Academic Lecture Series

Since 1956, the DCA Academic Lecture Series has brought topical, global issues in focus, offering attendees first-hand knowledge of the issues. Past topics include:

  • “Cuba Ahora”
  • “Russian Roulette”
  • “Islam, From Muhammad to the Millennium”
  • “Border Heat, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan”
  • “Rising China”
  • “After the Arab Spring… What Next?”
  • “Making the World Go Round… Global Economics”


The next series will be held this January 2017. Please stay tuned for more information about topic and speakers. To receive email notification of lectures as they become available, please subscribe to our Academic Lecture Series emails through the link below.

Subscribe for email notices of upcoming Academic Lecture Series events through this link

Recent lectures

¡CUBA AHORA!  (2016)

Join us in January for the DCA Academic Lecture Series on Cuba.Over the past 40 years Cuba has engendered a wide variety of sensibilities, including curiosity, nostalgia, guilt, empathy and retribution. Even before Fidel Castro gained control, the U.S. government had a contentious relationship with this island off the coast of Florida. Since our embargo of retaliation against the communist regime, we have held Cuba in limbo, maintaining commercial and travel restrictions that complicate normal communication. Now, with the prospect of reestablishing a working association, it is time to examine the past, present and future of the U.S.- Cuban relationship.

Our series will begin with an historic overview, followed by an explanation of the pros and cons of the proposed change in U.S. policy. Later speakers will discuss Cuban entrepreneurship, as well as Cuba’s relationships with its Latin American neighbors. Our final speaker is a former British Ambassador to Cuba who will describe the significant ramifications of a changed U.S.-Cuban policy for the global community, including reactions from Europe, China and Russia.

Please join us to gain a better understanding of these important issues from the outstanding experts on Cuba today.

Thursday mornings at 10:00am

January 7th       Entrepreneurship in Cuba*
                           Presenter: John McIntire, Cuba Emprende Foundation

DCA 2016 Academic Lecture Series Cuba AhoraBorn in Havana, John McIntire has been returning to Cuba regularly since 2004 in support of various humanitarian causes. In early 2012 he and several other Cuban-Americans, in partnership with the Catholic Church and Mexico’s ProEmpleo, founded the Cuba Emprende Project. Cuba Emprende is now the largest entrepreneur training program and the only small business incubator/accelerator on the island, operating in 3 cities. John is a director of the Project’s board in Cuba and is chairman of the Cuba Emprende Foundation, the 501(c)3 organization that sources private funding for the operations on the island.

Outside of his Cuba interests, John is an early stage investor in the education technology space. He was an early investor in and is a director (chairman 2010-15) of Open English, an online English-teaching school which has enrolled over 400,000 students and raised $120 million in venture capital. John is also leading the financing and is the chairman of Yogome, a mobile game developer focused on engaging math and science games for elementary school children. Yogome, which has over 1 million daily active users in 150 countries, has announced a two year research and development partnership with Yale University; Yale researchers have recently begun randomized controlled trials in New Haven schools to test the educational efficacy of the company’s math games. John is also acting as an advisor to two Miami-based companies in the education and translation sectors.

John is a senior advisor to Endeavor Global, the leading non-profit organization promoting entrepreneurship in the developing world, and has been involved in entrepreneur mentoring and selection with that organization for over a decade.

John retired in 2004 as a partner of Goldman, Sachs & Co, where he spent 12 years focused on Latin America. During his last four years there, he was Goldman’s CEO for that region, responsible for a diversified portfolio of financial businesses. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics. John has lived in Darien with his family since 1992.

* Please note change in order of speakers.

January 14th      Obama’s Big Bet on Cuba: Pros and Cons
                           Presenter: Theodore Piccone, Brookings Institution

Join us this January for the DCA Academic Lecture Series on CubaTed Piccone is a Senior Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy and Latin America Initiative in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. His research is focused on global democracy and human rights policies; U.S.-Latin American relations, including Cuba; emerging powers; and multilateral affairs. Previously, he served as Foreign Policy Program’s acting vice president and director from 2013-2014 and deputy director from 2008-2013.

