Upcoming Speakers

Richard J. Kessler

Monday, November 8, 2021

Topic: The Effect of Congressional Polarization on Foreign Affairs

Dr. Richard Kessler served in a variety of senior professional positions in Congress for 25 years, retiring in 2014 as staff director of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  He also served as staff director for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  He is one of the few people to have served in both the House and the Senate as a committee staff director.

As staff director of two major congressional committees, he managed a multi-million dollar administrative budget and directed legislative and oversight programs. In the Senate, this included oversight of the Homeland Security Department and all government agencies, including the Office of Personnel Management, and critical issues such as cybersecurity and counterterrorism.  The House Foreign Affairs Committee is responsible for oversight and legislation relating to foreign policy, foreign assistance, public diplomacy, and export controls. Under his guidance, the Committee passed a State Department Authorization bill and designed a major overhaul of foreign aid and export control legislation. He has negotiated with senior elected and appointed officials in the U.S. and foreign governments, and with private sector and civil society representatives.

Richard was also a subcommittee staff director on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee responsible for the Federal workforce and a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the House International Relations Committee where he was responsible for East Asia, the Pacific, South Asia, and UN peacekeeping policy issues.  Before joining the Senate staff, he was a Senior Associate at The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and co-directed an energy study at the Center for International and Strategic Studies.  While conducting his doctoral research, Richard was a research Associate at the University of the Philippines, and wrote on West African politics while living in Senegal.  Richard has published extensively in academic journals, in newspapers and books, and appeared as an expert commentator on numerous television and radio programs. He has been a consultant to a number of government and private organizations, including USAID.

Richard earned a MA, MALD and a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, with a concentration on international development studies. He has a BA in French from Colgate University.  He served with the U.S.  Army in Vietnam as an Area Intelligence Specialist and received a Bronze Star and was an Instructor at the US Army Intelligence School in Fort Huachuca, AZ.  He has lived in Europe, Vietnam, Senegal, and the Philippines.

He serves on the Board of Internews and on the Maine Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.  Richard lives in Bath, Maine with his wife where he is President of the local library and serves as Chair of the Sagadahoc Democratic Party.

Gordon Adams

Monday, December13, 2021

Topic: A New Approach to Formulating Foreign Policy

Dr. Gordon Adams is Professor Emeritus of International Politics at the School of International Service, American University.  He is a non-resident fellow of Washington-based Quincy Institute and a Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center.  He retired to Maine, after a long career in national security policy-making and budgeting.  In 1983 he founded the Defense Budget Project in Washington, which he directed for 10 years, and which later became the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.  In 1993 he became the Senior White House budget official for national security spending as Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget, where he spent five years overseeing the budgets and operations for intelligence, defense, diplomacy, and foreign assistance.  After a brief stint as Deputy Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, he taught national security policy, institutions, and budgeting at the Elliott School, George Washington University, and at the School of International Service, American University.   

He has written, co-written, or edited several books on national security, including Buying National Security: How America Plans and Pays for Its Global Role and Safety at Home (Routledge, 2010) and Mission Creep: The Militarization of US Foreign Policy? (Georgetown, 2014). He writes and speaks regularly on national security and foreign policy issue and has appeared in or on the New York Times, Foreign Policy, Responsible Statecraft, Maine’s own Maine Calling, and many other publications and media outlets.

 In Maine, Dr. Adams has served on the Advisory Committee to Refugee and Immigration Services, Catholic Charities, and the Program Committee for the Camden Conference.  He is also an active thespian, with eight years of experience on stage in Washington, DC and now seven years in Maine theaters, including the Camden Shakespeare Festival.  He has played such roles as Friar Laurence (Camden), King Lear (Studio Theater, Bath), and Hamm in Endgame (Maryland Players, Silver Spring).  He lives in Brunswick where he actively writes poetry, acts, opines, gardens, and tends to his cat.

Jok Madut Jok

Monday, January 24, 2022

Topic: Governance and Development in Sudan and South Sudan

Dr. Jok Madut Jok is a Professor of Anthropology at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University.  Dr. Jok’s areas of specialization include security, governance, democracy, and development in South Sudan and Sudan. He has also written extensively about gender, sexuality and reproductive health, humanitarian aid, ethnography of political violence, gender-based violence, and war and slavery and the politics of identity in South Sudan and Sudan.

Dr. Jok is the author of Breaking Sudan: The Search for Peace (Oneworld Publications, 2017), Sudan: Race, Religion and Violence (One World Publication, 2007), War and Slavery in Sudan (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), and Militarization, Gender and Reproductive Health in South Sudan (Edwin Mellen Press, 1998). He has also co-authored The Sudan Handbook (co-edited with J. Willis, J. Ryle and S. Baldo, James Currey, 2011).

Before joining the Maxwell School he was visiting professor of anthropology, University of Oxford, and Fellow of Linacre College.  He had also served in the government of South Sudan as undersecretary in the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, 2010-13.  He is the founding director of the Sudd Institute, a public policy research center.

 

Upcoming Speakers

  • Monday, November 8, 2021
    Richard J. Kessler
    Topic: The Effect of Congressional Polarization on Foreign Affairs
  • Monday, December13, 2021
    Gordon Adams
    Topic: A New Approach to Formulating Foreign Policy
  • Monday, January 24, 2022
    Jok Madut Jok
    Topic: Governance and Development in Sudan and South Sudan

Past Speakers