Great Decisions
Educating young people about world events
Luncheon Lectures
Luncheon Meeting
Wednesday, March 22nd 2017

Luncheon Meeting - 12:00 Nooon - Inn at Reading
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email
For Prepaid Reservation, click HERE

Dr. Eric Trager

Arab Fall: Why Egypt's Tahrir Square Revolution Failed

Eric Trager, the Esther K. Wagner Fellow at The Washington Institute, is an expert on Egyptian politics and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He was in Egypt during the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolts and returns frequently to conduct firsthand interviews with leaders in Egypt's government, military, political parties, media, and civil society. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic, and the New Republic.

Trager is the author of Arab Fall: How the Muslim Brotherhood Won and Lost Egypt in 891 Days (Georgetown University Press, 2016) which chronicles the precipitous rise to power of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, culminating in the election of President Mohamed Morsi in 2012, and its sudden demise just a year later. The book also assesses the current state of Egyptian politics and the prospects for a reemergence of the Brotherhood.

Dr. Trager has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where his doctoral research focused on Egyptian opposition parties. From 2006-2007, he lived in Egypt as an Islamic Civilizations Fulbright fellow, where he studied at the American University in Cairo and received his M.A. in Arabic studies with a concentration in Islamic studies. He served as a research assistant at The Washington Institute from 2005 to 2006 upon graduation from Harvard University with a degree in government and language citations in Arabic and Hebrew.

Luncheon Meeting
Friday, April 7th 2017

NOTE DATE CHANGE Luncheon Meeting-12:00 Noon-Inn at Reading
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email
For Prepaid Reservations: Click HERE

David Satter

Putin and Russian Corruption

Satter was born in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Chicago and from Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar. From 1976 to 1982, he was the Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times of London. He then became a special correspondent on Soviet affairs of The Wall Street Journal. He is currently a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a fellow of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He has been a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In the 1990s, Satter wrote extensively about post-Soviet Russia. In an article in The Wall Street Journal Europe, April 2, 1997, he wrote: “When the Soviet Union fell… the moral impulse motivating the democratic movement had to become the basis of Russia’s political practices. The tragedy of the present situation is that Russian gangsters are cutting off this development before it has a chance to take root.”

David Satter is the author of four non-fiction books about Russia, It Was a Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past (2011), Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union (1996), Darkness at Dawn: the Rise of the Russian Criminal State (2003), and The Less You Know,The Better You Sleep (2016).

Excursion to West Point
Wednesday, April 19th 2017

Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Excursion to West Point

N.B. This excursion is completely booked. However, should some people change their plans, we are keeping a wait list which closes one month prior to the trip for security reasons.

The WAC excursion this Spring will be to the United States Military Academy at West Point. There will be an escorted tour, a working lunch at the West Point Club and dinner at the historic Thayer Hotel.

West Point security is very strict.  Your WAC must submit the names and identification information for each attendee to West Point no later than one month prior to the Excursion so that attendees can pass security clearance.  Therefore, a reservation for the Excursion, which is limited to about 50 people, will require both payment and submission of security identification. Payment and identification should be sent to World Affairs Council of Greater Reading, P.O. Box 6301, Reading, PA 19610.

The easiest form of identification is to provide us with a copy of all attendees’ PA drivers licenses.  A copy of an attendees’ US passport is another acceptable document.  If copies of these documents are not readily available, please contact us.  

On the day of the trip, an attendee must bring their actual form of identification that was submitted  with them.  

Costs for the Excursion are: 
WAC Members: $150.00 per person
Non Members: $160.00
Ambassadors: $100.00
Students: $75.00

(included are breakfast, museum, lunch, program, tour, dinner, and travel)

Breakfast Meeting
Wednesday, April 26th 2017

Breakfast Meeting - 7:30 AM - Wyomissing Restaurant and Bakery
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Dale Rubinkam & Bruce Dearnley

Shelter Boxes

Every year, hundreds of thousands of families across the world lose everything when disasters strike. Often with no warning, families lose their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods. Every day they are faced with a battle for survival.

Since we began in 2000, we have responded to earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, landslides, typhoons and conflict, delivering emergency humanitarian aid to communities in need. 

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Syria crisis, and the biggest storm to ever make landfall – Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; we have responded to some of the largest humanitarian crises the modern world has ever known. Alongside this, we have also helped many thousands of people displaced by disasters that are not featured in the media. Simply put, if there are families in need of emergency shelter, we will do everything we can to help them. 

The top priority of many aid organizations is to provide food, water and medical care to help people survive the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Without protection from the elements, survivors are at a higher risk as they await nourishment or medical attention. We recognized that little or no assistance was given in terms of proper shelter to help them through the first few days, weeks and months as they tried to rebuild their lives. Today, ShelterBox assists disaster survivors during the critical period following a disaster but preceding reconstruction. 

To help them begin to rebuild their lives and communities, we deliver shelter and lifesaving supplies to the most vulnerable people.

