The biographies of our 2023 distinguished featured speakers, authors, and guests appear below. We invite you to learn more about them.
Yousef Al Otaiba is the Ambassador of the UAE to the US. First appointed to the position in 2008, he has focused his diplomatic career on furthering UAE-US collaboration and partnerships. Thanks to his efforts, he was later promoted to Minister of State in 2017. Ambassador Al Otaiba’s leadership has been the inspiration behind launching several programs at the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC, such as UAE USA United — a campaign designed to celebrate and strengthen the relationship between the two countries — and the Community Soccer Program, which has provided funding for soccer fields and coaching for children in underserved communities. He has also been thoroughly involved in philanthropic initiatives as both Ambassador of the UAE and a private citizen. The Ambassador facilitated bringing the Special Olympics World Games to the UAE capital in 2019, the first to be held in the MENA region, and has since joined the Special Olympics Board of Directors. Additionally, Ambassador Al Otaiba has supported disaster recovery and humanitarian relief efforts, such as after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, as well as international public health initiatives.
Colonel David W. Walker currently serves as Chief, Strategy & Policy Division in the Strategy, Plans, and Policy Directorate at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, FL. Colonel Walker was born on 18 June 1973 in McAllen, TX. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1993 and served as a Machine-Gunner with the Fleet antiterrorism Support Team (FAST) Company in Norfolk, VA. He was subsequently selected for the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) and achieved the rank of Sergeant before commissioning in 1998 after graduating from Texas A&M University. He completed the Basic School and the Combat Engineer Officers Course in 1998. Colonel Walker’s previous assignments include: 2d Combat Engineer Battalion from 1999-2001 where he served as a Platoon Commander, Company Executive Officer and Company Commander; Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego from 2001-2004 where he served as a Series Commander, Battalion Operations Officer and Assistant Depot Inspector; Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 from 2005-2007 where he served as the Engineer Company Commander; Headquarters Marine Corps Office of Legislative Affairs from 2008-2011 where he served as a Congressional Fellow, Deputy Director of the Senate Liaison Office, and Legislative Liaison Officer; 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve from 2011-2014 where he served as the Assistant Inspector-Instructor; Headquarters Marine Corps Safety Division from 2014-2017 where he served as the Ground Branch Head; Headquarters Marine Corps Strategic Initiatives Group from 2017-2019 where he served as a Strategic Analyst for the Commandant of the Marine Corps and as a Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations in the Strategic Actions Group; and 4th Combat Engineer Battalion from 2019-2021 where he served as the Battalion Inspector Instructor.
Colonel Walker’s combat deployments include Mogadishu, Somalia for OPERATION RESTORE HOPE in 1994 providing security for the U.S. State Department Liaison Office and in Baghdad, Iraq for OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM in 2006 as the Assistant Team Chief for a National Police Transition Team.
Colonel Walker holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and English from Texas A&M University, a Master of Public Policy Administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Masters of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College and the Marine Corps War College. He is a graduate of Expeditionary Warfare School (non resident), Engineer Career Captains Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff College (non resident), Operations and Tactics Instructor Course, Red Team Members Course, the U.S. Army War College (non resident), and the Marine Corps War College.
Colonel Walker’s personal awards include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with four gold stars, Army Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal and Combat Action Ribbon with gold star.
Sean-Christopher Bassi is a Senior of Norwich University class of 23' majoring in Political Science and minoring in History and Communication from Springfield, Virginia. He is a pending member of the National Society of Leadership Studies Norwich chapter, pending member of the Political Science Honor Society (Pi Sigma Alpha) Norwich Chapter, pending member of the History Honor Society (Pi Alpha Theta) Norwich Chapter, 2021-2022 Gary Lord Paper Award Recipient, Norwich University Scholar, and participant in the 2021 EU-Schumann Challenge and 2022-2023 Student Conference on U.S. Affairs at West Point. His future career goals are to pursue a career in Maritime Security Intelligence, either as a Navy officer or as a civilian contractor.
