Coudert Institute Speakers

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Civil-Military Relations; and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly. Between 2002 and 2004, Rubin worked as a staff advisor for Iran and Iraq in OSD/ISA/NESA at the Pentagon, in which capacity he was seconded to Iraq.

A native of Philadelphia, Rubin received a B.S. degree inbiology from Yale University in 1994, and a Ph.D. inhistory from the same institution in 1999. He has previouslyworked as a lecturer in history at Yale University, HebrewUniversity in Jerusalem, and at three different universities innorthern Iraq. Rubin currently provides academicinstruction on regional issues for senior U.S. Army and Marine officers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rubin is author of Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (Washington Institute, 2001), co- author of Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave, 2005), and co-editor of Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats (American Enterprise Institute Press, 2008). Rubin was primary drafter of the Bipartisan Policy Center's 2008 taskforce report, Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy toward Iranian Nuclear Development.

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Norman E. Rosenthal is a world-renowned psychiatrist, public speaker, and best-selling author who is known for his innovative research and inspirational writings. He is currently Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine and is listed as one of the Best Doctors in America. Dr. Rosenthal has practiced psychiatry for over three decades, treating people with all manner of psychiatric and emotional health issues. He is also a motivational speaker and a personal and professional coach, working with people from all walks of life including CEOs, top athletes, and performing artists.

Rosenthal was born and raised in South Africa and did his medical training at the University of Witwatersrand, where he graduated with high honors. He immigrated to the US and did his psychiatric residency at Columbia in NYC before going to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where he began his research career in earnest. His first major research contribution was to describe and name Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and to develop light therapy as a treatment for this novel condition. SAD – and its milder variant, the Winter Blues – are now known to affect millions of people worldwide, many of whom have benefited from the light therapy that Dr. Rosenthal pioneered.

Dr. Rosenthal is a highly cited researcher who has written over 200 scholarly articles, and authored or co-authored eight popular books. These include Winter Blues, the New York Times bestseller Transcendence, and the Los Angeles Times bestseller The Gift of Adversity. Rosenthal has conducted numerous clinical trials of medications and alternative treatments, such as Transcendental Meditation for psychiatric disorders, and the treatment of depression with Botox. He and his work have been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, NPR and other national media.


Clark Randt, Jr., Former U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, President of Randt & Co. LLC

Clark "Sandy" Randt currently is the President of Randt & Co. LLC, a company that advises firms with interests in China. He is a former U.S. ambassador to the People's Republic of China, where he served from 2001 until 2009 under the administration of President George W. Bush. Sandy is recognized as one of America's foremost authorities on China, is a diplomat, attorney and businessman with more than 30 years of direct experience in Asia.  

From 1968 to 1972, Sandy served in the U.S. Air Force Security Service. In 1974, he was the China representative of the National Council for United States-China Trade. From 1982 through 1984, Sandy served as First Secretary and Commercial Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. And from 1994 through 2002, he was a partner resident in the Hong Kong office of Shearman & Sterling, where he headed the firm's substantial China practice.

Sandy serves on the boards of Valmont Industries, Inc., Qualcomm Incorporated and Wynn Resorts, Ltd. He is a member of the New York bar, and is a former governor and first vice president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

Sandy joined the UPS Board of Directors in 2010, and serves on the Compensation and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committees. 

Sandy graduated from Yale University with a B.A., and received his law degree from the University of Michigan. He attended Harvard Law School where he was awarded the East Asia Legal Studies Traveling Fellowship to China. 


PANELIST: Michael Franc
Michael Franc is the Hoover Institution’s director of DC programs, where he oversees research and outreach initiatives to promote ideas and scholarship in our nation’s capital. He holds a dual appointment as a research fellow. Mike Franc is a longtime veteran of Washington, DC policymaking. 

Prior to joining Hoover, Franc served as policy director and counsel for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He also served as the Vice President of government relations for the Heritage Foundation from 1997-2013. During this time he managed all the think tank’s outreach with Capitol Hill and the Executive Branch. 

He also completed a tour of duty as communications director for former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) and worked for the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He has been quoted widely in the print and broadcast media, and was a regular contributor to The National Review Online and other publications.

Franc has a BA from Yale University and a JD from Georgetown University.


PANELIST: Ramesh Ponnuru

Ramesh Ponnuru (/rəˈmɛʃ pəˈnʊəruː/; born August 16, 1974) is an American columnist and a senior editor for National Review magazine, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a columnist for Bloomberg View, and a contributing editor to the domestic policy journal National Affairs.

