Board Members

Willi Rudowsky

Willi Rudowsky

Board President

Known as a professional student, I have always sought out situations that exposed me to new ideas, ways of working, processes, and people. 

"Yelling at someone who disagrees with you does not make them smarter."

Lynne Platt

Board Vice President

Lynne Platt’s career of U.S. Government service spanned 31 years, 24 of them in the U.S. Foreign Service. She retired in 2018 with the rank of Minister-Counselor, having worked overseas in Cairo (1995-1997), Casablanca (1995-1997) USNATO (2001-2004), Paris (2004-2008), Baghdad (2008-2009), Port-au-Prince (2009-2011), London (2011-2014), and Vancouver (2014-2017) as Consul General. Domestically, she served in the State Department’s Near East Asia Bureau (1999-2000) and at the non-partisan Wilson Center as senior State Department Fellow at the Canada Institute (2017-2018). Lynne received her BA (Phi Beta Kappa) and MA in Political Science from the University of Washington. She and her husband recently relocated to Saint Petersburg, Florida.

Gary S. Leff DDS, MPH

Board Treasurer

Gary lived and worked in Tel Aviv, both teaching and in the private practice of Endodontics for several years. He returned to San Antonio, Texas to complete his residency in Endodontics, after which he began private practice in the Washington, DC area, from which he retired after 33 years. During his time in practice, he completed a MPH degree from Johns Hopkins University. He volunteered in the Dominican Republic, providing dental services. He was director of the Oral Health section of Health Volunteers Overseas for 6 years, he did site visits to open volunteer projects for HVO members in Latvia, Ukraine, Nicaragua, and Mozambique. He also served on the International Steering Committee for the American Dental Association and the International Development Committee of the World Dental Federation and served on the board of Jewish-Healthcare International, a joint Israeli-American NGO.

Robert Sattin

Board Secretary

Robert Sattin, President of The Appleton Group, Lawyer – After over 33 years in the private practice of law in Hartford, CT, Bob came to St. Petersburg where he spent 8 years as the president of The Appleton Group, which developed and ran a network of over 270 law and accounting firms located in 100 countries. In that position, Bob not only interacted with member firms around the world, but also led semi-annual conferences in Europe, N. America, S. America and Asia.

Marcia Cohen

Board Member

Marcia S. Cohen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Roosevelt University of Chicago, a Master’s degree in Music Composition from Northwestern University, and received her Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law. Since becoming a member of The Florida Bar, she practiced almost exclusively in the area of labor and employment law with a concentration in employment discrimination. Ms. Cohen currently serves on The Florida Orchestra Board of Consultants and the Pinellas County ACLU Legal Panel.  She likes to sing jazz weekly at the Hangar restaurant in downtown St. Pete.

Douglas L. McElhaney

Board Member & Co-Founder

Douglas L. McElhaney is an American diplomat. He served as the Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina 2004–2007. Doug is the instigator of the St Pete Conference on World Affairs, having participated in a similar event last year in Boulder, Colorado. When he moved to St. Petersburg in 2007 to take care of aging parents, he noted that international issues did not get the time and attention in the lives of busy Floridians that they warranted.

Victoria McColm

Board Member

Victoria founded and has served as the Managing Director of McColm & Company since 2013 – a mission-driven consulting firm that equips change makers with the knowledge, skills, and insights they need to succeed in an increasingly complex world. McCO clients include the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Small Business Administration, USAID Implementing Partners, and a number of local and international NGOs active in countries emerging from conflict.

Maurice Kurtz

Board Member

Maurice has a BA from Eckerd College where he spent much of his time honing sailing skills which morphed into several years as a sailing pro. From there he entered small manufacturing, becoming a design engineer and project manager with an award-winning consortium in the development, fabrication, and installation of “hands-on” interactive exhibit activities for science and children’s museums. His creations are found in prominent institutions nationwide in the USA, the UK, Brazil, and Egypt.

Diane Seligsohn

Board Member

Diane Seligsohn is an American journalist and university lecturer who has lived in Paris for over 3 decades and now divides her time between France and St Petersburg, Florida. Diane received her BA from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and her MA from NYU. She began her career in journalism at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s New York office, where she worked for 5 years before moving to France.

Thomas W. Smith, PhD

Board Member & Co-Founder

Thomas W. Smith is Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean of the Judy Genshaft Honors College at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the College of William & Mary and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. He has taught at USF since 2000. From 1997-2000 Dr. Smith was an assistant professor of International Relations at Koç University in Istanbul. During the summer of 1999 he was a visiting scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. He spent the 2007-2008 academic year at Stanford University.

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