Dan Ciuriak is director and principal, Ciuriak Consulting Inc. (Ottawa), Senior Fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (Waterloo), Fellow-in-Residence with the C.D. Howe Institute (Toronto), Distinguished Fellow with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (Vancouver), and Associate with BKP Economic Advisors GmbH (Munich). Previously, he had a 31-year career with Canada’s civil service, retiring as Deputy Chief Economist at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT, now Global Affairs Canada) where he was responsible for economic analysis in support of trade negotiations and trade litigation and served as contributing editor of DFAIT’s Trade Policy Research series (2001-2007 & 2010 editions). He has written extensively on international trade and finance, innovation and industrial policy, and economic development, with particular focus on the digital transformation and the economic and technological roots of great power conflict.
Ali (Al) G. Dizboni (Ph.D., MA, l’Université de Montréal) is an associate professor and the chair of MSS (Military and Strategic Studies Programme) at the Department of Political Science and Economics at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is also an Associate Fellow with leading research centers such as CIDP (Queens’ University). His current research include the Formation of Wahhabi State in Saudi Arabia, the genesis of Ballistic Missiles in Middle East (three case studies) and Right Wing Radicalization in selected NATO Armed forces. Examples of his publications include: in collaboration, A Hermeneutic Analysis of Military Operations in Afghanistan, Palgrave-Macmillan; in collaboration “Future Trends of Canadian Military Operations in Middle East”, , McGill & Queen’s University Press; journal paper “La République islamique et le fait minoritaire” Diplomatie; book chapter in collaboration “The Terrorist Resourcing Model applied to Canada”, Journal of Money Laundering ; book chapter in collaboration, on Framing, Branding and Explaining: A Survey of Perception of Islam and Muslims in Canadian polls, Government, and Academia, Oxford University Press; Book chapter in collaboration on Instruments and Arrangements Against Online Terrorism Relating To International Cooperation, with Taylor & Francis Publisher. His latest publication in collaboration is with Parameters Journal on Developing Strategic Lieutenants in the Canadian Army (2022) He is an occasional commentator for the French, English/Persian media on different aspects of Middle East/Iranian politics and the Canadian Foreign policy in the region. Dr Dizboni is fluent in four languages English, French, Persian and Arabic.
Saeid Golkar is a UC Foundation assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. He is also a nonresident senior fellow on Middle East policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in the United Kingdom. Golkar is the author of a book on the Basij, the paramilitary militia of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, titled Captive Society: The Basij Militia and Social Control in Iran (Columbia University Press, 2015), which was awarded the Washington Institute silver medal prize.
.August G. Guerrieri is an undergraduate student in political science at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. He is a member of the school’s Corps of Cadets and Army ROTC program. His academic interests have steered him towards analyzing modern conflicts and strategy through the lens of historical culture clashes and the dissonance between populist and elite sentiments. When not at school, he resides in Media, Pennsylvania with his family.
Peter Henne is an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont and Director of Middle East Studies. He researches terrorism, religious politics, and the Middle East, and teaches courses on these topics. Prof. Henne has published in numerous academic journals, has a 2017 book on Islam and counterterrorism and a forthcoming book on religion in power politics. He has also written for popular outlets like the Washington Post’s Monkeycage and think tanks like the Center for American Progress and discussed Middle East politics with the media. Prof. Henne previously ran the Pew Research Center’s work on international religious freedom, and a project on domestic extremism at the University of Maryland’s START Center. He has also consulted with the federal government on counterterrorism. He received a B.A. in Political Science from Vassar College, and a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University. He is a native of southeast Pennsylvania.
Miri Kim, Ph.D., is an associate professor, and the coordinator for the studies in war and peace program at Norwich University. She completed her B.A. in history at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and later a doctorate in history at the University of California, Irvine. At Norwich, she teaches wide-ranging introductory courses in world history and East Asian history, history courses on modern China and Japan, and specialized courses, such as War and Image in Modern China. She is a member of the Association for Asian Studies, the World History Association, and the Chinese Military History Society. Her research is in military and institutional history on Northeast China in the Republican Period.
Dr. Kim is the faculty adviser to NUMUN, the Model United Nations Club at Norwich, leading students to conferences, such as the Harvard National Model United Nations Conference.
