FPI Future Leaders Program 2010-2011 Class

The Foreign Policy Initiative Future Leaders Program inaugural class of 2010 – 2011 consisted of twenty young professionals who were chosen to participate in monthly dinners and discussions aimed at preparing them to become the next generation of leaders in foreign policy. The group included members with an array of backgrounds and experience in government, the private sector, media, academia, non-profits, and the U.S. military.

The Future Leaders Program was developed to create an opportunity for young professionals in Washington to engage in thoughtful and educational conversations on foreign policy and hear from thinkers and practitioners in international affairs. It provided an atmosphere for these emerging leaders to share their own insights as well as career and travel experiences. The Future Leaders participated in dinners on U.S. diplomatic relationships, the war in Afghanistan, and critical national security threats, among other topics. Leading policy experts drove the monthly discussions and provided career guidance and advice to the group.

What Future Leaders had to say about the program:

"I enjoyed the network of people the program brought together and the focus on facilitating high-level, relevant discussion."

 "It was an exceptional program with stellar venues and speakers. I really enjoyed the diverse group of participants!"

 "I loved this program and benefitted immensely from it."


The 2010-2011 Future Leaders Program Class

  • David Adesnik, Research Staff Member, Institute for Defense Analysis
  • Alexander Benard, Managing Director, Gryphon Partners
  • Amy Bradshaw, Associate, Goldman Sachs
  • Edward Burrier, Legislative Staff, Rep. Ed Royce
  • Ryan Crumpler, Military Legislative Assistant, Rep. Buck McKeon
  • Owen Graham, Research and Operations Coordinator, The Heritage Foundation
  • Melinda Haring, Program Officer, National Democratic Institute
  • Thomas Hill, Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Dept. of State
  • Sarah Lenti, Director of State Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Michael Mazza, Senior Research Associate, American Enterprise Institute
  • Blaise Misztal, Associate Director of Foreign Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Shannon O’Pray, 2010 Graduate, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
  • Brian Pawlowski, Senior Consultant – Intelligence, Booz Allen Hamilton 
  • Tara Rohde, Director, National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones
  • Brandon Sellers, Naval Aviator, United States Navy / Legislative Fellow, Senator John McCain
  • Kristen Soltis, Director of Policy Research, The Winston Group
  • Charlie Szrom, Senior Analyst and Program Manager, American Enterprise Institute
  • Keith Urbahn, Chief of Staff, Office of Donald Rumsfeld
  • Bilal Wahab, PhD Student, George Mason University
  • Jamie Weinstein, Deputy Editor, The Daily Caller

David Adesnik, Research Staff Member, Institute for Defense Analysis  

David Adesnik is a member of the research staff at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) in Alexandria, VA.  In 2011, he will be on assignment to the Department of Defense, working for the Irregular Warfare Senior Coordinating Group.  Earlier, David spent four months in Iraq as an operations analyst with Multi-National Corps Iraq’s counter-IED unit, Task Force Troy. 

While on leave from IDA in 2008, David served on the foreign policy and national security staff of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign.   Before joining IDA, David received his doctorate in international relations from Oxford, where his research focused on the democracy promotion efforts of the Reagan administration. 

David has also published articles about democratization in the Washington Quarterly, Foreign Policy and the Weekly Standard.  He began blogging in 2002, writing first for Oxblog and more recently for Conventional Folly and The Moderate Voice.  David lives in the AU Park of neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife Susanna, a commercial litigator.  In his spare time, David enjoys playing tennis and Texas Hold’em, although he is not especially good at either. He also studies Arabic at the Middle East Institute, although his conversational skills are much better in Hebrew and Spanish.

What country would you most like to visit?

Afghanistan is definitely the country I most want to visit.  I saw in Iraq how different things look when you get closer to the front lines, and so I want to see Afghanistan for myself.  (Of course, if we’re talking about tourist visits, my top destinations are French wine country and a handful of Caribbean islands, especially Anguilla and Saba).

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Alexander Benard, Managing Director, Gryphon Partners

Alexander Benard is managing director of Gryphon Partners, a consulting and investment firm focused on the Middle East and Central Asia.

Previously, Alexander worked as a corporate attorney at Cleary Gottlieb, an international law firm.  Alexander has worked at the Hoover Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Department of Defense.  

