Carlos Sada named Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States

APRIL 27, 2016
By: Justin Chapman, Pacific Council

On April 21, Carlos Manuel Sada was approved as Mexico’s new ambassador in Washington. Ambassador Sada is a highly respected career diplomat who previously served as the Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, San Antonio, and Toronto, Canada. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Pacific Council’s Consul General Advisory Board, which works to strengthen ties with California’s diplomatic community.

“Carlos Manual Sada Solana has extensive experience in consular work and the protection of the rights of Mexicans in North America, as well as in the defense of the interests of Mexico abroad,” said Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu in a statement.

According to Reuters, Sada’s strategy as ambassador includes “underscoring Mexico’s importance to the U.S. economy, defending the rights of Mexican citizens in the United States, and promoting Mexican culture.”

The Pacific Council has a close working partnership with Ambassador Sada and is excited to support him in his new role. With his help and support, we recently launched our new “Mexico Initiative” to position the Council as a thought leader promoting closer ties and relations between Mexico and the United States, with a focus on California. The initiative aims to expand programming, strengthen outreach and recruitment efforts, and produce analysis and commentary to inform public discourse regarding the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship. It was formally launched on April 7, 2016, at an event co-hosted by the Pacific Council and others focusing on Mexico’s political and economic outlook. Other important activities are planned for the remainder of 2016 and 2017.

“The Pacific Council understands that the United States and Mexico stand together at the crossroads of the Asia Pacific region, and they are indispensable partners and neighbors whose mutual prosperity, success, and security depends on deeper, stronger ties," said Michael Camuñez, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce and current Pacific Council director and Chair of the Mexico Initiative. "To that end, our Mexico Initiative seeks to deepen our understanding of Mexico and its importance to the United States and vice-versa. We are thrilled that our friend and partner, Carlos Sada, will now be able to help us realize this vision as Mexico’s next ambassador to the United States."

We congratulate Ambassador Sada on this important appointment!


Justin Chapman is the Communications Associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Insights from Spring Conference 2016

APRIL 21, 2016
By: Justin Chapman, Pacific Council

This year’s Spring Conference was an illuminating day of debates and exchanges with fellow Pacific Council members and other experts during panel discussions, roundtable dialogues, and a high-level keynote interview. We were pleased to host PIMCO CEO Douglas M. Hodge, Dr. Nina Ansary, and many others.

During the first plenary session, Ambassador David Huebner moderated as Republican strategist Robert C. O’Brien and Democratic strategist Robert Shrum debated the 2016 presidential election. In the final plenary session, Los Angeles Times deputy managing editor Scott Kraft moderated as Ambassador Gerald Feierstein, Ambassador Chris O’Connor, and Dr. David Kilcullen reflected on the lessons learned five years after the Arab Spring.

The day’s thematic sessions included discussions on China’s economic outlook; the Pacific Council’s report on Guantánamo Bay; challenges and solutions of the future of global energy; the women’s movement in Iran; Russian foreign policy 25 years after the Cold War; and how to confront today’s global health challenges. The following are just a few of the notable insights from Spring Conference 2016.


Back Down to Earth? China’s Economic Outlook in 2016

Moderated by Dr. Clayton Dube, executive director of USC’s U.S.-China Institute, the panel included Thomas E. McLain, chair of the Asia Society Southern California; Dr. Seagull Song, founding director of the Asia-America Legal Institute at Loyola Law School; and Atman M. Trivedi, senior director for policy at the U.S. Department of Commerce Global Markets Bureau.

The panel discussed the slowdown of China’s economy last year, the effect it had on world markets, the increase of Chinese investment in Los Angeles, and President Xi Jinping’s corruption campaign. Trivedi and Song pointed out that the Chinese economy is undergoing an important transition, moving from manufacturing to a focus on consumption and providing services to the growing middle class in urban areas, which some predict will double to 600 million by 2020.

