Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

February, 2018

Thursday, February 01, 2018 - Evening Program
Where is U.S. Foreign Policy Headed?
Stephen Walt

During the campaign, President Trump described U.S. foreign policy as “a complete and total disaster.” (Indeed, when Bernie Sanders made similar complaints from the left, many Americans nodded their heads in agreement, indicating a bi-partisan dissatisfaction with U.S. foreign policy.) Trump promised to “shake the rust off” and chart a new course; but his policies as president soon reverted to the familiar status quo. His bellicose tweets notwithstanding, Trump is gradually being captured, co-opted, and constrained by the foreign policy establishment. Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard University, will explore the future of U.S. foreign policy and argue that under Trump, U.S. foreign policy is likely to be an even more inept version of our recent follies.

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Walt previously taught at Princeton University and the University of Chicago, where he served as master of the Social Science Collegiate Division and deputy dean of Social Sciences. He has been a resident associate of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. He has also served as a consultant for the Institute of Defense Analyses, the Center for Naval Analyses, and the National Defense University. He presently serves on the editorial boards of Foreign Policy, Security Studies, International Relations, and Journal of Cold War Studies, and serves as co-editor of the Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, published by Cornell University Press. Additionally, he was elected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in May 2005.

Walt is the author of The Origins of Alliances (1987), which received the 1988 Edgar S. Furniss National Security Book Award. He is also the author of Revolution and War (1996), Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy (2005), and, with co-author J.J. Mearsheimer, The Israel Lobby (2007). He is currently working on a book about why U.S. foreign policy keeps failing.

Professor Walt is the 2018 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar and his Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Food for Thought: Podcast with Stephen Walt

Friday, February 02, 2018 - Lunch Program
Stepping Stones to Sustainability: The Landscape of Green Jobs
Lauren Faber O'Connor

Lauren Faber O'Connor, the chief sustainability officer for the City of Los Angeles, will reflect on her experience working at the Environmental Defense Fund, the California EPA, and the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Advisory Board and discuss environmental careers at different levels of governance, as well as in the public and private sectors. Her talk will detail the current and future landscape of jobs in environment and sustainability. 

Lauren Faber O’Connor is the chief sustainability officer for the City of Los Angeles. In this role, she is driving the implementation of LA’s landmark Sustainable City pLAn, released in April 2015, which puts forth an actionable vision for transforming LA's environment, economy, and equity. Working with every city department and outside stakeholders, O'Connor focuses on strategic integration of the pLAn's pillars in order to achieve the city's short and long-term goals, ensure benefits accrue to all communities in LA, and pursue regional and international collaborations including Climate Mayors, a coalition of nearly 400 US mayors committed to US leadership on climate change.

Prior to joining the Garcetti Administration, O'Connor served for four years as the West Coast political director for the Environmental Defense Fund ("EDF") in San Francisco. At EDF, she worked on building successful strategies and constructive partnerships to win support on innovative approaches to protecting and promoting climate, clean energy, land, water, and wildlife. In 2010 O'Connor was appointed to assistant secretary for Climate Change Programs at the California Environmental Protection Agency, where she was dedicated to the design and implementation of California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32. Prior to her work at CalEPA, she served as senior director for Lighthouse Consulting Group in Washington, D.C., where she advised on comprehensive national climate change and energy strategies for domestic and international companies, and non-government organizations, and in particular, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. From 2005-2009, she served at the British Embassy as senior policy advisor for climate change and energy.

O'Connor serves on the Board of the California League of Conservation Voters and the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Advisory Board. She is a member of the Catto Fellowship for environmental leadership at the Aspen Institute and of the Truman National Security Project. She holds a bachelor’s degree in earth systems and economics from Stanford University, and master’s degree in Climate and Society from Columbia University.

Ms. O'Connor is the keynote speaker for CMC's fourth annual Green Careers Conference sponsored by the Roberts Environmental Center.

View Video: YouTube with Lauren Faber O'Connor

Monday, February 05, 2018 - Evening Program
The Shift Toward Authoritarianism in Government Today
Adam Michnik

Adam Michnik, a distinguished Polish intellectual, dissident, journalist, and advocate for human rights and civil society, will share his thoughts on the contemporary shift in government toward authoritarianism. 