Valentine M. Moghadam is professor of Sociology and International Affairs, and former director of the International Affairs Program, at Northeastern University, Boston. Born in Tehran, Iran, Prof. Moghadam studied in Canada and the U.S. In addition to her academic career, Prof. Moghadam has twice been a UN staff member (UNU/WIDER, Helsinki, Finland, 1990-1995; and at UNESCO, Paris, 2004-2006).
Her many publications include Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East (1993; 2003; 2013), Globalization and Social Movements: The Populist Challenge and Democratic Alternatives (2020), and After the Arab Uprisings: Progress and Stagnation in the Middle East and North Africa (2021, with Shamiran Mako).
In Fall 2021, Prof. Moghadam was the Kluge Chair, Countries and Cultures of the South, at the U.S. Library of Congress, working on a project entitled “Varieties of Feminism in the Middle East and North Africa.” A recent publication, co-authored with two Kurdistan-based Iranian sociologists, is "Women in Iranian Kurdistan: Patriarchy and the Quest for Empowerment”, Gender & Society, vol. 35, no. 4 (Aug. 2021): 616-642.
Travis Morris is an associate professor and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Norwich University. Morris is also the director of NU’s Peace and War Center.
Morris holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminology from Northern Illinois University, a Master of Science in criminal justice from Eastern Kentucky University, and a doctorate from the University of Nebraska. He has published on the relationship between policing, peacekeeping, counterterrorism, and counter-insurgency and is the author of the recent book, “Dark Ideas: How Violent Jihadi and Neo-Nazi Ideologues Have Shaped Modern Terrorism.” He has conducted ethnographic interviews in Yemen and published on how crime intersects with formal and informal justice systems in a socio-cultural context. His research interests include violent extremist propaganda analysis, information warfare, and text network analysis. He is an active teacher in and out of the classroom and has created a series of recent grant-funded student learning trips in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Richard A. Moss is an associate professor in the Russian Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College's Center for Naval Warfare Studies. His current research projects focus on the maritime dimension of Russia’s Syria intervention. He also specializes in the U.S.-Soviet relationship during the Cold War and is an expert on the Nixon presidential recordings.
Professor Moss previously served as a government and contract military capabilities analyst with the Department of Defense and as an historian with the Department of State. The University Press of Kentucky published his book, “Nixon's Back Channel to Moscow: Confidential Diplomacy and Detente” in January 2017.
Dr. Fariborz Mokhtari served as professor of Political Science at National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, in Washington DC; and at Norwich University in Vermont for nearly three decades. His fields of interest included Comparative Government & Politics, International Relations & Diplomacy, Political Economy, and Political Philosophy. In addition to his academic career, he has also engaged in journalism and business. His book, In The Lion’s Shadow: The Iranian Schindler And His Homeland In The Second World War, is being considered for a movie production.
Sherman Patrick is the vice president of Strategy for Norwich University Applied Research Institute (NUARI), a nonprofit that studies and identifies solutions to critical national security issues driven by a mission to enable a resilient society through rapid research, development, and education in cybersecurity, defense technologies, and information advantage.
Sherman started in the Senate as a Legislative Research Assistant under then-Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden. Over a decade and a half as a staffer, he worked on national security issues for five U.S. Senators. Beginning in 2013, Sherman was Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont's top advisor on defense issues, where he implemented the Senator's vision, including his agenda empowering and supporting the men and women who serve in the National Guard. Sherman was the Senator's lead staffer for the passage of the CHIPS Act, support for cyber security, machine learning, and A.I. initiatives, and high-tech and advanced manufacturing workforce development programs. Sherman's service to Senator Leahy culminated in taking on the role as his Legislative Director, responsible for ensuring the implementation of the Senator's legislative agenda across multiple portfolios.
Sherman has a B.A. in Government from the College of William and Mary, and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Decision Making from the Naval War College, where he graduated with highest distinction.
Jeremy Pressman studies international relations, protests, the Arab/Israeli conflict, and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. He co-founded and co-directs the Crowd Counting Consortium, an event counting project that has tallied and made publicly available data on all manner of protests in the United States since 2017. Pressman received his PhD in political science from MIT and previously worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has held fellowships at Harvard University, Brandeis University, the University of Sydney, the UConn Humanities Institute, and the Norwegian Nobel Institute where he was a Fulbright fellow.
