Maria Snegovaya is a PhD candidate at Columbia University (Comparative Politics and Statistical Methods), whose scholarly focus is the support for the right-wing populist parties in Central and Eastern Europe. At the same time she regularly travels to Russia and Ukraine, and regularly contributes to the Russian and US journals, including "Vedomosti" business daily, political science blog Monkey Cage on The Washington Post, The New Republic, and The American Interest. Maria’s articles have been referenced by (among others) David Brooks (NYT), Andrew Sullivan (The Dish), Bloomberg, The Economist and The Telegraph in their columns, and she is regularly invited to give talks in the US think tanks.
From 2012 – 2014, BG (r) Peter Zwack served as the United States Senior Defense Official and Attache to the Russian Federation. By interacting with Russians at multiple levels since 1989, including defense, security, academia, policy, veterans, & private citizens, BG Zwack developed a unique hands-on perspective on Russia and Eurasian security affairs during a turbulent period that included the recent strife in Crimea & Eastern Ukraine. Thanks to Glasnost he first studied in the Soviet city of Kalinin (renamed Tver) as a young U.S. Army Captain in the summer of 1989.
BG Zwack enlisted in the US Army in 1980 and received his commission via Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia. He subsequently served 34 years as a Military Intelligence and Eurasian Foreign Area Officer serving in diverse and challenging duty locations including West Germany, South Korea, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Russia. He has commanded thousands of soldiers at Company, Battalion and Brigade level and was the Army intelligence chief in Europe (2006-8) and Afghanistan (2008-2009). He has a Masters degree in National Security Studies from the Naval War College and a second Masters, in Strategic Intelligence, from the Defense Intelligence College in Washington DC.
Inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame in 2015, BG Zwack is a recipient of the Bronze Star, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Superior Service Medal, and many other awards and citations including the Afghan Service Medal and NATO/Kosovo Medal. He was also honored as the Joint Chief's of Staff "Action Officer of the Year" for 1999. He proudly wore the Ranger Tab and Airborne Wings.
Recently retired, he is now the Senior Russia-Eurasia Fellow at the Institute of National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, in Washington DC, as well as an Adjunct Fellow at the Pell Center, Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. As such, he regularly consults, writes and lectures within the interagency, defense department, think tanks, and academic institutions on contemporary Russian and Eurasian security issues, and leadership lessons learned.
He lives with his dear wife Stephanie in Newport, R.I. and commutes to Washington DC for his research work. He has three children, Broghan (graduated from Brown University in May - Economics), Peter Jr (Sphomore at University of Denver, ROTC scholarship), and Alessandra (Sophomore at Pomfret School).
BG Zwack speaks Russian, German, Italian, and some French.
Dr. Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing editor to The Atlantic. He is the author of Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize for best book on foreign affairs, and co-editor of the new book Rethinking Political Islam (Oxford University Press). His first book Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East was named a Foreign Affairs Best Book of 2014. An expert on Islam and politics, Hamid served as director of research at the Brookings Doha Center until January 2014. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and many other publications.
He received his B.S. and M.A. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and his Ph.D. in political science from Oxford University.
Ambassador Jean De Ruyt retired from the Belgian diplomatic service in March 2012 after some 40 years. Now an independent political analyst, Jean De Ruyt currently consults for Covington & Burling LLP as Senior European Policy Advisor and is a member of the Board of Counselors of McLarty Associates in Washington.
Ambassador Jean De Ruyt was until September 2011, the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the European Union. He was then appointed to advise the European Union's High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton on specific foreign policy issues, specifically the solution to the problem of Camp Ashraf in Iraq until March 2012. Previously, he was the Ambassador to Italy, covering also, from Rome, the FAO (UN Food and Agricultural Organization), Albania and the Republic of San Marino. From April 2001 until August 2004 he was the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations in New York. In this capacity and as the Representative of the European Union Presidency in 2001, he contributed actively in the UN reaction to the events on September 11.
De Ruyt has a doctorate from Louvain University Law School (1969) and studied at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He was Assistant Professor in Public Law at Louvain University before entering the Diplomatic career. Since his return to Brussels in 2007, he is a regular visiting Professor at Louvain University (UCL) and in the College of Europe in Poland (Natolin). He has conducted seminars on European issues for the joint European Studies Institute of Louvain and St Louis Universities and sits on the Board of The Royal Institute for International Relations. He elected Associate Member of the Belgian Royal Academy in March 2017.
His publications include L'Acte Unique Européen Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles 1987, second Edition 1989; European Political Cooperation towards a European Foreign Policy, Atlantic Council of the U.S., 1989; A Minister for a European Foreign Policy, Schuman Centre, European University Institute, Florence, 2005 and various articles on European institutions and defence policy. His latest book “Leadership in the European Union” was published in 2016 by Louvain University Press.
Trita Parsi is the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
He is the founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007), for which he conducted more than 130 interviews with senior Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers. Treacherous Alliance is the silver medal winner of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations.
Parsi’s new book A Single Roll of the Dice – Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University Press) was released early 2012. He interviewed 70 high-ranking officials from the U.S., Iran, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Brazil—including the top American and Iranian negotiators—for this book. Parsi uncovers the previously unknown story of American and Iranian negotiations during Obama’s early years as president, the calculations behind the two nations’ dealings, and the real reasons for their current stalemate.
Parsi was born in Iran but moved with his family at the age of four to Sweden in order to escape political repression in Iran. His father was an outspoken academic and non-Muslim who was jailed by the Shah and then by the Ayatollah. He moved to the United States as an adult and studied foreign policy at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies where he received his Ph.D. He founded NIAC to provide a non-partisan, non-profit organization through which Iranian-Americans could participate in American civic life. NIAC is a vocal proponent of dialogue and engagement between the US and Iran, which Parsi consistently has argued would enhance our national security by helping to stabilize the Middle East and bolster the moderates in Iran.
Parsi has followed Middle East politics through work in the field and extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. He is frequently consulted by Western and Asian governments on foreign policy matters. Parsi has worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN, where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Western Sahara, and in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.
Parsi studied for his Doctoral thesis on Israeli-Iranian relations under Professor Francis Fukuyama at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. In addition to his PhD, he holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Uppsala University and a Master’s Degree in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics. He has served as an adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and as a Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.
He is fluent in Persian/Farsi, English, and Swedish. Parsi’s articles on Middle East affairs have been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Jane’s Intelligence Review, the Nation, The American Conservative, the Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and others. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS Newshour, NPR, the BBC, and Al Jazeera.
A U.S. Army veteran, Asha Castleberry recently completed a 30-month deployment in the Middle East. Since the 2014 ISIL incursion in Iraq, she served on the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Kuwait. From December 2012 to June 2014, Asha served as the Kuwait Desk Officer for International Military Affairs at U.S. Army Central. In 2011, she received a student fellowship to work with the Military Staff Committee at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Asha serves on the Board of Advisors of America’s Impact, Veterans 4 Diplomacy, and Women Veterans and Families Network. She is a also a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council and a cofounder of International Youth Council. A graduate of Hampton University and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Asha is a New Leaders Council Fellow and was chosen as one the Diplomatic Courier’s Top 99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders.