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Ferdinando Nelli Feroci

European Commission/ president of the IAI (Istituto Affari Internazionali)

Ferdinando Nelli Feroci is president of the IAI (Istituto Affari Internazionali).


A diplomat from 1972 to 2013, he was Permanent Representative of Italy to the European Union in Brussels (2008-13), Chief of Staff (2006-08) and Director General for European Integration (2004-06) at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously, he served in New York at the United Nations, in Algiers, Paris and Beijing. He also served as Diplomatic Counsellor of the Vice President of the Italian Council of Ministers (1998). In June 2014, he was appointed to the post of European Commissioner in the Commission chaired by Manuel Barroso to replace Antonio Tajani, a position he held until the end of the mandate of the Commission on 1 November 2014. Formerly a Fellow at the Center for International Affairs, Harvard University (1985-86), and Visiting Professor at the Istituto Universitario Orientale of Naples (1989), he is currently a professor at the School of Government of LUISS, Rome.


Eric Festa

Senior VP LNG Business Development TOTAL

Eric FESTA is Vice President Global Business Development for TOTAL Gas & Power.


He started his carreer in the Energy Industry with TOTAL in 1995 and has since held various positions in the head office and affiliates in a wide range of disciplines such as operations, engineering, strategy and business development. More recently, Eric worked as Country Chair in the Middle East for TOTAL Exploration &amp; Production. Eric graduated from French engineering school Centrale-Supelec and subsequently obtained a Master from the French Petroleum Institute (IFP School) in Paris. He was a visiting scientist in the Energy Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for two years before joining TOTAL. </p>

Helga Flores Trejo

Former Executive Director, Heinrich Boell Foundation

Helga Flores Trejo is a foreign policy and development expert who has lived and worked in Bonn, Berlin, Belgrade, Guadalajara, Washington D.C. and Brasilia. She has 18 years of experience in government, multilateral development banks, international organizations, think tanks and NGOs. Currently she works as Principal Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in charge of the creative industries operational work, advancing IDB’s work in the cultural and creative industries. Previously, she was Head of External Relations for the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC).


Prior to joining the IDB Group, she served as Executive Director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, one of Germany’s largest foundations, promoting transatlantic policy exchange. She has served as Chief of Staff for the Urban Development and European Affairs Minister the Government of the City of Hamburg, as a Senior Advisor for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE in Belgrade and as Advisor on Development policy and Latin America in the German Bundestag. Helga Flores Trejo has been a Fellow at the Brookings Institution and was awarded fellowships by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Prince of Wales’ Business and Environment Program, and the BMW Herbert Quandt Foundation. She is a Board Member of CulturalVistas, the Institute of Current World Affairs and the Latino Victory Project. Recently, she was as member of the Europe-U.S.-Latin America Task Force of the Atlantic Council. Helga Flores holds a Master degree in International Relations from Frankfurt University in Germany and speaks fluently Spanish, German, English, French and Portuguese.

Isaac Fokuo

CEO, African Leadership Network

Isaac Kwaku Fokuo, Jr. (Kwaku) is a sought-after advisor to governments, investors, startups, and Fortune 500 corporates globally.


He has worked on projects in 40 countries, 25 in Africa, and in a variety of sectors including tertiary education, venture philanthropy, and Islamic finance. Kwaku most recently served as the Vice President for Strategy and Linkages for the African Leadership Group (ALG). He previously worked at McMaster-Carr as part of their Management Development program. Kwaku is the founder and principal of BOTHO Limited, an investment advisory firm that has managed over USD 900 million in debt and equity across Africa. He is also the co-founder of the Sino-Africa Centre of Excellence, an organization that facilitates partnerships between Chinese and African private and public sector actors. Kwaku holds an MA in International Relations with a focus on security and regional integration from the University of Chicago, an MBA from the Kellsdtadt School of Business at DePaul University, and a Certificate in Executive Education in Leadership from the Oxford University Saïd Business School.


Jay K. Footlik

President/CEO Global Policy Initiatives

Jay served as a special assistant to President Clinton in the White House and has global policy experience spanning Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. As founding president and CEO of the consulting firm Global Policy Initiatives, Jay has worked with Fortune 500 companies, NGO’s, start-ups, foreign ministries and embassies helping devise and implement strategies to achieve their goals and objectives. While at the White House, Jay worked on a range of domestic and foreign policy issues, including extensive work in the MENA region.


