2024 Speakers

Thursday April 25th at 5:30, Wakonda Club – Pat Grote

Change in speaker for the 25th

Pat has served as Executive Director of the Center since 2017 and with her staff, focuses time on programs which include the International Visitor Leadership Program, the Community Connections Program, the Global Citizens Travel Seminar as well as language interpretation services.  Like the GDMCFR, the roots of the Iowa International Center trace back in-time to 1939, when volunteers worked together to support immigrants fleeing the war in Europe.  What began in 1939 has evolved over the years into an organization that strives to support international visitors and immigrants while making our state more inclusive and welcoming to all.

March 6th at 5:30, Mr. Ali Wyne, Wakonda Club

 Our March speaker will be Mr. Ali Wyne (https://www.crisisgroup.org/who-we-are/people/ali-wyne\ ), Senior Research and Advocacy Advisor, U.S.-China for the International Crisis Group ( https://www.crisisgroup.org/ ).  

The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.  Mr. Wyne last spoke to our group virtually in December of 2021; we are excited to hear him in-person on March 6th.  Mr. Wyne will be speaking on current issues in China.  Listed below are his profile and experience.

Crisis Group Role

As Crisis Group’s Senior Research and Advocacy Advisor, U.S.-China, Ali reports on and analyses the development of U.S. policy toward China in the U.S. Congress and the executive branch. He helps to formulate Crisis Group’s recommendations for easing tensions, managing crises, and preventing conflicts between Washington and Beijing, and works to introduce them into debates among U.S. policymakers and thought leaders.

Professional BackgroundAli joined the International Crisis Group in January 2024. He previously worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (2008-09), the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (2009-12), the State Department (2013), the RAND Corporation (2017-20), and Eurasia Group (2020-23). He has also been a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute.

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Kennedy School, Ali is a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project, a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former David Rockefeller fellow with the Trilateral Commission. He is the author of “America’s Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition” (Polity, 2022) and a co-author of “Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the  World” (MIT Press, 2013)                              

January 17th at 5:30 – Jess Baily (Wakonda Club)

Topic: Current issues in Turkey


  • Senior diplomat skilled at policy and program development, strategic communication, relationship building and cross-cultural negotiations. Leader of interagency responses to crises and complex challenges in Turkey, Iraq, and the Balkans. Leader of large organizations and small teams. Advocate for strengthening national security institutions and building trust through educational and professional exchanges.


Member, Foreign Service Grievance Board | 2021-present (part-time)

  • Appointed by the Secretary of State to independent board hearing grievances by Foreign Service employees or unions. Adjudicate cases and issue written decisions on appeals concerning discipline, separations, evaluations, financial issues, or other claims of adverse action by a foreign affairs agency.

Leader, COVID-19 Interim Report | 2020-2021

Directed a lessons-learned review of the State Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020. Issued report with 11 policy recommendations to improve crisis planning and response, internal and public communications, services to American citizens, and global health diplomacy.

Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Skopje, North Macedonia | 2015-2019 Led U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve North Macedonia’s 27-year conflict with Greece, improve its democratic governance, and secure its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), thus increasing stability in Europe and realizing longstanding U.S. policy objective.
Managed and mentored a recognized, high-performing team of 300, with an operations and assistance budget of $40 million. Promoted young leaders through advocacy, assistance, and exchanges focused on civic participation, public service, volunteerism, and entrepreneurship.

Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’affaires, U.S. Embassy Ankara, Turkey | 2011-2014 Served as chief operating officer and acting ambassador for one of America’s most important embassies, with 1,000 staff operating in five locations and high-level engagement by senior administration officials and members of Congress. Improved the security, coherence, and effectiveness of cross-border U.S. government assistance to war-torn Syria by bringing multiple agencies and programs together under an innovative structure, generating better communication with Turkish hosts. Led crisis response following a suicide bombing of the embassy, reinforcing the security of the premises, organizing public messaging, caring for a grieving staff, honoring tragic losses, and rebuilding operations. The U.S. Department of State cites this response as a model for other missions.

Director, Southern European Affairs, Department of State, Washington, DC | 2010-2011

Managed bilateral relations with Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. Coordinated a strategic review of U.S. policy toward Turkey that acknowledged areas of friction while maintaining critical cooperation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and expanding cooperation in trade, science and education. Shaped policy towards Greece’s economic crisis, building support for reforms and maintaining public support for U.S. initiatives in other areas. Director, United Nations Political Affairs, Department of State, Washington, D.C. | 2008-2010

Coordinated the development of U.S. policy on issues before the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, ensuring support for U.S. positions and initiatives on immediate threats to security such as North Korea, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and crises caused by failing states, political upheaval, and humanitarian disasters.

Regional Reconstruction Team Leader, Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq | 2007-2008

As senior U.S. representative to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), developed strong relationships with Kurdish leaders who were critical partners for U.S. efforts in Iraq.
Analyzed and recommended policies on the KRG’s independent oil sector, the region’s relations with Iran, and Turkey’s counter-terrorism operations in Iraqi territory. Institutionalized U.S. presence by bringing greater coherence to assistance programs, launching public diplomacy initiatives, and planning the transformation of this temporary structure into a functional consulate.

Director, Washington Foreign Press Center, Washington D.C. | 2005-2007

Led U.S. government engagement with 2,000 resident foreign media representatives by implementing creative programs that ensured access to and accurate coverage of U.S. policy while adding depth to reporting on American politics, society, business, and culture. One program on the role of the National. Guard generated print and TV reports reaching a global audience of 400 million from China to Estonia. Developed a fresh vision for this 40-year-old center that incorporated new technologies and business practices to serve its increasingly diverse and mobile clients.

Public Diplomacy Officer, U.S. Embassies in the Netherlands, Turkey, Thailand, Senegal, and Bangladesh | 1985-2005
M.A. European History, Columbia University, New York, NY | 1985
B.A. summa cum laude History and French Literature, Yale University, New Haven, CT | 1982
Executive Leadership, Certificate, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA | 2014

American Foreign Service Association, Vice-President
Fulbright Scholarship Boards (Turkey and The Netherlands), Board Member Gibson Island Corporation and Club Boards, Joint Member