“You need to put it in perspective,” McLain said. “Only 8% of our exports go to China and yet China announces some bad numbers and all of a sudden there’s a huge impact here; it is totally overblown. The numbers and what’s happening there often have an impact on our stock market that is totally outsized compared to the real financial impact.”

The Pacific Council Task Force on Guantánamo: A Town Hall

In February, the Pacific Council Task Force on GTMO published a report calling on the United States to fairly and transparently expedite the Guantánamo trials by putting federal judges in charge. The task force consists of 17 attorneys and policy specialists, the majority of whom have traveled to Guantánamo as official civilian observers.

At Spring Conference 2016, Richard B. Goetz, partner at O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, and Michelle M. Kezirian, director of litigation and policy advocacy at Neighborhood Legal Services, discussed the report’s recommendations, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s case, inadequacies of the military commissions, and other issues facing Gitmo. The panel was moderated by Robert C. Bonner, senior principal at Sentinel HS Group.

“American justice is on trial at Gitmo and it is not looking very good,” said Bonner. “To state that the pace of the trial is glacial is to significantly understate the case. The embarrassing delays in the trial of those accused under the Military Commission Act gives new meaning to the term ‘justice delayed.’”

Goetz, a Pacific Council director, said the Task Force’s report has been distributed to presidential candidates, congressional leaders, and others and is receiving positive feedback. Goetz, Kezirian, RAND National Security Research Division director K. Jack Riley, and Pacific Council president Jerrold D. Green co-authored an op-ed published in Newsweek in March detailing the report’s findings and recommendations.

“It feels like time stands still,” Kezirian said when asked about being at Gitmo. “Military commissions are slow moving machines that seem to go nowhere. This matters because the world is watching us and how we handle justice. We do not look good.”

Grasping the Global Energy Future: Challenges and Solutions

Kimberly Freeman, assistant dean for Diversity Initiatives and Community Relations at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, moderated this panel with Dr. Charles J. Cicchetti, professor of Policy, Planning and Development at USC’s Price School of Public Policy, and David Koranyi, director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasian Energy Future Initiative. They discussed clean energy use, oil prices and their impact on economic prosperity, and the implications of the COP21 meeting in Paris for U.S. energy policy.

“The world doesn’t have sufficient spare capacity to deal with [oil] shocks or disruptions." - Charles J. Cicchetti

“2015 was a record year dedicated to renewable energy,” said Koranyi. “Oil prices and gas prices depressed and there were enormous increases in clean energy investments and decreases in cap backs for oil and gas.”

Koranyi stressed that U.S. leadership is key to upholding international consensus and action on climate change following the COP21 meeting, which he said was the first time leaders came together and agreed in principle to act on climate change, though diplomatic complexities prevented them from reaching agreement on some important details. In his view, COP21 will not provide a solution for climate change.

The panelists agreed that the world has made progress -- including growth of renewable energy -- but that Washington needs to hold itself and other nations accountable.

Inside Iran

How will last summer’s historic nuclear accord between the Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Britain, Russia, France, and Germany) change life inside the Islamic Republic for everyday Iranian citizens? Are Iran’s changing demographics helping to bolster social reform and a growing feminist movement? At Spring Conference 2016, Dr. Jerrold D. Green, president and CEO of the Pacific Council, moderated a discussion on these issues with Dr. Nina Ansary, a historian and expert in the women’s movement in Iran, and the author of Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran.

Dr. Ansary, who recently spoke to the Pacific Council on the Iran’s burgeoning women’s movement, stressed that women in Iran have not allowed themselves to be defined and oppressed by the harsh patriarchal system they are forced to live under.

“Since 1979, Iran has been in the news almost entirely for negative reasons,” said Ansary. “What’s been left out of that narrative is what’s going on beneath this regime, specifically where women are concerned. Today’s generation of women, born and raised in this environment, does not by and large reflect the gender ideology of the hardline ruling faction. This is a country where women outnumber men in higher education.”

