Speakers’ Bios: US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit III

Ayla Bakkalli

Ayla Bakkalli serves as the Representative of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis at the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues; she additionally serves as an Executive Member of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars. She has written and lectured extensively about Crimean Tatar-Ukrainian relations and Crimean Tatar-Russian relations.

Robert Bensh

Robert Bensh is Managing Director at Pelicourt Ltd. Concurrently, he is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Condor Exploration, a private oil and gas company operating in Colombia since July of 2007. In addition to Condor Exploration, Mr. Bensh was the Executive Chairman of Northcote Energy Ltd. and its predecessor from February 2008 to January 2011. Prior to that he served as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cardinal Resources and its predecessor, Carpatsky Petroleum Inc. He joined Carpatsky in 2001 as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

Ilan Berman

Ilan Berman is Vice President for Policy at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC. An expert on international terrorism and regional security in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Russian Federation, Mr. Berman’s writings have appeared in such publications as the WSJ Europe, Middle East Quarterly, the Washington Times, the Jerusalem Post and the Journal of International Security Affairs and Strategic Review.

Andrew Bihun

Andrew Bihun, presently President of The Washington Group (TWG), has enjoyed an extensive career in international marketing, particularly in analyzing global marketing opportunities and stimulating the growth of trade from his position in public sector, i.e. the U.S. Department of Commerce. In his long-term assignments in the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Commercial Service, Mr. Bihun developed and headed various foreign market research programs. The highlight of Mr. Bihun’s international career was a posting as Commercial Counselor and head of the Foreign Commercial Service of the US Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine from 1995 to 1999.

Stephen Blank

Stephen Blank is currently Senior Fellow on Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council; prior to his present position, Dr. Blank spent 24 years, 1989-2013, as a Professor of National Security Studies at the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, PA. His expertise covers the entire Russian and post-Soviet region and he has also written extensively on defense strategy, arms control, information warfare, energy issues, US foreign and defense policy, European, and Asian security.

Yaroslav Brisiuck

Yaroslav Brisiuck currently serves as the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Ukraine to the United States. His recent op-ed columns in major US papers have helped highlight the ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ that the Russian Federation’s ‘hybrid war ‘ in eastern Ukraine has helped generate.

Ariel Cohen

Ariel Cohen is a well-known international expert on Ukrainian, Russian, Eurasian, European and Middle Eastern foreign, security and economic affairs; U.S. and global energy security; terrorism; organized crime and other political risk factors. Dr. Cohen is currently Director, Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics and Senior Fellow, Institute for Analysis of Global Security as well as Principal at International Market Analysis.

Andrea Chalupa

Andrea Chalupa is a writer, journalist, and producer in New York. She is the author of the 2012 eBook Orwell and the Refugees. Andrea helped launch online video for Condé Nast Portfolio and AOL Money & Finance. She reported on-camera for these outlets, covering the 2008 presidential conventions and the Sundance Film Festival. For the Huffington Post, Andrea writes on business, entertainment, and politics. For several years, she lived in Ukraine where she auditioned to be a national news anchor for 5 Kanal, started a Doors-inspired band, and oversaw the translation of her grandfather’s Soviet memoir about growing up under Stalin and his years as a tortured political prisoner in a secret NKVD prison.

Matthew Czekaj

Matthew Czekaj is a Program Associate for Europe and Eurasia at The Jamestown Foundation and also serves as the Managing Editor of Jamestown’s daily publication, the Eurasia Daily Monitor. Prior to joining Jamestown, Mr. Czekaj was a Research Associate at the Atlantic Council, where he worked on issues of European Enlargement. Before that, he was a Research Assistant at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) Energy Security Program.

William H. Courtney

William H. Courtney is Director of Strategic Planning at the Computer Sciences Corporation. From 1998 to 2000, he served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. In 1997-98, Dr. Courtney was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the NSC staff for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. Previously, he served as Ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan.

Orest Deychakiwsky

Orest Deychakiwsky is senior staff advisor at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) whose country responsibilities currently include Ukraine, Belarus and Bulgaria. He has served as a member of U.S. delegations to numerous OSCE/CSCE meetings and as an international election observer in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Bosnia. Mr. Deychakiwsky has authored or co-authored a sizable number of speeches, statements, resolutions, and articles on issues pertaining to Ukraine or U.S.-Ukrainian relations.

