​​​​​​​2021-2022 Speaker Series

The Denver Council on Foreign Relations is actively scheduling another wonderful year of guest speakers.
Please check back regularly for updates!

The Importance of a U.S. Brazil Partnership
with Amb. Todd Chapman
September 08, 2021

Todd C. Chapman is the former U.S. Ambassador to Brazil.  He is a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister- Counselor, served as Ambassador to the Republic of Ecuador from 2016- 2019. Ambassador Chapman previously served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Political Military Affairs at the Department of State (2014-2016); Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Brasilia, Brazil; Senior Deputy Coordinator for Economic Affairs, U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan; and Chargé d'Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Maputo, Mozambique. Earlier in his career, he served as Executive Assistant, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Political/ Economic/ Commercial Counselor, U.S. Embassy La Paz, Bolivia, and Economic Officer, U.S. Embassy San Jose, Costa Rica. 

He also served as Telecommunications Officer, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Economic/Commercial Officer, U.S. Embassy Office in Abuja, Nigeria, and Kenya/Uganda Desk Officer, Office of East African Affairs. ​​​​​​​ His first Foreign Service assignments were in the Operations Center and in Mozambique and Taiwan.  Before joining the Foreign Service, he worked as a Consultant in Brazil and Houston, Texas, and as a Commercial Banker in New York and Saudi Arabia. Ambassador Chapman earned an A.B. from Duke University in 1983, and a M.S. from the Joint Military Intelligence College in 2000.  He has won numerous Department performance awards.  He speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese.
Boots on the Ground and Information in the Sky
with Bruce Valentine
October 19, 2021
Former Associate Deputy Director of the CIA for Operations (ADDO) Mr. Bruce Valentine was previously a Field Artillery Officer in the United States Army, Valentine joined the CIA in 1994. During the early stage of his career, he held overseas assignments in Central Asia, the Caucuses, and the Balkans.  Following September 11, 2001, Valentine served in senior, front-office leadership assignments in a war zone station during two separate assignments.  Later, he was Chief of Station in two Balkan locations; in one African location; and in one hostile, denied area. Valentine also served as operational tradecraft instructor and, within CIA Headquarters, directed operational activities at the regional-, hemispheric-, and global-levels.  His last position within the Directorate of Operations was as the Associate Deputy Director of the CIA for Operations (ADDO). He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, a graduate of Georgetown University with a master’s degree in international affairs, and a certificate holder from the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.
Natural Resource Management and Devlopment in Botswana
with Ambassador Onkokame Kitso Mokaila
November 02, 2021
His Excellency Onkokame Kitso Mokaila assumed his position as the Botswana Ambassador to the United States of America on 25th August 2020. He brings with him a unique combination of knowledge and experience in politics, public policy, regulations, governance, training, commerce, mechanical engineering and national security.​​​​​​​ Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Mokaila was a Unisystems company owner and corporate manager. Early in his career, he led several global and multinational companies doing business in Botswana and overseas, including serving as Managing Director of Unisys Botswana Pty. Ltd (IT Company), Managing Director of International Computers Limited (ICL), and General Manager of Hyundai Motor Distributors, respectively.

As a member of Parliament from 2004 to 2019, Ambassador Mokaila held a wide range of Cabinet portfolios. During his political and parliamentary career, he served as Minister of Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism: Minister of Transport and Communications; as well as Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources.

He is a graduate of the College of Military Engineering - India Pune and Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (and affiliate of Osmania University) - India Secunderabad; the Swaziland College of Technology; and Maru-A-Pula School in Gaborone. He speaks English, Setswana and Hindi. He is married and has three (3) children.
Subnational Diplomacy in a Changing World
with Dr. Jerrold D. Green
December 14, 2021 -- 7:00-8:30
Dr. Jerrold D. Green is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. He is also a Research Professor of Communications at the University of Southern California. Prior to this he served as a Partner at Best Associates in Dallas, Texas, a privately held merchant banking firm with global operations. He also served as the Director of International Programs and Development at the RAND Corporation where he oversaw the activities of the Center for Asia-Pacific Policy as well as the Center for Russia and Eurasia. At the same time he directed RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy. Green has a B.A. (summa cum laude) from the University of Massachusetts/Boston, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago.
His academic career began at the University of Michigan where he was a professor in the Department of Political Science and the Center for Near Eastern and North African Studies.  He subsequently joined the University of Arizona where he became a Professor of Political Science and Sociology as well as Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Dr. Green has written widely on Middle East themes focusing on American Middle East policy, the role of religion in the region, inter-Arab relations, Iranian politics, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. His work has appeared in such publications as World Politics, Comparative Politics, Ethics and International Affairs, Survival, Middle East Insight, Politique Etrangere, The World Today, The RAND Review, The Harvard Journal of World Affairs, The Iranian Journal of International Relations, and The Huffington Post.
 Women in the CIA
with Valerie Plame
January 13, 2022 -- 6:15-8:30
A former career covert CIA operations officer, Valerie Plame worked to protect America's national security and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in particular, nuclear weapons. During her career with the CIA, Valerie managed top-secret covert programs designed to keep terrorists and rogue nation states from acquiring nuclear weapons. This involved decision-making at senior levels, recruiting foreign assets, deploying resources around the world, managing multi-million dollar budgets, briefing US policy-makers, and demonstrating consistently solid judgement in a field where mistakes could prove disastrous. She was also involved in covert cyber operations and counterterrorism efforts.