He has written on U.S. foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, for various newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, National Review Online, and World Affairs.  He has appeared as a commentator on CNN and VOA.

Alexander is the co-founder of the Afghanistan Legal Education Project, a non-profit housed at Stanford University that is designing a modern law school curriculum for Afghanistan.  He holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College, where he majored in international relations and economics, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.      

What country would you most like to visit?

I would most want to visit Japan because I find the culture (and cuisine) fascinating.

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Amy Bradshaw, Associate, Goldman Sachs

Amy Bradshaw is a member of the Office of Corporate Engagement at Goldman Sachs, where she works on the firm’s  two signature philanthropic initiatives – 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses – aimed at fostering shared economic growth and development throughout the world by educating and empowering women, and promoting entrepreneurship. 

In this role, she works with the initiatives’ global network of nonprofit, academic, and government partners to develop cross-sector partnerships, engage key stakeholders, and coordinate the firm’s participation in various thought leadership events and forums. 

Previously, Amy served as a special assistant at the U.S. Department of State, focused on public diplomacy initiatives and private sector outreach efforts in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  During this time, she helped to develop and implement public-private partnerships ranging from women's empowerment and economic development programs, to higher education exchanges, global breast cancer awareness, and enhanced cultural exchange programming. 

Prior to that, she worked on Capitol Hill as an Assistant Press Secretary and Legislative Aide in the Office of U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.  Amy is a native of Dallas, Texas, and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

What country would you most like to visit?

I actually have two answers: Afghanistan.  I have had the privilege of getting to know some truly amazing women from Afghanistan, but it is hard to grasp the reality of their situations - or develop a truly informed view of the best course for American engagement in the region - without experiencing it firsthand. And secondly, Brazil.  Despite being an area of great personal interest, South America is one of the regions in the world that I have spent the least amount of time in over the past few years, but it is quite clear that the region - especially Brazil - is poised to play an increasingly significant role in respect to the global economy and our national security concerns.

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Edward Burrier, Legislative Staff, Rep. Ed Royce

Edward A. Burrier has worked on Capitol Hill for over 10 years,and currently serves as Professional Legislative Staff for Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) advising the Congressman on all aspects of foreign policy, while concentrating on terrorism, nonproliferation, trade and Asia. 

Edward previously served as Professional Staff for the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation.  He now serves as the Subcommittee's Ranking Member, renamed the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.  Edward also serves as a member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. 

A native to the Washington, D.C. area, Edward attended Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in May 1999.  He received a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College in June 2004.  During the course of his education Edward held an internship with the House Africa Subcommittee and worked for a Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons. Edward and his wife Gretchen live on Capitol Hill. 

What country would you most like to visit?

The first country that comes to mind is Turkey.  Obviously, it is at the center of east and west, and is going through a huge transition.  It is a NATO ally, but has been going out of its way to accommodate Iran.  Not to mention its recent support of the provocative Turkish flotilla and the regime in Sudan.  On all the big foreign policy questions facing us in the future, Turkey will play a role.  Where is it going?  I'm told it is a fascinating place to visit.    

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Ryan Crumpler, Military Legislative Assistant, Rep. Buck McKeon

Ryan Crumpler serves as the primary advisor for national security, defense, and foreign affairs issues in Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon's congressional office.  In this capacity, he manages a large portfolio to include support for the eight military installations, numerous defense firms, and 20,000 defense jobs in California’s 25th Congressional District. 

Ryan also serves as a Professional Staff Member on House Armed Services Committee staffing the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and managing a portfolio that includes IED-defeat issues, unmanned systems, operational energy issues, and special projects. 

Prior to working for Ranking Member McKeon and the HASC, Ryan served Representatives Mac Thornberry and Randy Neugebauer of Texas and Texas Senator John Cornyn.  Ryan holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Tech University in political science and is working on a master’s degree in Strategic Security Studies at National Defense University with a dual emphasis in counterterrorism and homeland defense.

What country would you most like to visit?

I would most like to visit India because I think it sits at a crossroads both geographically and geopolitically.  India is one of the fastest growing nations in the world, is one of the largest democracies, and is a nuclear power.  It sits in a key region of the world and has the potential to be a powerful ally or, if mishandled, a formidable antagonist.  I am also fascinated by the Kashmiri conflict and the continued tensions between India and Pakistan, especially the second and third order effects like Pakistani support for extremist groups as a hedge against India.

