2021 – “Preserving Life: Climate Change, Water and Diplomacy”
This year’s Sisco Forum took place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on September 9, 2021 and explored the subject, “Preserving Life: Climate Change, Water and Diplomacy.” Moderated by Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, Ambassadors Ken Brill and J. Brian Atwood, and Dr. Aaron Salzberg completed the panel. Ambassador Catherine Novelli served as the keynote speaker.
The forum took place in person at the Nelson Mandela Auditorium in the FedEx Global Education Center. The event was also live-streamed and recorded via Zoom.
This programming was organized by the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill, with support from the Sisco Family Charitable Fund. Additional support was provided by the UNC-Chapel Hill College of Arts and Sciences, including the African Studies Center; Carolina Asia Center; Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies; Center for European Studies; Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies; Curriculum in Global Studies; Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense; Department of Political Science; Department of Public Policy; Institute for the Study of the Americas; Study Abroad Office and the Global Research Institute.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Ambassador Catherine Novelli
Catherine A. Novelli is a Senior Advisor at Shearwater Global, a strategic consulting firm. She also serves as President of Listening for America, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to forging a new vision of U.S. international trade engagement. She is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, where she served as a Centennial Fellow (2018-2019). She previously served as Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment (2014-2017) where she promoted economic reform and open markets for U.S. products and services. As Under Secretary, Ambassador Novelli spearheaded the first-of- its-kind Our Ocean movement, which, during her tenure, resulted in $10 billion for Ocean conservation and has become a continuing global effort. She also launched the Global Connect Initiative, an innovative partnership with governments, multilateral development banks and the private sector to connect 1.5 billion people to the Internet.
Novelli spent seven years as Vice President, Worldwide Government Affairs at Apple Inc where she headed a multinational international team responsible for Apple’s government relations and public policy. Prior to her position at Apple, she was a partner in the law firm of Mayer Brown International. She had a long career at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, rising to Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe & the Mediterranean, where she coordinated U.S. trade and investment policy for Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Northern Africa. She took a leading role in many of the most important U.S. trade negotiations in those regions, including free trade agreements with Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain, and Oman. As the Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia, she negotiated most of the bilateral trade and investment agreements that underpin our economic relationship in that region.
Novelli currently serves on the Board of the National Wildlife Federation and the Advisory Board of the Pristine Seas Initiative of the National Geographic Society. She was also named an Ocean Elder.
Novelli has received numerous honors and awards, including the State Department Distinguished Service Award and the International Trade Woman of the Year Award. She is a graduate of Tufts University, holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Laws from University of London.
Ambassador Barbara Stephenson
Barbara Stephenson is vice provost for global affairs and chief global officer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a distinguished diplomat, former U.S. ambassador, international leader and prior dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute. She leads UNC Global and advances a pan-university global strategy to enhance UNC-Chapel Hill’s global reach, impact and reputation.
Stephenson is a fierce advocate for the role of higher education in constructively addressing complex global challenges, and she has extensive experience in collaborating across societies and geographies.
Previously, Stephenson was president of the American Foreign Service Association from 2015-2019 and was a U.S. Foreign Service officer for over 30 years. She was a principal advocate for diplomacy, working closely with Congress, the media and globally engaged strategic partners.
At the Foreign Service Institute, Stephenson launched the Culture of Leadership Roundtable to improve leadership across the State Department and in U.S. embassies around the world. In 2008, she was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Panama and later became the first woman to serve as deputy ambassador and acting ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in London.
As deputy senior advisor to the secretary and deputy coordinator for Iraq (2006-2008), she was recognized with the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award for developing and implementing the civilian surge, the largest deployment of civilians to a war zone since the Vietnam War. She coordinated across federal agencies and the U.S. Congress to unite stakeholders behind a mission to reverse the spiral into sectarian violence by strengthening governance in Iraq.
From 2001-2004, as the American Consul General in Belfast, Northern Ireland, she helped renew support for the Good Friday Agreement that brought an end to decades of violence. As Consul General and Chief of Mission in Curaçao (1998-2001), she won support from local and Dutch officials to establish two U.S. Air Force bases to support Plan Colombia.
