Board Members

Board Members

Each year the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs continues to improve the quantity and caliber of our high-profile panelists thanks to efforts of our volunteers and Board Members.

Diane Seligsohn

Board Chairperson

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.

Iqbal Paroo

Board Vice Chairperson and acting Treasurer

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Iqbal Paroo is multi-lingual with a diverse global network of social and professional relationships. Iqbal has long committed his energy, passion, and intellect to making good things happen. His career includes domestic and international leadership in complex health care delivery organizations, academic institutions, the social sector, technology companies, and venture-funded startups.

Willi Rudowsky

Board Secretary

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."

Michel Amblard

Board Member

Finance executive with experience in the US, Canada, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Germany.

Retired CFO for International business, consulting in the US and Canada.

Jim Aresty

Board Member

Jim is a former executive and principal of a major national clothing manufacturer. His main focus since retirement has been working on philanthropic causes. Jim is committed to bringing intellectual and creative programming to St Pete.

"Life isn't waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD

Board Member

Dr. Bréchot joined the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine part time as Senior Associate Dean for Research in Global Affairs, Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation, and Professor in the Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine Since 2017, Dr. Brechot has served as President of the Global Virus Network, a network of 48 research centers worldwide, headquartered in Baltimore.

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.

Dorothy M. Davis

Board Member

Dorothy M. Davis, an innovative and award-winning global thought leader, strategic thinker, business entrepreneur, writer, and filmmaker is President of Dorothy M. Davis Consulting, an international development communication consulting and project management firm that strategically and innovatively organizes complex issues into manageable and sustainable solutions.

Dr. Saskia Estupiñán-Day

Board Member

Dr. Saskia Estupiñán-Day is a public health dentist with worldwide experience including all of the countries of the Americas as well as many countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. She has provided leadership in scientific and academic communities and is a leading worldwide authority in the development of oral health strategies, implementation of national programs, international technical cooperation, and management of research programs. She has conceived and implemented major innovations in public health dentistry research and programs including fluoridation, atraumatic restorative treatment, and the application of cost-effectiveness analysis and policy support to national programs.

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.

William Jordan

Board Member

William Jordan served for 30 years (1981-2011) as a political officer in the U.S. Foreign Service specializing in the Arab world and France. His overseas assignments included Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; Tunis, Tunisia; Damascus, Syria; Amman, Jordan; Paris, France; and Algiers, Algeria, where he served in his final posting as Deputy Chief of Mission.

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.

Lynn Platt

Board Member

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.

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.

Robert Sattin

Board Member

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.

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