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Owen Graham, Research and Operations Coordinator, The Heritage Foundation

A native of Virginia, Owen Graham earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and a Master of Arts in International Politics at American University.

After interning at The Heritage Foundation, Owen was hired as a Research Assistant. Owen is now the research and operations coordinator for national security and foreign policy in the Davis Institute for International Studies. His research areas include Russia/Eurasia, Iran, missile defense, arms control, sanctions/trade policy, and international energy policy.

Owen’s research has been enhanced with travel to Russia, Turkey, Germany, Netherlands, Lithuania, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. In 2009, Owen was selected to be a Manfred Wörner fellow by the German Marshall Fund and the Armed Forces Office of the German Defense Ministry. He is co-author of Global Perspectives on Oil and Security, Jan., 2007. He has published articles in National Review Online, Wall Street Journal Europe, The Washington Times, and the Daily Caller.

What country would you most like to visit?

I would like to travel to China. I believe the rise of China will emerge as the greatest foreign policy challenge to the United States in the 21st century. In particular, China’s strategy on the following three fronts will present the greatest conundrum to U.S. policymakers: a) expanding anti-access and area-denial capabilities, b) growing regional dominance and military modernization, c) and global economic and diplomatic influence. In addition, it is evident that U.S. policy must move beyond the mantra of “engagement” to development of a more sophisticated response to China’s strategy and actions, especially its ongoing military buildup and efforts to exert stronger regional and global influence. To this end, I would like to deepen my understanding of China’s history, culture, and core national security interests, and their leaders’ and elites’ foreign and security policy and trade and economics narratives.  

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Melinda Haring, Program Officer, National Democratic Institute

Melinda Haring is a Program Officer at the National Democratic Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide. At NDI, Melinda manages the Azerbaijan portfolio, but she is interested in all things post-Soviet. She has lived in Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan and worked as a freelance writer in Ukraine. Her work has been featured in The Press-Enterprise and Transitions Online, and broadcast and published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

She graduated from Georgetown University with an M.A. in government and a certificate in Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies. She studied Russian at the University of Virginia and the Institute of Foreign Languages in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Melinda is also interested in international religious freedom as a dimension of human freedom and developed expertise on the subject as a practitioner and in graduate school. During graduate school, she worked at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs as a research assistant to Dr. Thomas Farr, the former director of the Office of International Religious Freedom at the Department of State. She also worked on the subject at Freedom House.

Melinda is a graduate of Grove City College and a native of Alaska. She lives with her husband, Daniel Kimmage, in Dupont Circle. 

What country would you most like to visit?

I would love to spend more time in eastern Turkey. Turkey is the most dynamic country in Eurasia and understanding Anatolia and the southeast is key to understanding Turkey’s future.  

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Thomas Hill, Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Dept. of State

Thomas is a Foreign Affairs Officer with the U.S. Department of State where he works in the Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative on strategic planning and resource issues.  Previously, Thomas served as the Governance Advisor to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Sadr City, Iraq (2008-2009).  Prior to his service in Iraq, Thomas directed the Freedom Agenda Coordination Team at the Department of State (2008) and served as the acting-Deputy Director for the State Department’s Iran Democracy Program (2007).  From 2005-2006, he served as the foreign assistance coordinator for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. 

Before joining the Department of State, Thomas worked as a research assistant at Democratic Dialogue in Belfast, N. Ireland (2002) and served as a claims writer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Amman, Jordan (2001). 

Thomas is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science at George Washington University, researching prerequisites to democratization in Middle East.  He holds an M.A. from American University (2006) with a degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution and he received a B.S. from Santa Clara University (2000) in Political Science.  He has studied Arabic at Birzeit University (2000) in the West Bank, Israel and speaks Spanish and limited French. 

What country would you most like to visit?

The country I most want to visit is Libya.  Any country with a leader as eccentric as Kaddafi must be an interesting place.  

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Sarah Lenti, Director of State Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

When not at her day job at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Sarah Lenti works as a policy consultant and advisor to Republican Party leaders, executives and candidates.

Starting off as a Russian Studies graduate student from Stanford University, Sarah has a varied background. She commenced with a career in the defense-consulting arena and then quickly moved to enter the policy/political world, joining the George W. Bush 2000 campaign as a junior policy writer.

