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October 2020 Events

October 1 | Colorado Springs World Affairs Council | Threats to National Security & Intelligence Needs

Much has changed in the world, but threats to our national security remain.  The potential causes are many and varied - cybersecurity, weapons proliferation, terrorism, climate change, and acts by other nations and non-state actors, to name a few.  What does the intelligence community need to guard against these threats, and what is reasonable to expect?  Join us to hear former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper share his thoughts on these topics. 

Lt. General James Clapper

Lt. Gen. Clapper (ret.) served from 2010 – 2017 as the Director of National Intelligence. In that position, he led the United States intelligence community and served as the principal intelligence advisor to the President.

Previously, Clapper served in two administrations as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, where he was the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on intelligence, counterintelligence, and security matters for the Department. In this capacity, he was also dual-hatted as the Director of Defense Intelligence for DNI.

Earlier, he directed the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), transforming it into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) as it is today. He also served as a consultant and advisor to Congress and to the Departments of Defense and Energy and as a member of a wide variety of government panels, boards, commissions, and advisory groups.

Clapper, who began his military career as a rifleman in the U.S. Marine Corps, served two combat tours during the Southeast Asia conflict and flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47s over Laos and Cambodia. He was Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at U.S. Air Force Headquarters during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Director of Intelligence for three war-fighting commands: U.S. Forces Korea, Pacific Command, and Strategic Air Command. Following his retirement from military service in 1995, Clapper worked in the private sector for six years as an executive in three companies focused on services for the intelligence community. He was a member of the Downing Assessment Task Force that investigated the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, and was vice chairman of a commission chaired by former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia on the subject of homeland security.

Clapper earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, and an honorary doctorate from the Joint Military Intelligence College.

His awards include three National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award. He has also received the NAACP’s National Distinguished Service Award and the Presidentially-conferred National Security Medal.

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October 2 | World Affairs Council of Hilton Head | Ambassador Doug Lute

World order is never in stasis for too long. And indeed, we seem to be witnessing a historic shift now. The relatively stable decades after World War II saw gains for global democracies, rapid economic growth fueled by globalization, and the birth of the Internet. But they also saw the speeding of global warming, widening inequality, and the scourge of transnational terrorism. The institutions and agreements that have grounded the modern international order are showing signs of weakness, while illiberal sentiment gathers strength across the West. Nationalism is having a moment. Europe is having an identity crisis. And China is challenging the dominance of the United States. How did we get here? What’s next?

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October 5 | World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth | The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III

"The Man Who Ran Washington” is the story of the amazing journey of a young, apolitical oil and gas lawyer from Houston who rose to become one of the most consequential secretaries of state in U.S. history. He served four U.S. presidents and helped a fifth one navigate a path from Florida to the Supreme Court and into the Oval Office. His Washington career was a triumph of what his biographers call “pragmatism over purity and deal-making over division, a lost art in today’s fractured nation.”

James Baker held the offices of Undersecretary of Commerce, White House Chief of Staff, Treasury Secretary and Secretary of State. The authors call this important biography, “A case study in the acquisition, exercise, and preservation of power in late twentieth-century America and the story of Washington and the world in the modern era–how it once worked and how it has transformed into an era of gridlock and polarization.”

This is the second Gail Koppman History Lecture, in remembrance of a passionate educator, voracious reader and lifelong learner.

Peter Baker is an award-winning journalist who has covered Washington for more than 30 years. He is the chief White House correspondent for the New York Times. Susan Glasser is a staff writer at The New Yorker and has served as a top editor for several Washington publications as well as editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy. This is the second book the married couple has co-authored. Their 2005 book, “Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the End of Revolution,” chronicled the four years they spent as Washington Post bureau chiefs in Moscow.

