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The Department of State in the Biden Administration

September 29, 2021

Ambassador Mark L. Asquino

In January, President Biden pledged to reverse the disastrous mismanagement of the Department of State during the Trump Administration. He nominated as his secretary of state was Antony Blinken, a highly-experienced foreign policy expert. Blinken has brought to his job years of experience as a senior Congressional staffer, senior official at the National Security Council official and as a former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration. Biden and Blinken have both pledged to restore the foreign policy preeminence of the Department of State, which has been in decline for decades.

Eight months into his tenure, Blinken has successfully lobbied for a significant increase in State’s budget, including funds to expand its staffing. To address the old refrain that the Foreign Service is “pale, male and Yale,” he’s appointed the Department’s first diversity and inclusion officer to attract more minorities and women to its ranks.

But Secretary Blinken has come under harsh criticism, including from some in the Democratic Party, for his handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and especially management of the Special Immigrant Program. Some Republicans have called for him to resign. Many in the media claim that military and security priorities continue to overshadow the traditional role of diplomacy in advancing U.S. foreign policy interests throughout the world.

Ambassador Asquino will evaluate how well Secretary Blinken has done during the first year of the Biden Administration in restoring the Department’s influence and mandate in foreign policy formulation and implementation.

Ambassador Mark L. Asquino is a retired, career Foreign Service Officer. His three decades plus career included postings in Latin America, Europe, Central Asia and Africa. During 2012-2015, he served as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Spain’s only former colony in sub-Saharan Africa. Mark is fluent in Spanish and

The Speaker

Ambassador Mark L. Asquino
Ambassador Mark L. AsquinoAmbassador Mark L. Asquino is a retired, career Foreign Service Officer.
Ambassador Mark L. Asquino is a retired, career Foreign Service Officer. His three decades plus career included postings in Latin America, Europe, Central Asia and Africa. During 2012-2015, he served as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Spain’s only former colony in sub-Saharan Africa. Mark is fluent in Spanish and has a working knowledge of French, Russian, Romanian and Italian.

In the Spring of 2016, the U.S. Department of State asked him to return temporarily to government service. Mark spent ten weeks as the Acting Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius. In recent years he’s accepted short-term assignments with State’s Office of Inspector General.

Prior to entering the Foreign Service, Mark was the Fulbright Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Oviedo in Asturias, Spain (1975-76). He earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from Brown University, where he also received his undergraduate degree.

The Department of State in the Biden Administration2021-09-24T09:58:58-07:00

“Water Diplomacy” in the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities for Israel, West Bank and Gaza Today

August 18, 2021

Anthony (Bud) Rock

Anthony (Bud) Rock will describe recent efforts to manage scarce water resources in a region that continues to face immense political, cultural and ideological challenges. He will address the quiet diplomacy of key policy and technical officials, as well as the creative, and critically important new projects of non-governmental organizations that help “keep the water flowing” for populations throughout the region, including more than a million designated refugees.

Mr. Rock brings broad experience to this issue, as a physical scientist, career diplomat, and current non-governmental advocate for global water, sanitation, and hygiene in regions of greatest need. He will offer perspectives that reach beyond the politics to the challenges and resilience of all people, and their perceptions of one another in this effort to share one of life’s most valuable resources.

Anthony (Bud) Rock most recently served as Principal of Global Water 2020, a foundation-based initiative working to ensure adequate access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)for health and security. He continues to advocate for WASH throughout the developing world.

Mr. Rock had a three-decade career in U.S. government service, initially as a physical scientist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), followed by more than two decades in the U.S. Department of State with assignments at home and abroad. He retired as acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for oceans, environment, science, technology, and health.

Following his diplomatic service, Mr. Rock held the position of Vice President for Global Engagement at Arizona State University (ASU). He also served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), an international organization dedicated to furthering public engagement with science worldwide. Mr. Rock also served as executive publisher of the leading professional publication of the science center field. Mr. Rock is the author and editor of numerous articles and books on science education and science diplomacy. He served in the United States Merchant Marines.

The Speaker

Anthony (Bud) Rock
Anthony (Bud) RockMost recently served as Principal of Global Water 2020, a foundation-based initiative working to ensure adequate access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)for health and security.
Anthony (Bud) Rock most recently served as Principal of Global Water 2020, a foundation-based initiative working to ensure adequate access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)for health and security. He continues to advocate for WASH throughout the developing world.

Mr. Rock had a three-decade career in U.S. government service, initially as a physical scientist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), followed by more than two decades in the U.S. Department of State with assignments at home and abroad. He retired as acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for oceans, environment, science, technology, and health.

