US-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII: Speaker Bios

Margarita Assenova

Margarita Assenova is a professional journalist and political analyst with over 25 years of experience in print and broadcast media, including RFE/RL and Jamestown Foundation. Ms. Assenova has worked on democracy projects in Central-Eastern Europe and Central Asia for the International Republican Institute, Freedom House, the Institute for New Democracies, and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. She currently serves as the Course Chair for Southeast Central Europe Advanced Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State.

James Bezan

James Bezan has been elected five times as a Canadian Member of Parliament in the riding of Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman in Manitoba since 2004. Over the course of his career, he has chaired the House of Commons’ Standing Committees for Agriculture, Environment and National Defence.  MP Bezan served as Parliamentary Sec. to the Ministry of National Defence from 2013-2015, and was active on files dealing with military procurement, the war against ISIS, and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.  He currently serves in the Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet as the Conservative National Defence Critic.

Steven Blank

Steven 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 post-Soviet region and he has also written extensively on defense strategy, arms control, information warfare, US foreign/defense policy, European and Asian security.

Aurel Braun

Aurel Braun is currently a Professor of International Relations and Political Science at the University of Toronto. Additionally he is a senior member of the Centre for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and of the Centre for International Studies, and a Fellow and Senator of Trinity College at the University of Toronto. Dr. Braun has held a Visiting Professor post at Harvard University.and has twice been appointed a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University”s Hoover Institution.

Michael Carpenter

Michael Carpenter is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense with responsibility for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. He also has responsibility for the Western Balkans and Conventional Arms Control. 

Prior to joining the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Dr. Carpenter served in the White House as the Special Advisor to the Vice President for Europe and Eurasia. Previously, he served as Director for Russia at the White House National Security Council.

Valeriy Chaly

Valeriy Chaly presently serves as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the United States. He came to the post immediately after having held the position of Deputy Head of Administration of the President of Ukraine. Before his political and foreign services appointments, Amb. Chaly worked a number of years as Deputy Director General of Ukraine”s leading NGO, the Razumkov Center, gaining recognition in Ukraine as well as internationally for his efforts at the institution.

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 presently Director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security; concurrently, he is a Non Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States.

William H. Courtney

William H. Courtney is Executive Director of the RAND Business Leaders” Forum. 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.

Derek Fraser

Derek Fraser is Centre for Global Studies Senior Research Associate and Adjunct Professor for Political Science at the University of Victoria as well as adviser to the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta. He has supported democratization in Ukraine as well contributed to academic and foreign policy conferences, notably on Eastern Europe, Ukraine, the European Union, and China. Derek Fraser had a long career with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He served as Canada’s envoy in Ukraine (1998-2001), in Greece (1995-98) and in Hungary (1988-93).

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the Euro College of the University of Tartu in Estonia. While there, he launched the “Window on Eurasia” series. Prior to joining the faculty there in 2004, he served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau.

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, Moscow and Riyadh, as the Director of Regional Affairs in the Near East Bureau at the US State Department and as Director of the Office of Independent States and Commonwealth Affairs. He served as US envoy to Uzbekistan before his posting 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. Mr. Howard”s articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and Jane’s Defense Weekly; he has served as a consultant to private sector and governmental agencies, including US DOD, the National Intelligence Council and oil companies operating in Central Asia and Middle East.

Adrian Karmazyn

Adrian Karmazyn is a Special Advisor for Strategic Communications and Development at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. From 2005 to 2015 he served as Chief of the Ukrainian Service of the Voice of America, during which time VOA significantly expanded its impact and audience in Ukraine’s television market. Prior to his appointment to a management role at VOA, he worked as a journalist in the Ukrainian Service.

David J. Kramer

David J. Kramer is presently Director for Human Rights & Democracy at the McCain Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, he was President of Freedom House, which he joined in October 2010; he concurrently taught at the Elliott School for International Affairs at The George Washington University. Earlier, Mr. Kramer served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from March 2008 to January 2009. He also was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus affairs.

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 affairs. During the 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.

Marius Laurinavičius

Marius Laurinavičius is currently a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis; he comes to the new posting from his position as Senior Policy Analyst in the Policy Analysis and Research Division of the Eastern European Study Centre. Prior to joining EESC, Mr. Laurinavičius worked for the largest Lithuanian media group “Lietuvos Rytas” for almost 22 year. During that time, he gained a well deserved reputation as Lithuanian media”s leading foreign affairs expert.

Henrik Lax

Mr. Henrik Lax, a lawyer and a business economist, was affiliated with the Finnish industry from 1970 to 1987, a Member of the Parliament of Finland from 1987 to 2004, and a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 until he retired in 2009. As a member of the Swedish People”s Party in Finland he was affiliated with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament. In 2006 Mr. Lax was his party”s candidate in the Presidential elections in Finland and the only one to support NATO membership for Finland; European integration and defense issues have been items on his permanent agenda.

Sander Levin

Sander “Sandy” Levin has been the voice of Michigan”s 9th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives since 1982. Rep. Levin is the Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. He also serves as Co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus and has long been one of Ukraine”s “best friends on the Hill”.

William Miller

William Miller is currently 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.

Hüseyin Oylupinar

Hüseyin Oylupinar is presently Non Resident Senior Fellow at the Institute of Euro-Atlantic Cooperation. Immediately prior to his current posting, Dr. Oylupinar held a Shklar Post Doctoral Fellowship at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute; his areas of interest include Turkish-Ukrainian relations and the current state of Crimean Tatar affairs.

Andriy Parubiy

Andriy Parubiy is First Deputy Speaker of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada. In the 2007 parliamentary elections, he was voted into the Ukrainian parliament; he was re-elected in 2012. From December 2013 to February 2014, he served as commandant of Euromaidan. In March 2014, Mr. Parubiy was appointed Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. As Secretary of the Council, he oversaw the “anti–terrorist” operation against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine during the June-August phase, when Ukrainian forces proved capable of effective counter strikes against enemy forces. In October 2014, he returned to the Rada on the Narodnyj Front ticket and was elected to his present position.

Herman Pirchner

Herman Pirchner, in 1982, became the founding President of the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), a non-profit public policy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Under his leadership, AFPC has hosted the Washington visits of hundreds of foreign officials; conducted hundreds of briefings for members of Congress and their staffs; and organized dozens of fact-finding missions abroad for current and former senior American officials.

Robert Portman

Robert Portman was elected to the United States Senate tin 2010 to represent the State of Ohio, having earlier served both as congressman and US Trade Representative. In 2015, Sen. Portman was instrumental in forming the Senate Ukraine Caucus and currently serves as its Co-chair.

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 to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria. He served as the U.S. envoy to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009.

Temuri Yakobashvili

Temuri Yakobashvili, former Ambassador of Georgia to the United States 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. 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.