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October 6 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | A Conversation with Pete Buttigieg

Writers Bloc and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall present:

Trust is essential to the foundation of America’s democracy, asserts Pete Buttigieg, the former presidential candidate and South Bend mayor. Yet, in a century warped by terrorism, financial collapse, Trumpist populism, systemic racism, and now a global pandemic, trust has been squandered, sacrificed, abused, stolen, or never properly built in the first place. Interweaving history, political philosophy, and affecting passages of memoir, Buttigieg provides an impassioned account of a threefold crisis of trust: in our institutions, in each other, and in the American project itself. With the internet and partisan television networks acting as accelerants, Americans jettison any sense of shared reality. Buttigieg contends that our success, or failure, at confronting the greatest challenges of the decade?racial and economic justice, pandemic resilience, and climate action?will rest on whether we can effectively cultivate, deepen, and, where necessary, repair the networks of trust that are now endangered, or for so many, have never even existed.

Moderator to be announced.


SPECIAL OFFER: Vromans Bookstore has a limited number of signed copies of TRUST by Pete Buttigieg, at the special price of $19 plus sales tax and shipping. The first 200 people to order the book from Vromans will receive a signed copy - CLICK HERE. 

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October 13 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | The Key Swing States of the 2020 Election

Part 5 of our 2020 Election Series will analyze how the nation’s geographical cleavages —battleground states, urban-rural divides, and regional differences — will play out on election night. The discussion will be led by Political Communications Professor Dan Schnur of USC, UC-Berkeley, and Pepperdine, who will be joined by Seema Mehta, political reporter for the Los Angeles Times covering the 2020 presidential campaign. 

As with all presidential elections, battleground states will determine this year’s outcome. Yet, the number of swing states in 2020 is far larger than we've seen in any recent election. The key swing states from 2016 such as Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will again play an immense role this year. But long-time blue states like Minnesota and historic red states like Arizona and Georgia are looking more competitive as well. How are Trump and Biden campaigning in this battleground saturated environment? This discussion will help listeners make sense of how these shifting geographical politics are mapping onto the race.


Seema Mehta is a political writer for the Los Angeles Times covering the 2020 presidential campaign. She was a Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan for the 2018-19 academic year studying automation and AI and their impacts on voters in the Midwest. She previously covered the 2016, 2012 and 2008 presidential campaigns, as well as multiple gubernatorial, Senate and mayoral races. Mehta is a frequent face on television, appearing weekly on MSNBC, as well as on CNN, ABC, BBC and other outlets. She was named one of the top state political reporters in the nation by the Washington Post, completed a media fellowship at Stanford University and served as an alumna-in-residence at Syracuse University. Mehta also contributed to Times’ coverage of the Las Vegas mass shooting that won a 2018 Sigma Delta Chi award for deadline online reporting, as well as the devastating wildfires that won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. She also won a 2008 John Swett award for media excellence for an investigative series about the Santa Ana Unified School District creating false class rosters to qualify for state class-size reduction funding. A graduate of Syracuse University, the East Coast native swore when she joined The Times in 1998 that she would only spend a few years on the Left Coast. Many years, a husband, a house and a few cats later, she can’t imagine living somewhere she couldn’t golf year-round.

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 was the director of the Sacramento Bee’s “California Influencers” series, in which he led a weekly online conversation among 100 of the state’s most respected experts in politics, government and public policy around the 2018 election. He is also a board member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall.

For FAQ's and instructions regarding our livestreams, click HERE

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October 14 | World Affairs Council of New Hampshire | GTP: Climate Change Risks and the U.S. Military

Join the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire and the League of Conservation Voters for the second installment in our virtual, Global Tipping Points speaker series this Fall! Our October edition will be headlined by the 75th U.S. Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Ray Mabus, who will speak on the threat that climate change and extreme weather poses to our country's military bases around the world and their ability to act effectively. After his remarks, Secretary Mabus will be joined by Norfolk, Virginia City Councilor Andria McClellan, and renowned journalist, author, and commentator on energy and climate issues, Jeff Goodell, for a panel discussion examining this existential threat to our nation's military readiness and what solutions are being, and should be, undertaken to combat it.