Valerie is an advisor to Starling Trust. She has served on the nonprofit boards of The Ploughshares Fund, Global Zero, the United Way of Santa Fe County, Penn State School of International Affairs, Postpartum Support International. Valerie is affiliated with the Santa Fe Institute, a trans-disciplinary scientific think tank created by two Nobel Prize winners to address the most compelling and complex problems in the world today.​​​​​​​
Valerie has done extensive public speaking throughout the country and internationally on cyber secutiry issues, national security, nuclear proliferation, women in intelligence, and the NSA revelations. She has written for many national publications including Time, Newsweek, CNN, The Daily Beast, and The Huffington Post.

Valerie is an author of The New York Times best-selling memoir Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House, which was released as a major motion picture of the same name starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. Along with Sarah Lovett, she published the well-received fictional spy thrillers Blowback and Burned.

In 2020, Valerie ran for Congress to represent New Mexico's Third Congressional District. She is married to Joe Shepard, President of Western New Mexico University and is the proud mother of college-aged twins.
 U.S.-China Relations
with Dr. Robert Sutter
​​​​​​​In Conjunction with the Wichita Committee on Foreign Relations
January 17, 2022 -- 5:00-6:30
Dr. Robert Sutter  is a Professor of Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington D.C., who specializes in U.S. policy toward Asia and the Pacific. His most recent book, "U.S.-China Relations: Perilous Past, Uncertain Future" is forthcoming, and his book "Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy of an Emerging Global Force", has recently appeared in its 5th edition. 

Dr. Sutter has served for Congress as senior specialist and director of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division of the Congressional Research Service and for the Executive Branch as a National Intelligence Officer for East Asia and the Pacific. He has authored hundreds of government reports and articles on East Asian affairs. In many ways, he has "written the book" on the U.S.-Chinese relationship.
     Middle East Turbulence or Stability:
 The Latest Insights on the Worlds Most Compelling Region
with Michael Rubin
February 23, 2022 -- 6:15-8:30

Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he specializes in Iran, Turkey, and the broader Middle East.

A former Pentagon officer, Dr. Rubin has lived in post- revolution Iran, Yemen, and both pre- and postwar Iraq. He also spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. For more than a decade, he taught classes at sea about the Horn of Africa and Middle East conflicts, culture, and terrorism, to deployed US Navy and Marine Units.

Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi'ite politics, including "Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?" (AEI Press, 2019); "Kurdistan Rising" (AEI Press 2016); "Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes" (Encounter Books, 2014); and "Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos" (Palgrave, 2005). ​​​​​​​
Dr. Rubin has a PhD and an MA in history from Yale University, where he also obtained a BS in Biology.
Antartica and the Global Sea Level Rise
with Ted Scambos
March 22, 2022 -- 6:15-8:30
Ted Scambos is a Senior Research Scientist at the Earth Science and Observation Center, a part of CIRES at the University of Colorado Boulder. He received a PhD in Geology from the University of Colorado in 1991, followed by three years at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Scambos is an expert in remote sensing of the cryosphere and in situ glacier measurement, having visited Antarctica more than 19 times on field expeditions, and was Lead Scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center for 14 years. He has authored or co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed articles on a variety of cryosphere and geoscience topics and received over 30 research grants since 1994.
The Last President of Europe:  Emmanuel Macron's Race to Revive France and Save the World
with William Drozdiak
April 06, 2022 -- 6:15-8:30
For more than four decades, William Drozdiak has been regarded as one of the most knowledgeable American observers of European affairs. During his tensure as foreign editor of the Washington Post, the newspaper won Pulitzer Prizes for its international reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the collapse of the Soviet communist empire.