Nadia Diuk

Nadia Diuk serves as Vice President, Programs for Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private nonprofit organization funded by the U.S. Congress to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts. For over twenty years prior to her appointment as Vice President, Dr. Diuk supervised NED programs in Europe and Eurasia where she worked on programs and strategies for the underground democratic movements before 1989, through to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and beyond.

John Herbst

John Herbst is former United States Ambassador to Ukraine and presently Director for Eurasia at the Atlantic Council of the United States; immediately prior to the current posting, he served as Director of the National Defense University Center for Complex Operations. Amb. Herbst has worked as a political counselor at the US embassies in Tel Aviv, Israel, Moscow, Russia, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the Director of Regional Affairs in the Near East Bureau of the US State Department, as Director of the Office of Independent States and Commonwealth Affairs and as Principal Deputy to the Ambassador-at-large for the Newly Independent States. He was appointed Ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2000 before assuming the post of US envoy to Ukraine in 2003.

Glen Howard

Glen Howard serves as the President of The Jamestown Foundation. Mr. Howard is fluent in Russian and proficient in Azerbaijani and Arabic, and is a regional expert on the Caucasus and Central Asia. He was formerly an Analyst at the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) Strategic Assessment Center. His articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, and Jane’s Defense Weekly. Mr. Howard has served as a consultant to private sector and governmental agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Intelligence Council and major oil companies operating in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Laura Jewett

Laura Jewett is NDI’s regional director for Eurasia. She joined the Institute in 1994 and had served as the Eurasia team’s deputy director for 10 years. In the region, NDI is currently conducting programs to strengthen civil society and support multiparty democracy in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Dr. Jewett has traveled extensively in Eurasia, meeting with political, civic and government leaders to assess political conditions and design democracy assistance programs.

Phillip Karber

Phillip Karber is President of the Potomac Foundation; he was named to this position in 2012, having been a Senior Fellow since the Foundation’s inception in 1988. Dr. Karber is an internationally recognized expert in defense and national security matters; an accomplished business executive; and an academic. He has prepared studies on defense strategy for the highest levels of the U.S. government; advised major NATO governments on defense issues; headed BDM Corporation’s International Division; and taught courses in national security and military affairs at Georgetown University, where he also was founding director of the Asian Arms Control Project.

James Kirchick

James Kirchick is currently a fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative. A journalist and foreign correspondent based in Washington, he has reported from Southern and North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe and the Caucasus. Earlier he served a productive three year stint at The New Republic covering US domestic policy and intelligence issues and was for a time writer-at-large for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty based in Prague, writing about the politics and cultures of the 21 countries in RFE/RL’s broadcast region. His writing has appeared in The Weekly Standard, The American Interest, The Virginia Quarterly Review, World Affairs, Commentary, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times, among many other publications.

Ostap Kryvdyk

Ostap Kryvdyk currently serves as Senior Advisor to the First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; his area of responsibility resides in the realm of information/international relations. During the traumatic first months of Russia’s incursion into Crimea and Donbas, he served as the chief information officer for the Head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

Taras Kuzio

Taras Kuzio is a Toronto-based leading international expert on contemporary Ukrainian and post-communist politics, nationalism and European integration at the Centre for Political and Regional Studies, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta and Non-Resident Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR), School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University.

Nadia K. McConnell

Nadia K. McConnell is President of the US-Ukraine Foundation, which she helped found in 1991 to promote democratic development and free market reform in Ukraine. The Foundation’s first initiative in Ukraine was the Pylyp Orlyk Institute, a non partisan, locally registered, public policy research organization.

William Miller

William Miller is presently a Senior Scholar at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center. Earlier, he served as the second US Ambassador to Ukraine. During his tenure, Ambassador Miller was eyewitness to some of the most fundamental transformations of the Ukrainian State, including the ratification of Ukraine’s Constitution.

Steven Nix

Steven Nix is Director of the Eurasian Division at the International Republican Institute. From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Nix served as Outside Legal Counsel for the Ukrainian Parliament’s Committee on Legal and Judicial Reform. Upon his return to the U.S., he accepted a position as Senior Democracy Specialist at USAID, where he assisted in the design and implementation of democracy programs in Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States.

John O’Keefe

John O’Keefe is a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister Counselor. Before assuming his current duties as Executive Director of the Open World Leadership Development Program, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of the Director General, Bureau of Human Resources [2004-2006]. Prior to that, Ambassador O’Keefe headed the Office of Career Development and Assignments from July 2003 to April 2004. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from August 2000 to July 2003.

