can help other countries, The Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall will host a livestream discussion with the Italian Consul General to Los Angeles, Silvia Chiave. The conversation will be moderated by Sewell Chan, Deputy Managing Editor at the LA Times, and will provide a window into what’s happening on the ground in Italy and what key takeaways the Italian experience can provide to Angelenos and the global community.


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April 10 | World Affairs Council of Atlanta | Why Are There No Face Masks?

The shortage of face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) is real. The situation has become so dire that some health care workers have resorted to unprecedented (forced) break in protocol by wearing bandanas for masks and trash bags for gowns.

How is this happening in the United States?  

The global just-in-time supply chain might be appropriate for blue jeans but does it make sense for vital medical supplies? China, the first nation to shelter in place because of coronavirus, produces half of the world’s masks.

Robert Abernathy, former CEO of Halyard Health Inc. – a pharmaceutical and medical products supply company that produces surgical masks and gowns – will unpack this crisis that further complicates the fight against this global pandemic and share thoughts on what a supply chain “fix” would look like.


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April 16 | International Affairs Forum (Traverse City) | BREXIT in the Time of COVID-19

4 PM - APRIL 16 - NPR London correspondent, FRANK LANGFITT, speaks in a virtual event about the UK's response to COVID-19, the dramatic events surround PM Boris Johnson's hospitalization, and the fate of BREXIT. Langfitt, who previously covered China for NPR, will also share insights on the geopolitical fall-out from the virus spread. Q&A to follow the presentation. Go to for link to live-stream.

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April 22 | World Affairs Council of New Hampshire | WACNH Live! Erdogan's Empire

Due to COVID-19, we are proud to be hosting WACNH Live! This series of virtual events will feature several of our originally planned upcoming speakers presenting on important international topics, straight to you at home.

On Wednesday, April 22nd at 6pm, Join us in hearing from Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute, Dr. Soner Cagaptay, as he discusses authoritarianism in President Erdogan's Turkey and how it has affected Middle Eastern politics as a whole. His presentation will be followed by a Q&A. Tune in on our website at, email questions to, and we hope to see you there!

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April 23 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | Politics in the Time of Coronavirus

The novel Coronavirus is rapidly altering our local, state, and federal political landscapes. While daily news outlets offer a constant stream of updates, our new weekly series, Politics in the Time of Coronavirus with Dan Schnur, takes an analytical approach to the biggest headlines of the week and elevates the stories you may have missed. This interactive digital forum will connect the daily news to larger political trends, and seeks to answer your most pressing political questions. Dan, a politics professor at USC, Pepperdine and UC Berkeley, will assess the tactical actions taken by our political leaders, and also dive into broader topics that are intimately affected by our politicians and their policies. Join our weekly livestream every Thursday at 11 am PST to make sense of politics in the time of Coronavirus.


Dan Schnur (Moderator) is a Professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications, the University of California – Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, where he teaches courses in politics, communications and leadership. Dan is currently the director of the Sacramento Bee’s “California Influencers” series, in which he leads a weekly online conversation among 100 of the state’s most respected experts in politics, government and public policy. He is also a board member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall.

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April 27 | International Affairs Forum (Traverse City) | Global Hot Spot on Refugees: Voices from Lesvos

As COVID-19 spreads across the world, certain communities are hit harder than others. Refugees encamped on the Greek island of Lesvos, already facing overcrowding, supply shortages, and extremely poor sanitation, are some of the most vulnerable. How are refugees coping? What strategies are humanitarian organizations employing? How can we help? 

Aesa Oso is a humanitarian worker and interpreter who has been working in the refugee camp on Lesvos since fleeing the Syrian civil war in 2016. Facilitating this urgent discussion is Traverse City's own Talia and Zoe Gerstle who lived and worked in the Lesvos camp in 2017. IAF Director Leila Hilal, an Middle East and human rights expert, will moderate.

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April 28 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | Health Experts on What's Next for COVID-19

While California and other states continue to crisis manage their respective COVID-19 cases, Americans are anxious to go back to work and resume daily living activities. Health officials caution against relaxing stay-at-home orders or physical distancing. Governor Gavin Newsom announced on April 14 guidelines to how California will reopen society and the economy. 


Kaiser Family Foundation Director of Global Health & HIV Policy, Dr. Jennifer Kates, will be joined by Dr. Joshua Michaud, Associate Director for Global Health Policy and former infectious disease epidemiologist with the U.S. Department of Defense and Johns Hopkins University. They will discuss the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and what’s on the minds of Americans. What are the benchmarks for the new normal? What tests, treatments, vaccines and drugs should be available to prevent a second or future outbreaks? What is herd immunity? What about guidance from the Center for Disease Control? The conversation will be moderated by Michelle Levander, founding director of the USC Center for Health Journalism and editor-in-chief of


Dr. Jen Kates is Senior Vice President and Director of Global Health & HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, where she oversees the Foundation’s policy analysis and research focused on the U.S. government’s role in global health and on the global and domestic HIV epidemics. She is particularly known for her work analyzing donor government investments in global health; assessing and mapping the U.S. government’s global health architecture, programs, and funding; and tracking and analyzing major U.S. HIV programs and financing, and key trends in the HIV epidemic, an area she has been working in for close to thirty years. 

Josh Michaud is an Associate Director for Global Health Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, where he helps guide and oversee the Foundation’s research and analysis in the area of global health. Dr. Michaud is an authority on a range of global health policy issues including financing, the roles and activities of U.S. agencies and multilateral organizations, health diplomacy, and global health security and emerging diseases. Dr. Michaud is also a Professorial Lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington D.C., where he teaches courses on global health policy, public health and development. 

Michelle Levander (moderator) is the founding director of the Center for Health Journalism at USC Annenberg and editor-in-chief of The Center, which she launched in 2004, partners with journalists and their newsrooms to support ambitious reporting on health policy and health conditions in underserved communities. Levander also teaches a graduate class in health journalism at USC. She is a founding member of USC’s Community Health Equity Solutions.


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