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2017: Safe and Free Speakers

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Keynote Speakers

Lieutenant General John Mulholland, U.S. Army, ret., Furman class of 1978, history

Lieutenant General John F. Mulholland served as associate director for Military Affairs at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from January 7, 2015, until he retired on December 1, 2016. In 2001, General Mulholland commanded the first Green Berets to infiltrate Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He held several subsequent military leadership roles including commander of U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg and commander of Special Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. Mulholland’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit. He received a B.A. in history from Furman University, a master’s of military art and science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the National War College.

Vice Admiral Mike McConnell, U.S. Navy, ret., Furman class of 1966, economics

Most well-known for his time as the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (2007-2009), McConnell’s career has spanned over 40 years, 29 as a U.S. Navy intelligence officer. As the director of National Intelligence, he managed the expansive United States Intelligence Community – an organization of over 100,000 people, and an annual global enterprise budget of over $47B – and had extensive interactions with the White House, the President’s Cabinet, Congress, international leaders, and the U.S. business community. In 2009, Mr. McConnell became executive vice president and then vice chairman at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he now serves as senior advisor.

From 1992-1996, McConnell served as director of the National Security Agency, leading the agency during a critical period as it adapted to the multi-polar threats brought about by the end of the cold war. In 1996, Booz Allen Hamilton recruited McConnell to create its first information security business, after which he served as chairman and CEO of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA).

Admiral McConnell has been awarded many of the nation's highest military awards for meritorious service and has twice received the nation's highest award for service in the Intelligence Community, once by President Clinton and once by President George W. Bush. McConnell holds an M.P.A. degree from George Washington University and a B.A. degree in economics from Furman University.


Dr. David Shi, Furman class of 1973, political science

David E. Shi (pronounced "Shy"), the 10th president of Furman University (1994-2010), is a leading figure in American higher education. During his presidential tenure, Furman solidified its stature as one of the nation’s finest liberal arts colleges. Applications to the university increased 75 percent, faculty salaries improved dramatically, the endowment quadrupled, the academic profile of the student body rose, and the campus benefited from more than $210 million in new construction and renovation. Shi was also a champion of the university’s emphasis on engaged learning, energy conservation and environmental stewardship. Under his direction, Furman became a national leader in promoting sustainability. 

A specialist in intellectual and cultural history, Dr. Shi is the author of several books and is also co-author, with the late George B. Tindall, of the best-selling textbook America: A Narrative History (W. W. Norton), now in its ninth edition. This book has sold over 2 million copies. A recipient of several awards, Dr. Shi holds a Ph.D. from University of Virginia and a B.A. in history from Furman University.


Major General Chris Ballard, Furman class of 1984, political science and German

Major General Christopher Ballard is commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. INSCOM executes mission command of operational intelligence and security forces and conducts and synchronizes worldwide multi-discipline and all-source intelligence and security operations.

Ballard is a career Army intelligence officer who has commanded at the company, battalion, and brigade levels with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. MG Ballard's awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal.

Ballard holds a B.A. in political science and German from Furman University, a Master's in international relations from Indiana University, and a Master's in national security and strategic studies from the National War College.

Sheana Cavitt, Furman class of 2004, biology

Sheana Cavitt is a senior professional at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (JHU/APL) where she brings science and technology solutions to U. S. Government national security issues including countering weapons of mass destruction and cybersecurity. She works with a wide variety of U.S. Government departments and agencies to include those involved in intelligence, law enforcement, and defense. Ms. Cavitt was selected as a fellow in the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Health Security in 2012. Ms. Cavitt received her Master’s in biohazardous threat agents and emerging infectious diseases from Georgetown University and her B.S. in biology from Furman University.

Dr. Eli Dourado, Furman class of 2002, economics and political science

Eli Dourado is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of its Technology Policy Program. He has studied and written about a wide range of technology policy issues, including internet governance, intellectual property, cybersecurity, and cryptocurrency. His expertise has been sought in unraveling the question of cyber threats, particularly in light of the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other emails. Dourado co-created WCITLeaks to increase government transparency pertaining to international telecommunications regulations.

His popular writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy, among other outlets.

Dourado is an advisor to the State Department on international telecommunication matters and has served on several U.S. delegations to United Nations treaty and policy conferences. On April 17, Dourado becomes head of global policy and communications at Boom, a supersonic jet startup. He received a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University and a B.A. in economics and political science from Furman University.

Dr. Jennifer Lambert, Furman class of 2001, political science and history

Jennifer Lambert is a foreign affairs officer and deputy director, Office of Analytics, Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) at the U. S. Department of State. A Presidential Management Fellow, she recently completed a rotation which saw her working as part of the Secretary of State's policy planning staff. The team lead for metrics and research data at IIP, Lambert studies the efficacy of government digital outreach programs designed to explain U.S. policy and culture to the international community. She is passionate about the value of public diplomacy and the importance of improving U.S. efforts to reach a variety of audiences in the international community.

A 2002 Mitchell scholar, Lambert received a B.A. in political science and history from Furman University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in politics from University College Dublin.

Maurice Owens, Furman class of 2000, political science

Maurice Owens is the head of the Washington D.C. office of Libra Group, a global enterprise that controls 30 subsidiaries operating across six continents, where he manages Libra’s policy and government affairs portfolio.

Owens was the Obama Administration’s Situation Room coordinator and special assistant to White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, where he served as the primary liaison between the Office of Chief of Staff and Capitol Hill. Following a career in the U.S. Air Force as an information and communications technology specialist, Owens joined the White House Communications Agency in 2007 where he operated and maintained a $45 million secure communications network integrating U.S. agencies and allied nations. 

A 2000 graduate of Furman University, Maurice received a master of science in international relations from Troy University in 2008.

Michael Roosevelt, Furman class of 1981, history and French

Michael Roosevelt served for thirty years in various capacities in the Central Intelligence Agency. He spent the majority of his career in the CIA's analytic directorate, focusing at the working level and as a manager on political events in the Soviet Union and its successor states, Chinese foreign policy, and global organized crime and narcotics. During the year immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he was detailed to the White House as an advisor to Vice President Cheney on policy toward Russia and the other former Soviet republics.

Later in his career, he served in a series of senior assignments, including: delivering daily one-on-one intelligence briefings to Vice President Biden, the President's senior advisor on terrorism and homeland security, and other members of the National Security Council; coordinating the CIA's positions on federal information-sharing initiatives; leading teams in the Office of Inspector General that assessed the effectiveness of such complex programs as internal oversight of covert action, the CIA as executive agent, and the Counterproliferation Center; and contributing to a broad range of innovative workforce programs. 

Roosevelt received a M.A. in Russian history from Pennsylvania State University and a B.A. in history and French from Furman University.

Jessica Taylor, Furman class of 2007, political science

Jessica Taylor is the lead digital political reporter for National Public Radio (NPR). Based in Washington, D.C., she covers national politics for NPR digital. Previously, Taylor was the campaign editor for The Hill newspaper, a writer and producer for MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd" and a contributor to the NBC News Political Unit. Her quotes have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, as well as several state and regional newspapers across the country. Taylor has also appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, CNN and other local network affiliates.

A native of Elizabethton, Tenn., she is a graduate of Furman University.


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