Russia and the World: A New Yearning for Empire?

Simon Saradzhyan, director of the Russia Matters Project and assistant director of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Dr. Nikolai N. Sokov, senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, provided clarity on Russia’s intentions on the world stage during this thematic panel moderated by Jennifer Faust, executive vice president of the Pacific Council.

Sokov, who also penned a column on this topic for the Pacific Council leading up to the conference, argued that what we are seeing today is not a new Cold War.

"Russia is not going to hand Crimea back under any circumstances; the chances of that are near zero." - Simon Saradzhyan

“We tend to forget: the Cold War was not about the number of missiles and tanks,” said Sokov. “The Cold War was about a systemic conflict and challenge of two completely different economic, social, and political systems. That’s not the conflict we have today. On social and moral issues, Putin is almost a Goldwater Republican. So how do we classify today’s conflict? It’s quite different.”

Sokov said he believes that the West and Russia can cooperate, citing the agreement between the United States and Russia on a timeline to destroy Syrian chemical weapons in 2013 as an example.

“Hey,” concluded Sokov, “at least Putin is better than Stalin.”

Confronting Today’s Global Health Challenges

In February the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. This panel tackled the economic, social, political, and environmental issues of global diseases and other health challenges. Pacific Council director and senior vice president of community relations and development of Cedars-Sinai Arthur J. Ochoa moderated, with Dr. Peter Katona, clinical professor of Medicine in Infectious Diseases at UCLA, and Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, professor at the Scripps Research Institute’s Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, on the panel.

Katona argued that despite great accomplishments in global health, such as the eradication of smallpox, the discovery of penicillin, and the development of vaccines that prevent childhood diseases, there are still enormous global health challenges.

“Environmental concerns such as rising temperatures, increased rain, and severe droughts amplify diseases like Zika,” said Katona.

Educating the public on real global threats is critical in combatting crises like Zika and Ebola, according to Dr. Ollmann Saphire. "We need to be more forward thinking on policy," she explained. "We also need to understand the economic implications of these diseases so the money we invest is effective."

The panelists agreed that travel, tourism, trade, globalization, socioeconomic factors, and poverty all amplify the spread of diseases globally, and that international organizations like WHO have not addressed epidemics effectively.


Justin Chapman is the Communications Associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Spring Conference highlights the work and expertise of the Pacific Council community of members and partners. Take a closer look at this year's event, and read all Spring Conference analysis now in our Newsroom.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.

Strategists Debate 2016 Election at Spring Conference

APRIL 20, 2016
By: Justin Chapman, Pacific Council

The Pacific Council’s Spring Conference opened with a vigorous debate on the 2016 presidential election between Republican strategist Robert C. O’Brien and Democratic strategist Robert Shrum. Moderated by Ambassador David Huebner, a Pacific Council Director, the discussion focused on two key questions: How will the election impact America’s two major political parties? And what is the future of governance in the United States?

“In the short term, things don’t look great for the GOP,” said O’Brien, a former senior advisor to Governors Mitt Romney and Scott Walker. “We have a frontrunner who could lose all 50 states if he’s the nominee. I do think it will be a contested convention, but that doesn’t mean that Trump can’t win.”

O’Brien pointed out that California will matter in the primary race for the first time in a long time. He added that in the long term, he is optimistic about the future of the Republican Party. 

“When you look across the country at the party, we have a much deeper bench than the Democrats,” he said. “There are a lot of potential candidates.”

Shrum, the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics and Professor of the Practice of Political Science at USC, said he believes the Democrats will win this November because unlike the Republicans, the Democratic nominee will have the opportunity to use the convention to rally support. That said, he acknowledged an internal tension playing out within the Democratic Party.