Robert Orttung

Robert Orttung is president of the Resource Security Institute, Assistant Director of the Institue for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, and a visiting scholar at the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. Dr. Orttung is a co-editor of the Russian Analytical Digest and the Caucasus Analytical Digest, bi-weekly electronic newsletters that examine political and economic developments in their respective regions. Previously he worked at American University’s Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, the EastWest Institute and the Open Media Research Institute.

Roman Popadiuk

Roman Popadiuk, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, is a principal at Morgan Lewis Consulting. A retired member of the career Senior Foreign Service, Dr. Popadiuk brings more than 30 years of experience in the areas of national security, political risk analysis, communications strategy and energy policy, including serving on the National Security Councils of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. With his vast experience and contacts that span the globe, he brings a unique insight into international political and business matters.

Oleksandr Potiekhin

Oleksandr Potiekhin presently serves as Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine; concurrently, he is Lead Researcher on the ‘Nuclear Disarmament of Ukraine’ Project at the Institute of World History, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. In November 2004, while serving as Political Counselor at the Embassy of Ukraine to the United States, Dr. Potiekhin helped initiate a ‘diplomat’s revolt’ to challenge the fraudulent results of the 2004 presidential runoff, a critical step in the eventual triumph of the Orange Revolution.

Myron Rabij

Myron B. Rabij is a Global Partner with Dentons, the world’s largest international law firm, in its Kyiv and New York offices and is the Head of both Dentons Energy and Natural Resources Practice and Real Estate Practice in Ukraine. Mr. Rabij specializes in corporate/M&A, upstream oil and gas and alternative energy, complex commercial real estate and strategic advising to clients; he has been representing international and Ukrainian clients for over 22 years in complex negotiations of joint ventures, cross-border acquisitions, construction and development, hotel management, international arbitration, and on general matters of Ukrainian corporate law.

Joanna Rohozinska

Joanna Rohozinska is Senior Program Officer for Europe and Eurasia at the National Endowment for Democracy. She has worked in the area of civil-society development for more than 12 years throughout Central and Eastern Europe; she has written extensively on matters related to her area of expertise.

Michael Sawkiw

Michael Sawkiw is a former President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA). He was first elected to the post in October 2000 in Chicago and subsequently re-elected in September 2004 in Philadelphia. Since 1996, he has served as Director of the Ukrainian National Information Service – and presently holds this position again. His key achievements in Washington have included the formation of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus in 1997; advocating the graduation of Ukraine from the Jackson-Vanik amendment; passage by US Congress of a bill to authorize the construction of a monument to the victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933 and preparatory work with various election observers teams that the UCCA has sent to UA during the last two decades.

Morgan Williams

Morgan Williams is President of US-Ukraine Business Council as well as Director of Government Affairs at the SigmaBleyzer Emerging Markets Private Equity Investment Group. Additionally, Mr. Williams edits and publishes the Action Ukraine Report, an indispensable informational tool for all who cover issues related to Ukraine.

Keith Smith

Keith Smith is currently Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis; immediately prior to that appointment, he was Senior Advisor in the Europe Division at the Center for Strategic and International Affairs (CSIS). In 2000, Ambassador Smith retired from the State Department’s Foreign Service after serving from 1997 to 2000 as the American Ambassador in Lithuania. In Europe, he was also posted to Hungary (twice), Norway and Estonia.

William B. Taylor, Jr.

William B. Taylor, Jr. is Vice President for the Middle East and Africa at the United States Institute of Peace. From 2011 to 2013, Ambassador Taylor was the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions in the State Department, appointed by the Secretary of State to ensure that U.S. support for the countries of the Arab revolutions was effective; his task was to coordinate assistance and support to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria. He served as the U.S. envoy to Ukraine, the sixth in a line of distinguished US diplomats, from 2006 to 2009.

Temuri Yakobashvili

Temuri Yakobashvili, former Ambassador of Georgia to the United States (November 2010- November 2012), is a long-time senior government official, respected scholar and well-known figure in Washington and the capitals of Europe; at present, he heads the New International Leadership Institute. Before serving as Georgia’s envoy to the US, Amb. Yakobashvili was Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister for Reintegration for the Government of Georgia. In that capacity, he designed Georgia’s “engagement strategy” for improving relations between Georgia and the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He joined the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1991 and held a variety of senior positions, including that of Director of the Department for the USA, Canada and Latin America.