Luncheon Meeting
Wednesday, May 10th 2017

Luncheon Meeting - 12:00 Noon - Inn at Reading
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email
For PrePaid Reservations: Click HERE.

Dr. Jose Esparza

The Global Challenge of Confronting Emerging Epidemics: From AIDS to Zika, and Beyond


José Esparza is an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is also the current President of the Global Virus Network (2016). From 2004 to 2014 he was Senior Advisor on HIV Vaccines and Vaccines at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, WA. From 1986 to 2004 he was with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) in Geneva, Switzerland, were he coordinated an international effort to develop HIV vaccines. From 1974 to 1985 he worked at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC), becoming Professor of Virology and Chairman of Microbiology and Cell Biology. Esparza received his MD degree in Venezuela in 1968 and a PhD in Virology and Cell Biology from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, in 1974. He has published over 185 scientific articles in medical virology, vaccinology and HIV/AIDS. He is a member of the Venezuelan Academy of Medicine and serves in several international scientific advisory boards. He is also a vaccine consultant for several companies. 

Breakfast Meeting
Wednesday, May 17th 2017

Breakfast Meeting 7:30 AM - Location TBD
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 of Email

Bill Scroggie

Doing Business Internationally

Bill Scroggie is senior vice president of international operations for Penske Logistics. The company's managing directors in Mexico, South America, Europe and China Asia-Pacific region report to Scroggie.

Before assuming his current role in 2014, Scroggie was senior vice president of operations for the Eastern region for Penske Logistics. He was entrusted with revenue growth, operations, pretax earnings, safety compliance and customer relations in this region of the U.S.

Scroggie was also senior vice president for Penske's Central region. From 2007 to 2010, he was based in Brazil as managing director of South America. In that role, he was responsible for the operations and growth of the South American business.

Scroggie began his career with Penske in 1997 as logistics center manager in Chicago. Over the next 10 years, he served in various roles, including regional distribution manager, general manager and vice president of operations.

While in the role of vice president of operations, he was responsible for managing the strategic global relationship and operational execution of the Ford Motor Company business. In addition, he also directed the dealer parts delivery network operations for other domestic OEMs.

Scroggie holds an undergraduate degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Roots and Wings
Thursday, May 18th 2017

Doubletree Hilton Hotel - 5:30 PM Reception - 6:00 PM Dinner
For Reservations: Click HERE or Call 610-375-7880


Event Sponsor:

Fox Rothschild, LLP

Roots and Wings is a special community event celebrating the longterm commitment of growing roots within the community of Reading and allowing students the wings to fly to their greatest successes.

All honorees graduated from Reading High School in the mid 1970’s and recognize how their Reading High School roots helped to enhance their fundamental values and directions while serving successful careers within the United States foreign service. Those to be recognized include:

Ambassador Stephen D. Mull, United States Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation, tasked with carrying out the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by former United States Secretary of State John Kerry.  He has also served as U.S. Ambassador to Poland, from 2012-2015 and U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania, from 2003 – 2006.  In addition, Ambassador Mull has served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Jakarta, Indonesia, Consular for U.S. Missions in Poland, the Bahamas and South Africa.  Other assignments have included serving as Deputy Director of the State Department Operations Center, as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, as Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs in the Bureau and as Deputy Executive Secretary in the Office of the Secretary of State.

Ann Calvaresi Barr serves as the Inspector General for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where she oversees more than $20 billion in U.S. foreign assistance and development for programs worldwide.  She brings more than 30 years of experience in federal oversight experience which has included, serving as Deputy Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Transportation and Director in the Acquisition and Sourcing Management Team in the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Christopher J. Hoh, recently retired as the Senior Advisor in the U.S. State Department’s recruiting office, where he managed the Foreign Service Internship Program.  Previously he served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy in Vienna, Austria.  He also served as Associate Dean in the Professional School of the Foreign Service Institute, Director for South European Affairs in the State Department, where he directed policy and programs for Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo and participated in peace negotiations and planning for Bosnia, Eastern Slavonia, Kosovo and Macedonia.

Reading School District Superintendent, Dr. Khalid Mumin, will serve as Master of Ceremony for the evening festivities.

Advanced reservations are required for the dinner and program.  Ticket price is $50 per person.  

Luncheon Meeting
Wednesday, June 14th 2017

Luncheon Meeting - 12:00 Noon - Inn at Reading
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email
For PrePaid Reservations: Click HERE.

Ambassador Charles Ray

The Need for a Stronger Diplomatic Force - American Diplomacy at Risk

Charles A. Ray is a retired Foreign Service Officer who served 30 years in the US Foreign Service, and before that, 20 years in the US Army. During his army service, including two tours in Vietnam, he served in Military Intelligence, Special Operations, and Public Affairs, with tours of duty in Germany, Korea, Vietnam, and Panama, as well as posts throughout the U.S., and retired in 1982 with the rank of Major.

During 30 years in the Foreign Service, he was posted to China, Thailand, Sierra Leone, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Zimbabwe. His overseas assignments included service as Deputy Chief of Mission in Sierra Leone during that country’s transition to democratic rule, he was the first US Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and was ambassador to Cambodia and Zimbabwe. From 2006 to 2009, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs and Director of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. 