Following the opening remarks, a moderated Question and Answer session will be held. All questions can be emailed to, posted in either of the YouTube or Facebook Live chats, or using the messenger app on our website, so tune in at and we hope to see you there!

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October 14 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | The Future of U.S. Policy on Iran

For forty-one years the United States has been locked in an unending conflict with the Islamic Republic in Iran. From hostage crisis to illicit financing of terrorism, empowerment of foreign proxies in targeting U.S. interests and  the relations between the two countries have been unendingly tense but also marked by a desire for engagement by every American administration. 

How has President Trump’s Iran policy differed from other administrations and has it achieved the desired objectives? Should Iranians attitude, in light of the recent protests against the Supreme Leader and calls for change be taken into consideration in the  future U.S. foreign policy towards Iran? How should future U.S. administrations approach the growing trend in Iran to diminish Islamic Republic’s hegemony in the region and people’s gravitation towards better relations with the West?


Nazenin Ansari is Publisher and Managing Editor of two independent media outlets focusing on Iran.  Kayhan London www.Kayhan.London (Persian) and Kayhan Life (English) offer in-depth news coverage of news of Iran and its politics in the Middle East, Europe and America.  She is also the founding Trustee of Persia Educational Foundation, which advances education and learning in the field of Iran, as well as the Trustee of the Foreign Press Association in London, the first and oldest association of foreign journalists in the world, founded in 1888.  A member of the Chatham House and the International Institute for Strategic Studies,  Nazenin received her BA in Public Affairs and Government from Mount Vernon College, now George Washington University, and MA in International Relations and Comparative Politics (the Soviet Union and the Middle East) from Georgetown University.

Dr. Saeed Ghasseminejad is a senior Iran and financial economics advisor at FDD specializing in Iran’s economy and financial markets, sanctions and illicit finance. Born and raised in Iran, Saeed earned his Ph.D. in finance from the City University of New York where he analyzed the effect of U.S. sanctions on Iran’s financial markets as part of his dissertation. He teaches finance at Baruch College of New York. Saeed has a BS in engineering from the University of Tehran and an MS in engineering from Ecole Speciale des Travaux Publics in Paris.

Alex Vatanka specializes in Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular focus on Iran. Before joining MEI in 2009, he was a Senior Analyst at Jane’s Information Group in London (2001-2009). Alex is also a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the US Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at DISAS at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. His focus include modern history of Iran; factional politics in the Islamic Republic; political-military relations in Iran; Iranian regional policies (with a particular South Caucasus, Central, Asia, the Gulf States, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan) and Iran’s relations with countries such as the US, China, Russia and the EU states. Born in Tehran, he holds a BA in Politics (Sheffield University, UK), and an MA in International Relations (Essex University, UK), and is fluent in Farsi and Danish. Follow him @AlexVatanka

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October 15 | World Affairs Council of Orange County | John Brennan, Undaunted in conversation with Janet

Thursday, October 15th, 2020 – 1:00 PM PDT/ 4:00 PM EDT

Tickets include a signed copy of John Brennan’s new memoir, Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies, at Home and Abroad, shipped directly to you by R. J. Julia.

Attend with Signed Book Purchase                                                                                                                                                              $30.00

This program will take place on Zoom. RSVP to receive the link to sign in.
Please include your address when purchasing a ticket to receive your book.


Hosted by the World Affairs Council of Orange County, in Partnership with World Affairs Connecticut Presents:


Join us for a conversation with Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, moderated by Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano.

Director Brennan will discuss his experience in government, which spanned over 33 years. He served 29 years at the CIA and four at the White House. During his career he served six presidents, three Democrat and three Republican, beginning with Presidents Carter and Reagan and concluding with George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

Mr. Brennan currently is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, a Distinguished Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, a senior intelligence and national security analyst for NBC, and an advisor to a variety of private sector companies.

