2016 SPEAKERS

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Elliott Abrams
Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Elliott Abrams is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House. He also served on the National Security Council as a senior director for democracy, human rights, and international organizations, and supervised both the Near East and North African Affairs and the Democracy, Human Rights, and International Organizations directorates of the NSC. Mr. Abrams is the author of four books, including Tested by Zion: the Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2013).

John P. Carlin
Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Department of Justice

The Honorable John P. Carlin is the Assistant Attorney General for National Security and serves as the Department of Justice’s top national security attorney. Under his leadership, the National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for protecting the country against international and domestic terrorism, espionage, cyber, and other national security threats. Mr. Carlin joined NSD after serving as Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to Robert S. Mueller, III, Director of the FBI, where he helped lead the Bureau’s evolution to meet changing national security threats, including cyber threats. A career federal prosecutor, Mr. Carlin served as National Coordinator of DOJ’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) program, a cadre of prosecutors specially trained to prosecute cybercrime and intellectual property. Mr. Carlin earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his B.A. from Williams College.
Senator Susan Collins
U.S. Senator (R-ME)

Senator Susan Collins is the senior U.S. Senator from Maine. First elected in 1996, Senator Collins has earned a national reputation as an effective legislator who works across party lines to seek consensus on our nation’s most important issues. Her record demonstrates significant legislative accomplishments in critical areas such as homeland security and national defense. Senator Collins ranks nineteenth in Senate seniority and is the most senior Republican woman. She serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee and authored, along with then-Senator Joseph Lieberman, a major overhaul of our nation’s intelligence community after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Senator Collins served as the first-ever Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Toby Dershowitz
Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Toby Dershowitz is Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where she engages in policy roadmapping to move the dial on a range of issues of concern to FDD. She has spent more than 25 years in Washington, focusing on issues related to terrorism, technology and human rights, democracy building, energy security, and the Middle East. She co-directs several FDD projects, including the Iran Human Rights Project and the Project on Terrorist Media. Ms. Dershowitz also serves on the Board of Advisors of FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance. She briefs and works closely with members of Congress and their staff, as well as with officials throughout the executive branch.
Mark Dubowitz
Executive Director, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Mark Dubowitz is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where he leads projects on Iran, sanctions, and nonproliferation. A former venture capitalist and technology executive, he heads FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, co-leads the Iran Task Force, and is co-chair of the Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy. Mr. Dubowitz has advised U.S. administrations and lawmakers, and testified nineteen times before Congress and foreign legislative committees on Iran sanctions and nuclear issues. He is the author or co-author of over twenty studies on economic sanctions and Iran’s nuclear program. He teaches courses at the University of Toronto and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many other publications.
Eric Edelman
Senior Advisor, Turkey Program, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Ambassador Eric S. Edelman serves as a Senior Advisor to the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He retired as a Career Minister from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2009, having served in senior positions at the Departments of State and Defense as well as the White House, where he led organizations providing analysis, strategy, policy development, security services, trade advocacy, public outreach, citizen services, and congressional relations. As the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2005-2009), he oversaw strategy development as the Pentagon’s senior policy official. Amb. Edelman served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republics of Finland and Turkey in the Clinton and Bush Administrations and was Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs.
Aykan Erdemir
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Dr. Aykan Erdemir is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011-2015) who served in the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, EU Harmonization Committee, and the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the IT Sector and the Internet. An outspoken defender of pluralism, minority rights, and religious freedom in the Middle East, Dr. Erdemir has been at the forefront of the struggle against religious persecution, hate crimes, and hate speech in Turkey. He is a founding member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and a drafter of and signatory to the Oslo Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief (2014), as well as a signatory legislator to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism.
Evelyn N. Farkas
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

