Confirmed Speakers

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian is a senior reporter on contract at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. She previously covered China as a staff writer for Foreign Policy magazine and The Daily Beast. Allen-Ebrahimian’s recent work has focused on China’s influence operations in the United States. Her path-breaking reporting on this topic has helped shift U.S. national debate about China and has directly influenced legislation introduced in Congress. Allen-Ebrahimian is currently a member of the Jamestown Foundation Young Professionals Program 2019-2020 cohort. She was the 2018 recipient of the Robert S. Abbott Memorial Award in recognition of her reporting on China. She was also a 2017 Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Germany, a 2016 Jefferson Fellow at the East-West Center, and a 2015 International Reporting Project Fellow in China.
Lee Edwards is co-founder and Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He is a Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation, and an adjunct professor of politics at the Catholic University of America. His many awards include the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, the Millennium Star of Lithuania, the Cross of Terra Mariana of Estonia, and the Friendship Medal of Diplomacy from the Republic of China (Taiwan).
As a Lutheran pastor behind the Iron Curtain, Joachim Gauck led weekly prayers for peace that helped initiate popular resistance to the communist regime and eventually gave rise to the protest demonstrations in 1989. A co-founder of the New Forum opposition movement, Gauck was elected to the first free East German parliament in 1990 and oversaw the dissolution of the Ministry of State Security. From 2002 to 2017, he served as the 11th president of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Hope Harrison is Associate Professor of History and International Affairs in The Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University and is a Senior Fellow with the History and Public Policy Program as well as the Cold War International History Project at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Council on Germany, the American Institute for Contemporary Germany Studies, and the Atlantik Brücke. In Berlin, she is a member of the Berlin Wall Memorial Association, the international advisory board of the Allied Museum, and the governing board of the Cold War Center Museum in Berlin. As an expert on the Cold War, Germany, and Russia, Harrison has been a featured expert on CNN, C-SPAN, the BBC, the History Channel, Deutschlandradio, Deutschlandfunk, Spiegel-TV, Voice of America (in Russia), NTV (Russia), and elsewhere.
Wei Jingsheng is a Chinese human rights and democracy activist known for his involvement in the Chinese democracy movement. He was sentenced to jail twice for a total of more than 18 years due to his democracy activities, including a groundbreaking and well publicized essay he wrote in 1978 entitled “The Fifth Modernization.” He is the author of “Courage to Stand Alone -- letters from Prison and Other Writings,” which compiles his articles written initially on toilet paper in jail. Wei was a recipient of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom in 2000.
Sven F. Kraemer is Distinguished Fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council. He served in the U.S. government as a member of the U.S. Civil Service for twenty-five years – over fifteen of those on the staff of the National Security Council (NSC) in the White House with four presidents (Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Reagan) and ten National Security Advisors.
Mark Kramer is director of the Cold War Studies program at Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. He is an expert on the history of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, and political and economic change in post-Communist Eastern Europe. Kramer is the author or editor of several books and is editor of the Journal of Cold War Studies, which features peer-reviewed articles based on archival research in the former Communist world and in Western countries.

Dr. A. Wess Mitchell previously served as Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, where he was responsible for diplomatic relations with the 50 countries of Europe and Eurasia, as well as the institutions of NATO, the EU and OSCE. Prior to joining the State Department, Mitchell cofounded and served as President and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Mitchell served on the national security team of Gov. Mitt Romney. He currently serves as the vice chairman of the board of directors at CEPA, is a senior advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and a Non-Resident Fellow in the Applied History Project Harvard University Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center.

Aaron Rhodes is a human rights activist and an advocate for the reform of international human rights law and institutions. He is the Human Rights Editor for Dissident, a project of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and is president of the Forum for Religious Freedom–Europe. Previously, he was executive director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights for fourteen years. Rhodes received a B.A. from Reed College and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in the Committee on Social Thought. He is author of The Debasement of Human Rights, which explores how ideology sabotages the ideal of freedom.
Roger Robinson is the president and CEO of the RWR Advisory Group, a position which he has held since 1985. Prior to this, he was the Senior Director of International Economic Affairs at the National Security Council. Robinson has also served as president and CEO of Conflict Securities Advisory Group, Inc., Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the congressionally mandated US-China Economic and Security Review, and Commission Chairman of the Prague Security Studies Institute in the Czech Republic. Robinson has also published works on security-related risk in the global capital markets and East-West economic and financial relations. Robinson holds an M.A. from George Washington University and a B.A. from Duke University.

Peter Rollberg is Professor of Slavic Languages, Film Studies, and International Affairs and Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University. He is also Co-Chair of the Academic Council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Rollberg grew up in Halberstadt, Germany, and in Moscow. He was formerly director of the GWU Honors Program, director of the GWU Film Studies Program, Chair of the German and Slavic Department, and Chair of the Department of Romance, German, and Slavic Languages and Literatures. Rollberg is author and editor of numerous works.

David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent, is a long-time observer of Russia and the former Soviet Union. He worked in Moscow for six years, from 1976 to 1982, during which time he sought out Soviet citizens with the intention of preserving their accounts of the Soviet totalitarian system for posterity. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Marion Smith

Marion Smith is a civil society leader and expert in international affairs, and has been executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation since March 2014. He is also founding president of the Common Sense Society, an international foundation that promotes civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and leadership virtues among young professionals in the United States and Europe. Marion is a native of South Carolina and chairman of the National Civic Art Society. He was previously a visiting fellow at the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at the Heritage Foundation.

Robert Suettinger is a senior advisor and consultant at the Stimson Center. Suettinger worked in the U.S. government from 1975 to 1998. During his career in public service, Suettinger was an officer in the US Army in Vietnam, an analyst in Asian affairs at the Central Intelligence Agency, Director of the Office of Analysis for East Asia and the Pacific at the State Department, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for East Asia on the National Intelligence Council, and Director of Asian Affairs on the National Security Council. After working in the government, he moved to the private sector and is also a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institute. Suettinger holds an M.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Lawrence University.