“With Trump, conservatism stops being a set of principles and policies, and instead becomes a set of grievances, alienations, and anger." - Robert Shrum

“We saw it at the debate [in New York], this tension between idealism and pragmatism, between incremental steps and doing something fundamental about income inequality,” said Shrum, a longtime Democratic strategist and a former senior advisor to the 2000 Gore and 2004 Kerry campaigns. “That will be one of the great challenges if [Clinton] becomes the nominee: how will she work with the Republicans? I believe in a viable competitive Republican Party because America needs a strong two-party system.”

The discussion inevitably shifted to Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner. Huebner pointed out that it would be too easy to dismiss the millions of Americans who have already voted for Trump as “uneducated racists.”

“The heart of it is an angry, alienated constituency,” said Shrum. “With Trump, conservatism stops being a set of principles and policies, and instead becomes a set of grievances, alienations, and anger. Another element is the vast cultural change in this country… we’ve seen tremendous cultural change in how we treat women, gays, and minorities. The third thing is the disorientation people feel as the country changes… demographically. This country by 2050 will be majority nonwhite.”

O’Brien disagreed, arguing that Trump’s popularity is not a racist phenomenon.

“[Trump] is generally not winning Republican primary voters,” said O’Brien. “He’s drawing support from people feeling disenfranchised and ignored by both parties. I really reject that it’s people who are racist or homophobic or sexist. I think there’s very little of that. They’re not necessarily traditional conservative Republicans. We do have some work to do in both parties to address those who have been left behind.”

“I don’t think any legitimate Republican wants to get rid of the federal government; we need the federal government, but we need one that’s under control.” - Robert C. O'Brien

Considering America’s future, Shrum warned that if Trump wins there will be no way to predict what will happen with governance in the United States.

O’Brien said he won’t defend Trump, but he will defend his supporters who believe that “the government closest to the people gets the best results and works the best. The federal government is bloated and overreaching. What it does is it stifles innovation and business.” That said, “I don’t think any legitimate Republican wants to get rid of the federal government; we need the federal government, but we need one that’s under control.”

One member of the audience asked O’Brien, who supports Ted Cruz for president and has advised the senator on foreign policy, why religion has any role to play in the political process.

“America was founded on the idea that people are free and have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because God gave them those rights, not the state,” said O’Brien. “This is a profoundly religious nation. There are people who have profound religious beliefs who have the right to be in the public square. Senator Cruz is a constitutional lawyer. I’m certain he believes in the separation of church and state.”

Shrum argued that “one of the problems with Ted Cruz, which is why I think he would be a weak candidate in general, is that his religious beliefs will translate to social policies that would be rejected by a very large number of Americans, including Republicans.”

In a lightning round to wrap up the opening plenary session, Huebner asked O’Brien and Shrum who they think Chief Justice John Roberts will be swearing into office on January 20, 2017. O’Brien answered, “Cruz/Rubio.” Shrum answered, “Hillary Clinton.”

Huebner then asked the crowd of over 230 people to raise their hands if they agreed with O’Brien; two people raised their hands. He asked the crowd if they agreed with Shrum; the rest of the crowd raised their hands.


Justin Chapman is the Communications Associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.

Lessons Learned, Five Years after the Arab Spring

APRIL 19, 2016
By: Justin Chapman, Pacific Council

The Arab Spring was not an isolated event with specific beginning and end dates, but rather part of a larger political, social, and economic upheaval across the Arab world, according to the closing plenary session at Spring Conference 2016.

Moderated by Los Angeles Times deputy managing editor Scott Kraft, the panel consisted of Ambassador Gerald FeiersteinDr. David Kilcullen, and Ambassador Chris O’Connor. Participants discussed the lessons learned since the Arab Spring transformed the Middle East in 2011.

“The Arab Spring began with a wave of democratic uprisings across the Arab world in late 2010,” said Kraft. “In the years since it has sometimes been called the Arab Winter because of the rise of authoritarianism and religious extremism. What lessons have we learned?”

O’Connor, who was UK Ambassador to Tunisia from 2008-2013, said the main lesson for him was that “really big change can happen really quickly.