A prominent dissident during the communist period in Poland, Adam Michnik spent six years as a political prisoner. In the 1970s, he was a founding member of the Committee for the Defense of Workers, and of the Flying University, an underground network that brought together intellectuals and worker activists. Michnik was a key Solidarity activist throughout the 1980s and a negotiator for the Solidarity team during the Roundtable Talks in 1989 that brought communist rule in Poland to a peaceful end. Between 1989 and 1991, he served in the Sejm, Poland's Parliament.

Michnik is the founder and editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's first post-socialist independent daily. He is the author of many books, including Letters from Freedom: Post Cold War Realities and Perspectives (UC Press, 1998), The Church and the Left (1991), Letters from Prison and Other Essays (UC Press, 1986), and, most recently of In Search of Lost Meaning: The New Eastern Europe (2011).

Mr. Michnik's will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2018 Golo Mann Lecture.  

View Video: YouTube with Adam Michnik

Tuesday, February 06, 2018 - Lunch Program
Survive to Thrive: Welcoming our Newest Neighbors and the Story of Miry's List
Miry Whitehill

Refugee families come to the United States seeking safety from violence and persecution in their home countries, often leaving behind family, friends, and virtually everything they own. Miry Whitehill, founder of Miry's List, will talk about how, by leveraging crowdsourcing and social media, Miry's List has built a mechanism and network of people in Southern California to help newly arrived families whose needs are not completely met by the resettlement system. 

Miry Whitehill started Miry's List in July, 2016 when she accidentally met a family of newly arrived Syrian refugees through a friend. Until then, she was a stay-at-home mom and community activist with over 10 years of experience in digital marketing.

As of December 2017, Miry's List has helped more than 250 families resettling from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Kurdistan. In 2018, Miry's List plans to enroll an additional 500 families into the program and launch an app in partnership with Microsoft to streamline and automate the model and roll out Miry's List programming to every refugee resettlement city in America.

Ms. Whitehill's Athenaeum talk is sponsored by the Berger Institute and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Sequence. 

Photo credit: Christopher Patey

View Video: YouTube with Miry Whitehill


Tuesday, February 06, 2018 - Special Program
The Great Conversation
CMC Student Facilitators

Join current CMC sophomores, juniors, and seniors for an engaging and thoughtful evening of dining and dialogue. The Great Conversation is a program designed to foster discussion by engaging people in the topics that matter most to them. Each table will feature a different topic, chosen by a student, who will facilitate the conversation. The format allows all attendees to be active participants. Topics may draw from any area of life, from arts and literature, history, religion, and public policy, to popular culture or campus life.

For more information and to sign up, please visit The Great Conversation page.

Join current CMC sophomores, juniors, and seniors for an engaging and thoughtful evening of dining and dialogue. The Great Conversation is a program designed to foster discussion by engaging people in the topics that matter most to them. Each table will feature a different topic, chosen by a student, who will facilitate the conversation. The format allows all attendees to be active participants. Topics may draw from any area of life, from arts and literature, history, religion, and public policy, to popular culture or campus life.

For more information and to sign up, please go to

Wednesday, February 07, 2018 - Lunch Program
Coming "Home": Documenting 100 years of Displacement of Syrian-Armenians
Anoush Baghdassarian '17

Over half of the Armenian population in Syria fled the Syrian Civil War, leaving their strong communities in danger of being lost to history. This displacement uprooted people and changed the communities they called home, but it did not change the home they found in their communities. Anoush Baghdassarian ’17 (with her Pomona colleague Ani Schug) spent summer 2017 in Armenia collecting testimonies from 81 Syrian-Armenians refugees who have found sanctuary in their ancestral Armenia. Along with sharing some narratives, she will discuss the importance of testimony collection in preserving the history of a displaced people.