Dr. Evelyn N. Farkas is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia. She previously served as the Senior Advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe/Commander, U.S. European Command, and as Special Advisor for the Secretary of Defense for the NATO Summit. In 2008-2009, she served as the Executive Director of the congressionally-mandated bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. From 2001 to 2008, she served as a Professional Staff Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. She has also previously worked as a Senior Fellow at the American Security Project, a professor at the Marine Corps University, and as a human rights officer in Bosnia for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Dr. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s security studies program, a lecturer at the Catholic University of America, and the Chief Executive Officer of Valens Global. His research and professional work are focused on the challenges posed by violent non-state actors, including al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other jihadist organizations with transnational ambitions. Dr. Gartenstein-Ross is the author or volume editor of fifteen books and monographs, including Bin Laden’s Legacy (Wiley, 2011), and has published widely in the popular and academic press. He also frequently conducts field research in relevant regions, including North Africa, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia.

Reuel Marc Gerecht
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former Middle Eastern Specialist at the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. His current work focuses on Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, and intelligence. Mr. Gerecht is the author of The Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East (2011), The Islamic Paradox: Shiite Clerics, Sunni Fundamentalists, and the Coming of Arab Democracy (2004), and Know Thine Enemy: A Spy’s Journey into Revolutionary Iran (1997). He is a contributing editor for The Weekly Standard and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other publications.

Michael Gordon

Michael R. Gordon covers national security issues for The New York Times and has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East region. He is currently a writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security. Gordon has co-authored three books: The Endgame, a comprehensive history of the Iraq war; Cobra II, the inside story of the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq; and The Generals’ War, a history of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
John Hannah
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

John Hannah is a Senior Counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, focusing on U.S. strategy. During the presidency of George W. Bush, he served for eight years on the staff of Vice President Cheney, including as the vice president’s national security advisor. He was intimately involved in U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and the global war on terrorism, and on a range of international issues from the Middle East to North Korea to Russia. Previously, Mr. Hannah worked as a senior advisor on the staff of Secretary of State Warren Christopher and as a senior member of Secretary of State James A. Baker’s Policy Planning Staff.
Catherine Herridge
Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Fox News Channel

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent. A lead correspondent for the network’s coverage of the 9/11 Benghazi terrorist attack, Herridge has also reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar, Israel and Guantánamo Bay. She has covered stories including the ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, the Northern Ireland peace agreement, and 9/11 in New York City. Herridge’s book, The Next Wave: On the Hunt for al Qaeda’s American Recruits (2012), exposes the new face of terrorism and predicts the source of future threats in the Middle East and North Africa.
Gilles Kepel
Professor, Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (Science Po)

Dr. Gilles Kepel is a French political scientist and one of Europe’s leading experts on Islamism, the Middle East, and North Africa. He is known for his contributions to the understanding of the political and social forces in Islam. Dr. Kepel has been a professor at the d'Études Politiques de Paris (Science Po) since 2001 and serves as the chair of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies. He is the author of 11 books, which have been translated into 17 languages. His most recent book, Terreur dans l'Hexagone: genèse du djihad français (Terror in France, Genesis of French Jihad), examines the marginalization of Islamic youth and the role of jihadism ideology in the violent attacks in Paris. It will be published in English by Princeton University.
Indira Lakshmanan
Foreign Policy Correspondent

Indira Lakshmanan is a foreign policy correspondent. She has reported from 80 countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East over seven years as a State Department correspondent for Bloomberg News and more than a decade abroad for The Boston Globe. Ms. Lakshmanan traveled regularly with Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and interviewed Clinton more than a dozen times for Bloomberg TV, Radio, and Businessweek. For two years, she wrote a page two column for the International Herald Tribune and Bloomberg. She’s been a guest commentator on PBS, NPR, Sirius XM, and MSNBC. She chronicled the inside story of seven years of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran for Politico Magazine.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth
Senior Judge, United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Royce C. Lamberth was appointed U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia in November 1987. He served as Chief Judge from May 2008 to July 2013, at which time he became a Senior Judge. Throughout his career, he has presided over numerous cases involving victims of terrorism, including cases against Iran for its role in the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks bombing. Earlier in his career, he served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the United States Army, in the Litigation Division of the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Army, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. Judge Lamberth was appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist to be the Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court from May 1995 until May 2002.