Piccone served eight years as a senior foreign policy advisor on Latin America and global democracy in the Clinton administration, including on the National Security Council staff, at the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning and the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. From 2001-2008, Piccone was the executive director and co-founder of the Democracy Coalition Project, a research and advocacy organization working to promote international cooperation for democracy and human rights globally. He was also the Washington office director for the Club of Madrid, an association of over 100 former heads of state and government engaged in efforts to strengthen democracy around the world, and continues as an advisor. Piccone served as counsel for the United Nations Truth Commission in El Salvador from 1992-1993, and as press secretary to U.S. Rep. Bob Edgar from 1985-1987.

Piccone has authored or edited multiple volumes and articles on foreign policy, Latin America and human rights. His latest book, Five Rising Democracies and the Fate of the International Liberal Order (Brookings Institution Press, 2016), examines the global contest for democracy and human rights and the role of five rising democracies–India, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and Indonesia–as both examples and supporters of liberal ideas and practices. Since 2009, he has authored a series of articles on U.S.-Cuba relations and Cuba’s evolving political economy. He has also written extensively on the politics and effectiveness of the United Nations human rights system.

Piccone received a law degree from Columbia University, where he was editor-in-chief of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, and a B.A. in history magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.

January 21st       U.S. – Cuba Policy: How Did We Get Here?*
                           Presenter: Christopher Sabatini, Columbia University 

Join us for the DCA Academic Lecture Series on Cuba in January.Christopher Sabatini is the founder and executive director of the new research non-profit, Global Americans, editor of its news and opinion website and an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University.  Global Americans is currently conducting research on social inclusion and monitoring country votes and activities in multilateral organizations concerning democracy and human rights.  In September 2015 he was recognized as the best professor of a small class in SIPA.

From 2005 to 2014 he was the senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA) and the founder and editor-in-chief of the hemispheric policy magazine Americas Quarterly (AQ). At the AS/COA, Dr. Sabatini chaired the organization’s Rule of Law working group, which published a report on rule of law in the hemisphere entitled Rule of Law, Economic Growth and Prosperity (also available in Spanish). He also chaired the AS/COA Cuba Working Group.

In 2007, Dr. Sabatini launched AQ and maintained a regular blog on policy in the Americas on the magazine’s website ( From 1997 to 2005, Dr. Sabatini was the Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy. From 1995 to 1997 he was a Diplomacy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, working at the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Center for Democracy and Governance.

Dr. Sabatini has served as an advisor to the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development. He has published numerous articles on Latin America, democratization, political parties, and U.S. policy in the region. His work includes an article in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs titled “Rethinking Latin America”, and an article on about regional diplomacy titled “The Land of Too Many Summits.”

Dr. Sabatini regularly provides interviews for The New York TimesThe Christian Science Monitor, NPR, The Miami Herald, CNN, The Washington Post, and CNN en Español, and is a regular contributor to CNN-GPS and to NTN24’s TV news program Efecto Naim. He has a Ph.D. in Government from the University of Virginia.

* Please note change in order of speakers.

January 28th      Where will Cuba Stand with Latin America?
                           Presenter: Francisco Mora, Florida International University

Join us in January for our DCA Academic Lectures.Frank O. Mora is Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center and Professor of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University (FIU), Miami, FL.  Prior to arriving at FIU, Dr. Mora served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere from 2009-2013.   He has held several teaching positions, including Professor of National Security Strategy and Latin American Studies at the National War College, National Defense University (2004-2009) and Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of International Studies, Rhodes College (2000-2004).

During the last twenty years Dr. Mora worked as a consultant to the Library of Congress, U.S. Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), the National Democratic Institute, U.S. State Department, the Organization of American States, and U.S. Southern Command.  He has spoken at numerous conferences in the United States, Latin America and Europe. His opinion pieces and other commentaries have appeared in the Miami Herald, La Tercera (Chile), Wall Street Journal, CNN, Los Angeles Times, El Tiempo (Colombia), National Public Radio, Voice of America, and USA Today. Dr. Mora is the author or editor of five books and numerous academic and policy articles, book chapters and monographs on hemispheric security, U.S.-Latin American relations, civil-military relations, Cuban politics and military and Latin American foreign policy.

Dr. Mora graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University in 1986. He received his M.A. in Inter-American Studies and a Ph.D. in International Affairs from the University of Miami. He also completed studies at universities in Peru and Costa Rica.  He is a recipient of the Outstanding Public Service Award, Department of Defense (2011).

