Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Keynote Speaker

Amb. (Ret.) Thomas R. Pickering
Thomas R. Pickering, currently Vice Chairman at Hills and Company which provides advice and counsel to a number of major US enterprises, retired as Senior Vice President International Relations and a member of the Executive Council of The Boeing Company on July 1, 2006. He served in that position for 5 and one half years. He was responsible for The Boeing Company's relations with foreign governments and the company's globalization.
Pickering joined Boeing in January 2001, upon his retirement as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, where he had served since May 1997. Prior to that, he was briefly the president of the Eurasia Foundation, a Washington-based organization that makes small grants and loans in the states of the former Soviet Union. 
Pickering holds the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service. In a diplomatic career spanning five decades, he was U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Pickering also served on assignments in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 
From 1989 to 1992, he was Ambassador and Representative to the United Nations in New York. He also served as Executive Secretary of the Department of State and Special Assistant to Secretaries William P. Rogers and Henry A. Kissinger from 1973 to 1974. 
Pickering entered on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1956-1959, and later served in the Naval Reserve to the grade of Lieutenant Commander. Between 1959 and 1961, he was assigned to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the State Department and later to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and from 1962 to 1964 in Geneva as political adviser to the U.S. Delegation to the 18-Nation Disarmament Conference. 
Pickering received a bachelor's degree, cum laude, with high honors in history, from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1953. In 1954, he received a master's degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Melbourne in Australia, and received a second master's degree in 1956. In 1984, he was awarded an honorary doctor-in-laws degree from Bowdoin College, and has received similar honors from 12 other universities.
In 2012, he chaired the Benghazi Accountability Review Board at the request of Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton which made recommendations on improving security stemming from the attack on the US Mission at Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 and the loss of the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
In 1983 and in 1986, Pickering won the Distinguished Presidential Award and, in 1996, the Department of State’s highest award – the Distinguished Service Award. He is a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations. He speaks French, Spanish and Swahili and has some fluency in Arabic, Hebrew and Russian.
Keynote Panel

Brigadier General Kimberly Field
Brigadier General Kimberly Field is the Army’s Deputy Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy at the Pentagon.  She is a 1987 graduate of the United States Military Academy, where she majored in Russian.
BG Field served in many leadership positions at various levels, from Platoon Leader in the 59th Military Police Company to the Executive Officer (XO) of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command in Afghanistan. Over the course of her career, BG Field has studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California, earned a Master of Arts in Security Management from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and graduated from the US Army War College.
BG Field returned to West Point to teach as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences, served as Political Advisor to the United States’ Ambassador the United Nations, and served as the Chief of Plans and Analysis at the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies in Garmisch, Germany. BG Field served as the ISAF Executive Officer (XO) for three commanders: General McKiernan, General McChrystal, and General Petraeus. In addition to her deployments to Afghanistan, she has also deployed to Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope and to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Kevin P. O'Prey, Ph.D.
Kevin P. O’Prey, Ph.D., is co-founder, Chairman, and President of Obsidian Analysis, Inc ( Dr. O’Prey is a nationally recognized facilitator and analyst of homeland security challenges. He is the facilitator and lead developer of the Senior Officials Exercise (SOE) and Principals-Level Exercise (PLE) series, the Federal Government’s premier exercises for senior homeland security officials, including Cabinet Secretaries and the President. In that capacity, Dr. O’Prey works closely with officials at all levels of government to develop, conduct, and assess the results of exercises that examine the nation’s capacity to manage catastrophic events. In addition, he facilitates a number of executive-level tabletop exercises and seminars for other Federal departments, state and local governments, academic institutions, international organizations, as well as private sector leaders.
Dr. O’Prey additionally directs analytical and strategic planning projects for a range of Federal, state, and local government clients. He served as a staff member for the White House review of the Federal Government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Among his projects have been path-breaking work in assessing the nation’s preparedness, cyber-security challenges, all-hazards planning, as well as assessment/evaluation of specific programs.
Dr. O’Prey earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Grinnell College. The author of several books on international security, he was formerly a fellow at the Brookings Institution, Managing Partner of the Palisades Group, and President of DFI Government Services.


