• 2019 WHFF Annual Leadership Conference Highlights

    On Wednesday, October 16th (the day before the conference), more than 50 of us visited the U.S. Capitol for a behind-the-scenes tour led by Representative Steve Womack (R-AR). Mr. John Gallagher (2007-08) then led a panel discussion titled “Democracy Up Close” with four recently elected members, including: Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL); Representative Sharice Davids (2016-17) (D-KS); Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-CA); and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).

    On Thursday, October 17th we heard from our keynote speaker: Dina Powell McCormick, former Deputy National Security Advisor. We also heard that morning from Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and from Secretary Ray Mabus, the former Governor of Mississippi, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and former Secretary of the Navy. During lunch Robert “Mike” Duncan and Elizabeth Pinkerton briefed us on the selection, placements, and progress of the Class of 2019-20. And in the afternoon Professor Melissa Goldstein (1999-00) led a panel discussion on “Ethics and Genetic Modification” with Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, the Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, and Dr. Jonathan D. Moreno, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. We then proceeded to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to hear briefings from several administration officials, including Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos; Ambassador Sam Brownback (1990-91); Thomas Gilman, Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Commerce, and Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, the US Ambassador to the Organization of American States.

    On Thursday evening at the Renwick Gallery the White House Fellows Singers – Dr. Jen MacDonald (2015-16) and Dr. Susan Yoshihara (1996-97) began the evening with a song dedicated to our recently departed Board Member MacArthur “Mac” DeShazer (1984-85). After dinner we then presented the John Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award to Isiah “Ike” Leggett (1978-79).

    On Friday October 18th we met with Mr. Michael Morell, Former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and with Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and founder of SAFE Project (Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic Project). Dr. Cara LaPointe (2013-14) led a panel discussion on “The Technology Revolution: Emerging Roles across Society” with Christine Fox, Assistant Director for Policy and Analysis at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, and former Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense; Dr. Jason Matheny, founding Director of the Georgetown University Center for Security and Emerging Technology, former Assistant Director of National Intelligence, and former Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity; and Katharina “Katrina” McFarland, SAIC Board of Directors, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, and former President of the Defense Acquisition University.

    At lunch, during our Business Meeting our President, Geoff Shepard (1969-70) delivered his report on our organization’s accomplishments over the past year, followed by our Treasurer Kevin Monroe (1996-97) who updated us on the financial position of our organization, and by Margarita Colmenares (1991-92) who provided an update on the WHF Alumni Recruiting Campaign. Jim Padilla (1978-79) then presented awards for Recruiting Excellence to Margarita Colmenares (1991-92), for her leadership of the alumni recruiting effort; and to Walt Humann (1966-67) for his leadership recruiting business candidates to the WHF Program. Dr. Loree Sutton (1996-97) then delivered a Ted talk on “The Renewal Imperative”.

    On Friday afternoon Admiral Dennis Blair (1975-76) led a panel discussion on “China: Non-Traditional Partner or New Cold War Adversary?” with Mr. Erik Bethel, United States Representative, World Bank Board of Directors; Mr. Matt Turpin, former National Security Council Senior Director for East Asia; Mr. Mark Cheng, Acting Executive Director, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board; and Mr. Gregory Allen, Chief of Strategy and Communications, Department of Defense, Chief Information Office – Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. Bill Graham (1966-67) then presented the Jack Valenti Friend of the White House Fellows Award to Congresswoman Donna Shalala. And we concluded the Friday session with a Media Panel on “Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech” moderated by Dr. Stefanie Sanford (1996-97) with Ms. Amy Walter, National Editor, The Cook Political Report; Mr. Derrell Bradford, Executive Vice President of 50CAN; Mr. Jonah Goldberg, National Review; and Mr. Steve Clemons, Editor-at-large, The Hill.

    On Friday evening we adjourned to the Hall of Flags where the White House Fellows Singers – Dr. Jen MacDonald (2015-16), Dr. Susan Yoshihara (1996-97), and Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Gillis (2018-19) – led everyone in singing the National Anthem. Dr. Susan Yoshihara (1996-97) then presented the IMPACT Award to Colonel Nicole Malachowski (USAF, Ret) (2008-09). And Ms. Elizabeth Pinkerton, Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, then presented the Class of 2019-20 to the WHF alumni community – each of whom introduced themselves in turn.

    On Saturday October 19th we met at the International Spy Museum where Ms. Kristin Wood, former Intelligence Official and Spy Museum Board of Directors led a panel discussion titled: “Spy vs. Spy: Is Counterintelligence the New Counterterrorism?” which included four Career Intelligence Officials: Mr. Dan H., Mr. David R., Mr. Kevin H., and Ms. Heather McMahon, former Director of Counter-Intelligence for the Department of Defense. Following the panel discussion, over lunch, Mr. Peter Wood, a Magician and Mentalist who has been partnered with the International Spy Museum since 2011, delivered a presentation on the similarities between the worlds of magic and spying. We then toured the museum exhibits until closing time that Saturday afternoon.

    All of us are greatly indebted to Bobbi Doorenbos (2007-08) for her leadership in spearheading this conference, and to the members of her ALC Committee: John Gallagher (2007-08), Cara LaPointe (2013-14), Melissa Goldstein (1999-00), and Stefanie Sanford (1996-97).

    posted: November 5, 2019
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