Since retirement from public service, he has been a full time freelance writer and consultant, and is the author of more than 60 books of fiction and non-fiction, including three books on leadership. He is a frequent blogger and contributor to several Internet news and content sites. Ray is also a photographer and artist, and has worked as a journalist and artist for a number of publications in the US and abroad. During the late 70s he was editorial cartoonist for the Spring Lake (NC) News, a weekly newspaper near Fort Bragg, NC. He was the first chairman of the American Foreign Service Association’s Professionalism and Ethics Committee. He runs a workshop on professional writing for Rangel Scholars at Howard University each summer, and has lectured at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Johns Hopkins University, speaking on global hotspots and the History of American Diplomacy. He has also done consulting work for the Department of Defense on personnel recovery (working with the Angel Thunder PR exercise) and as an interagency subject matter expert during army unit pre-deployment training. 

Ray is a member of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the Association of Black American Ambassadors, and the American Academy of Diplomacy.

A native of Texas, Ray now makes his home in North Potomac, MD, a suburb of Washington, DC.

Breakfast Meeting
Wednesday, September 13th 2017

Breakfast Meeting - 7:30 AM - Location TBD
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Dr. Randall Newnham

After Brexit

Dr.Randall Newnham is an Associate Professor of Political Science atPenn State Berks. His research focuses on the role of the economic aid and sanctions as foreign policy tools. Recent articles include Coalition of the Bribed and Bullied?  US Economic Linkage and the Iraq War Coalition and Nukes for Sale Cheap? Purchasing Peace with North Korea (both in International Studies Perspectives, 2004 and 2008). He has a special interest in Germany, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union. This is seen in his book, Deutsche Mark Diplomacy: Positive Economic Sanctions in German-Russian Relations (PSU Press, 2002), and several recent articles on German, Polish, and Russian foreign policy. Dr. Newnham teaches introductory courses in International Relations, Comparative Politics, and American Government. He also teaches advanced courses on "The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union" and International Political Economy as part of PSU Berks' four-year Global Studies degree.

Breakfast Meeting
Wednesday, October 18th 2017

Breakfast Meeting 7:30 AM - Location TBD
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Dr. Bonnie Rohde

NAFTA and Asia Trade

Dr. Bonnie Rohde is a business instructor at Albright College. She is a Business Educator & Data Scientist in business intelligence, operations management, entrepreneurship and globalization. Rohde has more than 20 years experience in business planning, information systems and telecommunications prior to joining Albright in 2006.

Luncheon Meeting
Wednesday, November 8th 2017

Luncheon Meeting - 12:00 Noon - Inn at Reading
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

P.J. Crowley

Red Line - Foreign Policy in a Time of Fractured Politics and Failing States

In this book, RedLine -Foreign Policy in a Time of Fractured Politics and Failing States, former Deputy Secretary of State P. J. Crowley, one of America’s most insightful national security commentators, unpacks the legacy of American triumphs and failures in Iraq . He argues that presidents have fallen victim to the Iraq Syndrome—the disconnect between politics, policy, strategy, and narrative—that has hampered America’s foreign policy in the Middle East and hotspots throughout the world. In order to maintain America’s global leadership role, Crowley argues that the next president must realign American’s national security politics, policies, strategies, and narrative for the long term. 

Philip J. (P.J.) Crowley is a Professor of Practice and Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication at The George Washington University, where he currently teaches courses on public diplomacy and crisis communications. P.J. appears frequently as a national security commentator on national and global television networks. His opinion pieces have been published in a wide range of print and on-line outlets, including The Washington Post, The Guardian and the BBC.

He served as the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman for the U.S. Department of State between 2009 and 2011 under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and was the primary U.S. government interlocutor with major media regarding the impact of the release of classified diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks. He resigned from that position after making public comments critical of the government’s pre-trial treatment of Private First Class Bradley/Chelsea Manning. Atlantic Magazine named him as one of 21 Brave Thinkers in 2011.

After leaving the State Department, P.J. held the 2011-2012 Omar Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law and School of Public Affairs, Dickinson College and the Army War College. While there, he authored The Rise of Transparency and Decline of Secrecy in the Age of Global and Social Media for the Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs.

Before joining the Obama administration, P.J. was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, with a particular focus on homeland security in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He authored a number of detailed analyses on security issues, including Safe at Home, a national security strategy to protect the American homeland, improve national preparedness and rebuild the U.S. standing in the world. He remains engaged on these issues as a member of the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group. His most recent analysis in this area is Homeland Security and the Post-9/11 Era, published by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.


P.J. is a retired Air Force colonel and is a veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991. He served on the National Security Council staff at the White House as a special assistant to President Clinton and deputy press secretary. He deployed to NATO Headquarters in Brussels during the 1999 Kosovo crisis to support then NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, helping to develop a strategic communication capability in support of the NATO campaign.