He said that Tunisia did not seem like a country on the edge of revolution. That scenario was “as likely as a war between Los Angeles and Santa Monica,” he said. “We had all the analysis, but nonetheless it came as a complete surprise. So it wasn’t a failure of information but of imagination."

If all you know is what you don’t want, you get rid of that thing, and then it’s pretty difficult to establish the rules for the next thing.

Another lesson he learned is that political revolution doesn’t go well unless someone is articulating what the revolution aims to achieve.

“People knew Tunisia wanted rights, free speech, but there were no leaders articulating an ideology that people were protesting for,” he said. “If all you know is what you don’t want, you get rid of that thing, and then it’s pretty difficult to establish the rules for the next thing.”

Feierstein argued that people tend to incorrectly see the Arab Spring as a specific event with a beginning point in Tunisia in January 2011 and an end point, generally perceived to be the failure of the transition. People also see the Arab Spring as distinct from the rise of violent extremism in the region.

“It’s more useful to look at these two as a larger upheaval in the Middle East, of which the Arab Spring is a symptom of a deeper cause of what’s going on in the region,” said Feierstein.

He added that it’s wishful thinking for Americans to say the Middle East doesn’t matter anymore. The United States is and will remain dependent on Middle Eastern oil and the stability of Gulf oil markets for the foreseeable future.

Kilcullen, the founder and chairman of Caerus Global Solutions, provided some context and history of the Arab Spring’s pivotal moments, from its hopeful beginnings and the U.S. intervention in Libya in 2011 to the killings of Muammar el-Qaddafi and Osama bin Laden, to the rise of the Islamic State.

... We're now in an environment where the dragons are back, and we’re dealing with both dragons and snakes at the same time and in many of the same places.

He quoted former CIA director Robert James Woolsey, who responded in his 1993 confirmation hearing to a question from John Kerry about the threats the United States faces now that the Soviet Union had collapsed: “We have slain a large dragon, but now we find ourselves in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of poisonous snakes, and in many ways the dragon was easier to keep track of.” Kilcullen, who spent much of 2011 in Iraq and Mogadishu, said that from “October 2011 onward, we’re now in an environment where the dragons are back, and we’re dealing with both dragons and snakes at the same time and in many of the same places.”

O’Connor explained the deep cause of the existence of violent extremism as a result of extractive (rather than inclusive) states, which on the one hand do not allow public opposition, and on the other hand do not provide basic governance and services.

“This has to be the world against ISIL rather than a small group of interests against ISIL,” said O’Connor. “It has to be all civilized people against ISIL, and that includes the vast majority of Muslims. ISIL is articulating that the war is between the West and Islam. In order to defeat ISIL we need to make sure the war is between all civilized people and some radical terrorists.”

Eventually we will defeat ISIL…but the likelihood is unless you address the deeper core issues you will simply see the rise of another group.

Feierstein stressed that military action alone is not going to defeat violent extremism, which he argued comes from deeper roots in society.

“Until you address those deeper failures you’re not going to see the disappearance of violent extremism,” he said. “Eventually we will defeat ISIL… but the likelihood is unless you address the deeper core issues you will simply see the rise of another group.”

One member of the audience asked the panel if they thought democracy is even possible in the Middle East.

“On a conceptual level, those who doubted that people in the Middle East want the same freedoms as the rest of the world have been proven wrong by events in Syria, Tunisia, and other countries,” O’Connor replied. “The best outcome we can imagine is a situation where the people of those countries get what they actually want, which is also fundamental to their stability.”

Feierstein answered that democracy is not simply about voting - it’s about the institutions that support democratic decisions and create economic and political structures that allow democracy to prosper.

“Democracy is hard work,” he said. “It takes time. Realistically if we’re going to stick with it, we have to recognize that this is a 15 to 20 year project.”

Kilcullen said the answer to the question depends on what we mean by "democracy."