Max Brooks
The son of Hollywood legends Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, Max Brooks is dedicated challenging and encouraging systems and institutions to think outside the box when problem solving. Even his fiction serves to raise awareness on the issues of disaster preparedness, crisis management, and survival.
Using fictional metaphor and historical events to prompt serious discourse on large-scale problem-solving, Brooks explores new ways to attack old problems and new concerns. Brooks tackles the tougher questions, like what are the threads that hold society together, and what’s really at stake when those threads are stressed, loosed, or torn. From the basic responsibilities of civilians and corporations to the over-arching role of government and the military, Brooks sheds light on what each can—and should—be prepared to do, to not only survive, but thrive in the face of real-world threats, disaster, and the unexpected.
After working for the BBC in Great Britain and East Africa, Brooks began writing The Zombie Survival Guide. Brooks’ New York Times best-seller, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, has been made into a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt.
Brooks has published three popular zombie-themed books—The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z, and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks.  Brooks’ ultimate goal was to challenge old ways of thinking and encourage mental agility and flexibility for problem solvers and leaders. Brooks’ unique, unconventional thinking depicted in his books has even inspired the U.S. military to examine how they may respond to potential crises in the future.Survival Guide’ was read and discussed by the sitting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Brooks has been invited to speak at a variety of military engagements—from the Naval War College, to the FEMA hurricane drill at San Antonio, to the nuclear "Vibrant Response" wargame. Brooks continues to drive the dialogue as an authority on how to manage and coordinate emergency responses and to suggest better ways to prepare for crisis and struggle.
Today, Brooks explores the consequences of failed leadership, making the leap from mythos to American History with the release of his latest book, The Harlem Hellfighters. The graphic novel chronicles the little-known story of the first African-American regiment mustered to fight in WWI. They spent longer than any other American unit in combat and displayed remarkable valor on the battlefield. Despite extraordinary struggles and overt racism, the ‘Hellfighters’, as their enemies named them, became one of the most successful—but least celebrated—regiments of the  war. Once again, Brooks drills down to help find what lessons can be learned from the triumph and tragedy of the Harlem Hellfighters.

A former writer for Saturday Night Live, Brooks lives in New York City with his wife, Michelle, and their miniature dachshund, Maizey.

Ms. Laurie Garrett
Since 2004, Laurie Garrett has been a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York. Ms. Garrett is the only writer ever to have been awarded all three of the Big "Ps" of journalism: the Peabody, the Polk, and the Pulitzer. Her expertise includes global health systems, chronic and infectious diseases, and bioterrorism.
Ms. Garrett is the best-selling author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994) and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health (Hyperion Press, 2000). Over the years, she has also contributed chapters to numerous books, including AIDS in the World (Oxford University Press, 1993), edited by Jonathan Mann, Daniel Tarantola, and Thomas Netter, and Disease in Evolution: Global Changes and Emergence of Infectious Diseases (New York Academy of Sciences, 1994), edited by Mary E. Wilson. Her latest book is "I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks."
She graduated with honors in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She attended graduate school in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at University of California, Berkeley, and did laboratory research at Stanford University with Dr. Leonard Herzenberg. During her PhD studies, she started reporting on science news at KPFA, a local radio station. The hobby soon became far more interesting than graduate school, and she took a leave of absence to explore journalism. At KPFA, Ms. Garrett worked on a documentary, coproduced with Adi Gevins, that won the 1977 George Foster Peabody Award.
After leaving KPFA, Ms. Garrett worked briefly in the California Department of Food and Agriculture, assessing the human health impacts of pesticide use. She then went overseas, living and working in southern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, freelance reporting for Pacifica Radio, Pacific News Service, BBC Radio, Reuters, Associated Press, and others. In 1980, she joined National Public Radio, working out of the network's San Francisco and, later, Los Angeles bureaus as a science correspondent. During her NPR years, Ms. Garrett received awards from the National Press Club (Best Consumer Journalism, 1982), the San Francisco Media Alliance (Meritorious Achievement Award in Radio, 1983), and the World Hunger Alliance (First Prize, Radio, 1987).
In 1988, Ms. Garrett left NPR to join the science writing staff of Newsday. Her Newsday reporting has earned several awards, including the Newsday Publisher's Award (Best Beat Reporter, 1990), Award of Excellence from the National Association of Black Journalists (for "AIDS in Africa," 1989), Deadline Club of New York (Best Beat Reporter, 1993), First Place from the Society of Silurians (for "Breast Cancer," 1994), and the Bob Considine Award of the Overseas Press Club of America (for "AIDS in India," 1995). She has also written for many publications, including Foreign Affairs, Esquire, Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Current Issues in Public Health. She has appeared frequently on national television programs, including ABC's Nightline, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, The Charlie Rose Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline, The International Hour (CNN), and Talkback (CNN).
Ms. Garrett is a member of the National Association of Science Writers and served as the organization's president during the mid-1990s. She lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York