Following his diplomatic service, Mr. Rock held the position of Vice President for Global Engagement at Arizona State University (ASU). He also served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), an international organization dedicated to furthering public engagement with science worldwide. Mr. Rock also served as executive publisher of the leading professional publication of the science center field. Mr. Rock is the author and editor of numerous articles and books on science education and science diplomacy. He served in the United States Merchant Marines.

“Water Diplomacy” in the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities for Israel, West Bank and Gaza Today2021-08-13T05:35:27-07:00

Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States

May 19, 2021

Alex Wellerstein, author of Restricted Data, professor and Director of the Science and Technology Studies Program at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The American atomic bomb was born in secrecy. From the moment scientists first conceived of its possibility to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and beyond, there were efforts to control the spread of nuclear information and the newly discovered scientific facts that made such powerful weapons possible. The secrecy that the atomic bomb appeared to demand was new, unusual, and nearly unprecedented. It was foreign to both American science and American democracy—and potentially incompatible with both.

This secrecy was controversial and always contested. The atomic bomb was not merely the application of science to war, but the result of decades of investment in scientific education, infrastructure, and global collaboration. If secrecy became the norm, how would science survive?

Drawing on troves of declassified files, in Restricted Data, Alex Wellerstein traces the complex evolution of the US nuclear secrecy regime from the first whisper of the atomic bomb through the mounting tensions of the Cold War and into the early twenty-first century.

Alex Wellerstein, is author of Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States (University of Chicago Press, 2021). He is a professor and the Director of the Science and Technology Studies Program at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. He received a PhD from the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University in 2010, and has a BA in History from the University of California, Berkeley. Along with his writings in the New Yorker, Washington Post, Harper’s Magazine, and other venues, he is best known for creating the NUKEMAP, a popular online nuclear weapons effects simulator.

The Speaker

Alex Wellerstein
Alex WellersteinAauthor of Restricted Data, professor and Director of the Science and Technology Studies Program at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey
Alex Wellerstein, is author of Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States (University of Chicago Press, 2021). He is a professor and the Director of the Science and Technology Studies Program at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. He received a PhD from the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University in 2010, and has a BA in History from the University of California, Berkeley. Along with his writings in the New Yorker, Washington Post, Harper’s Magazine, and other venues, he is best known for creating the NUKEMAP, a popular online nuclear weapons effects simulator.

Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States2021-05-10T02:07:45-07:00

Reinventing the Transatlantic Relationship for the 21st Century

May 05, 2021

David O’Sullivan, former EU Ambassador to the US

This Zoom meeting is in cosponsorship with the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence and the German American Chamber of Commerce in Colorado.

After the difficulties of the last four years, the arrival of President Biden in the White House offers new hope for transatlantic relations. He and his very impressive team have always been committed Atlanticists. This presents a unique opportunity to redefine the relationship and, above all, to reshape it in a way which provides bulwarks against future shocks. But the challenges are considerable. On both sides of the Atlantic, domestic issues are to the fore: the pandemic, economic recovery and the need to build greater social consensus. And the US and the EU do not always share either a common analysis of global trends such as the rise of China or a common prognosis of how to respond. So, what will this new relationship look like, what will be its principal components and what are the chances of success?

David O’Sullivan served as Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to the United States from November 2014 until February 2019. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador, he was the Chief Operating Officer of the EU’s new diplomatic service, the “European External Action Service”. He had previously held a number of senior positions within the European Commission including Director General for Trade (2005-2010); Secretary General of the European Commission (2000-2005); and Chief of Staff to Commission President Romano Prodi (1999-2000). Before joining the Commission, he started his career with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1977-1979). He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the College of Europe (Bruges), and holds Honorary Doctorates from the Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin. He was awarded the EU Transatlantic Business Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in 2014.

This program has the support of the Erasmus Programme of the European Union and Jean Monnet in the USA.

The Speaker

David O'Sullivan,
David O'Sullivan,Former EU Ambassador to the US
David O’Sullivan served as Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to the United States from November 2014 until February 2019. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador, he was the Chief Operating Officer of the EU’s new diplomatic service, the “European External Action Service”. He had previously held a number of senior positions within the European Commission including Director General for Trade (2005-2010); Secretary General of the European Commission (2000-2005); and Chief of Staff to Commission President Romano Prodi (1999-2000). Before joining the Commission, he started his career with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1977-1979). He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the College of Europe (Bruges), and holds Honorary Doctorates from the Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin. He was awarded the EU Transatlantic Business Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in 2014.