Anoush Baghdassarian is a 2017 CMC graduate who dual majored in psychology and Spanish with a sequence in Holocaust and human rights studies. While at CMC, she made the most of the opportunities at the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, working with asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, holocaust survivors, and scholars on genocide and crimes against humanity. She was invited to international conferences like Poland's Model International Criminal Court, and presented her research at UCLA's Undergraduate Colloquium in Armenian Studies. With the help of the Mgrublian Center, Anoush has interned at various human rights organizations throughout her undergraduate career including the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.

In addition to these experiences, Anoush is a published author of a historical fiction play about the Armenian Genocide entitled FOUND which has been presented at book events in California, New York, Uruguay, and Argentina, as well as has been produced for stage productions in New York and California (including at the Athenaeum). She has also written a play in Spanish about Argentina's last military dictatorship, and is in the beginning stages of writing a play about the experience of Syrian-Armenians as her Action Project for the Humanity in Action fellowship based on the testimonies she collected this summer through a Davis Projects for Peace Grant.  

Next month, Anoush will return to Armenia to intern with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and continue to document the testimonies of Syrian-Armenian refugees. With the goal of working on international cases of genocide, forced migration, and crimes against humanity, Anoush plans to continue her education. She will pursue a Masters in Human Rights Studies in September of 2018 before attending law school the following year to study human rights law. 

Anoush is extremely humbled to have received this unique and invaluable opportunity to return to speak at the Athenaeum and give back to the institution that helped to shape her interests and make this research possible. 

Anoush's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.

View Video: YouTube with Anoush Baghdassarian '17

Wednesday, February 07, 2018 - Lunch Program
Planning with the New Tax Law and Avoiding Mistakes Under the Old Law
Peter Maier '49 GP'21 GP'21

Peter Maier '49 GP'21 GP'21, a member of CMC’s second graduating class in 1949, has 36 years of experience in both real estate and securities management, as well as a distinctive career in real estate and tax law. Maier '49 will offer a review of the new tax law recently enacted by Congress and will share some ideas on how the imposition of income, estate, and gift taxes can be lessened or, in some cases, avoided.      

Peter Maier '49 GP'21 GP'21 received a B.A. with honors in economics from Claremont McKenna College, a Juris Doctor degree from UC Berkeley, and a Masters of Law in Taxation from NYU.   

From 1965, Peter Maier was a senior partner of Winokur, Maier & Zang, a San Francisco tax law firm, and chairman and founder of Property Resources, Inc., now a division of Franklin Resources. Maier was also professor of law at the Hastings College of the Law from 1967 to 1995.

In 1981, he was co-founder of Wood Island Associates, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm. This company was purchased in 1998 by U.S. Trust Company and he became a managing director of U.S. Trust. Maier also co-founded a real estate investment advisory firm in 1981 that eventually also became a division of U.S. Trust Company. In 2005, Peter reacquired the securities firm from U.S. Trust and renamed the company “Private Wealth Partners, LLC.” Maier now serves as it chairman.  

Maier is active in various charitable organizations: he is chairman of the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco and is president of the John B. Huntington Foundation. In addition, he serves as a trustee of the Alfred and Hanna Fromm Fund, the University of San Francisco and the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco. 

View Video: YouTube with Peter Maier '49 GP'21 GP'21

Wednesday, February 07, 2018 - Evening Program
California Squashes its Young: How the Golden State’s Economic Policies Are Driving Out a New Generation
Joel Kotkin

Many progressives see California as a model of enlightenment and the Golden State’s post-2010 recovery has won plaudits in the progressive press. Yet, Joel Kotkin, Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, contends that if one looks at the effects of the state’s policies on key Democratic constituencies— millennials, minorities, and the poor—the picture is dismal especially when adjusted for housing costs, and that California leads all states—even historically poor Mississippi—in the percentage of its people living in poverty. 

Joel Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, and senior advisor to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. He is executive editor of the widely-read New Geography website and writes the weekly “New Geographer” column for He is a regular contributor to the Daily Beast and Real Clear Politics. The author of seven books, Kotkin has been described by the New York Times as “America’s uber-geographer.”

Mr. Kotkin’s talk is sponsored by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government.


