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Arena Civil Dialogies

Arena Forum

Arena Civil Dialogues

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater will host additional community conversations as a part of the Arena Civil Dialogues series. The conversations seek to provide an opportunity for members of the Washington, D.C. community to engage in civil discourse about social and political issues, and will demonstrate—with the goal—that people of diverse viewpoints can have fruitful dialogues with one another. Each Arena Civil Dialogue will feature prominent Dialogue Starters, and will be moderated by Amitai Etzioni, a University Professor at The George Washington University and author. The conversations will be dedicated to discussion among participants about topics related to current events.

There will be a reception before each discussion, starting at 5 p.m. in the Lower Lobby. Due to space limitations, registration is required but attendance is free and open to the public.

Politics and Race Relations – C-SPAN Watch the video

Modern Surveillance and Privacy – C-SPAN Watch the video



SUNDAY, AUGUST 12: The robots are coming
Will robots continue to take more of our jobs? Will they out smart us? Can they start wars?


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14: Exploring well-being in a digital world
In the digital age, does constant technology connection undermine our well-being? How can we use technology to improve our overall health? Can we prevent cyberbullying and online hate speech?

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11: What makes a great America?
Who decides what makes America great? What are the alternate views of what makes a great America, at home and in a global sense? Can America still call itself a global leader?

Upcoming Dialogue Starters

Amitai EtzoniAmitai Etzioni is a University Professor and Professor of International Relations at The George Washington University. He served as a Senior Advisor at the Carter White House; taught at Columbia University, Harvard University, and University of California at Berkeley; and served as president of the American Sociological Association (ASA). A study by Richard Posner ranked him among the top 100 American intellectuals. Etzioni is the author of many books, including The Limits of Privacy (1999)and Privacy in a Cyber Age (2015). His most recent book, Happiness is the Wrong Metric: A Liberal Communitarian Response to Populism, was published by Springer in January 2018.

Exploring the future of race relations in America

Dr. Niambi M. CarterDr. Niambi M. Carter, is a proud member of the Department of Political Science at Howard University. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University (2007) working primarily in the area of American Politics with a specific focus on Race and Ethnic Politics. She is the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards from organizations such as the Ford Foundation, the Consortium for Faculty Diversity, and the Western Political Science Association. Her book manuscript focuses on African American public opinion on immigration. Her most recent, co-authored work is entitled “Policy Symmetry and Cross-Racial Linked Fate in the Early Years of the Obama Presidency,” appears in the most recent issue of Politics, Groups, and Identities. Prof. Carter is also actively involved in other work that examines lynching and race in American politics, “back to Africa” movements and African American immigration at the turn of the 20thcentury, and the political ideology of African American Republicans.  Her work has appeared in a host of publication, such as the Journal of Politics; Political Psychology; the Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy; the DuBois Review; Politics and Gender; and the Journal of African American Studies.

Clarissa Martinez de CastroClarissa Martínez De Castro is the Deputy Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation for UnidosUS (formerly known as the National Council of La Raza), which is the largest Latino nonprofit advocacy organization in the country. She has discussed race relations and Hispanic-American issues in forums in the past. A frequent commentator on the Latino electorate and immigration issues on television, radio and print media, she received her undergraduate degree from Occidental College and her master’s degree from Harvard University. In 2007, Clarissa served as manager of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, a multi-sector network of national, state, and local organizations committed to advancing policy solutions on immigration. She also served as Public Policy Coordinator for the Southwest Voter Research Institute, Assistant Director of the California-Mexico Project at the University of Southern California, Organizer for the Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, and Union Representative for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) Local 11. She currently serves as an Advisory Board member of the U.S. Vote Foundation and is a member of the inaugural class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program.