A conservative pundit, Ponnuru has written widely on a range of political and policy topics, appeared on many public affairs and news interview programs, and is a widely respected voice on conservative policy.

Since 1999, Ponnuru has been a senior editor at National Review, where he writes on politics, policy, and the law.[5] In its pages, he has called for a revival of Republican policy thinking by applying conservative ideals to contemporary problems and emphasizing the concerns of the middle class. He has frequently made the case for increasing the child tax credit to properly compensate parents for the cost of raising children, and has been a regular co-author with economist David Beckworth on the topic of monetary policy and market monetarism.[7][8]

He appears frequently on television programs about public affairs, including Meet the Press[9] and Face the Nation. Ponnuru is a regular guest speaker on policy, politics, and constitutionalism at college campuses and law schools across the country, and in 2013 he was a fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.

In 2006, Ponnuru wrote The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life, which Peggy Noonan called "the most significant statement of the need to protect human life in America since Ronald Reagan’s Abortion and the Conscience of America." He is also the author of a monograph on Japanese industrial policy.

Ponnuru is a past contributor to Time and and has written for The New York Times, The Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, Financial TimesNewsdayNew York PostThe Weekly StandardPolicy ReviewThe New Republic, and First Things.

Ponnuru is a sought-after thinker on conservative policy and its political implications, and has regularly been a guest at retreats for congressional Republicans. In 2015, Politico Magazine featured him and his wife, April Ponnuru, as two of the "Politico 50" influential leaders in American politics.

He has been identified as a leader of the "reform conservative" movement, and was featured in a 2014 New York Times Magazine cover story about the conservative intellectuals who comprise it.

In 2014, Ponnuru co-edited, with Yuval LevinRoom to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class, a reform conservative manifesto and policy agenda. (Ponnuru also contributed the book’s concluding chapter, on constitutionalism. The book was widely praised, with New York Times columnist David Brooks calling it "the most coherent and compelling policy agenda the American right has produced this century."


PANELIST: Michael Knowles hosts "The Michael Knowles Show" at the Daily Wire. In 2017, he wrote the #1 national bestselling treatise Reasons To Vote For Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide, which President Donald Trump hailed as "a great book for your reading enjoyment." Before blank book fame, Michael studied History and Italian Literature at Yale University, graduating with honors and earning the Seymour L. Lustman Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Artistic and Cultural Life of the College. At Yale, Michael rendered the first-ever translation for the English stage of Florentine diplomat and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli's semi-autobiographical play The Girl From Andros, which Machiavelli scholar Angelo Capodivacca hailed as "a watershed event for the English-speaking world." In 2011, Michael co-founded Red Pillar Consulting, in which capacity he has advised political campaigns from the municipal to the presidential level. Michael has performed in theater, television, and cinema, recently starring in the feature-length comedy film Hollyweird. In 2017, he teamed up with acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Andrew Klavan to perform the thirteen-episode narrative podcast Another Kingdom, which garnered nearly two thousand five-star reviews by the release of its final installment, rising to become one of the most popular Arts podcasts of the year. Michael's work focuses on the relation between culture and politics, as goes the eternal maxim: "Politics is show business for ugly people."


Daniel Quinn Mills consults with major corporations and governments and lectures about management, leadership, strategy, economics and geopolitics.   He is an expert on the differences between Asian and Western leadership styles.  His most recent article is “Asian and American Leadership Styles:  How They Differ,” published in the Peking University Business Review, August, 2007.  An American, Mills is also a member of the Innovation Council of Malaysia, a ministry level council chaired by the Prime Minister.


Tett was educated at the North London Collegiate School, an independent school for girls in Edgware, in the London Borough of Harrow in northwest London, during which time, at the age of 17, she worked for a Pakistani nonprofit.

After leaving school, she went up to Clare College, Cambridge, where she earned a PhD in Social Anthropology based on field research in Tajikistan in the former Soviet Union. She expressed frustration with an academic anthropology that in her view has been committing "intellectual suicide" and decided instead to pursue a career in journalism.

In 1993, Tett joined the Financial Times as a correspondent from the former Soviet Union and Europe. In 1997, she was posted to Tokyo, where she later became bureau chief. In 2003, she became deputy head of the influential Lex column. Tett was then U.S. managing editor at the FT, before working as an assistant editor and columnist before returning to the U.S. Managing Editor position. She is also the chairwoman of the board of trustees for the Knight–Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism with Columbia University.