View Video: YouTube with Joel Kotkin

Thursday, February 08, 2018 - Lunch Program
Women Driving Innovation: A Conversation with Three Tech Leaders
Candace Adelberg '10, Alicia Rockmore '87, and Faye Sahai '90, panelists

The panelists, CMC graduates at various career stages, are in diverse, high-profile jobs, ranging from working in established firms to leading start-ups. Panelists will discuss a broad array of topics including: preparation for careers in tech, how to leverage past accomplishments and personal and professional networks to develop careers in tech, workforce and occupational trends, obstacles and challenges faced in the competitive and male-dominated culture of Silicon Valley, and approaches for problem solving, including work/life balance issues.


Candace Adelberg ‘10 graduated from CMC in 2010 where she studied economics and did research at the Lowe Institute of Political Economy. After graduation, Adelberg moved to Washington D.C., where she worked as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, focusing on quantitative methods for macroeconomic forecasting. In 2013, she started working as a researcher at Google, applying statistical methods to keep “bad guys” off of Google products (think of spam bots, phishing attacks, etc.). In 2017, she moved to X, Alphabet’s “Moonshot Factory”, and joined Project Loon. Project Loon aims to provide high-speed internet to the roughly 50% of the world who still lack basic coverage. To do this, they deploy and steer a fleet of stratospheric balloons that provide LTE service to rural areas or areas where networks have been taken out by natural disasters.

Alicia Rockmore ’87 is the founder & CEO of Spark Actions which she launched after the November 2016 elections as a way to make a difference. Rockmore has over 20 years of experience in marketing and brand management both in traditional CPG companies and in startups. Before starting Spark Actions, she was the senior vice president of marketing at Divy, a startup in Fin Tech for millennials, the head of innovation for Jackson (a subsidiary of Prudential plc) and the senior vice president of marketing UberMedia (an idea lab company). She also has significant consumer packaged goods management experience at Unilever (in US and Europe) and at General Mills. She was responsible for launching the first packaged goods website ever and was named by Ad Age as a Top 100 Marketer. She also co-founded Buttoned Up Inc, an organizational products company, named as one of the best small companies to work for by Working Women’s Magazine. A graduate of CMC and received her MBA from the University of Michigan.

Faye Sahai ’90 is recognized as an innovation leader and catalyst for strategic initiatives across multiple companies such as AIG, Blue Shield, Deloitte, Charles Schwab, and Kaiser Permanente. She currently serves as the global head of advanced technology & innovation and employee experience at AIG, one of the world’s largest insurance companies. In addition, she serves as the AIG executive advisor of Global Women in Technology and UP Upward Professionals and Women Executive Leaders Initiative, and global inclusion and diversity task force. She serves on AIG’s global extended leadership team and is also part of the Conference Board’s applied innovation group. Sahai has been an innovation adviser to companies, start-ups and accelerators and serves on the many boards. She was named as Insurance Business Hot 100 in 2017, Elite Women in Insurance Business America in 2017, Ascend Leadership Award in 2017, and Computer World’s Top Premier IT Leaders in 2015 and she received Innovation Enterprise Best Ideation award in 2014. She received her BA in economics and psychology from Claremont McKenna College and her MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Thursday, February 08, 2018 - Evening Program
The Declaration of Independence: Lessons for Citizenship in Challenging Times
Danielle Allen

Thanks to the opportunity to teach the Declaration of Independence to low-income night school students in Chicago, Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University and director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, rediscovered the profundity and power of that founding text, both for her students and for herself. The Declaration of Independence makes a powerful case for the ideal of political equality, and for recognizing that democracy rests on the twin foundations of liberty and equality. These, affirms Allen, are not opposing but mutually reinforcing ideals.

Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. She is widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America.

Before joining Harvard, she was UPS Foundation Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the first African American faculty member to be appointed to the Institute that was Einstein’s home for two decades. She is also a contributing columnist for the Washington Post.

Allen is the author of six books, including Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, which won the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians and the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for Nonfiction and CUZ :The Life and Times of Michael A. (2017)

She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Philosophical Society and a 2001 winner of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Professor Allen's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at CMC.

Photo credit: Laura Rose


View Video: YouTube with Danielle Allen

Food for Thought: Podcast with Danielle Allen