Janet Napolitano is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. She served as the twentieth president of the University of California, the nation’s largest public research university with ten campuses, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories, and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program.

Prior to joining the University of California, Professor Napolitano served as Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013. She is a former two term Governor of Arizona, a former Attorney General of Arizona, and a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. In 2019, Napolitano published How Safe Are We? Homeland Security Since 9/11. Professor Napolitano earned her B.S. degree, summa cum laude, in Political Science from Santa Clara University, and her J.D. from the University of Virginia. She is based in Berkeley, CA.


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October 15 | Colorado Springs World Affairs Council | Planning for Tokyo 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games

The 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games have been postponed until next year. USA Judo Executive Director Keith Bryant, competing Judo athlete Nefeli Papadakis, and 1984 Olympic Bronze Medalist and USA Judo High Performance Director Ed Liddie will share how the postponement affects the 2021 games. 


Tokyo Olympic Games Logo

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October 19 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | A Fireside Chat with Guy Raz

Join us for a conversation with Guy Raz, the host, co-creator, and editorial director of three NPR programs, including one of its most popular ones, "How I Built This." Using the podcast as inspiration for his new book, Raz offers priceless insights and inspiration from the world’s top entrepreneurs on how to start, launch, and build a successful venture.

Raz will be joined by moderator, The Honorable Maria Contreras-Sweet, 24th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business agency. The discussion will address how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted small business and budding entrepreneurs. Is the pandemic lockdown an ideal time to start a business? Can you still be entrepreneurial within an organization?

HOW I BUILT THIS is much more than a business book – it’s a book about human beings: their dreams, their fears, their hopes, their failures, their vulnerabilities, and their personal journeys. It’s a story about the idea of possibility. It still allows for burn-out failures, dashed hopes, and bad outcomes, but it also offers an avenue for recovery, resilience and purpose. In this book, Guy Raz talks to hundreds and hundreds of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, idealists, tinkerers, and inventors to uncover amazing true stories. He shares tips for every entrepreneur’s journey.

You may order “How I Built This” direct to home by following this link.  Or you can order curbside pickup (or shipping direct to home) by sending an email to or calling the bookstore at (323) 465-1334.


Guy Raz is the creator and host of the popular podcasts How I Built This, Wisdom from the Top and The Rewind on Spotify. He’s also the co-creator of the acclaimed podcasts TED Radio Hour and the children’s programs Wow in the World and Two Whats?! and a Wow!. He’s received the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize, the National Headliner Award, and the NABJ Award, among many others and was a Nieman journalism fellow at Harvard. 

The Hon. Maria Contreras-Sweet (Host) served as an Obama cabinet member, California state cabinet official and investor/entrepreneur.  Her achievements in bringing efficiencies and modernization to large scale organizations have earned her international acclaim. Honorable Contreras-Sweet, was sworn in as a member of President Obama’s cabinet as the 24th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  She was charged with supporting America’s 28 million small businesses, which create a majority of US jobs and employ half of our nation’s private-sector workforce. As an entrepreneur, Contreras-Sweet is one of a few in the US to start a publicly-traded bank.  Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, the bank focused on the small and mid-size market.  She served as its founding and executive chairwoman, successfully steering it through the great recession. Prior, she served as the California cabinet Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.


For FAQ's and instructions regarding our livestreams, click HERE

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October 20 | Colorado Springs World Affairs Council | Building the Post-Election, Post-COVID World

Many events, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic, elections, civic unrest, and economic woes, are gripping the world today. It is hardly the first time the world has been tested, and certainly not the last, but the path forward will require solutions that recognize the realities of these situations.  With crisis comes opportunity. How will the world rebuild to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century?