He also served as the President’s liaison to the American Jewish community and traveled with President Clinton to assist the president on official visits to Poland, Norway, Israel, Gaza, Jordan and various locations within the United States. A former US Congressional Candidate, Footlik has held various senior positions on numerous political campaigns over the past 25 years, including Bill Clinton’s campaign for president in 1992 and John Kerry’s Presidential campaign in 2004, where he served as Kerry’s senior Middle East advisor.  Footlik is a frequent speaker on topics ranging from US politics and presidential elections to foreign policy and the Middle East.  During the 2016 and 2012 US presidential elections, the US State Department’s Speaker and Specialist Program sent him to Israel, Kuwait and Morocco to speak to a variety of audiences regarding American elections.  He has appeared on television and radio, including Al Jazeera English, Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS and others.  Footlik earned a B.A. in political science from UCLA, specializing in American Foreign Policy and the Middle East. He has a law degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles and is a member of the Maryland State Bar.

Màrcio Fortes

Engineer, Visiting Scholar School of International and Public Affairs Columbia Universi Former Head, Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social ty

Márcio Fortes graduated in Rio de Janeiro. As a businessman, became CEO and Chaiman of the largest urban construction company in Brazil. For 3 years, he was the President of BNDES - National Development Bank - and Member of the Board of PETROBRAS.


From 1989 to 1991, Márcio was President of BANERJ State Bank and provided credit for citizens and to small sized companies. He was Secretary for Public Works and after Secretary of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Rio de Janeiro State. He attracted foreign and local investors for industrial plants, innovative activities and investment in infrastructure. Had 3 Federal Deputy mandates and served at the Board of PSDB - Brazilian Political Party. He was also - from 1979 to 1980 - Deputy Minister of Finance.

Kassie Freeman

President and CEO The African Diaspora Consortium

Having studied at the University of Oslo, Norway, and at the University of Vienna, Austria, she is considered a leader and scholar in the field of comparative and international education.


She is a past President of The Comparative and International Education Society (the second African American to be elected to this position). She has held leadership positions in a range of higher education instituion types. She was elected by the Board to serve as Interim President of the Southern University System, the nation’s only Historically Black College System. Additionally, she served as the first Dean for Academic Advancement at Bowdoin College where she was a member of the President’s senior cabinet. She is the author or editor of five books, and her scholarship on African Americans and College Choice is considered seminal work on the topic. Her research has appeared in the top scholarly journals in higher education. </p>

Adama Gaye

CEO, Newforce Africa

Adama Gaye is author of “Tomorrow, the New Africa”(Edtioons L'Harmattan). A seasoned journalist, from Senegal, he is a well-known expert on Africa, focusing on its politics and international as well as continental affairs.


Gaye is a former Director at both Ecobank and Ecowas. He graduated from various universities including Dakar, Sorbonne, Oxford, Les, Ceibs, in addition to being visiting scholar at Beijing and Johns Hopkings University. He has been awarded a certificate of leadership by Harvard University. He is bilingual. He regularly analyses African issues on Aljazeera, BBC, CNN and others....

Tayeb Ghazi

Researcher in Economics, OCP Policy Center

Tayeb Ghazi is a junior researcher in economics at OCP Policy Center. Tayeb has a master’s degree in Econometrics and Applied Finance from Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech.


Before he joined OCP Policy Center, his research focused on Business cycles analysis, and labor market economics. He also made part of the elaboration of number of notes on education and quantitative methods applied to the social sciences. Currently, his research focuses on the labor market and development in developing economies.

Yang Guang

General Director of the Institute for West-Asian and African Studies (IWAAS) – the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing

Studies, Beijing Foreign Language School; 1999, studies, Graduate School, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).


Since 1978, Research Fellow, CASS; since 2007, elected President, Chinese Association of Middle East Studies, CASS. Expertise: economic development, energy security. Yang Guang has conducted research on the Middle-East and Africa as well as on international energy security over the past thirty years and currently serves as a Director General of the Institute of West Asian and African studies (IWASS) of CASS, President of the Chinese Society of African studies and editor in chief of the Academic Journal West Asia and Africa. He is co-author of a number of books, including the Middle-East Markets (1993), Organizations of Petroleum Exporting Countries (1995), Developing Economies’ Challenges toward the 21st Century (1999) and Annual Reports on Development in the Middle East and Africa (1997-2009). </p>