Since that time, Sarah has proudly served under National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice from 2001-2005 at the White House, with a focus on East European issues and then infrastructure/electricity issues in Iraq; worked the 2004 Bush re-election campaign in the battleground state of New Mexico; joined fundraising whiz and former Deputy RNC Chairman Jack L. Oliver at his Washington start-up firm; served as Deputy Campaign Manager and Policy Advisor to a candidate running in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District; served as the Great Lakes Regional Press Secretary for the McCain 2008 Campaign and led the research for Governor Mitt Romney’s most recent policy book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.

What country would you most like to visit?

Given that I have yet to travel to the continent of Africa, I would say that any country in Africa is at the top of “must travel to” list.  To be more specific, I am most intrigued by Mozambique (for the beaches), Tanzania (for safari), and South Africa (for the wine).

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Michael Mazza, Senior Research Associate, American Enterprise Institute

Michael Mazza is a senior research associate in Asian Studies in the Foreign and Defense Policy Studies department at the American Enterprise Institute(AEI), where he studies U.S. defense policy in the Asia-Pacific, Chinese military modernization, and cross-Strait relations.

In addition to writing regularly for AEI’s Center for Defense Studies blog, he is also the program manager for AEI’s annual Executive Program on National Security Policy and Strategy. In his previous capacity as a research assistant at AEI, Michael contributed to studies on American strategy in Asia and on Taiwanese defense strategy. He has worked previously as a policy analyst assistant at SAIC and as an intern at Riskline Ltd., and he has lived and studied in China.

Michael graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University and has a Master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, where he studied strategic studies and international economics.

What country would you most like to visit?

I’d most like to visit Italy in order to explore my family background and, perhaps more importantly, to eat good Italian food.

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Blaise Misztal, Associate Director of Foreign Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center

Blaise Misztal is the Associate Director of Foreign Policy and Director of the Cyber Security Task Force at Bipartisan Policy Center, where he previously served as Senior Policy Analyst. He directed the 2009 "Cyber ShockWave" simulation aired on CNN and is leading a follow-on exercise focusing on private-public partnership in cyber security.

Additionally, he has contributed to all three of the BPC's "Meeting the Challenge" reports on Iran's nuclear proliferation and is authoring a report on stabilization assistance to fragile states. Blaise is currently completing his Ph.D. in Political Science at Yale University, where his research focuses on determining the ability of democratic political institutions to foster social stability. He also holds an M.Phil. in Political Science from Yale and an A.B. with honors from the University of Chicago.

What country would you most like to visit?

How about Tajikistan? If yaks and yurts aren’t reason enough to visit, then the historical and cultural intersection of Persian and Russian imperial ambition, its geographical proximity to a geopolitically crucial region—Af-Pak—and the natural beauty of the Pamir and Tien-Shan mountain ranges provide additional incentive.

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Shannon O’Pray, 2010 Graduate, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

Shannon O'Pray received a Master of Arts with honors in International Relations and International Economics in 2010 from the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where she concentrated in Strategic Studies. 

Areas of foreign policy interest include missile defense policy and the study of insurgency and counterinsurgency.  Born at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Shannon grew up throughout the United States as the daughter of an Air Force officer, but has lived in Arlington, Virginia, since 2004. 

Shannon is a 2004 graduate of Yale University, where she received a B.A. in History with distinction and in Geology & Geophysics.  Shannon is proficient in Persian and Spanish, and speaks some Dari. 

What country would you most like to visit?

I would (someday) like to visit Iran to view the architecture and gardens of Isfahan and Shiraz and to see the country's fascinating geology.

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 Brian Pawlowski, Senior Consultant – Intelligence, Booz Allen Hamilton

Brian served as an active duty officer in the United States Marine Corps beginning in 2007 and continues to serve in reserve status today.  He has twice deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Prior to joining the military, Brian received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Carthage College where he also minored in Philosophy and Great Ideas:  Foundations of Western Thought.  He is especially interested in the areas of national security strategy and policy, democracy and human rights promotion, and leadership.  

Additionally, Brian is interested in the domestic response to modern warfare, how it affects the execution of war, and the implications for both current and future national leaders.  He currently works for Booz Allen Hamilton as a consultant serving the defense department and lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his fiancé.

What country would you most like to visit?