Richard D. KahlenbergRichard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation with expertise in education, civil rights, and equal opportunity. Kahlenberg has been called “the intellectual father of the economic integration movement” in K-12 schooling and “arguably the nation’s chief proponent of class-based affirmative action in higher education admissions.” He is the author or editor of sixteen books, including Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race and Democracy (Columbia University Press, 2007); and The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action (Basic Books, 1996). Previously, Kahlenberg was a Fellow at the Center for National Policy, a visiting associate professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, and a legislative assistant to Senator Charles S. Robb (D-VA). He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Lisa RiceLisa Rice, In her capacity as Executive Vice President with the National Fair Housing Alliance, oversees the resource development, public policy, communication and enforcement divisions of the agency. She is responsible for helping to achieve the organization’s goal of addressing the crisis of segregation in America and the ultimate objective of achieving equal housing opportunities for all Americans.  Lisa joined NFHA after serving as CEO of the Toledo Fair Housing Center and the Northwest Ohio Development Agency (NODA).  While serving at the organizations, Lisa developed and implemented the state of Ohio’s first anti-predatory lending remediation program. Throughout her career, she has worked to pass legislation and promote policies that expand access to quality credit and equal housing opportunities. Ms. Rice has served on the state of Ohio’s Housing Trust Fund Advisory Board, and the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council and is a current member of the JPMorgan Chase Consumer Advisory Council, the Mortgage Bankers Association's Consumer Advisory Council and the America’s Homeowner Alliance Advisory Board.

Janelle WongJanelle Wong received her PhD from the Department of Political Science at Yale University. She is Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland. Wong is author of Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions (2006, University of Michigan Press) and co-author of two books on Asian American politics. The most recent is Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and their Political Identities (2011, Russell Sage Foundation), based on the first nationally representative survey of Asian Americans’ political attitudes and behavior. Wong’s research is on race, immigration, and political mobilization. Her latest book is Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change, published in May 2018 by the Russell Sage Foundation Press. The study is based on qualitative interviews, participant observation in Los Angeles and Houston, and analysis of survey data. As a scholar and teacher, Wong has worked closely with social service, labor, civil rights, and media organizations that serve the Asian American population.

Exploring what we owe other people

John B. Bellinger IIIJohn B. Bellinger III, a partner in the international and national security law practices of Arnold & Porter in Washington, DC, and an Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as The Legal Adviser for the Department of State from 2005-2009 under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and previously as Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council at the White House from 2001-2005. He previously served as Counsel for National Security Matters in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice and as Special Assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William Webster. He has a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, and an A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University.

Dr. Esther BrimmerDr. Esther Brimmer, the Executive Director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. She has been the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. She served in the Department of State three times, including as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs. Earlier in her career she was Deputy Director and Director of Research at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. She has published numerous articles and edited eight books on transatlantic relations. Her work has been translated into five languages. She is a member of the Department of Defense National Security Education Board and the Executive Board of the Atlantic Council. She received her doctorate and master’s degrees in international relations from Oxford University and her bachelor’s degree from Pomona College.

Elisa MassiminoElisa Massimino is President and CEO of Human Rights First, one of the nation’s leading human rights advocacy organizations with offices in Washington, New York City, Houston, and Los Angeles. Established in 1978, Human Rights First’s mission is to ensure that the United States is a global leader on human rights. The organization works in the United States and abroad to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law. Massimino joined Human Rights First as a staff attorney in 1991 to help establish the D.C. office. Previously, Massimino was a litigator at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where she was pro bono counsel in many human rights cases. Massimino is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Supreme Court Bar. She holds a law degree from the University of Michigan, a Master of Arts in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University, and is a graduate of Trinity University.

Christopher PrebleChristopher Preble, the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is the author of three books including The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous and Less Free (Cornell, 2009), and has co-edited several other books and monographs, including most recently Our Foreign Policy Choices: Rethinking America’s Global Role (Cato, 2016), with Emma Ashford and Travis Evans. His work has appeared in major publications including the New York Times, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy, and he is a frequent guest on television and radio. Preble also teaches the U.S. Foreign Policy elective at the University of California, Washington Center. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Temple University, and is a former commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.

Wai Wai Nu, is the director and founder of Women Peace Network. Nu was a political prisoner for seven years under the Burmese military government, and emerged to serve as a national – and international – voice for Burma’s human rights and democracy movement. Nu was deeply moved by the escalated violence she encountered upon her release from prison. As a result, she formed the Women’s Peace Network, as a platform to build peace and mutual understanding between Myanmar’s different ethnicities, and to empower and advocate for the rights of marginalized women in Arakan and Myanmar. Through the Women’s Peace Network she has been campaigning for women’s rights, an end to impunity. Nu has been working to reduce discrimination and hatred among Buddhist and Muslim communities and improve human rights situation of her people Rohingya. In 2014, after completion of her law degree she founded Justice for Women, which operates as a network of female lawyers providing legal consultation and education for the women of Burma. In 2016, Nu has founded a Yangon Youth Leadership Center where young people can learn and explore their ideas and promote leadership in social, political and peace-building. She was awarded N-Peace award (peace generation) and selected as a "100 Top Woman" by the BBC in 2014. She was listed as one of the Next Generation Leader in the world by Time Magazine in March 2017. Nu was recently awarded the 2017 Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Advancing Women.

