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Foreign Affairs Columnist, The Washington Post

Washington Post foreign affairs columnist and bestselling novelist David Ignatius is a globetrotting journalist reporting on politics, economics, and the Middle East. He has covered nearly every Washington beat, including the Pentagon, the CIA, Capitol Hill, and Cyber Command. An NBC analyst and regular guest on Morning Joe, Ignatius has appeared on CBS This Morning, Face the Nation, and Meet the Press.

Drawing from more than 40 years of on-the-ground reporting, Ignatius brings to the stage his insights and expertise on the threats to national security, cyber security, and the spread of information. With his ability to explain and edify the most complex issues, Ignatius addresses the forces at play in an increasingly disrupted world and analyzes the implications of growing uncertainty and risk.

For more than 15 years, Ignatius has published his twice-weekly column for The Washington Post. Appearing in scores of newspapers around the world, his column has won the Overseas Press Club Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center for Journalists. In 2019, Ignatius won a special George Polk award for his coverage, nine articles in all, of the killing of Post columnist and his colleague Jamal Khashoggi. 

Turning his experiences with the CIA into 10 spy novels, Ignatius has been praised for his “unparalleled understanding of the intelligence world.” His latest high-tech spy thriller, The Quantum Spy, is about the covert race to build the world’s first supercomputer. According to former CIA Director Leon Panetta, “David Ignatius may call it a novel, but for those of us who know the work of the intelligence community, this book is nothing less than a real-life insight into the ongoing battle for dominance in the digital world.”


Agents of Innocence, his first novel, is a classic of espionage fiction, drawing on his experiences covering the CIA’s early-80s campaigns in the Middle East. The CIA recommends the book to young recruits and wrote on its website, “Though a novel, senior officers say this book is not fiction.”


His other bestsellers include The Director and Body of Lies, which Director Ridley Scott adapted into a feature film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.  

A graduate of Harvard and Cambridge, Ignatius was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and the executive editor of the International Herald Tribune. He has published articles in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. 

His first opera libretto, The New Prince, was an adaptation of Machiavelli’s The Prince and premiered at the Dutch National Opera in 2017.


Former Iowa Governor & Former U.S. Ambassador to China

is an American politician and former diplomat. A member of the Republican Party, he served three terms in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979 before serving as governor of Iowa from 1983 to 1999 and again from 2011 to 2017. Branstad served as the United States Ambassador to China from 2017 to 2020 under President Donald Trump. He is the longest serving Governor in American history.[2]

Branstad served as the 39th governor of Iowa from 1983 to 1999. Following this initial retirement from politics, he served as President of Des Moines University, a private medical osteopathic school, from 2003 to 2009. In 2010, Branstad returned to Iowa politics, running for governor again and defeating Democratic incumbent Chet Culver to become the state's 42nd governor.[3][4] His tenure of 22 years, 4 months, and 13 days makes him the longest-serving governor of any state in American history, having surpassed George Clinton's previous record of 20 years, 11 months, and 2 days in December 2015.[5]

In December 2016, Branstad accepted President Donald Trump's nomination to serve as the United States Ambassador to China. Branstad resigned as governor of Iowa on May 24, 2017 and was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to China on July 12, 2017. In 2020, Branstad resigned as the United States Ambassador to China in order to work with President Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.


Executive Director, Congressional Office for International Leadership

Jane Sargus of Washington, D.C. is the Executive Director of the Congressional Office for International Leadership (formerly known as the Open World Leadership Center). Before assuming her duties as Executive Director, Ms. Sargus brings 40 years of federal experience to the Open World program.

Having served as Open World’s Program Administrator and Budget Officer from 2008 to 2012, Ms. Sargus crafted the congressional budget justification for the Appropriations Committee in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. With her financial management experience and a deep understanding of international programs in the Legislative Branch, Ms. Sargus performed in-depth analysis and research on multiple and complex issues related to budget formulation for a program with both national and international impact. From 2012 to 2017, Ms. Sargus rose to serve as Open World’s Deputy Executive Director to manage day-to-day operations for all aspects of the agency and to coordinate its logistical contract of $7 million annually.

