MEET THE PRESENTERS
Walid Phares, Ph.D., an expert on geopolitics, served as President Donald Trump's Foreign Policy advisor during the 2016 campaign and was senior National Security Advisor to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2011-2012. He is the Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group, a transatlantic caucus of members from the U.S. Congress and European Parliament. He advises lawmakers and leaders from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. He has appeared regularly on Fox News as the network's National Security and Foreign Policy analyst since 2007. He previously served as an MSNBC Terrorism analyst from 2003 to 2006 and frequently appears in international media for English, Arabic, and French interviews. In 1994, he founded the Florida Society for Middle East Studies (FSMES) and has served as an advisor to human rights NGOs since 1992. He is the author of fifteen books and will be publishing his next book in 2022.
Joan Friedenberg, Ph.D. (harmony vocals, keyboard, guitar, autoharp, ukulele) is a 30-year professor of education and author, and Bill Bowen (lead vocals, guitar, banjo, ukulele, harmonica) is a 35-year journalist, including 23 years at the Palm Beach Post. Both overlapped their careers with a penchant for performing music. They formed the PinkSlip Duo 12 years ago and use their research and writing skills to create musical lectures about their musical heroes. The PinkSlip Duo was named “Best Folk Band” for Palm Beach and Broward counties by New Times.
George Piro retired as the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami Field Office. In that role, he directed the counterterrorism, criminal, and counterintelligence programs; provided strategic leadership to the office’s nine hundred plus employees; executed an annual budget of ten million dollars; and as one of the FBI’s four offices with extraterritorial responsibility, ensured the FBI’s mission to protect the American people both domestically as well as the Caribbean, and Latin America. Over the course of his FBI career, George received numerous awards for his intelligence and law enforcement service, including the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement, the FBI Director's Award for Excellence, ADL’s Blue Shield Award for Counter Terrorism Excellence, Multiple FBI Combat Theater Awards, and the FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement for life saving action. George was privileged to have had one of the most unique, distinguished careers, retiring as one of the most decorated special agents in FBI history, recognized as the 5th greatest special agent in FBI history.
Dr. Kate Polak is an Instructor and Research Associate at Florida Atlantic University. Her book, Ethics in the Gutter: Empathy and Historical Fiction in Comics, was nominated for an Eisner Award. Her recent research focuses mainly on the representation of violence and genocide, historical fiction, poetry, and graphic narratives. She is completing a book entitled "Days of Future Pasts," on the intersections between historical fiction and science fiction with Dr. Ian MacDonald. Her current creative projects include a collection of poetry and a graphic memoir exploring teenaged girlhood during the 1990s, tentatively entitled "Just Okay."
Colin Polsky, Ph.D. is the director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at FAU, and a professor in the department of geosciences in the College of Science. His research and teaching examine how people create, perceive, and respond to environmental challenges. Polsky’s interdisciplinary training is in mathematics, humanities, French, geography, and science & international affairs (from U. Texas, Penn State, and Harvard). As the Center director and professor, he helps build and lead teams to advance knowledge of U.S. climate vulnerabilities, in both methodological and applied terms. His responsibilities include program building, both within and across university departments; fundraising from public and private foundations; staffing diverse and multi-generational teams; and communicating with varied audiences for both persuasive and reporting purposes.