Fall 2011 Conference
The Council of American Ambassadors held its Fall Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 3 and 4, 2011. Over 50 Ambassadors and their guests, including four alumni of the Council’s International Affairs Fellowship program, participated in the two-day program.
Following a Board of Directors meeting on the morning of October 3, Council Directors, members and guests enjoyed a luncheon, co-sponsored by the Council and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, in the Mural Room of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Ambassador Abelardo L. Valdez, President of the Council of American Ambassadors, and Tom McNaught, Executive Director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, welcomed the assembly. Thomas J. Putnam, Director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, discussed the mission and work of the Library, and Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, Council Chairman Emeritus and Kennedy administration official, reflected on the legacy of President Kennedy. Ambassador vanden Heuvel’s eloquent presentation resonated with the audience, particularly during this 50th anniversary year of President Kennedy’s inauguration. Participants also toured the museum and viewed the special exhibit highlighting Jacqueline Kennedy’s 1964 oral history.
On the evening of October 3, the Council of American Ambassadors and the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government co-convened the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum. Professor Meghan L. O’Sullivan, the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government and former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, moderated a discussion with Dr. Richard N. Haass, former State Department and NSC official and current President of the Council on Foreign Relations. The dialogue covered a number of key foreign policy issues, including Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process. The event, which brought together Council members and over 350 Harvard students in the Forum audience, was broadcast live on the Institute of Politics’ Web site.
On Tuesday, October 4, the Council and the Harvard Institute of Politics co-sponsored a conference in Bell Hall at the Kennedy School of Government. Ambassador Abelardo L. Valdez and Trey Grayson, Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics and former Secretary of State in Kentucky, welcomed the audience of ambassadors, guests and Harvard students. Presentations focused on the Arab Spring, analyzing its underlying causes and its implications for U.S. foreign policy and evaluating the prospects for democratic governance in the Middle East. Presenters were: Ambassador Wendy J. Chamberlin, President of the Middle East Institute; Dr. Meghan L. O’Sullivan, the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs; Dr. Joseph S. Nye, Jr.; University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard, and Dr. Aaron David Miller, Public Policy Scholar, Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
A luncheon in the Penthouse of Littauer Center followed the conference. The Honorable Peter G. Peterson, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and currently Chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, delivered the keynote address which provided a cogent analysis of the debt crisis and its impact on the U.S. economy and beyond. Dr. David T. Ellwood, Dean of the Kennedy School of Government, also made brief remarks, outlining the mission and goals of the Kennedy School and underscoring the importance of training the next generation of leaders for service to the nation. Dean Ellwood cited the Council, through its International Affairs Fellowship program, as a key partner in this vital training effort.
President Abelardo L. Valdez greatly appreciates the outstanding participation of the speakers and attendees in the conference. He also wishes to extend a word of special thanks to Ambassadors George Bruno, Timothy A. Chorba, Bruce S. Gelb, Joseph B. Gildenhorn, Stuart W. Holliday, G. Philip Hughes, Ogden Reid, Charles Stith and William J. vanden Heuvel for their valuable assistance and support in planning the fall conference.