I would most like to travel to Greece and the surrounding islands.  I was very fortunate in college to be able to take a trip to Rome and touring the forum and other historical sites was powerful and deepened my interest in the area.  I have always been very interested in the classics, the Peloponnesian War, The Iliad, and The Aeneid.  Traveling through the other epicenter of the classical world would be a dream come true. 

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Tara Rohde, Director, National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones

Tara Rohde is Director at the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones, where she is responsible for public affairs, public policy, communications and membership relations for the Association. Previously, Tara was a Principal at Public Strategies, Inc., a strategic public affairs consulting firm.  At Public Strategies, Tara was based in Dallas where she assisted with public affairs, communications and government relations activities for a Fortune 500 electric utility company.

Tara is primarily interested in international economics and trade policy issues, but also has an interest in energy policy and democracy promotion.

Tara received a Master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin in 2007, where a major focus of her studies was international trade.  As a graduate student, she worked as a Research Fellow at the Charter School Policy Institute in Austin and completed an internship at the U.S. Department of Treasury in the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Tara graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Trinity University in San Antonio with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and economics. While at Trinity, she was a member of the women’s basketball team that won the 2003 NCAA Division III National Championship.  She was named a DIII Kodak All-American in 2005.

What country would you most like to visit?

The next country on my list is Egypt. I’m fascinated by both its ancient and modern history and the country’s culture and customs.  In the past, I’ve primarily visited other Western nations, and I’m looking forward to experiencing something completely different. 

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Brandon Sellers, Naval Aviator, United States Navy / Legislative Fellow, Senator John McCain

Lieutenant Commander Brandon Sellers is currently serving as the Navy Legislative Fellow to Senator John McCain where he supports the minority staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee and assists in advising the Senator on military and veterans’ issues. 

Prior to his fellowship, he served a Department Head for Strike Fighter Squadron 27 based in Atsugi, Japan, and deployed aboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON.  Commissioned in October 1997, Brandon has served as an F/A-18 pilot for the past ten years, completing two operational tours forward-deployed to the western Pacific and one tour as an F/A-18 instructor pilot.  In 2003, he flew combat missions from the deck of the USS KITTY HAWK in support of the opening weeks of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.  He has over 1,800 flight hours and 250 carrier landings in Navy aircraft. In his last tour, Lieutenant Commander Sellers also performed duties as an operational planner focusing on the western Pacific. 

Brandon has traveled extensively throughout Asia and has a keen interest in U.S. foreign policy in the region as well as China’s rise as a military power. He holds a Master’s degree in International Relations, a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, Jessica, and daughter, Addison.

What country would you most like to visit?

I would most like to visit Bhutan.  Aside from the fact that it is said to be an extraordinarily beautiful country with a very well-managed trekking and mountaineering industry, it is also a fledgling democracy that measures its success using the metric of "Gross National Happiness."  I think that says it all.

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Kristen Soltis, Director of Policy Research, The Winston Group

Kristen Soltis is currently the Director of Policy Research at The Winston Group, a DC based polling and strategic consulting firm where she has worked since 2005.

She has appeared on numerous television and radio outlets including PBS, CNN International, Russia's RT, Ireland’s RTE, BBC Radio 4, and XM/Sirius Radio. She has also been a panelist at the American Enterprise Institute. She is a regular contributor to Pollster.com and POLITICO’s Arena.  Her analysis and commentary has appeared in POLITICO, National Review Online’s “The Corner,” The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Huffington Post, and The Orlando Sentinel. She has also appeared on Bloggingheads.tv.

She earned her Master’s in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she graduated summa cum laude with an award for Best Thesis for her work on young voters and the Republican Party.  Her academic work on campaign finance has been published in the journal American Politics Research.  Kristen’s political experience includes an internship with the NRCC and completion of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University.  She was featured as a “Mover and Shaker” in Campaigns & Elections Magazine in June 2010.

What country would you most like to visit?

I'd love to have a chance to visit Slovakia. I am of Slovak descent and have always been fascinated by the history of the Cold War in Eastern Europe.  This summer, Slovakia elected its first female Prime Minister, Iveta Radicova, a member of the center-right SDKU. I'd be honored to have a chance to visit the country during this exciting time to have a chance to learn about my own heritage.