Reinventing the Transatlantic Relationship for the 21st Century2021-04-30T00:19:20-07:00

Latin America: It’s Complicated

April 28, 2021

 Charles Shapiro, US Ambassador (rtd) and President of the World Affairs Council Atlanta

Since the end of the Second World War, US focus on Latin America has been intermittent and inconsistent. It has been intense when we perceived Latin America as part of the Cold War rivalry or when the US private sector saw opportunity. We have been inattentive when we saw other parts of the world as more important or more threatening. Of course, it is Latin America and Latin Americans who are going to resolve their own problems. The United States can help Latin Americans move toward more prosperous, democratic and inclusive societies.

Here is a link to a map of Central and South America which Ambassador Shapiro has asked us to share with you to draw attention in particular to the immense size of the continent as well as to point out that Latin America is substantially further East than North America.

Charles Shapiro is president of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and a senior lecturer at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. During his 34-year career at the U.S. Department of State, he held a number of senior positions including Ambassador to Venezuela, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, and Coordinator for Cuban Affairs. Shapiro’s postings include Venezuela, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador and Denmark. His op-eds have been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, The San Diego Union Tribute and most recently the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The Speakers

Charles Shapiro
Charles ShapiroUS Ambassador (rtd) and President of the World Affairs Council Atlanta
Charles Shapiro is president of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and a senior lecturer at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. During his 34-year career at the U.S. Department of State, he held a number of senior positions including Ambassador to Venezuela, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, and Coordinator for Cuban Affairs. Shapiro’s postings include Venezuela, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador and Denmark. His op-eds have been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, The San Diego Union Tribute and most recently the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Latin America: It’s Complicated2021-04-30T00:31:44-07:00

Brazil: Dictatorship, Democracy and Disease

April 21, 2021

 Joëlle Uzarski  & Francisco“Paco” Perez

Brazil is one of the world’s most vibrant, multicultural, and ethnically diverse nations. It is the fifth largest by area and seventh most populous, and the planet’s lungs lie mostly within its frontiers. Brazilians joke that theirs is the country of the future, and always will be. Is this changing? Uzarski and Perez will present a brief introduction to Brazil’s history, government, economy, and people. They will address the U.S.-Brazil bilateral relationship, and then focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced traditional diplomatic models and practices to evolve.

Joëlle Uzarski is currently the Public Diplomat in Residence at the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. She joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 2005 following a two-year State Department Senior English Language Fellowship in Uzbekistan. She served overseas at the U.S. embassies in Brazil, Chile, India, Pakistan, and Thailand, where she directed State Department educational and cultural programs in 19 countries. Her most recent assignment was Country Cultural Affairs Officer in Brasilia.  Prior to becoming a diplomat, Joëlle trained teachers and taught students in Korea, Brazil, and Spain.  She earned her B.A. in Creative Writing and her Master’s in Applied Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She is from Chicago.

Francisco “Paco” Pérez grew up in Belen, New Mexico and is currently the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He joined the State Department in 2008, following a fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Capitol Hill. He has served in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Benin, and the Department of State, Operations Center. He and his wife, FSO Stephanie Espinal are members of the Hispanic Employees Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA) and have participated in many recruiting events for future Hispanic Foreign Service Officers. Paco is a graduate of the University of Tampa and has a juris doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law.

The Speakers

Joëlle Uzarski
Joëlle Uzarski Public Diplomat in Residence at the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California
Joëlle Uzarski is currently the Public Diplomat in Residence at the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. She joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 2005 following a two-year State Department Senior English Language Fellowship in Uzbekistan. She served overseas at the U.S. embassies in Brazil, Chile, India, Pakistan, and Thailand, where she directed State Department educational and cultural programs in 19 countries. Her most recent assignment was Country Cultural Affairs Officer in Brasilia.  Prior to becoming a diplomat, Joëlle trained teachers and taught students in Korea, Brazil, and Spain.  She earned her B.A. in Creative Writing and her Master’s in Applied Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She is from Chicago.
Francisco “Paco” Pérez
Francisco “Paco” PérezPublic Affairs Officer for the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Francisco “Paco” Pérez grew up in Belen, New Mexico and is currently the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He joined the State Department in 2008, following a fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Capitol Hill. He has served in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Benin, and the Department of State, Operations Center. He and his wife, FSO Stephanie Espinal are members of the Hispanic Employees Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA) and have participated in many recruiting events for future Hispanic Foreign Service Officers. Paco is a graduate of the University of Tampa and has a juris doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law.

Brazil: Dictatorship, Democracy and Disease2021-04-14T21:23:25-07:00
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