Ambassador Kurt Volker 

Ambassador Kurt Volker is a leading expert in U.S. foreign and national security policy with some 30 years of experience in a variety of government, academic, and private sector capacities.  He served as U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations from 2017 to 2019, and as U.S. Ambassador to NATO from 2008-2009.  Ambassador Volker is currently Managing Director, International, and Co-Chair of the Advisory Board at BGR Group, which provides government relations, public relations, and business advisory services to a wide array of clients.  He also serves on the advisory board of Augustus, an artificial intelligence start-up company, and has previously served as a Director of CG Funds Trust and the Wall Street Fund.

From 2012-2019, Ambassador Volker was the founding Executive Director of The McCain Institute for International Leadership, a part of Arizona State University based in Washington, DC.  He remains a Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council; a Trustee of the American College of the Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence, France; a Trustee of the Hungary Initiatives Foundation; a member of the GLOBSEC International Advisory Board; and a member of the International Advisory Board of the U.S. Institute for Peace.  He has taught Transatlantic Relations at The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, and is a member of that School’s Board of Advisors. 


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October 20 | World Affairs Council of New Hampshire | Tested Ties: German-U.S. Relations at a Crossroads

Join the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire, Wunderbar Together, and the World Affairs Councils of America as we welcome Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, Executive Director of the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center’s Future of Diplomacy Project, for a virtual talk on Tuesday, October 20th starting at 6pm! In her talk, Clüver Ashbrook will discuss the many issues currently testing the United States and Germany, including the state of NATO, the restructuring and American withdrawal from the WHO, and perhaps most importantly the implications that next month’s Presidential election will have on this transatlantic relationship.

Following Clüver Ashbrook's remarks, a moderated Question and Answer session will be held. All questions can be emailed to, posted in either of the YouTube or Facebook Live chats, or the messenger app on our website, so tune in here at and we hope to see you there!

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October 20 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | The Key Voting Groups of 2020

Part 6 of our 2020 Election Series will focus on our diverse electorate and analyze the key voter groups for each party. The discussion will be led by Political Communications Professor Dan Schnur of USC, UC-Berkeley, and Pepperdine, who will be joined by Ron Brownstein, CNN Senior Political Analyst, Senior Editor for The Atlantic, and Contributing Editor for National Journal. 

As both Trump and Biden work to build their coalitions in the final month of campaigning, what voting blocs are they targeting, what tactics are they using to do so, and are their efforts working? From suburban women to young people to voters of color — this discussion will make sense of the demographic groups that will decide the election. In addition, Dan and Ron will analyze the first presidential debate. 


Ron Brownstein, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of presidential campaigns, is a National Journal contributing editor and a senior editor at The Atlantic. Prior to joining Atlantic Media, Brownstein was the national affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He has also served as the Times' national political correspondent and the author of the weekly Washington Outlook column. In addition, he currently serves as a senior political analyst for CNN and also served as an electoral analyst for ABC News during the 2012 election. His sixth and most recent book, The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America, was published by Penguin in November 2007. 

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.


For FAQ's and instructions regarding our livestreams, click HERE

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October 21 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | How to Win the Tech Race with China

China is rapidly catching up in key technologies while tension between the US and China grows. Recently, clashes over Chinese tech companies have served as a driving source of conflict between the two global powers.

On this livestream, Anja Manuel discusses which areas the US should focus on, what the Trump administration has done to date, and how we might ensure that the US remains the leading innovation superpower in the world. The discussion will be moderated by Alex Wang, Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and a leading expert on the law and politics of China.


