Last Year’s Speaker Bios
Hon. Sylvester Turner
Mayor of Houston, Texas
The Honorable Sylvester Turner was elected Mayor of Houston, Texas on December 12, 2015 to serve a four year term beginning January 4, 2016. Born and raised in the Acres Homes community in northwest Houston, Mayor Turner graduated from the University of Houston and Harvard Law School before joining the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski. He later founded the Houston law firm of Barnes & Turner in 1983. In 1988, Sylvester was elected to the Texas House of Representatives to serve the people of House District 139 in Northwest Houston. During that time, he worked on the House Appropriations Committee for 21 years and served as Speaker Pro-Tem for three terms. He was appointed to several Budget Conference Committees to help balance the state’s budget and served on the Legislative Budget Board. He served until his election as mayor in 2016.
Chairman of Ridge Global
As chairman of Ridge Global, Tom Ridge provides clients with solutions to cyber security, international security and risk management issues. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Ridge became the first assistant to the president for homeland security and, on Jan. 24, 2003, became the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The creation of the country’s 15th Cabinet department marked the largest reorganization of government since the Truman administration. During his DHS tenure, Ridge — a former soldier, congressman and governor of Pennsylvania — worked with more than 180,000 employees from a combined 22 agencies. Prior to that, he was twice elected governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001. Ridge, a Harvard graduate, is currently chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Security Task Force. After his first year at Penn State University’s Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After returning to Pennsylvania, he earned his law degree and became one of the first Vietnam combat veterans elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served six terms.
Senior Counselor, APCO Worldwide
Dan Glickman, former U.S. secretary of agriculture, is the executive director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program, a nongovernmental, nonpartisan educational program for members of Congress. Glickman also serves as a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center in D.C., which develops and promotes bipartisan solutions to the country’s problems and promote civility in government. Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, Glickman was chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) and director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. From 1995 to 2001, Glickman served as U.S. secretary of agriculture, where he led the department in administering farm and conservation programs; modernizing food safety regulations; forging international trade agreements to expand U.S. markets; and improving its commitment to fairness and equality in civil rights. Before his appointment as secretary, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 18 years, representing the 4th congressional district of Kansas. During that time, he was a member of the House Agriculture Committee. He was also an active member of the House Judiciary Committee; chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and a leading congressional expert on general aviation policy.
Sen. Tom Daschle
Founder and CEO of The Daschle Group
Former Sen. Tom Daschle is the founder and CEO of The Daschle Group, a public policy advisory of Baker Donelson. The Daschle Group is a full-service strategic advisory firm that advises clients on a broad array of economic, policy and political issues. Daschle has participated in the development and debate of almost every major public policy issue of the last three decades. In 1978, he was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served for eight years. In 1986, he was elected to the Senate and was chosen as Senate Democratic leader in 1994. Daschle is one of the longest serving Senate Democratic leaders in history and one of only two to serve twice as both majority and minority leader. Since leaving the Senate, Daschle has remained an active voice among policymakers, emerging as a leading thinker on climate change, food security and renewable energy policy.
Hon. Mike Rogers
Former U.S. Representative (R-Mich.)
Mike Rogers is a former member of Congress representing Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District, officer in the U.S. Army and FBI special agent. From his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and was a member of the Energy and Commerce panel, Rogers built a legacy as a tireless and effective leader on counterterrorism and national security policy, as well as being active on health care, telecommunications, and automotive issues. As chairman of HPSCI, he authorized and oversaw a budget of $70 billion that provided funding to the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies. The founder of the Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence & Global Affairs, he is working jointly with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and the Bipartisan Policy Center to realign the interests of government and the technology industry through the Global Digital Challenge Initiative. The initiative brings together leaders in the policy, business and technology communities to discuss critical issues facing the United States and the global digital economy.
CNN White House Correspondent
Michelle Kosinski is a CNN White House correspondent responsible for covering the Obama administration from the White House and around the world. Kosinski, who is based in the Washington, D.C. bureau, joined the network in 2014 and contributes to all CNN programs and platforms. Previously, she was a foreign correspondent for NBC News based in London.
Chief Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo News
Michael Isikoff is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author who joined Yahoo News in 2014 as chief investigative correspondent. He previously served as national investigative correspondent for NBC News between 2010 and 2014 and for Newsweek magazine between 1994 and 2010. Isikoff is the author of two New York Times best-selling books: “Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War,” co-written with David Corn, and “Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter’s Story,” which chronicled his own reporting of the Monica Lewinsky story. In 2015, he wrote and produced “Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government’s War on Gays,” a widely acclaimed documentary about the FBI’s “sex deviates’ program that was awarded the Edward R. Murrow Award for best documentary by the Radio Television Digital News Association.