“If by democracy you mean an inclusive government that governs in response to the wishes of its population, that tries to include their points of view, then absolutely, there’s no doubt whatsoever that all these people in these countries want that,” he replied. “If you mean the forms of electoral democracy, like the UK’s parliamentary democracy or America’s congressional or presidential government, then probably not. If you mean U.S. troops coming in, overthrowing a regime, and imposing democracy at the point of a gun, then: hell, no.”


Justin Chapman is the Communications Associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.

Secretary Kerry: Trade Strengthens U.S. Global Leadership

APRIL 14, 2016
By: Justin Chapman, Pacific Council

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are integral to the international interests of the United States, Secretary of State John Kerry said in an address to the Pacific Council on April 12 in downtown Los Angeles.

“Without a doubt, these trade agreements are at the center of defending our strategic interests, deepening our diplomatic relationships, strengthening our national security, and reinforcing our leadership across the globe,” said Kerry. “And the importance, my friends, cannot be overstated.”

In the forty minute address, Kerry detailed the Obama administration’s case for the two trade agreements, emphasizing that “foreign policy is economic policy and economic policy is foreign policy.”

The negotiations on TPP, which would relax trade barriers, were finalized in October 2015 and signed in February 2016 by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The agreement requires ratification by Congress, where it faces stiff bipartisan opposition. TTIP, on the other hand, is a free trade and investment agreement between the United States and European Union that is still under negotiation.

“As times change, our relationship has to adapt to new challenges and to new opportunities,” said Kerry. “TTIP will do this by implementing commonsense reforms to remove tariffs, eliminate red tape for goods that cross borders, and promote services enabled by the internet – all the while upholding consumer, environmental, and labor protections consistent with our shared values. And contrary to some of the mythology that gets out there… nothing in TTIP lowers standards or voids regulations."

“Make no mistake: this is not your parents’ or your grandparents’ trade agreement."

"It raises standards. It adheres to people’s previous regulation. And it, in fact, improves life and opens job opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Kerry explained how the TPP is also central to America’s future prosperity and security in the Pacific region.

“Make no mistake: this is not your parents’ or your grandparents’ trade agreement,” he said. “TPP is the highest-standard trade deal ever reached, period. It improves governance by setting high standards on transparency, corruption, and government accountability.”

The Secretary of State also linked the security benefits of the agreement to the Golden State: “[TPP] establishes strong, balanced rules to protect intellectual property and the 40 million Americans working in creative and digital industries, which… is a huge issue for California film studios and for Silicon Valley.”

Kerry concluded by pointing out that the debate about these trade agreements comes down to a fundamental question: “Will we bind our nation closer to partners and allies in the Asia-Pacific and Europe, and strengthen our existing and emerging relationships in key markets and regions? Or will we pull back from our role as the indispensable global leader and leave others to fill the void, and delude ourselves into somehow believing that will make us safer? My own belief is that, when the stakes are this high, Americans will decide to lead. That’s who we are.”

The address was covered by several major media outlets, including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, and more. Carol Morello and David Nakamura of the Washington Post wrote that “Kerry’s remarks were directed as much at Congress as at the civic leaders and academic leaders who came to hear him speak at a downtown Los Angeles hotel on his way home from meetings in Japan.” Ann Simmons of the Los Angeles Times highlighted Kerry’s argument that the TPP is vital to Hollywood and Silicon Valley on the West Coast. Elise Labott of CNN reported that Kerry “lashed out at politicians,” including both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, “whom he accused of exploiting the ‘sense of anxiety’ about the deals as well as the ‘legitimate anger’ of those hurting in the current economy.”

On the changing international landscape:

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, said Kerry, “we’ve seen the old East-West, North-South divisions lose relevance as economic might has shifted towards the Pacific and some communist or former communist countries have recently developed a surprising appetite for capitalism.” And while new middle classes have been created in formerly developing countries such as China, India, Brazil, and Mexico, periodic financial shocks have highlighted the growing divide between rich and poor in the world.”

