2023 Gala Committee Co-Chairs 

Jayne Herring

Dr. Mark Chapin Johnson


cordially invite you to


WACOC’S 2023 Gala

“Regaining Strategic Competence”


LTG H.R. McMaster (Ret.)

National Security Advisor (2017-2018)


Date & Time:

Saturday, December 16th, 2023 

5:30 PM Reception

6:30 PM Dinner & Program



Westin South Coast Plaza

686 Anton Blvd. 

Costa Mesa CA 92626



Festive Holiday Attire

Cultural Attire & Formal Military Wear Encouraged

Black Tie Optional





Sponsors include:




Charles Zhang

Helen Haig



Contact Programs Manager, Krista Seitz, krista@worldaffairscouncil.org, for further details for sponsorship.

Gala Committee Members: 

Dr. Mark Chapin Johnson (Co-Chair)

Jayne Herring (Co-Chair)

Victoire Auguste-Dormeuil

Souzan Baaj 

Alex Barker

Alex Bolourchi

Dr. Jo Ellen Chatham

Beatrice de Salles

Judge James Gray (ret.)

Helen Haig

Jeff Hobert

Diana & Yan Killy

Debra Leahy

William London

Denise Mainero

Rima Nashashibi

Rick Putnam

Naseem Qader

Anita Sokolsky

Rose Tsai

Nora Valenzuela

Tim Welch

Tracy Wu

Speaker Bio:

Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster (Ret.)

H. R. McMaster is the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is also the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute and lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.  

Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1984, McMaster served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army for thirty-four years. He retired as a Lieutenant General in June 2018 after serving as the 25th assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. From 2014 to 2017, McMaster designed the future army as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and the deputy commanding general, futures, of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). As commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, he oversaw all training and education for the army’s infantry, armor, and cavalry force. He has commanded organizations in wartime including Commander, Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force—Shafafiyat in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012; Commander, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq from 2005 to 2006;  and Commander, Eagle Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Operation Desert Storm from 1990 to 1991. McMaster also served overseas as advisor to the most senior commanders in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  

McMaster holds a PhD in Military History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was an Assistant Professor of History at the United States Military Academy. He is author of the bestselling books Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World and Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam. His many essays, articles, and book reviews on leadership, history, and the future of warfare have appeared in The Atlantic,  Foreign AffairsForeign PolicySurvivalNational Review, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post,  and the New York Times.
McMaster is the host of Battlegrounds: International Perspectives on Crucial Challenges and Opportunities and is a regular on Goodfellows. He is a Distinguished University Fellow at Arizona State  University.

Moderator Bio:

Jerry Braakman

Jerry Braakman is President and Chief Investment Officer of an American financial services company, First American Trust, bringing 25 plus years of experience in various management roles.

Currently, Jerry oversees all Trust and Wealth Management activities of the firm. He creates the vision and executes the strategy of the firm’s expertise. He ensures client goals are achieved with an experienced team of fiduciary and investment professionals.

As Chief Investment Officer, Jerry oversees the investment outlook, portfolio strategy, asset allocation, risk management, and investment processes. He regularly provides expert commentary on the financial markets to various media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Reuters, CNBC, and Bloomberg.

Jerry began his career at First American Trust in 1995 and during his tenure has held various operational and investment management positions. Previous to his current responsibilities, he oversaw the management of First American’s $2.3 billion corporate investment portfolio.

Jerry holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of California, Irvine. Jerry continues his involvement with UCI as a member of the advisory board for UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business Center for Investment and Wealth Management and as a member of the Dean’s Leadership Circle for the School of Social Sciences.

Jerry is married with two kids and lives in Irvine.