Author and journalist
John Shaw will offer a post-election analysis of the new Trump administration from a journalist’s perspective.
A native of Peoria, Ill., John Shaw has been a Washington-based journalist for more than 20 years, covering Congress for Market News International, a global financial wire service. As a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat, he has interviewed dozens of lawmakers and diplomats and written more than 100 profiles and book reviews. Shaw has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Knox College in Illinois and a master’s degree in history from the Australia's University of New South Wales. Shaw is the author of four books: “Washington Diplomacy” (2002); “The Ambassador: Inside the Life of a Working Diplomat” (2006); “Richard G. Lugar, Statesman of the Senate” (2012); and “JFK in the Senate: Pathway to the Presidency” (2013). Shaw was a media fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a guest on PBS NewsHour and C-SPAN.
Richard S. Levick, Esq.
Chairman and CEO of LEVICK
Richard Levick is chairman and CEO of LEVICK, representing countries and companies in high-stakes global communications matters, from the Wall Street crisis and the Gulf oil spill to Guantanamo Bay and the Catholic Church. Levick was honored multiple times on the prestigious list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the Boardroom” and has been named to multiple professional halls of fame for lifetime achievement. He is the co-author of four books including “The Communicators: Leadership in the Age of Crisis” and is a regular commentator on television and print.
CEO and Founder of CRAFT | Media/Digital
A veteran strategist with two decades of experience in the PR, public affairs and political arenas, Brian Donahue has helped elect members of Congress and the U.S. Senate, in addition to serving on two presidential election staffs. He has also worked on behalf of Walmart, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Restaurant Association, International Franchise Association, Balance Gym, the Business Roundtable, National Federation of Independent Businesses, Petland, National Propane Gas Association, an industry-leading airline and numerous other clients. His communications strategies have been sourced in top news outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, CNN, the Hill and Politico. Brian launched CRAFT with the vision of innovating the communications industry by delivering integrated campaigns and cutting-edge creative.
David S. Adams
Principal at Podesta Group
With nearly three decades of experience on Capitol Hill and with the State Department, David S. Adams possesses an invaluable combination of legislative and foreign policy expertise uniquely equipping him to provide strategic guidance for clients on a wide range of international and legislative issues. As assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, Adams was the chief legislative adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and was instrumental in facilitating the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, civil nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia and Australia, and the successful confirmation of 122 nominees. Previously, as deputy assistant secretary for House affairs, he was also key to the development of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, as well as approval of major arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates.
Gerald (Jerry) Caponera
Director of Technical Sales at CyberSponse
Gerald (Jerry) Caponera is a cyber security executive who works with CEOs and CISOs to help them reduce risk to cyber-attacks, increase their teams’ ability to respond to incidents and improve their return on investment for security investments. In his 20-year career in cybersecurity, Caponera has built, deployed and sold cyber solutions across the globe. He currently serves as CyberSponse’s director of technical sales, where he brings automation and orchestration to customers in the U.S., Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Prior to CyberSponse, he cofounded a company that quantified cyber risk in financial terms. He has lead large cyber security programs in the U.S. and UAE that delivered services, products and training to customers.
Senior Vice President, LEVICK
Dan Rene possesses more than a decade of communications experience in media relations and crisis communications. He has specialized in communications, advertising, grassroots, public affairs and research for numerous corporate clients. He has protected the reputations of athletes accused of using performance-enhancing drugs; entertainers facing tax evasion charges; politicians embroiled in personal and public crises; and corporations dealing with reputational threats. Rene has also implemented several consumer media relations and corporate branding campaigns for products such as Proctor & Gamble’s Febreze®, Clorox’s Fresh Step Crystals® and Olestra (Olean). In 2006, he was responsible for coordinating the media outreach for the funeral of Civil Rights icon, Coretta Scott King. He has also devised communications strategies for clients as diverse as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Saudi Arabia, the Chandra Levy Family and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Rene has served as communications director for the National Legal and Policy Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government, as well as campaign manager for Citizens for Reform, where he implemented a nationwide grassroots campaign to bring accountability to legal services organizations.