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Charlie Szrom, Senior Analyst and Program Manager, American Enterprise Institute

Charlie serves as Senior Analyst and Program Manager for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, where he manages a research team that produces open-source analysis of challenges to American interests.

His research has focused on al Qaeda and other international security and economic issues in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. Beyond the Critical Threats Project, he has written for National Review, Foreign Policy, The American, The Weekly Standard, and Commentary, among other publications.

Prior to the Critical Threats Project, Charlie served as the Deputy Ohio Director for Senator McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Charlie graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Indiana University, where he received a B.A. in Political Science and History.

What country would you most like to visit?

I would like to visit Uganda. Uganda experienced one of the worst terror attacks in African history in the July bombings in Kampala, and its forces make up the bulk of the peacekeeping force maintaining what little security is left in Mogadishu, Somalia. A frontline ally in the war against terror - through its efforts against the Somalia-based terror group al Shabaab - Ugandans are also some of the most pro-American in the world. Political and economic development continue apace in the country: presidential elections are scheduled for 2011, Uganda's GDP growth is among the highest of African countries, and the country has played a leading role in the development of the East African Community, whose common market opened in July. It will be critical to track these developments as they impact U.S. interests.

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Keith Urbahn, Chief of Staff, Office of Donald Rumsfeld

Keith is chief of staff to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  Since 2007, he has assisted Mr. Rumsfeld with his forthcoming memoir, Known and Unknown.  A graduate of Yale College, Keith majored in Religious Studies and studied four years of Arabic. 

As a political appointee in the George W. Bush administration, Keith was a speechwriter in the Pentagon. He also worked on Capitol Hill for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Keith currently serves as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. 

He lives in Washington D.C. with his wife, Kristen, and two miniature dachshunds, Winston and Clementine. Keith's major foreign policy interests include the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and the emerging realignment of the Middle East between Iran and its proxies on the one hand, and moderate Arab nations and Israel on the other. 

What country would you most like to visit?

I would choose Lebanon. It is a microcosm of the broader struggle in the Middle East and the emerging realignment between Iran and its proxies in Syria and Hezbollah against moderate Arab nations and Israel.  This latter bloc would have been unthinkable even a decade ago.  Both sides are now jockeying for influence across the region, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Lebanon.  There's also nothing better than fresh tabbouleh; the Lebanese have perfected the art of making it.

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Bilal Wahab, PhD Student, George Mason University

Bilal is currently a doctoral student at George Mason University where he studies economic and political transition in the Middle East. He received his Master's Degree from American University on a Fulbright Scholarship.

In Iraq, he served as a governance advisor for citizen participation in public decision making at USAID's Local Governance Program. He worked with local authorities in five northern Iraqi provinces to promote transparency and accountability toward democratic governance. Prior to that, he worked for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In the run up to Iraq's first democratic elections, he worked for the International Republican Institute, where he trained election candidates and monitored the elections.

He also lectured at Salahaddin University's College of Law and Political Science. He has made frequent media appearances on Aljazeera English, National Public Radio, News Hour with Jim Lehrer and other media outlets. He also consults at the World Bank's Institutional Integrity Vice Presidency. His most-cited article appeared in Middle East Quarterly, entitled "How Oil Smuggling Greases Violence in Iraq.”

What country would you most like to visit?

I love travel, but for now I would love to visit Norway in order to learn how they manage the wealth windfall from their oil. I am hoping that some of their experience on with democracy despite oil might be transferable to Iraq. 

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Jamie Weinstein, Deputy Editor, The Daily Caller

Jamie is Deputy Editor of The Daily Caller. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator Online, the New York Daily News, The Washington Examiner, and FoxNews.com, among other publications. He has also served as a columnist for The North Star National and as a Collegiate Network Journalism Fellow at Roll Call Newspaper, where he also worked as the assistant to the paper’s executive editor  Mort Kondracke. He has appeared as a commentator on Fox News and MSNBC, as well as numerous radio shows. 

Jamie has traveled to nearly 50 countries and reported articles from several of them. He received a Master's degree in the history of international relations from The London School of Economics in 2009, where his Master's thesis focused on the creation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 in the aftermath of the Six Day War. He also earned a Bachelor's degree in history and government from Cornell University in 2006. 

What country would you most like to visit?

I would like to go to Andorra, because so few people have been and it would make for a great story. 

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Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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