Exploring modern surveillance and privacy

Matthew OlsenMatthew Olsen has worked for over two decades as a leading government official on national security, intelligence and law enforcement issues. He is the co-founder of IronNet Cybersecurity, a technology firm based in Washington, D.C. Most recently, Mr. Olsen served for three years as the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Created by Congress in response to the attacks of September 11, NCTC is responsible for the integration and analysis of terrorism information and strategic operational planning of counterterrorism activities. Prior to joining NCTC, Mr. Olsen was the General Counsel for the National Security Agency, serving as NSA’s chief legal officer and focusing on surveillance law and cyber operations. Olsen also served in leadership positions at the Department of Justice, where he managed national security and criminal cases and helped establish the National Security Division. Olsen also was Special Counsel to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For over a decade, Olsen worked as a federal prosecutor, and he began his public service career as a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. In addition to his work with IronNet Cybersecurity, Olsen teaches at Harvard Law School and is a national security analyst for ABC News. He is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and serves on the board of Human Rights First and several government advisory boards. He also is affiliated with the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard, where he helps lead a project on cybersecurity. Mr. Olsen graduated from Harvard Law School and the University of Virginia.

Gabe RottmanGabe Rottman is the director of the Reporters Committee’s Technology and Press Freedom Project, which integrates legal, policy and public education efforts to protect newsgathering and First Amendment freedoms as they intersect with emerging technological challenges and opportunities. Rottman comes to RCFP from PEN America, where he opened the organization’s Washington, D.C., office and served as its first Washington director. He also was the deputy director for the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Freedom, Security and Technology Project. At CDT, he led efforts on cybersecurity policy, and worked extensively on electronic surveillance and the rights of security researchers. From 2012 to 2015, Rottman served as the lead federal legislative and regulatory counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union on open government, press freedom and the First Amendment. Following law school, Rottman was a litigation associate in the D.C. office of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP with a focus on antitrust matters and national security foreign investment review. He has been published in, among other outlets, the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, CNN and Roll Call, and has testified before Congress. Rottman is a 2017 cyber fellow in the Fellowship in Advanced Cyber Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has a joint honors B.A. from McGill University in political science and history, and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was notes editor on the Georgetown Law Journal.

Jeffrey RosenJeffrey Rosen is the author of five books, most recently, Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet. His new biography of William Howard Taft will be published in March. He is the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a law professor at George Washington University, and a contributing editor for The Atlantic. He was previously the legal affairs editor of The New Republic and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Rosen is a graduate of Harvard College, Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and Yale Law School.

Peter SwirePeter Swire is the Holder Chair of Law and Ethics at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business. He is Senior Fellow with the Future of Privacy Forum, a member of the National Academy of Sciences Forum on Cyber-Resiliency, and Senior Counsel with Alston & Bird, LLP. In 2015, the International Association of Privacy Professionals, among its over 20,000 members, awarded him its Privacy Leadership Award. In 2013, he served as one of five members of President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology. Under President Clinton, Swire was Chief Counselor for Privacy in the Clinton Administration, the first person to have U.S. government-wide responsibility for privacy policy. His activities in that role included being White House coordinator for the HIPAA Privacy Rule, chairing a White House Working Group on encryption, and helping negotiate the Safe Harbor agreement with the E.U.

Frank TorresFrank Torres is the Senior Director of Consumer Affairs for the Microsoft Corporation. He leads the company’s engagement strategy with consumer and privacy advocates, civil rights organizations, and other non-profit organizations, including managing federal and advocacy outreach with product and services teams across Microsoft. Frank also directs federal policy activity and strategy on privacy and Internet safety issues related to consumers and represents Microsoft’s interests on those issues in Congress and before federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission. He helps to coordinate the company’s healthcare and health IT policy at the federal level. Frank was invited by the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee to provide expert advice on the role of analysts in providing investment advice to consumers. He was a leading consumer advocate during the consideration of legislation on digital signatures, online privacy, financial services modernization, and investor protections. Frank received his doctor of jurisprudence degree from George Washington University and his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.