Anja Manuel is a diplomat, author, and advisor on emerging markets, as well as a Co-founder and Partner along with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC, a strategic consulting firm that helps US companies navigate international markets. She is the author of the critically acclaimed This Brave New World: India, China and the United States, published by Simon and Schuster in 2016.  From 2005-2007, she served as an official at the U.S. Department of State, responsible for South Asia Policy. Manuel now also lectures at Stanford University. She is a frequent commentator on foreign policy and technology policy, for tv and radio (NBC/MSNBC, Fox Business, BBC, Bloomberg, Charlie Rose, NPR, etc.) and writes for publications ranging from the New York Times, to the Financial Times, Fortune, the Atlantic, and Newsweek, among others. She is the Director of the Aspen Strategy Group and Aspen Security Forum -- the premier bi-partisan forum on foreign policy in the U.S. -- and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Alex Wang (moderator) is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, and a leading expert on environmental governance and the law and politics of China. His research focuses on the social effects of law, and the interaction of law and institutions in China and the United States. At UCLA, he teaches courses in torts, Chinese law, and environmental law. He has been a visiting assistant professor at UC Berkeley School of Law. Prior to 2011, Wang was a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) based in Beijing and the founding director of NRDC's China Environmental Law & Governance Project. In this capacity, he worked with China's government agencies, legal community, and environmental groups to improve environmental rule of law and strengthen the role of the public in environmental protection. He helped to establish NRDC's Beijing office in 2006.


For FAQ's and instructions regarding our livestreams, click HERE

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October 22 | World Affairs Council of Greater Reading | Inspired: Stories of Triumph and Tragedy from the Congo With Sasha Lezhnev

Sasha Lezhnev is Deputy Director of Policy at The Sentry, where he focuses on conflict, governance, corruption, and corporate accountability issues in central Africa. He is also Founding Director of the Grassroots Reconciliation Group, an organization that works to reintegrate former child soldiers and refugees in northern Uganda. Sasha is a founding member of the Public-Private Alliance on Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA). He previously worked at Global Witness, the International Crisis Group, and the U.S. Institute of Peace on U.S. policy and conflict resources, extractive industries transparency, and peace processes in Africa. He was based in Uganda for 2 1/2 years as Senior Program Officer with the Northern Uganda Peace Initiative and advisor to the chief mediator of the peace process with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

He is the author of the book Crafting Peace: Strategies to Deal with Warlords in Collapsing States. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Cambridge University and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.

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October 23 | World Affairs Council of Hilton Head | The Return of the Great Power Rivalry

The United States of America has been the most powerful country in the world for over seventy years, but recently the U.S. National Security Strategy declared that the return of great power competition with Russia and China is the greatest threat to U.S. national security. Further, many analysts predict that America's autocratic rivals will have at least some success in disrupting-and, in the longer term, possibly even displacing-U.S. global leadership.

Matthew Kroenig, author of The Return of Great Power Rivalry, will discuss how this conventional wisdom is wrong. Drawing on an extraordinary range of historical evidence and the works of figures like Herodotus, Machiavelli, and Montesquieu and combining it with cutting-edge social science research, Matthew Kroenig advances the riveting argument that democracies tend to excel in great power rivalries. 

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October 27 | World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts | China-US Rivalry for Influence in Africa


Andrew Harding | Hachette UK

BBC Correspondent Andrew Harding will speak about the rivalry between the United States and China for influence in Africa as well as his new book, These Are Not Gentle People: Two murders. Forty suspects. The trial that broke a small South African town to be published in audio and ebook formats in the US October 1.

Andrew Harding is a British journalist and author. He has been living and working abroad as a foreign correspondent for the past 30 years. Since 1994 he has been working for BBC News.

He began his career in Moscow in 1991 as a freelancer, working for IRN, NBC Radio, Monitor Radio, FSN, The Evening Standard and later for The Guardian and The Economist. Since then he has lived in Tbilisi, Nairobi, Singapore, Bangkok, and for the past 12 years in Johannesburg.

Andrew has covered many International events, from the end of the Soviet Union and Russia's parliamentary rebellion to the Asian tsunami and west Africa's Ebola outbreak. By accident, rather than design, much of his work has been in conflict zones - in Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma, Darfur, DR Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, South Sudan, Cote D'Ivoire, CAR, Burundi, Uganda, Libya and elsewhere.

