Past Speakers

Stacia George

Monday, May 9, 2022

Topic: Winning Without Weapons: The Tools We Have To Address Conflict & Terrorism

Stacia George became director of the The Carter Center’s Conflict Resolution Program in 2021.

She previously served as director for West and Central Africa and Haiti at Chemonics International Inc., a global implementer of international development assistance. George previously served as the deputy director for USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) and is an expert in conflict management and international development with specializations in conflict-affected environments, stabilization, democracy, and community-driven development programming.

Earlier, George was a foreign policy fellow on the Africa Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was the practice director for government services at Caerus Associates. She held an International Affairs Fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations in 2011.

During 11 years with USAID, George was country representative for programs in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. She managed OTI’s Afghanistan program as the deputy team leader for Asia and the Middle East, established programs in Colombia, Nepal, and Sudan, and served as country representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. George holds degrees in international studies and Spanish from Niagara University and International Conflict Management and Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies.

Laura Kennedy

Monday, April 11, 2022

Topic: The Central Asian States of the Former Soviet Union

Ambassador Laura Kennedy is a foreign affairs expert who served for nearly 40 years with the U.S. Foreign Service. She was Ambassador to Turkmenistan (2001-3), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (2004-5), taught and served as Deputy Commandant at the National War College (2007-9), and was appointed U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and Special Representative for Biological Weapons Convention Issues (2010-13). After retiring, she was recalled to active service in May 2014 to serve as Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan until September 2014 and then as Charge at the U. S. Mission to the United Nations in Vienna and a member of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency until July 2015. Amb. Kennedy is an elected member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and serves on the Board of the Arms Control Association, the Advisory Council of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, the Leadership Council for Women in National Security and the Deep Cuts Commission.

David Cooper

Monday, March 14, 2022

Topic: The Third Nuclear Age: Between Disarmament and Armageddon

Dr. David A. Cooper recently retired as The James V. Forrestal Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he previously served for eight years as the Chair of the Department of National Security Affairs. Before transitioning to academia he served for almost two decades as a career policy official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense including as Director of Strategic Arms Control Policy, Director of Nonproliferation Policy, and Senior Director for Homeland Security Integration. His areas of expertise include nuclear strategy, arms control and disarmament, nonproliferation, multilateral negotiations, homeland security, and international relations theory. He is the author most recently of Decision-Making in American Foreign Policy: Translating Theory Into Practice
 (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and Arms Control for the Third Nuclear Age: Between Disarmament and Armageddon (Georgetown University Press, 2021).

Steve Simon

Monday, February 21, 2022

Topic: The US and the Middle East: What Went Wrong?

Steven Simon joined the Center for International Studies (CIS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2021 as its Robert E Wilhelm Fellow following a prolific career in government, private industry, and academia.

Simon served as the National Security Council (NSC) senior director for the Middle East and North Africa during the Obama Administration and as the NSC senior director for counterterrorism in the Clinton White House. These assignments followed a fifteen-year career at the US Department of State.

Between government assignments, he was a principal and senior advisor to Good Harbor LLC in Abu Dhabi and director of the Middle East office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Manama. He managed security-related projects at the RAND Corporation and was the Hasib Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

His academic appointments include: the John J McCloy ’16 Professor of History at Amherst College, lecturer in government at Dartmouth College, and most recently as Professor in the Practice of International Relations at Colby College. He has had fellowships at Brown University, Oxford University, and the American Academy in Berlin. He will continue his work as a non-resident senior research analyst with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a think tank in Washington, DC.

During Simon’s time at MIT, he will be embarking on a project related to the liquidation of imperial commitments, exploring the effects of the war on terror on the United States, and writing a monograph on the history of US-Middle East relations from 1979 to the present, entitled The Long Goodbye: The United States and the Middle East from the Islamic Revolution to the Arab Spring, which will be forthcoming in 2022.

Simon has co-authored several books including The Age of Sacred Terror (Random House, 2004), winner of the Arthur C. Ross Award for best book in international relations; The Next Attack (Henry Holt, 2006), a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize which focused on the US response to 9/11; Iraq at the Crossroads: State and Society in the Shadow of Regime Change (Oxford, 2003); Building a Successful Palestinian State and The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State (RAND 2005); The Sixth Crisis (Oxford, 2010); The Pragmatic Superpower: The United States and the Middle East in the Cold War (W.W. Norton, 2016); and Our Separate Ways (Public Affairs, 2016).

Jok Madut Jok

Monday, January 24, 2022

Topic: US Military Training of African Forces: A Source of Influence or a National Security Risk?

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.


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Past Speakers