Save the date! Next Conference February 23 – 26, 2021
8th Annual Conference February 18 – 21, 2020
Join us for the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs! This year’s 3-1/2 day event begins with a Keynote Address at the Palladium, 5:00 pm Feb. 18, and ends with a Closing Address at Fox Hall - Eckerd College, 7:00 pm Feb. 21. Panel Discussions are daily 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Feb. 19 – 21 at University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) Student Center and Kate Tiedemann College of Business. Admission is free and open to the public.
Expand Your World View………. Further!
The success of the Saint Petersburg Conference on World Affairs inspired Mayor Rick Kriseman last year to proclaim the creation of St Petersburg International Week to run concurrently with the conference. During the week of Feb 17 – 21 we will be offering additional activities in support of our program, including various international culinary and artistic events.
Speakers for 2020 Conference
Each year the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs continues to improve the quantity and caliber of our high-profile panelists. Here is a peek at some of them.
Laura KleinJazz pianist and composer

Laura Klein, jazz pianist and composer, was born in New York City and started playing piano as a child, studying at the Manhattan School of Music. After receiving a degree in classical music from SUNY Buf­falo, she started playing in a soul band and never looked back. She went on to study jazz at Berklee School of Music, performing at clubs and venues in the Boston/New England area. Klein relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1984, where she has been actively performing and teaching ever since.

Donald MorrisonAuthor and Journalist

Donald Morrison is an author, journalist and educator. In a long career at TIME magazine, he served as editor of its World section in New York, its Asian edition in Hong Kong and its European edition in London. He has taught at New York University's London Center, Tsinghua University in Beijing and the Institut d'etudes politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris.

Robin TruesdaleIndependent Documentary Filmmaker

Robin is an independent documentary filmmaker and an avid walker. In 2018, she crossed Northern Spain on foot along the Camino de Santiago where she experienced the ways that walking helps us to slow down, pay attention, and connect with community. Home in Colorado, she is a Walking Movement Leader with Walk2Connect. She is also a visual storyteller creating documentary films. Her newest release is Sweet Home Monteverde, the story of Alabama Quakers who, in 1950, left Alabama in search of a life of pacifism. They found it in a remote cloud forest in Costa Rica, a country that had just abolished its army.

Joannie BewaPhysician, Fulbright Scholar at USF College of Public Health

Joannie Marlene Bewa is a physician, and an international expert in public health from Benin Republic. She is currently enrolled as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, specializing in public maternal and child health.

Ronald Grigor SunyProfessor of History and Political Science

Ronald Grigor Suny is the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago, and Senior Researcher at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The grandson of the composer and ethnomusicologist Grikor Mirzaian Suni and a graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University, he taught at Oberlin College (1968-1981), as visiting professor of history at the University of California, Irvine (1987), and Stanford University (1995-1996). He was the first holder of the Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern Armenian History at the University of Michigan (1981-1995), where he founded and directed the Armenian Studies Program. He was Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History at the University of Michigan from 2005 to 2015 and director of the Eisenberg Institute of Historical Studies from 2009 to 2012.

Ken YamashitaExecutive Mentor and Coach for the U.S Agency for International Development

Since his retirement from the federal government in December 2016, Dr. Yamashita has been serving as an Executive Mentor and Coach for the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID). In this capacity he has travelled to various USAID Missions in Latin America, providing support to senior managers and the staff on matters ranging from leadership skills, strategic direction, and engagement with other U.S. government agencies, such as the State Department. During his over 25 year career, Yamashita served as a USAID Foreign Service Officer, attaining the rank of Career Minister, the highest rank in the Senior Foreign Service at USAID. Immediately prior to his retirement, Yamashita served as a White House Senior Executive Service Appointee as the Associate Director for Global Operations at Peace Corps. In this role, Yamashita was responsible for all operational aspects of Peace Corps programs and offices in over 60 countries supporting over 7,000 volunteers. Prior to this appointment, Yamashita was the U.S. State Department Coordinator for Economic Assistance, Rule of Law and Law Enforcement at Embassy/Kabul. In this Ambassador-rank position, Yamashita directed policy and operational coordination across 13 US Departments, Agencies, and Offices operating in Afghanistan on matters related to economic and development assistance, law enforcement, and rule of law. He was the principal point of contact for NATO and US military assistance in Afghanistan. Yamashita is one of the few three-time Mission Directors at USAID, having served in Kosovo, Colombia, and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he was the first Mission Director to serve two consecutive years after USAID re-started its operations in 2002. In this role he oversaw the surge in development personnel from 250 to 500 and an annual program budget of over $2.0 billion. He was instrumental in starting the first ever Women’s Empowerment program in Afghanistan and the largest of its kind in USAID worldwide. In Colombia Yamashita was instrumental in starting the first-ever dedicated program for Afro-Colombians and Indigenous Colombians. In South Africa as Director of the Health Office, Yamashita and his team started the USAID’s first HIV/AIDS program for the country. This program and the Regional Corridors program that Yamashita directed were key inputs into the design and creation of the PEPFAR program. Yamashita brings over 35 years of development experience in policy and field operations across all major regions of the world. In addition to his leadership in policy and program matters, he has been instrumental in inspiring and empowering staff by serving as mentor and coach. He has been recognized for his service and accomplishments, including a Presidential Rank Meritorious Award in 2008.