During the years 2005–2007, Tett applied her skills in ethnographic research to J.P. Morgan and discovered that the insular culture was leading to the creation of financial instruments that had little basis and that could cause severe economic disruption. In 2006, she predicted the financial crisis. Her 2009 book Fool's Gold recounts the lead-up to the economic crisis and the eventual collapse. She also played a significant role in the 2010 documentary Inside Job about the financial crisis of 2008.

In 2010 Tett interviewed author Sebastian Mallaby on C-SPAN about his book More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite providing a very clear image of hedge funds. Mallaby introduced "James Simons, founder of the Renaissance Technologies hedge fund and arguably the most successful investor of all time" but who was virtually unknown in 2010.

Tett's 2009 book Fool's Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe was widely reviewed throughout the English-speaking world and won the Spear's Book Award for the financial book of 2009.

Tett’s past roles at the FT have included US managing editor (2010-2012), assistant editor, capital markets editor, deputy editor of the Lex column, Tokyo bureau chief, and a reporter in Russia and Brussels.


Richard Tofel was the founding general manager of ProPublica from 2007-2012, and became president on January 1, 2013. He has responsibility for all of ProPublica's non-journalism operations, including communications, legal, development, finance and budgeting, and human resources. 

He was formerly the assistant publisher of The Wall Street Journal and, earlier, an assistant managing editor of the paper, vice president, corporate communications for Dow Jones & Company, and an assistant general counsel of Dow Jones. More recently, he served as vice president, general counsel and secretary of the Rockefeller Foundation, and earlier as president and chief operating officer of the International Freedom Center, a museum and cultural center that was planned for the World Trade Center site. 

He is the author of "Why American Newspapers Gave Away the Future" (Now and Then Reader, 2012), "Eight Weeks in Washington, 1861: Abraham Lincoln and the Hazards of Transition" (St. Martin's, 2011), "Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism" (St. Martin's, 2009); "Sounding the Trumpet: The Making of John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address" (Ivan R. Dee, 2005), "Vanishing Point: The Disappearance of Judge Crater, and the New York He Left Behind" (Ivan R. Dee, 2004) and "A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees in 1939" (Ivan R. Dee, 2002)


 Abigail Kent, left and Lydia Roth, right

Abigail Kent, left and Lydia Roth, right

Abigail Kent, harp: Abigail Kent is a versatile musician who has performed internationally in venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kimmel Center, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Among her many awards, she was Finalist at the 2016 International Harp Competition (Hungary), Laureate Finalist and Senior Division Winner of the 2015 American Strings Teachers Association National Solo Competition, Semi- Finalist in the Chief Musician category of the 3rd Wales International Harp Competition in 2014, and Winner of “Play With the Pros” Concerto Competition and performance with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra at the 2013 Saratoga Harp Colony. Most recently, Ms. Kent was awarded 1st Prize in the 2017 American Harp Society’s Competition, Young Professional Division, earning her the title of “AHS Concert Artist” for 2017-2019. As Concert Artist, Abigail will be presenting recitals and masterclasses throughout the US and Canada. Additionally, Abigail was a featured harp soloist for the 2017 World Harp Congress in Hong Kong. As an orchestral harpist, she is Principal Harpist of Symphony in C and is Guest Musician Harpist for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony. She has performed under the batons of Michael Tilson Thomas, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Osmo Vänskä, Vladimir Jurowski, and Ken Lam. An avid proponent of new music, she has commissioned and premiered multiple works for harp solo and chamber, including dahlianum by Andrew Hsu, The Star at Night by Ben Yee-Paulson, and Tolstoy Trio by Nicholas Bentz. Miss Kent studied for a year at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and then was selected as the Maryjane Mayhew Barton Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where she graduated with the Landis Award for Excellence in Academics. In the fall, she will pursue her Masters of Music degree at the Mannes School of Music, studying under Emmanuel Ceysson, Principal Harpist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Lydia Roth, flute: Lydia Roth, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is in her final year of study at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studies with Jeffrey Khaner, principal flute of the Philadelphia Orchestra. All students at Curtis receive merit-based, full-tuition scholarships, and Ms. Roth is the Edwin B. Garrigues Annual Fellow. Ms. Roth was named a YoungArts National Winner in 2014. Since the 2016-17 season, Ms. Roth has held the position of principal flute with Symphony in C, where she previously held the position of second flute and piccolo. She has performed as a substitute musician with ensembles throughout the Philadelphia area, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. In past summers, she has performed in the Lake George Music Festival and the National Orchestral Institute. Ms. Roth has participated in master classes with Demarre McGill, Joshua Smith, Mark Sparks, and Marina Piccinini. She began studying the flute at age nine, and her previous teachers include Anne Crans and Christopher Kantner, principal flute of the Grand Rapids Symphony. Ms. Roth is active as a private flute instructor in Philadelphia.