Earlier in her career, Stephenson served as special assistant to Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Pickering, covering European affairs, including the war-torn Balkans. Other assignments have included desk officer for the UK, political-military officer in South Africa, and political officer in The Hague, San Salvador, and Panama.
Stephenson holds a PhD, MA, and BA in English literature from the University of Florida.
Ambassador Kenneth Brill
Ambassador Kenneth C. Brill was the President of The Fund for Peace on November 2010 till 2011, succeeding Dr. Pauline Baker who had held the position for 15 years.
Ambassador Brill completed a 35-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service in April, 2010. In his final Foreign Service assignment, he was the founding Director of the U.S. National Counter-proliferation Center (NCPC), which is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Ambassador Brill served as NCPC’s Director for five years.
Ambassador Brill’s overseas assignments with the Department of State included serving as Ambassador to the IAEA and the UN Office in Vienna, Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus, acting-Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, and Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan. His domestic assignments in the Department of State included service as acting-Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Executive Secretary of the Department and Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, and Director of the Office of Egyptian Affairs.
Ambassador Brill has written and spoken on the subjects of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the challenges of WMD terrorism, the environment as a national security issue and U.S. intelligence reform.
Ambassador Brill is a graduate of Ohio University and received his MBA from the University of California at Berkeley. He is married and has two grown children.
Ambassador J. Brian Atwood
J. Brian Atwood is the Senior Fellow for International Studies and Public Affairs at the Thomas Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.
Atwood served for six years as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) during the Administration of President William Clinton. In the Clinton Administration, Atwood led the transition team at the State Department and was Under Secretary of State for Management prior to his appointment as head of USAID.
In 2001, Atwood served on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Panel on Peace Operations. He joined the Foreign Service in 1966 and served in the American Embassies in Cote d’Ivoire and Spain. He served as legislative advisor for foreign and defense policy to Senator Thomas F. Eagleton (D-Mo) from 1972 to 1977.
During the Carter Administration Atwood served as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations.
He was Dean of Professional Studies and Academic Affairs at the Foreign Service Institute in 1981-82.
Atwood was the first President of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) from 1986 to 1993.
Atwood received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award in 1999.
Ambassador Ronald Neumann
Formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Ronald E. Neumann served three times as Ambassador; to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. Before Afghanistan, Mr. Neumann, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served in Baghdad from February 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then as Embassy Baghdad’s liaison with the Multinational Command, where he was deeply involved in coordinating the political part of military actions.
Prior to working in Iraq, he was Ambassador in Manama, Bahrain (2001-2004), Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near East Affairs (1997-2000) with responsibility for North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and Ambassador to Algeria (1994 to 1997). He was Director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs (Iran and Iraq; 1991 to 1994). Earlier in his career, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and in Sanaa in Yemen, Principal Officer in Tabriz, Iran and Economic/Commercial Officer in Dakar, Senegal. His previous Washington assignments include service as Jordan Desk officer, Staff Assistant in the Middle East (NEA) Bureau, and Political Officer in the Office of Southern European Affairs.
Ambassador Neumann is the author of a memoir, Three Embassies, Four Wars: a personal memoir (2017) and The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan (Potomac Press, 2009), a book on his time in Afghanistan. He has returned to Afghanistan repeatedly and is the author of a number of monographs, articles, and editorials. His writings have focused most heavily on Afghanistan, stabilization, and Bahrain. At the Academy he has focused particularly on efforts to maintain adequate State and USAID budgets and staffing and upgrade professional formation to enable these institutions to carry out their responsibilities. Ambassador Neumann is on the Advisory Board of a non-profit girls’ school in Afghanistan, the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) and the Advisory Board of Spirit of America. He is on the board of the Middle East Policy Council and the Advisory Council of the World Affairs Councils of America.
Ambassador Neumann speaks some Arabic and Dari as well as French. He received State Department Superior Honor Awards in 1993 and 1990. He was an Army infantry officer in Viet Nam and holds a Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge. In Baghdad, he was awarded the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. He earned a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science from the University of California at Riverside and is a graduate of the National War College. He is married to the former M. Elaine Grimm. They have two children.