His most recent book is The sword is not enough: Arabs, Israelis, and the limits of military force (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2020). Pressman questions the over-reliance on military force and highlights the negative military and political consequences such as greater insecurity. Pressman has spoken at length about the book in settings ranging from an academic talk at UCLA (video) to podcasts such as “In the Moment” (Town Hall Seattle) and “Power Problems” (CATO Institute).
Pressman has written two other books: Warring Friends: Alliance Restraint in International Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008), a part of the Cornell Studies in Security Affairs; and, with Geoffrey Kemp, Point of No Return: The Deadly Struggle for Middle East Peace (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1997). He has published journal articles in Cooperation & Conflict, Diplomatic History, International Security, Perspectives on Politics, Science Advances, Social Movement Studies, and elsewhere (journal articles). See E-IR for a 2020 interview with Pressman on his career and publications.
Nicholas Roberts is a historian of the modern Middle East and Islamic world. He is Assistant Professor of History at Norwich University and, for academic year 2022-2023, the inaugural W. Nathaniel Howell Postdoctoral Fellow in Arabian Peninsula and Gulf Studies at the University of Virginia. Dr. Roberts earned his doctorate in history from the University of Notre Dame, where he was a Presidential Fellow and a research fellow with the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. Before, he earned a Master of Arts in history from Georgetown University.
His current book project, A Sea of Wealth: Sayyid Sa‘id bin Sultan, His Omani Empire, and the Making of an Oceanic Marketplace, draws upon research in a dozen archives across four continents. This book uses the reign of Oman’s longest serving ruler as a lens for highlighting the Omani Empire’s formative role inuniting the Atlantic and Indian oceans into a shared oceanic marketplace, a crucial step in modern global capitalism’s rise.
Madeleine Shaw is a second-year student at Dartmouth College studying Government, Russian, and Middle Eastern Studies. With interests in conflict resolution, human rights, and Eastern European and Middle Eastern affairs, she plans to pursue a career in diplomacy or intelligence. At Dartmouth, Madeleine is a War and Peace Fellow and research assistant for Dartmouth’s Political Violence FieldLab. She also competes in Model UN and serves as Under-Secretary-General for Dartmouth’s Model UN conference, helps publish and hosts podcasts for the World Outlook International Affairs Journal, and engages with the POLIS pre-professional government society as a fellow. She has previous experience interning for a refugee resettlement agency and is thrilled to be working for the State Department’s Near East Bureau this spring. In her free time, Madeleine competes with Dartmouth’s figure skating team, leads admissions tours, and can often be found reading history novels at local cafes.
Steven Sodergren is a professor and chair of Norwich University's department of History and Political Science. Sodergren earned a B.A. in history and philosophy from Cornell College followed by an M.A. and PhD in American and military history from the University of Kansas.
While in graduate school, he received a General Matthew Ridgeway Research Grant from the Military History Institute in Carlisle, Penn., and a Dissertation Fellowship from the U.S. Army Center of Military History for his work on the adaptation of Union soldiers to tactical conditions during the American Civil War.
Since 2007, Sodergren has taught in the History and Political Science department at Norwich University and was promoted to Associate Professor of History in 2013. He presently serves as chair of the History and Political Science Department. As the resident Civil War scholar at Norwich, he routinely teaches courses on that subject in addition to a variety of courses on American and military history. Each summer he leads a group of Norwich students on staff rides to a range of Civil War battlefields, including Gettysburg, Antietam, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg. Sodergren recently completed his first book, The Army of the Potomac in the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns: Union Soldiers and Trench Warfare, 1864-65, which was published by Louisiana State University Press in June 2017. For The Army of the Potomac, Sodergren won the 2018 Colby Award, the first author associated with Norwich University to win the prize in its 19-year history.
Jahnavi Sodhi is a junior at Dartmouth College, studying government and economics. She is currently doing research on rebel governance in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Her previous publication experience includes a paper she wrote for the Observer Research Foundation in India on the international response to the amendments to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in research in matters of foreign policy and security.
Lasha Tchantouridzé is a professor and an academic director of the international affairs programs. He is also a Davis Center Associate, Harvard University, Boston, MA; a Research Fellow of the Center for Defense and Security Studies, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; and an Advisory Board Member of the Peace & War Center at Norwich University.