Prior to Open World, Ms. Sargus served as a Budget Analyst in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer of the Library of Congress. Her work supported the Library’s $400 million budget request for congressional oversight committees. In the Library’s Congressional Research Service (CRS), Ms. Sargus provided critical fiscal support for the Frost Special Task Force on the Development of Parliamentary Institutions in Eastern and Central Europe while also serving on the Financial Management Team overseeing CRS’s annual appropriation. Ms. Sargus also spent five years in the Library’s John W. Kluge Center managing all aspects of financial operations for more than 20 funds totaling over $71 million.

Jane Sargus has a B.A. from the Miami University in Oxford, OH and graduate work in Business Administration from The George Washington University.


was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Global Public Affairs on September 13, 2021. 

Liz was previously a Partner at global strategic communications and public affairs firm Finsbury Glover Hering (FGH), specializing in message strategy, project and crisis management, and executive leadership communications. 

Prior to FGH, Liz served at the White House as Deputy Communications Director and Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama, culminating eight years of service in the Obama Administration, where she held a number of roles, including White House Director of Message Planning and Deputy Director of Communications to then-Vice President Joe Biden. In 2020, Liz took a leave of absence from FGH to serve as Vice President Kamala Harris’s communications director on the Biden-Harris Presidential campaign. 

During her seven years at the White House, Liz drove communications planning around the President’s priorities, domestic and foreign policies, and legislative and outreach strategy. She managed complex message events, groundbreaking interviews and documentaries, and press coverage for President Obama and Vice President Biden across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries on five continents. 

Liz previously served at the U.S. Department of State as Director of Public Affairs for Educational and Cultural Affairs, focusing on public diplomacy and the impact of people-to-people exchange programs and international education. She has also held roles at the State Department on human trafficking and international women’s issues. In August 2016, Liz was named to the U.S. Presidential Delegation to the Olympic Summer Games Opening Ceremonies and traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on behalf of the White House with Secretary of State John Kerry. 

Liz is a Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Geneseo and a proud native of Buffalo, New York. 


Ms. Carolina Coronado-Park is the Director of International Engagement at the University of Northern Iowa. She also oversees the Culture and Intensive English Program. She holds an M.A. in Political Science with a focus on International Relations and has completed graduate work in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Intercultural Communication at UNI. Her B.A. is in Journalism from the Universidad de Piura, Peru. Carolina also has a conflict management resolution and citizen diplomacy certificate from the University of Maryland, College Park. Carolina has over 20 years of international work experience in education and international relations, giving her a clear perspective in assisting and supporting students and scholars from various backgrounds and cultures. She also has experience developing successful partnerships with local and international institutions and organizations to promote intercultural exchange and Academic English instruction. 


Major General Timothy E. Orr was appointed by Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter as Board member of the Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) on September 18, 2015. He also was appointed as Chairman to the RFPB subcommittee of Enhancing DoD’s Role in the Homeland, focusing on improving the capability and capacity of the reserve component to address the increasing threats to the homeland. 

General Orr assumed the duties as The Adjutant General, Iowa on 26 March 2009 and also served as the Director, Iowa Department of Public Defense command and control of more than 100 Army and Air National Guard units with approximately 9,400 assigned Soldiers and Airmen. His primary mission was to ensure the Iowa National Guard trained, mobilized, deployed, sustained and reconstituted units, ensuring the state provided ready forces in support of community, state and national requirements. General Orr retired 23 May 2019, after 40 years of military service. 

General Orr began his military career by enlisting into the Iowa Army National Guard in December 1978. He received his officer's commission through the United States Army Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning on 20 August 1985. He has commanded at the detachment, company, battalion and brigade level. His most recent command assignment was Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa Army National Guard, from October 2004 to September 2007. Following that assignment, General Orr served as Chief of Staff, Iowa Army National Guard, from October 2007 to December 2008, and as the Deputy Adjutant General from December 2008 to March 2009. 


