Past Speakers/Events

A Realistic Look at Cybersecurity Threats for the 2020 elections and Beyond

How worried Should We Be?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Bryan Cunningham

  • Executive Director of Cyber Security Policy & Research Institute
  • Former Deputy Legal Adviser to then-Nat’/ Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
  • Served six years in the Clinton Administration as a senior CIA officer and federal prosecutor

The World Affairs Council of Orange County is proud to present “How Worried Should We Be? A Realistic Look at Cybersecurity Threats for the 2020 Elections and Beyond” with Bryan Cunningham.

This timely event could not be more relevant as we approach the election season. Cunningham is a leading international expert on cybersecurity law and policy, a former White House lawyer and adviser and a media commentator on cybersecurity, technology and surveillance issues. Cunningham has extensive experience in senior U.S. government intelligence and law enforcement positions. He served as Deputy Legal Adviser to then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. He also served six years in the Clinton Administration as a senior CIA officer and federal prosecutor. Post 9/11, he drafted significant portions of the Homeland Security Act and related legislation.

Mr. Cunningham was founding vice-chair of the American Bar Association Cyber Security Privacy Task Force and was awarded the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement for his work on information issues. He is currently UCl’s Cybersecurity Policy and Research Institute’s Executive Director.

Time: Reception: 6:15 pm Program: 7:00 pm

Location: Newport Beach Marriott Bayview (500 Bayview Cir, Newport Beach, CA 92660)

Pricing: Members: $35, Non-Members: $45, Students: $15

Register: or Call: 949-253-5751

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December 18th, 2019: Annual Holiday Dinner Event with Ambassador Gaddi Vasquez


Register Now!


December 18th, 2019


“US Foreign Policy Overview”


Annual Holiday Dinner Event




Ambassador Gaddi Vasquez





Register Here!



The Westin South Coast Plaza, 686 Anton Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626


Reception: 5:45

Dinner/Event: 6:30



Members: $85

Non-Members: $95

Students: $70


The World Affairs Council of Orange County proudly presents Ambassador Gaddi Vasquez. Vasquez is the United States’ 8th Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, in Rome, Italy. Ambassador Vasquez’ public service extends through the city, county, state and federal levels of government. He began his 28-year career in public service as a police officer in Orange, California, has served as an appointee of three former California governors, and was appointed by former President George H. W. Bush to two federal commissions. From 2002 to 2006, he served as Director of the United States Peace Corps. In 2019, he retired as Vice President of Public Affairs for the Southern California Edison Company, one of the nation’s largest investor owned utilities.​ We look forward to an amazing event! 



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November 20th, 2019: Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency. An Evening Dinner Event with Professor Larry Diamond.


Registration Open Now!


November 20th, 2019


Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency.


A Dinner and Conversation Event




Professor Larry Diamond

Moderated by UCI Law Professor Gregory Shaffer



Register Here!





The Pacific Club, 4110 MacArthur Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92660


Reception: 5:45

Lecture: 6:30



Members: $80

Non-Members: $90

Students: $70


Register Here!


The World Affairs Council of Orange County is proud to present Professor Larry Diamond. Professor Larry Diamond is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. For 6 years, Professor Diamond served as Director of Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. The Professor will be discussing his newest book, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency. We look forward to an enlightening and timely lecture! You can read a more detailed bio of our speaker below.



Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. For more than six years, he directed FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, where he now leads its Program on Arab Reform and Democracy and its Global Digital Policy Incubator. He is the founding coeditor of the Journal of Democracy and also serves as senior consultant at the International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy. His research focuses on democratic trends and conditions around the world and on policies and reforms to defend and advance democracy. His forthcoming book, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency, analyzes the challenges confronting liberal democracy in the U.S. and around the world at this potential “hinge in history,” and offers an agenda for strengthening and defending democracy at home and abroad. He is now writing a textbook and preparing a massive open online course (MOOC) on democratic development. Diamond’s other books include In Search of Democracy 2016), The Spirit of Democracy (2008), Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation (1999), Promoting Democracy in the 1990s (1995), and Class, Ethnicity, and Democracy in Nigeria (1989). He has also edited or coedited more than forty books on democratic development around the world. He directed the Stanford Program on Democracy in Taiwan for more than ten years and has been a regular visitor to Taiwan since 1995.

During 2002–03, Diamond served as a consultant to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and was a contributing author of its report Foreign Aid in the National Interest. He has also advised and lectured to universities and think tanks around the world, and to the World Bank, the United Nations, the State Department, and other governmental and nongovernmental agencies dealing with governance and development. During the first three months of 2004, Diamond served as a senior adviser on governance to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. His 2005 book, Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq, was one of the first books to critically analyze America’s postwar engagement in Iraq.