Add to that the growing and complex conflicts in the Middle East, and it has become clear that “the globe is in constant motion far beyond anything that many of us grew up with in the Cold War, in the 20th century, and one storm appears to be overlapping the next in today’s world.”

On ISIL and the conflict in Syria:

Last month marked the fifth anniversary of the war in Syria, which the international community has struggled to resolve. Hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions more have become refugees, expanding the impact of the conflict to countries around the world. Kerry said that the United States and its allies continue to seek a political solution to the conflict, as well as a way to defeat and destroy ISIL.

“In recent weeks, we’ve been able to reduce the violence and increase access to humanitarian aid,” said Kerry. “Our plan is now to push as hard as possible for a transition in governance that can bring peace and eventually be able to enable refugees to return to their homes. At the same time, we have mobilized a 66-member international coalition that is taking the fight directly to the murderous thugs of Daesh, killing its leaders, shrinking its territory, cutting its supply lines, and bombing the revenue sources on which it depends. We will defeat Daesh.”


Justin Chapman is the Communications Associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Check out photos from this event on our Flickr page.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.

CCLP’s Ev Boyle moderates panel at Women in Public Diplomacy Conference

On Friday, March 31, 2016, CCLP’s associate director Ev Boyle moderated a panel on social entrepreneurship at the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars’ annual Public Diplomacy Conference at USC, part of the Master in Public Diplomacy (MPD) program. The theme of this year’s conference was Women in Public Diplomacy. On the panel were Rediate Tekeste, founder of Ethiopian Diaspora FellowshipMorra Aarons-Mele, founder of Women Online and The Mission List; and Lisa Liberatore, administrative director of 31 Bits. Other panels throughout the day focused on Humanitarian Action and Advocacy, Women in the Foreign Service, and Film Diplomacy.20160401_141350

The Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship (EDF) program is designed to promote leadership development, public service, and creative storytelling. Through training, service in an organization in Ethiopia, peer-to-peer mentorship, and storytelling, fellows have an opportunity to increase their own cultural identity and be a catalyst for growth and change in Ethiopia.

Women Online connects the dots from start to finish via strategic, efficient, and impactful marketing programs online and offline. The Mission List is Women Online’s online database of online influencers who are passionate about using their voices in social media for social good and to spread the word about amazing initiatives and products.

31 Bits is a fashion-based social enterprise changing the way business is done globally and setting the standard for greater accountability and sustainability. Its mission is to use fashion and design to empower people to rise above poverty. They work with beneficiaries in Uganda to create fashionable, quality products through counseling, health education, finance training, and business mentorships.

Boyle asked the panel to define social entrepreneurship.

“You have traditional businesses and you have nonprofits, and social entrepreneurship is somewhere in between,” he said.

Aarons-Mele, who is also the wife of CCLP senior fellow Nicco Mele, said the goal of the business is to turn a profit but it’s also to provide some positive social benefit.

“I’m doing some research right now on how social media is developing social enterprise, and from my research I found the social aspects of enterprise can be anything that centers on creating community,” said Liberatore. “So it doesn’t even have to be a business, but some thing that has public diplomacy aspects that brings people together and that has a social component that is creating some type of change. Bringing people together who otherwise wouldn’t is important in communities.”

Tekeste said she’s pretty skeptical when it comes to social enterprises.

“If you’re not intentional about the social mission and its impact, you are a business,” she said. “You serve others, and that’s how you are a leader.”


Boyle asked the panel how to take those first steps once you have an idea.

“Social capital and building your network is really important,” said Tekeste. “As a minority woman, that’s what stopped me. I had this idea, but I thought, ‘Well, what do I do now?’ I didn’t know where to start. And my biggest advice is that you need to surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing. Just come to table with ‘I actually don’t know what I’m doing.’ Come at it humbly and ask a lot of questions.”

Aarons-Mele said the money aspect of it is very important.