Friday Evening: Lecture 8:00pm, Reception 7:30pm

January 29th      What Now for Cuba’s Role in the World?
                           Presenter: Ambassador Paul Hare, Boston University
                           (Former British Ambassador to Cuba)

Join us for the DCA Academic Lectures Series in January 2016.Paul Webster Hare was a British diplomat for 30 years and the British ambassador to Cuba from 2001-04. He now teaches international relations at the Frederick S Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University.

Hare graduated with First Class Honors in Politics and Economics from Oxford University in 1972 and from the College of Law in London in 1976. He worked for five years in the private sector, in law and investment banking, before entering the British Diplomatic Service. He served overseas at the UK Representation to the EU in Brussels, in Portugal, New York, and in Venezuela as Deputy Head of Mission. He was Head of the Foreign Office’s Non-Proliferation Department and the first Project Director for the UK’s presence at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.

Hare is a Fellow of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and served as president of the British Baseball Federation from 2000-01. He has been designated a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Ambassador Hare teaches classes at Boston University on Diplomatic Practice, Arms Control, Intercultural Communication and on Cuba in Transition. In Spring 2016 he will teach a new class on Public Diplomacy. His novel, “Moncada – A Cuban Story”, set in modern Cuba, was published in May 2010. His book, “Making Diplomacy Work; Intelligent Innovation for the Modern World”, was published in early 2015.

He has written widely on Cuba with recent articles appearing in inter alia, The Financial Times, The Atlantic, The Miami Herald and the Huffington Post. He served on the Brookings Institution core group on Cuba and wrote papers on Cuba published by Brookings.  He is consulted regularly on Cuba issues by inter alia, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, the Associated Press, Agence France and the BBC.

He and his wife Lynda have six children and live in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

* Please note change in order of speakers.

Thursday Morning Series Subscriptions:
Prepayment is required by Monday, January 4th.
DCA members $75, public $100
Some single tickets ($30) for the Thursday morning lectures will be available at the door.

Friday Evening Lecture & Reception:
DCA members $30, public $30
Some single tickets ($30) for the Friday evening lecture & reception will be available at the door.

If you are interested in buying tickets, please contact our office manager, Marilyn DeMaio at 203-655-9050 ext. 10.

Russian Roulette (2015)

The breakup of the USSR in 1991, which resulted in the reestablishment of Russia as a central power, initiated a new world order. Over the ensuing years the initial positive reactions throughout the international community changed to dismay and confusion as Russia dramatically shifted foreign policy positions. Vladimir Putin’s rise to power and continued dominance over Russian international relations has been a further complication for world leaders. Our series will examine President Putin, his dramatic changes in policy and style and will highlight Russia’s current initiatives in Ukraine, as well as partnerships within Europe and Asia. We will conclude with a discussion of the fragile relationship between Russia and the United States and look to the future.

For further information, contact the DCA at or call 203-655-9050.

Email subscription

Should you wish to be notified of further details of the next Academic Lectures Series events, please subscribe to our DCA email through the below link and select “Academic Lectures” as one of your areas of interest, or contact the DCA directly.

Subscribe for email notices of upcoming Academic Lecture Series events through this link


Academic Lectures Committee

Series Coordinator Susan Bhirud
Speakers Committee Ann Mandel, Janet Sargent, Alison von Klemperer, Kate Larson, Mary Genco and Susan Bhirud
Treasurer/ Mailing List Martha Banks
Hospitality Sally Schlachtenhaufen, Margie Anderson and Robin Woods
Publicity Sallie Raleigh, Margie Anderson, Adria Bates and Ann Lang
Book List Ann Lang and Robin Harvey

Academic Lecture Committee

2016 Academic Lecture Series Committee







Seated (left to right):  Janet Sargent, Amy Squyres, Kate Larson, Christie Munro, Sally Schlachtenhaufen, Margi Anderson, Susan Bhirud, and Mary Genco.
Standing:  Adria Bates and Robin Woods

Missing from the photo:  Ann Mandel, Alison Von Klemperer, Martha Banks, Sallie Raleigh, Ann Lang, and Robin Harvey