He also served as the Post's chief European correspondent, based at various times in Bonn, Berlin, Paris, and Brussels, and covered the Middle East for Time magazine. He later became the founding executive director of the German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Center in Brussels and served for ten years as president of the American Council on Germany.

His highly acclaimed book, "Fractured Continent: Europe's Crises and the Fate of the West", was selected by the Financial Times as one of the best political books of 2017.
He is currently based in Washington D.C. as senior advisor for Europe with the international consulting firm McLarty Associates and as nonresident senior fellow with the Center for the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.
      She Said, He Said: Contrasting Perspectives on Foreign Policy
with Larry Sampler & Barbara Smith
April 19, 2022 -- 6:15-8:30

Donald L "Larry" Sampler is the Vice President for Finance/Admin and COO at Metropolitan State University/Denver. Prior he served as the President of the One Earth Future Foundation. There he led an international staff primarily in countries emerging from conflict; to include Somalia and Colombia.

From 2010-2016, Sampler was a senior government official for the US, leading our development assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In that role - with the protocol equivalence of a 3-star General Officer - he routinely engaged with the White House and the leadership of other countries in formulating policies. 
Sampler testified under oath before both Senate and House Committees, and made numerous public appearances.

Sampler has served domestically and overseas as a senior leader in both for-profit and not-for profit organizations. He has worked as a senior advisor to the Commander of US forces in Afghanistan and separately, for the commander in Iraq. He has served at the senior level in the United Nations, and the Organization for Security & Coroperation in Europe.

Sampler served in the US Special Forces (the "Green Berets") before attending Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Physics and, later, Norwich University, where he earned a Masters of Arts degree in Diplomacy. Sampler has lived and worked in conflict zones in Eurpoe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.​​​​​​​

Barbara Smith is the Vice President of Peace Programs at The Carter Center, She oversees the Carter's democracy, human rights, conflict resolution, and rule of law programs, which operate projects and observe elections in countries across the globe.

Before The Carter Center, Smith was principal and founder of the international development consulting firm Mountain Time Development. She also was a senior associate at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, focused on the Human Rights Initiative, conducting field work and research on civil society. 
At USAID, Smith held a number of positions, most recently as deputy assistant to the administrator in the Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning. She also co-led the team that created the seminal USAID 2013 Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Strategy, which is applied across approx. 100 countries where USAID works. 

Smith served on the National Security Council as a director for Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs and as senior director for governance and law at the Asia Foundation. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, she was a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. In Afghanistan, she was assistant country representative for the Asia Foundation.

Smith earned a bachelor's degree in government from the University of Texas and master's degree in political science from Texas State University.
Honoring Brian Vogt
Brian Vogt has been CEO of Denver Botanic Gardens since April 2007. Nearly 30 years of community leadership, fundraising, organizational management and cultural development proved invaluable during the Gardens’ recent capital campaign and the creation of a Master Development Plan. More than 50 construction projects and over $65 million worth of investments were made to build Mordecai Children’s Garden, a parking complex, the Bonfils-Stanton Visitor Center, Greenhouse Complex and most recently the Science Pyramid, Ellipse garden and Hive Garden Bistro. Vogt served in three Cabinet positions for the State of Colorado from 2004 through January 2007, including Director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). In these positions, he oversaw a wide range of economic development activities, including domestic and international business development, small business programs, as well as the Colorado Tourism Office, Colorado Council on the Arts and the Colorado Economic Development Commission.
He supported the creation of over 30,000 new jobs in Colorado. He also led a statewide branding initiative, worked with the State Legislature to pass a historic economic development legislation in 2006, created the Advance Colorado Center and built a statewide communications system. Vogt also served as a member of the Governor’s Commission on Science and Technology, the Governor’s designee on the Colorado Economic Development Commission and the Financial Review Committee. Simultaneous to his role as Director of OEDIT, he served for over a year as the acting Secretary of Technology and as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Additionally, Vogt was a member of the Governor’s Homeland Security and All-Hazards Senior Advisory Committee. Vogt is on the Board of the American Public Gardens Association and Plant Select. He also served on boards of the Alliance for Quality Teaching and the Greater Littleton Youth Initiative, which he co-founded. Other civic involvement ranges from serving on the Board of Littleton Hospital to the founding and co-leading of the Haunts of Littleton Ghost Tours. He served on the Denver Foundation’s Arts and Culture Committee and managed the incorporation movement to create the City of Centennial. Brian is a second-generation Colorado native and holds a BA degree in Classical Antiquity from the University of Colorado. Prior to working for the State, Brian spent 14 years as the President of the South Metro Chamber of Commerce and four years prior as its Vice President for Economic Development.