Senior Director of Public Affairs, APCO Worldwide
Dan Scandling is a senior director of public affairs in APCO’s Washington office, where he helps lead a team that integrates strategic communication, issues management and government relations expertise to deliver policy outcomes for clients. Before joining APCO, he was a member of Ogilvy Washington’s corporate and public affairs practice as a senior vice president, advising clients in government, financial, health care and technology sectors. Prior to his time at Ogilvy, Scandling spent nearly 25 years on Capitol Hill, serving as chief of staff and communications director for two senior members of Congress: Rep. Frank Wolf from 2000 to 2014 and the late Rep. Herb Bateman from 1990 to 2000. He was involved in a wide range of legislation during his time on the Hill, including the annual appropriations bills for the departments of Commerce and Justice as well as the nation’s science agencies. In addition, Scandling managed Rep. Bateman and Rep. Wolf’s re-election campaigns. Prior to his work on Capitol Hill, Mr. Scandling served as a public relations officer for the Virginia Housing Development Authority in Richmond. He was a journalist before transitioning to public policy, serving as editor and general manager at the Caroline Progress.
Public Policy Manager for Twitter
Maryam Mujica currently works as a manager for Twitter’s public policy team in the company’s D.C. office. She is responsible for D.C.-based international issues such as MLAT (mutual legal assistant treaty) reform, FTO (foreign terrorist organizations) policies, freedom of expression, and sensitive content issues on the platform. Prior to joining Twitter, Maryam was at the State Department, where she was a part of the U.S. delegation to the Iran-P5+1 talks, managing the delegation’s messaging and press issues leading up to the historic nuclear Joint Plan of Action in Geneva in November 2013. She previously served as Europe press officer in the Bureau of European Affairs and also completed a one-year assignment at the National Security Council as special assistant to the White House coordinator for Middle East, North Africa and Gulf region. Before her work in public service, Mujica practiced law as a litigation attorney in San Francisco followed by her time at Stanford Law School as associate director for external relations.
Press and Public Affairs Officer at the Italian Embassy in Washington
ANDREAS SANDRE is press and public affairs officer at the Italian Embassy in Washington DC. He is the author of “Digital Diplomacy: Conversations on Innovation in Foreign Policy” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) and “Twitter for Diplomats” (DiploFoundation and Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2013). Previously, Sandre was public affairs officer at Italy's United Nations mission in New York. He’s contributed articles to many publications including the Huffington Post, the London School of Economics' Global Policy and BigThink.
Cultural & Communication Affairs, Embassy of Ecuador
Carla Portalanza is a tourism expert from Ecuador with 15 years of experience in marketing and public relations for the promotion of tourism destinations. Before joining the Embassy of Ecuador in Washington D.C. as Cultural and Press Attaché, Carla spent around 9 years at the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism, where she held various managerial roles and served as Undersecretary of Tourism Promotion. During her tenure, she was instrumental in developing Ecuador’s promotion strategies to position as a world-class tourism destination. Her vision to develop new markets with a business to business approach was crucial at the time were the new country brand “Ecuador love life” was successfully launched in 2010.
Vice President of Evolver Inc.
Chip Block leads new market and technology development at Evolver, which currently supports Security Operations Centers for the federal and commercial markets securing over 12,000 staff, 350,000 customers and billions of dollars of assets. Block has over 30 years of advanced technology research and development experience and has spent the last 14 years in the information assurance and cyber technology arenas. His research has included federal projects with DARPA and the Air Force Research Laboratory in the development of advanced cyber technologies. He is the author of numerous papers, including “And Then The Accountants Showed Up…. How The Insurance Industry Will Drive Cyber Technology,” and he was awarded an R&D 100 award as co-principal investigator in 2003. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a certified FAIR analyst.
Vice President of Digital at CRAFT | Media/Digital
John Randall is vice president of digital at CRAFT | Media/Digital and a recognized leader in the digital space. As the “Digital Veep,” he leads a team of advertisers, developers and designers to ensure CRAFT remains a leader in the digital space. Prior to joining CRAFT, Randall was the director of political advertising for AOL, managing digital advertising for major political and public affairs campaigns including Romney for President, Americans for Prosperity and American Petroleum Institute. Before AOL, Randall spent seven years in Republican politics — first, as the director of radio and TV for the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2006 cycle, then launching the Online Communications Division at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Randall returned to the NRCC for the 2010 cycle, launching the committee’s eCampaign Division. Randall is an adjunct faculty member at The George Washington University, where he developed the curriculum and teaches digital strategy for the Graduate School of Political Management.