1981 Des Moines Area Community College, Associate of Arts, Business, Boone, Iowa 

1983 Drake University, Bachelor of Science, Business and Education, Des Moines, Iowa 

1991 Iowa State University, Master of Science, Education and Community College Certification, Ames, Iowa>/p> 

2003 United States Army War College, Master of Science, Strategic Studies, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 


  1. August 1985 - June 1986, S3 Air, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, Waterloo, Iowa 

  1. June 1986 - December 1988, Detachment Commander/Platoon Leader, Company C, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, Hampton, Iowa 

  1. December 1988 - November 1991, Commander, Company C, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, Hampton, Iowa 

  1. November 1991 - February 1992, S3 Air, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, Waterloo, Iowa 

  1. February 1992 - May 1993, Commander, 194th Infantry Detachment (Long Range Surveillance), Waterloo, Iowa 

  1. May 1993 - February 1994, S3 Air, Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Boone, Iowa 

  1. February 1994 - July 1995, S1, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron 113th Cavalry, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa 

  1. July 1995 - September 1996, S3, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron 113th Cavalry, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa 

  1. October 1996 - December 1997, S3, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 133rd Infantry (Mechanized), Sioux City, Iowa 

  1. December 1997 - December 1998, S1, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Boone, Iowa 

  1. December 1998 - December 1999, S1, Headquarters, 185th Regiment (Iowa Regional Training Institute), Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa 

  1. December 1999 - July 2000, State Mobilization Readiness Officer, State Area Command, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa 

  1. July 2000 - July 2002, Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry, Sioux City, Iowa 

  1. July 2002 - June 2003, Student, Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 

  1. June 2003 - August 2004, State Training Officer, Joint Forces Headquarters, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa 

  1. August 2004 - October 2006, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Joint Forces Headquarters, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa 

  1. October 2006 - December 2006, National Guard Bureau Liaison Officer Coalition Forces Land Component Command, National Guard Affairs, Headquarters, 3rd United States, Army (Operation Iraqi Freedom), Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq 

  1. December 2006 - October 2007, Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Boone, Iowa 

  1. October 2007 - March 2009, Chief of Staff, Joint Forces Headquarters, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa 

  1. March 2009 - March 2009, Assistant Adjutant General-Army, Iowa National Guard, Headquarters, Iowa National Guard, Camp Dodge, Iowa 

  1. March 2009 – May 2019, The Adjutant General, Iowa, Joint Force Headquarters, Iowa, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa 

  1. May 2019 – Present, Retired as The Adjutant General, Iowa, Joint Force Headquarters, Iowa, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa 


Distinguished Service Medal 

Legion of Merit (with 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster) 

Meritorious Service Medal (with 1 Silver Oak Leaf Cluster) 

Army Commendation Medal (with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters) 

Army Achievement Medal (with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters) 

Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (with 1 Silver Oak Leaf Cluster and 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters) 

National Defense Service Medal (with 1 Bronze Service Star) 

Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal 

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal 

Humanitarian Service Medal 

Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with Silver Hourglass Device and M Device) 

Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (with Bronze Numeral 2) 

Army Service Ribbon 

Army Reserve Overseas Training Ribbon 

Iowa Medal of Merit 

Iowa Meritorious Service Medal (with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters) 

Iowa Commendation Medal (with 3 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters) 

Iowa Humanitarian Service Ribbon 

Iowa Leadership Ribbon (with Torch) 

Iowa Active Duty for Training Ribbon 

Iowa Recruiting Ribbon 

Iowa Counterdrug Ribbon 

Iowa State Service Ribbon (with 1 Silver and 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster) 

Minnesota Medal of Merit 

Ranger Tab 

Pathfinder Badge 

Parachutist Badge 

Army Staff Identification Badge 

Canadian Airborne Badge 

The Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award 

Infantry Order of Saint Maurice Medal 

Artillery Order of Saint Barbara Medal 

Association of the United States Army Lieutenant General Raymond S. McLain Medal 

Doctor Honoris Causa of the Haxhi Zeka University of Peja, Kosovo (Honorary Doctorate) 


Second Lieutenant 23 August 1985 

First Lieutenant 22 August 1988 

Captain 22 August 1990 

Major 19 September 1995 

Lieutenant Colonel 23 February 2001 

Colonel 01 October 2004 

Brigadier General 24 March 2009 

Major General 22 December 2010 

(As of Aug 2019) 



Dr. Kristi Marchesani serves as the Director of International Recruitment and Admissions at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI).  She earned her PhD in Educational Leadership from Iowa State University and both her bachelors and masters at UNI. She has worked in international admissions at UNI for the past twenty two years where she has been responsible for outreach to international undergraduate and graduate students, establishment of admission policy, and advocacy of international education on the campus.  She has served as president of StudyIowa and teaches a course for first-year international students at UNI. Her professional responsibilities and personal passion has allowed her to travel to over 105 countries and to visit every continent.