Among Diamond’s edited books are Democracy in Decline?; Democratization and Authoritarianism in the Arab World; Will China Democratize?; and Liberation Technology: Social Media and the Struggle for Democracy, all edited with Marc F. Plattner; and Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran, with Abbas Milani. With Juan J. Linz and Seymour Martin Lipset, he edited the series, Democracy in Developing Countries, which helped to shape a new generation of comparative study of democratic development.

Diamond writes a monthly column for The American Interest and frequently consults on policies and programs to promote democracy.


Meet your Moderator: UCI Law Professor Gregory Shaffer



Professor Gregory Shaffer is Chancellor’s Professor and Director of the Center on Globalization, Law and Society (GLAS) at the University of California, Irvine. He is a member of the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law and the Journal of International Economic Law and has served as Vice President of the American Society of International Law. He received his JD from Stanford Law School and his BA from Dartmouth College. His publications include seven books and over one hundred articles and book chapters. The books and edited volumes are Constitution-Making as a Transnational Legal Order (with Ginsburg and Halliday, 2019); Transnational Legal Orders (with Halliday, 2015); Transnational Legal Ordering and State Change (2013); Dispute Settlement at the WTO: The Developing Country Experience (with Melendez, 2011); When Cooperation Fails: The International Law and Politics of Genetically Modified Foods (with Pollack, 2008); Defending Interests: Public-Private Partnerships in WTO Litigation (2003), and Transatlantic Governance in the Global Economy (with Pollack, 2001). His editorials and commentaries appear in the Washington Post and Huffington Post.

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October 22nd: WACOC Special Event: An Evening with Ben Rhodes



Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

Soka Performing Arts Center 

1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, CA

Lecture and Book Signing: 7:00pm


Register Here!


All World Affairs Council members get discounted tickets! The exclusive coupon code is: WAC2019


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Save the Date! Faking It Part 3: How do False Beliefs spread and what can you do about it?

Faking It Part 3


October 17th, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM


Renaissance Newport Beach Hotel


Admission is FREE!


Register Here!


After two successful events, “Faking It” now has it’s conclusion. We have discussed the complexities of the “Fake News” world, most notably about how different kinds of media (news media, social media, etc.) use a wide range of tactics to shift the beliefs of those consuming their content. Please join us for the final installment; a panel moderated by Brian Calle, CEO and Publisher of Irvine Weekly and LA Weekly, featuring Stephen Kent, spokesperson for Young Voices and host of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, and Dr. Lisa Sparks, Executive Director of the Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity. 

Registration is now open!

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WACOC Annual General Meeting: Will the Global Economy Survive the US-China Trade War?

Annual General Meeting

Will the Global Economy Survive the US-China Trade War?

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

A Dinner and Lecture Event


Professor Gordon Hanson

Pacific Economic Cooperation Chair in International Economic Relations at UC San Diego

Director of the Center on Global Transformation

Member of the Council on Foreign Relations

Co-Editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives

Register Here


The state of the global economy reaches nearly everyone’s well-being and livelihood in some manner. We are all impacted, whether directly or indirectly, by the health of the integrated global economy and, in turn, each nation’s response further impacts the dynamics of the overall performance and strength of that economy. Recent talk of an upcoming recession spurred by threats of growing trade wars, restless populations and forced immigration, trade treaties dissolving, the EU’s challenges to stay in tack, China’s ongoing currency manipulation and threatened retaliations to President Trump’s own warnings, all serve to raise serious concerns on the future of the US economy as well.

The World Affairs Council of Orange County is very pleased to have as its guest speaker Dr. Gordon Hanson Ph.D. He has served as: Director of the Center on Global Transformation, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Chair in International Economic Relations and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. After 20 great years at the University of California, San Diego, Professor Hanson will be joining the Faculty of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. A renowned expert on International Trade and Global Economics, he will share with us his views and predictions on the current and future state of the Global Economy as well as the impact of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies the US and China with imposition of Tariffs as a precedent. Certainly the recent worried talk by many of the economic pundits that we are heading toward a recession merits further discussion and in depth explanation. No one is better situated to address these concerns than our guest speaker Dr Hanson. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technologies MIT, and a BA from Occidental College.