“I think the only difference between being a business owner and an entrepreneur is having money,” she said. “If you’re going to start a business, even if you’re going to start a nonprofit, you have to be sustainable. So you need to get outside funding or you need to fund it yourself. And that’s the piece that is the hardest, especially for women.”

Liberatore agreed.

“With 31 Bits we try not to put these women in a position where they’re dependent on us for everything,” she said. “We want to give them the tools and skills they need to sustain themselves. The money issue is huge, especially if you’re doing nonprofit work.”

Tekeste said that she found asking for money to be extremely difficult.

“You need to start with your network,” she said. “When you start something, people are investing in you, not your idea quite yet. You are the vision holder. No one is going to love your vision as much as you love your vision.”

Liberatore talked about the idea of narrowing down your target audience in order to be more effective.

“We used to say yes to everything and gave a lot of our time and effort and products,” she said. “But now we have a specific target audience.”

31 Bits created a character named Ella with very specific characteristics and goals and likes and dislikes. This gave them something to compare. They can ask themselves, “Will Ella go to this event or buy this product?”

Tekeste and Aarons-Mele warned against burning out.


“I reject the notion that just because you’re an entrepreneur you have to kill yourself,” said Aarons-Mele. “There’s no better feeling than having power and satisfaction in your work.”

On that note, Boyle reiterated what Nicco Mele likes to say: “Scratch your own itch. Work on things you really care about.”




A student asked a question about the importance of measuring results and program evaluations.

“We’re all about measuring, because we have to,” said Tekeste. “Start talking about measuring from day one. It makes you a better organization. Because we were measuring last year, we can make proper adjustments this year. Not everything can be qualitative. It has to be quantified. Always be measuring; the numbers will drive what your policies could be.”

MPD program director Nick Cull delivered the conference’s closing remarks.

“It was terrific to see how the idea of this conference has grown and to see the wonderful way in which the MPD students have brought it all together,” he said. “This has helped me to understand that connecting across boundaries is not something that formal diplomats have a monopoly on. There are all kinds of people and activities going on and we all really need to find ways to work together. The team spirit represented in each of these panels is very encouraging. Just the fact that so many different kinds of people with different approaches can come together to share their experiences is an excellent indicator of the communal spirit of the world of public diplomacy.”

Tekeste is a first generation Ethiopian-American. She launched her career working with the Clinton Initiative, America Reads program, leading education efforts through community partnerships in low-income areas. She worked for World Vision Ethiopia as a journalist, and then built the communication department at Selam Children’s Village. Rediate discovered her passion for social impact and media could intersect while working as the international field producer/production coordinator for Girl Rising, a documentary about girls’ education in developing countries. She used the cumulation of her experiences to start Integrate Africa, a communications consulting firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and creative create socially conscious customer focused strategies. She is now working on a Gates Foundation project as an influencer strategy manager for the Redbird Group. She has a BA in Communications from ASU and a Masters in Communication Management from USC.

Aarons-Mele is an internet marketer who has been working with women online since 1999. She helped Hillary Clinton log on for her first Internet chat, and has launched online campaigns for the world’s leading organizations. During the 2004 presidential election, Aarons-Mele was the director of Internet marketing for the Democratic National Committee. After the 2004 election she founded Edelman’s digital public affairs team where she worked with Fortune 500 clients. She was founding political director for, and has covered events from the White House to the campaign trail to Harvard Law School in her role as a blogger on women, politics, and work. Aarons-Mele has taught at the Yale Women’s Campaign School, the Harvard Kennedy School, and at the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders forum at Harvard, as well as at the Johns Hopkins Graduate School of Communication. Aarons-Mele has degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School and Brown University.

Liberatore’s experience has taken her across the globe with the United Nations, on Capitol Hill in Congress, in remote islands speaking to women, to the radio waves of current affairs, on inner city streets meeting basic human needs, and within the heartbeat of our global economy in public relations. she holds a Masters in Public Diplomacy from USC and is a current Doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership at Pepperdine University.