 Chen Cao, left and Michael Davidman, right

Chen Cao, left and Michael Davidman, right

Chen Cao, cello: Described as “a wonderfully gifted cellist” Chen Cao was born into a musical family in Beijing, China. At the age of two, with the encouragement of his father, he learned a traditional Chinese instrument called the erhu and won first prize at a competition for young erhu players just a few years later. He continued to excel at the erhu until his mother introduced him to some recordings of the cello, and that was enough to fuel the obsession until this day. 

At ten years of age, Chen became an honor student in the pre-college division of China’s most prestigious conservatory, the Central Conservatory of Music. In 2005, he was the First Prize Winner in the youth division at the Ai-Qin Cup China National Cello Competition. He has performed solo and chamber music concerts, as well as concertos with many orchestras in China and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Chen has also performed in venues such as the China National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing Concert Hall, Tianjin Concert Hall, Sapporo Concert Hall and Suntory Hall in Japan, and Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.  

In 2014 and 2015, Chen was the principal cellist of the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra and performed concerts under the baton of Maestro Valery Gergiev. In 2016 and 2017, Chen was the principal cellist of the Verbeir music festival He has also participated in masterclasses with Andres Diaz, David Geringas, David Garber, Richard Aaron, Hai-Ye Ni, Jian Wang, Li-Wei Qing, and Gary Hoffman.

Chen is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Music degree at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studies with Carter Brey, principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, and Peter Wiley, cellist of the Guarneri String Quartet. All students at Curtis receive merit-based full tuition scholarships, and Chen is the Thomas and Patricia Vernon Annual Fellow. Chen is extremely grateful and honored to be studying at Curtis and enjoys conversing with his teachers about the relationship between music and life.

Michael Davidman, paino: Born 1997 in New York City, pianist Michael Davidman has claimed the top prize at many competitions, has appeared as soloist with orchestra in performances of some of the most demanding piano literature, and has been presented before some of today’s most illustrious musicians.  Michael started piano lessons at Greenwich House Music School at five years old, then with Efrem Briskin (2005-2015) at Manhattan School of Music, conducting with Jonathan Strasser (2009-2015) and conducting with David Gilbert (2013-2015). Michael is presently studying piano with Robert McDonald at Curtis Institute of Music  as of fall 2015. All students at Curtis receive merit-based full-tuition scholarships, and Michael Davidman is the William R. Stensrud Annual Fellow.   

Considered at an early age by his teachers and eventually critics, to be prodigiously gifted, Michael was chosen at age thirteen by Lang Lang's management to perform in the 2010 Lang Lang masterclass at Manhattan School of Music; his rendition of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 10 was praised by Lang Lang saying, “You play beautifully and are technically brilliant!”  

In 2008, at the Music@Menlo’s Chamber Music Festival, Michael was partnered with violinist Stephen Waarts.  Their subsequent collaboration has earned them a cover story in the San Mateo Daily Journal and rave reviews. Writer Keith Kreitman wrote of the performance:  “….the best of the best at this concert were Waarts and Davidman…” proclaiming the young artists “11-year-old prodigies, and I rarely apply that term and never loosely…” He went on to say “I would go anywhere to hear them perform it again.”    

As part of his precollege study at Manhattan School of Music, Michael won First Place in the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Concerto Competition in all three age categories: first at age ten in 2008 in the eleven years-old and under category, resulting in the performance of Mendelssohn’s first piano concerto, at age twelve in the twelve through fifteen years-old category, winning the opportunity to perform Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto with the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Philharmonic Orchestra, and again in 2014 in the sixteen and older category with Liszt’s first piano concerto.   

Michael has performed and given interviews on WHYY “Curtis On Stage”, WSKG-FM radio Expressions Series, Cable News 12, NYC, NPR’s radio program “From the Top”, and the AADGT (American Association for the Development of the Gifted and Talented, Inc.).