Suzanne Maloney
Deputy Director of the Foreign Policy Program, Brookings Institution

Suzanne Maloney is Deputy Director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, and a Senior Fellow in the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy and its Energy Security and Climate Initiative, where her research focuses on Iran and Persian Gulf energy. Her books include the 2008 monograph Iran’s Long Reach as well as Iran’s Political Economy since the Revolution, published in August 2015 by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Maloney previously served as an external advisor to senior State Department officials on long-term issues related to Iran. Before joining Brookings, she served on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, as a Middle East advisor for ExxonMobil Corporation, and as the director of the 2004 Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on U.S. policy toward Iran.
Clifford May
President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Clifford D. May is the founder and President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He has had a long and distinguished career in international relations, journalism, communications, and politics. A veteran news reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor at The New York Times and other publications, he has covered stories in more than two dozen countries. He is a frequent guest on national and international television and radio news programs, providing analysis and participating in debates on national security issues. A former syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard News Services, he is now the weekly “Foreign Desk” columnist of The Washington Times. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Atlantic, and many other publications.
General Ray Odierno
General (Ret.), United States Army

Gen. Ray Odierno served as the 38th Chief of Staff of the Army (2011-2015). During more than 39 years of service, he commanded units at every echelon, from platoon to theater. Prior to his service as Chief of Staff, Odierno commanded the United States Joint Forces Command (2010-2011) and served as Commanding General, United States Forces – Iraq and its predecessor, Multi-National Force – Iraq (2008-2010). Before that, he served as Commanding General, III Corps (2006-2008) and as Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, where he was the primary military adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (2004-2006). General Odierno’s awards and decorations include six Defense Distinguished Service Medals, six Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award, among many others.
Emanuele Ottolenghi
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Emanuele Ottolenghi is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert at its Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance focused on Iran. His research examines Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including its links to the country’s energy sector and procurement networks, as well as Iran’s illicit networks around the world. He is the author of The Pasdaran: Inside Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran: The Looming Crisis, and Under a Mushroom Cloud: Europe, Iran and the Bomb. Dr. Ottolenghi blogs at The Hill and has a monthly column in the British current-affairs magazine Standpoint. His columns have also appeared in leading outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Sunday Times.
Jonathan Schanzer
Vice President for Research, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Dr. Jonathan Schanzer is the Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the author State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State, which argues the main roadblock to Palestinian statehood is the Palestinian Authority's political dysfunction and mismanagement. His previous book, Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine is still the only book on the market that chronicles the Palestinian internecine conflict. Dr. Schanzer is also part of the leadership team of FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance. Previously, Dr. Schanzer worked as a terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he played an integral role in the designation of numerous terrorist financiers. He has testified before Congress and publishes widely in the American and international media.
Karim Sinjari
Minister for the Interior, Kurdistan Regional Government

Karim Sinjari has served as Interior Minister in the Kurdistan Region since 2001 and was appointed as Minister of the Interior in May 2006. He has been reappointed by each successive cabinet since then. He practiced as a lawyer in Baghdad starting in 1973 and joined the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). He joined the Peshmerga forces and was appointed to the KDP’s provisional leadership (1976-1980). Mr. Sinjari was exiled in Sweden for eight years (1980-1988) and then returned to Kurdistan as head of the KDP’s security service. After the first Kurdistan general elections in 1992, he was appointed Director General of the Kurdistan Region’s security service. In 2001, he was elected to the central committee of the KDP and later appointed to the party’s Politburo.

