Peter Van Praagh, President
Peter Van Praagh is the founding President of Halifax International Security Forum. Peter has served as Senior Director for Foreign Policy at the Washington, DC-based German Marshall Fund of the United States, as Deputy Vice President of Programs at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC, and as Chief of Party for the National Democratic Institute both in the former Soviet Union and in Turkey. In 2006-07, Peter served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada. Peter is a graduate of University College, the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics. He is married to Lena Van Praagh and has three children, Yasha, Sophia Joy, and Elizabeth.
Robin Shepherd, Vice President
Robin Shepherd is the Vice President at Halifax International Security Forum. A British citizen, Robin has been a senior journalist and think tank analyst for many years. Among the highlights of his career, he has been the head of the Europe Programme at Chatham House, Moscow Bureau Chief for the Times of London, and the author of two previous books, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel; and Czechoslovakia: The Velvet Revolution and Beyond.
Michael Auslin, Senior Advisor for Asia
Michael Auslin is Senior Advisor for Asia at Halifax International Security Forum and is the Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. A historian by training, he specializes in U.S. policy in Asia and geopolitical issues in the Indo-Pacific region. Auslin’s latest book is Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific. He also is the author of the best-selling The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region, among other books and edited volumes.
Laura Bridge, Managing Director
Laura re-joined the Halifax team as Managing Director in August 2019, where she oversees the Forum, operations, and fundraising. She previously managed the annual Forum from 2009-2015. Most recently, Laura served as Development Director at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and prior to that was Vice President at the World Affairs Council of Los Angeles. Laura holds an MA from King’s College London and a BA from George Washington University.
Dean Fealk, Global Chair of Strategy & Innovation
Dean previously served as General Counsel to Halifax International Security Forum until June 2019. Based in San Francisco, Dean is a Managing Partner at DLA Piper and leads the Global Equity Practice, where he advises leading multinational companies on a wide range of legal and strategic issues related to doing business overseas. Active in civic affairs and public policy, Dean is a Fulbright Scholar and Carnegie New Leader of the Carnegie Council. He is a Presidential Leadership Scholar, was selected for a Presidential Management Fellowship, and served on the National Security Advisory Board of a leading presidential candidate in 2007 and 2008.
Andrew Fishbein, Chief of Staff
Andrew Fishbein is Chief of Staff at Halifax International Security Forum. Prior to joining the Forum, Andrew was Policy and Advocacy Director at the Center for Democracy in the Americas, where he worked with key stakeholders in the U.S. government and outside constituencies to push for a decisive change in U.S. policy toward Cuba. From 2007-2014, he managed congressional relations and policy programming at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Andrew holds a MSc in Energy Policy & Climate from Johns Hopkins University and a BSc in Political Science from Carnegie Mellon University. He lives in Washington, DC.
Zhenya Gilmore, Participant Manager
Zhenya Gilmore is a Participant Manager at Halifax International Security Forum where she supports the planning and organization of the annual Forum. She previously interned for Cartier, USAID, the Department of State, and the American Enterprise Institute. Zhenya is a 2020 graduate of the University of Southern California, where she received a BA in International Relations and Global Business.
Sari Houston, Event Manager
Sari Houston is the Event Manager at Halifax International Security Forum, where she oversees the planning, management and implementation of our premier Forum and other events. Sari’s career has been dedicated to creating dynamic content and conferences to help professionals achieve greater global impact. Sari is a proud alumna of Howard University.
Mary Johnson, Finance and Operations Manager
Mary Johnson is the Finance and Operations Manager at Halifax International Security Forum. She has worked for a variety of interesting non-profit and for-profit organizations but her heart is in the non-profit sector. Mary is a Minnesota native living in Washington DC for many years. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with an independent degree in Political Science, Historic Preservation and Technical Writing.
Whitney Ly, Participant Manager
Vuochnear “Whitney” Ly is a Participant Manager at Halifax International Security Forum and is responsible for co-organizing our 2020 Forum and managing the Forum participants. From Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Whitney is a recent graduate of Gettysburg College, where she received her BA in Political Science and International Affairs. Whitney is also a proud SHE-CAN alumna and aspires to be a diplomat and to reduce poverty in her country through better education and improved living standards.
Paz Magat, Director, Peace With Women Fellowship
Paz Magat is Director of the Peace With Women Fellowship at Halifax International Security Forum. She settled in the United States when her family fled the Philippines on the eve of the People Power Revolution. The majority of her career has been spent in the non-profit sector. Her focus on the fields of international education, conflict management, and social change has taken her to 38 countries and counting. Paz is a graduate of Wellesley College and holds an MA in Applied Social Change and Peacebuilding from Future Generations University.
Bill Olsen, Participant Manager
Bill Olsen is a Participant Manager at Halifax International Security Forum where he supports the planning and organization of the annual Forum. He previously worked as a Graduate Assistant at Creighton University while doing research on gun control policy. Bill is a 2019 graduate of Creighton University, where he received his BA in International Relations and Political Science.”
Caroline Peranich, Program Associate
Caroline Peranich is Program Associate at Halifax International Security Forum. She was brought on to the staff full-time after serving as a Participant Manager throughout 2019, where she managed logistics and operations for the annual Forum. A native Washingtonian, Caroline is a 2019 graduate of James Madison University, where she received a BA in International Affairs with minors in Economics and Spanish.
Randy Scheunemann, Strategic Counselor
Randy Scheunemann is Strategic Counselor to Halifax International Security Forum. Over more than three decades, he has advised senior US and international political leaders on strategy, policy and governance in public and private sector positions. In his final book, The Restless Wave, John McCain thanked Scheunemann as his “consigliere.” Scheunemann also serves as Vice Chairman of the International Republican Institute, an organization devoted to advancing democracy worldwide. He lives in Montana.
Amanda Walker, Program Associate, Peace With Women Fellowship
Amanda Walker is Program Associate for the Peace With Women Fellowship at Halifax International Security Forum and is responsible for supporting the overall coordination, development, and management of the Fellowship. She previously held an internship at the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. She is a proud alumna of the University of Michigan, where she earned her BA in Political Science and International Studies.