Andrew has been living in South Africa since 2009. He reported on the Oscar Pistorius trial in Pretoria. It was partly that experience that prompted him to search for another murder case, that might dig deeper under the skin of modern South Africa. Early in 2016 he read about an incident in the Free State and decided to investigate. The result, four years later, was his new book, These Are Not Gentle People. A BBC Radio 4 series and podcast is in the works.


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October 27 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | How Media Will Influence the Election

Part 7 of our 2020 Election Series will analyze how the candidates have used media sources to replace most of the traditional in-person canvasing, organizing, and campaign rallies. The discussion will be led by Political Communications Professor Dan Schnur of USC, UC-Berkeley, and Pepperdine, who will be joined by Lynn Vavreck, Professor of American Politics and Public Policy at UCLA and a contributing columnist to the New York Times Upshot feature. The conversation will address the role of both traditional broadcast and social media in the campaigns. It will also focus on the role of public opinion polling, and the dynamic between polling and the media.   


Lynn Vavreck is the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy at UCLA, a contributing columnist to The Upshot at The New York Times, and a recipient of the Andrew F. Carnegie Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences.  She is the author of five books, including the “most ominous” book on the 2016 election: Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America, and The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election, described as the “definitive account” of the 2012 election. Political consultants on both sides of the aisle refer to her work on political messaging in The Message Matters as “required reading” for presidential candidates. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and she has served on the advisory boards of both the British and American National Election Studies. At UCLA she teaches courses on campaigns, elections, public opinion, and the 1960s.

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 was the director of the Sacramento Bee’s “California Influencers” series, in which he led a weekly online conversation among 100 of the state’s most respected experts in politics, government and public policy around the 2018 election. He is also a board member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall.

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October 28 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | A Conversation with John Hope Bryant

In 1992, during the Rodney King riots, John Hope Bryant looked out and saw a country divided and suffering. Deciding he needed to get involved, Bryant created Operation Hope.

Through connecting corporations to community leaders, Operation Hope creates a system to overcome what Bryant saw as a major stumbling block to poor and minority communities – financial literacy. Since then, Bryant has expanded Operation Hope into a national program which gives these communities the tools, resources, and connections they need to empower themselves. Today, it is one of the largest not-for-profit providers of financial literacy, financial inclusion, and economic empowerment tools and services in the United States for youth and adults.

John Hope Bryant — one of Time magazine’s “50 Leaders for the Future" — will join the Council to inspire today’s leaders on how to address issues within their communities. He will discuss the importance of ensuring every American has access to what he calls the Five Pillars of Success: massive education, financial literacy, strong family structure, self-esteem, and supportive role models. The conversation will be moderated by Carol Bradford Worley, Senior Counsel and Charitable Advisor for the California Community Foundation. 

You can also learn more from John Hope Bryant's new book, "Up from Nothing: The Untold Story of How We All Succeed" — by purchasing it here.


John Hope Bryant is an American entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, and prominent thought leader on financial inclusion, economic empowerment and financial dignityBryant is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE, Inc. the largest not- for-profit and best-in-class provider of financial literacy, financial inclusion and economic empowerment tools and services in the United States for youth and adults; chairman and chief executive officer of Bryant Group Ventures and The Promise Homes Company, the largest for-profit minority-controlled owners of institution-quality, single-family residential rental homes in the U.S., and co-founder of Global Dignity. The last five U.S. presidents have recognized his work, and he has served as an advisor to the last three sitting U.S. presidents, from both political parties. He is responsible for financial literacy becoming the policy of the U.S. federal government.

Carol Bradford Worley (Moderator) is Senior Counsel and Charitable Advisor for the California Community Foundation (CCF), a 501(c)3 public foundation in Los Angeles.  In her dual role, she serves as CCF's chief legal officer in addition to focusing on business development for the organization. Bradford Worley is the past chair of the State Bar of California's Non-Profit Organizations Standing Committee, Business Law Section and the Tax-Exempt Organizations section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Bradford Worley was a civil litigator in Los Angeles until she "retired" to the nonprofit sector in 2001.


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