Adam J. Szubin
Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, U.S. Department of the Treasury

Adam J. Szubin serves as the Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He leads Treasury’s policy, enforcement, regulatory, and intelligence functions aimed at identifying and disrupting the lines of financial support to terrorist organizations, weapons proliferators, narcotics traffickers, and other actors posing a threat to U.S. national security. During his tenure at the Treasury, Mr. Szubin served as the Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) (2006-2015) and as the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Prior to joining Treasury, Mr. Szubin served as Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice and worked as a trial attorney in the Civil Division, serving as a member of the Terrorism Litigation Task Force.

Qubad Talabani
Deputy Prime Minister, Kurdistan Regional Government

Qubad Talabani was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in June 2014. Along with the Prime Minister, Mr. Talabani is responsible for implementing KRG policy and overseeing the full range of government activities. Previously, he served as Minister and Head of the Department of Coordination and Follow-up (2012-2014) and as the KRG representative to the United States (2006-2012). Prior to the KRG cabinet unification, Mr. Talabani served as the representative of the KRG–Slemani administration to Washington. After Operation Iraqi Freedom, Mr. Talabani was named Senior Foreign Relations Officer for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and worked closely with the Coalition Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, serving as the PUK’s top liaison to the Coalition Provisional Authority and to the U.S. forces in Iraq.
Rep. Juan Vargas
U.S. Representative (D-CA)

Juan C. Vargas has served as the U.S. Representative for California’s 51st district since 2013. He serves on the House Financial Services Committee, including the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, as well as the House Committee on House Administration. During the previous Congress, Rep. Vargas served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Military Veterans Caucus, and the Israeli Allies Caucus Foundation, among many others. Prior to his election to Congress, Rep. Vargas served on the San Diego City Council, as a Representative in the California State Assembly, and as a Senator in the California State Senate.

Graeme Wood
Contributing Editor, The Atlantic

Graeme Wood is a journalist and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is also the Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a lecturer in political science at Yale University, and books editor at Pacific Standard. Recently, he has written a series of articles on the Islamic State, examining the ideology and methodology of the group. Previously, he was a reporter in the Middle East (2002-2006). He has received fellowships from the Social Sciences Research Council (2002-2003), the South Asian Journalists Association (2009), the East-West Center (2009-2010), and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide (2013-2014).

R. James Woolsey
Chairman, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; former Director of Central Intelligence

Ambassador R. James Woolsey is the Chairman of the Leadership Council of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He previously served in the U.S. government on five different occasions, where he held Presidential appointments in two Republican and two Democratic administrations, including as Director of Central Intelligence (1993-1995). During his 12 years of government service, he also served as Ambassador to the Negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), Under Secretary of the Navy, General Counsel to the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and Delegate at Large to the U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and Nuclear and Space Arms Talks (NST). Amb. Woolsey serves on a range of government, corporate, and non-profit advisory boards. He specializes in a range of alternative energy and security issues.
Nancy Youssef
Senior National Security Correspondent, The Daily Beast

Nancy Youssef is a Senior National Security Correspondent for The Daily Beast. Previously, she was with McClatchy Newspapers, where she served as National Security Correspondent and Middle East Bureau Chief based in Cairo covering the Middle East and the Islamic world. Prior to that, she was McClatchy's chief Pentagon correspondent, focusing on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before covering the Pentagon, she spent four years covering the Iraq war, including as Baghdad bureau chief. She reported from Iraq and Jordan, covering the Iraq war from the time leading up to it through the post-war period. She has won several awards for her work, including the University of Virginia's Lawrence Hall Award for Distinguished Journalism covering the Middle East.

Juan Zarate
Chairman and Senior Counselor, FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance
Former Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism

The Honorable Juan C. Zarate has played a key role in developing and implementing the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism strategy and financial pressure strategies for more than a decade. He serves as Chairman and Senior Counselor of FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance. He served as the first-ever Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes and as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism, and was responsible for developing and implementing the U.S. government’s counterterrorism strategy and policies related to transnational security threats. He is the author of Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare (2013).

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