Wednesday, September 25th, 2019



Reception/Registration: 5:30 pm

Lecture/Dinner: 6:15 pm



Pacific Club

 4110 MacArthur Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92660



Premium Members: $75

General Members: $75

Premium Member Guests: $75

General Member Guests/ Non-Members: $85

Students (with a valid student I.D.): $55

Table of 10: $750 (member rate)

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Annual Trustee Luncheon-2019

*Trustee Only Event*

Date: Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Location: Balboa Bay Club & Resort: 1221 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663



All World Affairs Council of Orange County Trustees are invited and requested to attend the Annual Trustees Luncheon of the Council’s Board of Trustees. The Annual Trustees Luncheon is an important tradition of the Council and every Trustee is highly encouraged to attend. You can get involved in the Council’s many initiatives and enjoy the Newport Beach coast all during the same event. 

To Register, you can sign-up through the emails that have gone out to the Trustees, or, you can call our office at (949) 253-5751. Hope to see you there!

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Opportunities and Challenges for Africa in the 21st Century with Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield



About Our Speaker: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a Senior Vice President at ASG, where she draws on her long and distinguished career as a U.S. diplomat to help the clients of ASG’s Africa practice. She has focused on Africa during a distinguished career in the foreign service.  Highlights of her service include: assignments in Nigeria, The Gambia, Kenya and Ambassador to Liberia. Her last position before retirement was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

After decades of slow growth, Africa has a great chance to follow in the footsteps of Asia. The first great surge of western interest in Africa, dubbed the “Scramble”, occurred in the 19th century, when European colonists carved up the continent and seized African lands. The second great surge came during the “Cold War”, when the Eastern and Western bloc countries competed for the allegiance of newly independent African states. The Soviet Union backed Marxist tyrants while the United States propped up despots who claimed to support capitalism.

In the latest surge of interest, governments and businesses from all over the world are looking for commercial opportunities. Among the attractions are vast natural resources and an abundant supply of low cost workers. A new group of foreign countries, with China taking the lead, is gaining a commercial and strategic foothold across this huge continent comprising of 54 countries.            

Africa’s growing share of the population is one of the reasons the continent is becoming more important. Africa’s current population of about 1.2 billion people is projected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030.  By 2025 the UN predicts there will be more people in Africa than people in China. To say that Africa’s has potential for the next generation would be an understatement.

Thank you to our Promotional Sponsors!

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Under the Influence: How Corporations and Influencers are Shaping Your Choices

This is part 1 of “Faking It: A 3 Part Social Series on Fake News, Misinformation and Media Bias”

How to Keep Your Stories Straight in a Shareable Social World, Hosted by the World Affairs Council of Orange County, your trusted source of information and forum on world affairs. 

Moderated by Brian Calle, Owner, LA Weekly

Speakers: Neel Grover and Ambreen Qamar

Tickets: $25 Includes Appetizers and Drink Ticket

We’ll discuss the moral complexities of companies’ use of advertising to promote their stances on political and social issues, including the companies that have gone so far as to endorse political candidates in their ads. Gain a better understanding of the influence our media consumption has on us and how companies are interacting with their customers. We’ll also touch on the role of social media “influencers” in politics and social issues, with a focus on companies like Patagonia, Gillette, Northface, and Nike.

Register Here!

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“How Asia is Reacting to a Less Dependable United States & More Assertive China” with Former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Daniel Russel

*Luncheon Event*

“How Asia Is Reacting to A Less Dependable United States & More Assertive China”


Former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs 

Daniel Russel




The Trans-Pacific Partnership might be over, but the continual maneuvering of the United States and China towards the rest of East Asia continues.  As the US-China rivalry causes concern in Asia, the response from other countries in the region has created a new dynamic as they adapt to a less dependable America and a stronger, more assertive China.

Daniel Russel served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2013-2017 and as a major figure in the Obama Administration’s “pivot to Asia.”  He will be joining us to provide insights on:


*The changing relationship of America and China

*The reaction of other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region and how they are adapting to the dynamics between the two super powers

*How major economic powers such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan view the long-term impact of the changes

* Prospects for the negotiations with North Korea over denuclearization


Daniel Russel served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2013-2017. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary, Mr. Russel was Special Assistant to the President and National Security Senior Staff Director for Asian Affairs. While working at the White House, he was a major figure in the Obama Administration’s “pivot towards Asia” strategy.  He also represented the Administration in negotiating with North Korea.

Date: Wednesday, June 5th

Time: 11:30am Reception/ Registration & 12pm Lunch/ Lecture

Location: Prego Mediterranean 2409 Park Ave. Tustin, CA 92782



Members : $35

Premium Member Guests: $35

General Member Guests: $50

Non-Members: $50

Students: $20

Bundle of 10 Tickets : $350


Email us at: or

Call us at: (949) 253-5751 for more information


Thank you to our Promotional Sponsors!

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