He earned his Ph.D. in International Relations from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Tchantouridzé’s research interests are at the intersection of diplomacy and force in international politics, and his academic publications are in the areas of geopolitics and strategy, Russian foreign and defense policy, the Black Sea basin, international politics in the Caucasus, and NATO-Russia relations.
Matthew A. Thomas received his B.A. and Ph.D. in cognitive/experimental psychology from the University at Albany, SUNY.
He has published research investigating false memories, long-term memory, word processing (semantic priming), capture of visuospatial attention, and the influence of video games on cognition. His laboratory at Norwich is currently exploring the influence of video game play on visual attention and working memory as well as how the disruption of object templates stored in long-term memory automatically capture attention.
Thomas chairs the College of Liberal Arts curriculum committee and serves on the Institutional Review Board and as an advisory board member for the Peace and War Center. He also coordinates the university’s Psych Lunch research presentation series and serves as club advisor for the mountaineering rock/ice climbing association.
Michael Thunberg Ph.D., is an assistant professor for Norwich University’s History and Political Science Department. He received his Bachelor of Science in political science from Northern Illinois University and his expertise in American political institutions and the policy process grew at West Virginia University where he received both a Master of Arts and doctorate. While at West Virginia University, he began his research on the American president’s ability to shape the policy process, especially with the use of executive orders.
In the classroom, Dr. Thunberg teaches the political process in his introduction to American government course and advanced courses in the presidency, bureaucracy and public policy.
Dr. Guy Ziv is an associate professor at American University’s School of International Service (SIS), where he teaches courses on U.S. foreign policy, international negotiations, U.S.-Israel relations, and Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. He is the recipient of the SIS Outstanding Teaching Award in 2014 and the William Cromwell Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2019. Dr. Ziv’s first book, Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel, was published by SUNY Press in 2014, with an updated paperback version published in 2015. His current research project focuses on civil-military relations in Israel. Dr. Ziv has a background in policy, having worked on Capitol Hill and for Israel Policy Forum, a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization that promotes American efforts aimed at resolving the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors. His articles have been published in peer-reviewed academic journals, blogs, and major newspapers and news sites, such as The Baltimore Sun, CNN.com, Haaretz, The Hill, The Jerusalem Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and USA Today. He also appears regularly as a commentator in leading media outlets including BBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN, i24 News, Sky News, and Voice of America.
Dr. Diane M. Zorri is an associate professor of Security Studies at the National Defense College of the United Arab Emirates. She also serves as a non-resident Senior Fellow and Presidential Advisory Board member at Joint Special Operations University, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. Previous to NDC, Dr. Zorri taught at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida and John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. Dr. Zorri earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from George Mason University in 2015; her dissertation focused on Iraqi political alignments and alliances after the fall of the Ba'ath party. Today, her major research interests are Gulf politics, U.S. foreign policy, defense strategy, and maritime cybersecurity.
Prior to her work in academia, Diane served as an officer in the United States Air Force and worked in the aerospace and defense industry. Upon leaving the Air Force, Diane worked for an Italian-U.S. defense company managing projects in foreign military sales, integrated communications, and physical security. During the Iraq war, she worked for Multi-National Force-Iraq in Baghdad, managing over 400 bilingual, bicultural advisors to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Defense. She has also done business consulting for European, South American, and Middle Eastern clients interested in security and defense procurement. Diane is also a 2001 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a 2006 graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
The Peace and War Summit at Norwich University, America’s oldest private military college and birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), examines significant international issues with an eye at recommending viable solutions. The inaugural summit, a two-day event in September 2018, addressed North Korea’s nuclear and missile challenges.
September 17-18, 2018
Mack Hall, Norwich University
The Inaugural Peace and War Summit addressed critical global issues from an integrated policy and scholarly perspective. The central theme of the 2018 summit was the North Korean nuclear/missile issue, a matter of critical importance for peace and stability in the United States and the East Asian region.
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Yangmo Ku, Executive Director
Associate Professor, Political Science, Norwich University
Associate Director, John and Mary Frances Patton Peace & War Center
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