Who We Are

America is more divided than ever—but it doesn’t have to be. Open to Debate brings multiple perspectives together for real debates that are structured, respectful, provocative, and fact-driven. We examine the issues of the day with influential thinkers to build a stronger democracy through the civil exchange of ideas. Be open-minded. Be curious. Be ready to listen. Join us in being Open to Debate(Formerly Intelligence Squared U.S.) 

BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Expert, Proven Leadership Board of Trustees
Ian Bremmer

Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, which he established in 1998 with just $25,000. The company is the leading global political risk research and consulting firm, with offices in New York, Washington, and London, as well as a network of experts and resources in 90 countries. Eurasia Group provides analysis and expertise about how political developments and national security dynamics move markets and shape investment environments across the globe. Bremmer created Wall Street’s first global political risk index (GPRI). He is the founding chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geopolitical Risk and is an active public speaker. He has authored several books including the national bestsellers Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World and The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? Bremmer is a contributor to the Financial Times A-List and Reuters.com. He has written hundreds of articles for publications including The Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostThe New York Times, and Foreign Affairs. Bremmer earned a PhD in political science from Stanford University in 1994 and was the youngest-ever national fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is a global research professor at New York University and has held faculty positions at Columbia University, the EastWest Institute, and the World Policy Institute.

Clea Conner

Clea Conner is CEO of Open to Debate. Clea has produced more than 150 award-winning public policy programs spanning technology, culture, economics, law, and global affairs, convening the world’s most influential voices on the most provocative questions of our time. Named one of Crain’s New York “40 Under 40,” Clea developed “Up For Debate” and “That’s Debatable” as television programs on Bloomberg, PBS, and Newsy, and produced the first debate between artificial intelligence and a human debater in partnership with IBM’s historic Project Debater. She holds more than two dozen awards for excellence in public affairs programming in radio, television, and podcasting. Her full bio is available here.

Edward Conard

Edward “Ed” Conard is the author of two New York Times top-ten bestselling books: Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong (2012) and The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class (2016); and a contributor to Oxford University Press’ United States Income, Wealth, Consumption, and Inequality (2020). He is an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, he was a founding partner of Bain Capital, where he worked closely with his friend and colleague, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In May of 2012, Conard published Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong. The book was featured on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Magazine and went on to become a New York Times top ten non-fiction bestseller. Because of the publicity surrounding the publication of his book, Conard was the tenth most searched author on Google in 2012. Since its publication, Mr. Conard has made over 250 television appearances in which he has debated leading economists including Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz, Alan Kruger, Austen Goolsbee, and Jared Bernstein; journalists including Jon Stewart, Fareed Zakaria, Chris Hayes, and Andrew Ross Sorkin; and politicians such as Barney Frank, Howard Dean, and Eliot Spitzer. Prior to Bain Capital, Conard worked for Wasserstein Perella & Co., an investment bank that specialized in mergers and acquisitions, and Bain & Company, a management-consulting firm, where he led the firm’s industrial practice. Conard has a master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School and a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the University of Michigan.

David A. Coulter

David A. Coulter is vice -chairman of Warburg Pincus, a leading private equity firm, and had previously served as vice-chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase and as chief executive officer of Bank of America. Coulter is a director of Aeolus Re, MBIA, Santander Asset Management, Sterling Financial, Triton Container International and Webster Bank. He has been an enthusiastic follower of the Intelligence Squared debates, now known as Open to Debate for many years, and has a broad-ranging set of philanthropic interests. These are reflected by his board memberships at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Mellon University.

Vanessa Mendoza

Vanessa Mendoza is the executive vice president of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MI), a domestic public-policy think tank. She joined the Institute in 2006 as a policy analyst for its legal policy division. She was recruited to work with the development team, was named vice president for development in 2009, and in 2012 was named executive vice president of the Institute. As executive vice president, Vanessa works with MI’s president to develop and manage the Institute’s strategic focus and projects. Additionally, she focuses her time on the Institute’s next-generation leadership initiatives including the Institute’s Young Leaders program and Adam Smith Society. She has broad oversight of the Institute’s development team. Prior to joining the Manhattan Institute, she worked at a New York City-based lobbying firm, for the 2004 Republican National Convention, and for a private-practice attorney. Vanessa earned her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and her B.A. from New York University with a concentration in the fields of political science, history, and election law. She serves on the board of Teneo, an organization of young professionals committed to advancing ideas that promote human freedom and flourishing, and on the advisory board of Open the Books, a nonprofit that works to make government spending transparent to all. Vanessa lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. with her husband and two children.

Alexandra Munroe

Alexandra Munroe, Ph.D is the co-founder of Open to Debate and the Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. She has led the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Program since its founding in 2006 and has organized several award-winning and top-attended scholarly exhibitions of modern and contemporary Asian art. Munroe is former Vice President of Japan Society, New York, and former director of its museum. She is a trustee of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and the United States-Japan Foundation, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, New York.

Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Minerva Project. In 2012, Minerva Project received a $25 million seed investment from Benchmark Capital and has since launched the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship and the Minerva Schools, a reinvented university experience for the brightest and most motivated students that provides an interdisciplinary curriculum using an advanced interactive learning platform. Prior to Minerva, Ben spent more than 10 years at Snapfish, an online photo sharing and storage service, where he served as CEO from 2005 to June 2010. During his tenure as CEO, he lead Snapfish’s sale to Hewlett Packard for $300M. Previously, Ben was president and CEO of Community Ventures, a network of locally branded portals for America’s communities. Ben holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors. It was at Penn that Ben first realized his passion for reforming undergraduate education.

Gerry Ohrstrom

Gerry Ohrstrom is a private investor in New York City and former chairman of the Ohrstrom Foundation. He is or has been a director of various corporations and nonprofit organizations, including the Reason Foundation, the Santa Fe Institute, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Gruter Institute, the Property and Environment Research Center, Africa Fighting Malaria, the International Policy Network, the Booker T. Washington Learning Center, the Museum of the Rockies, and the Yellowstone Park Foundation. He has been Co-Chairman of the President’s Council at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and is a member of the New York Academy of Science.

Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber

Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, widely recognized for her commitment to education, is a renowned philanthropist, and a leading international expert in suicide prevention and depression. She is the director of the Center for Suicide Risk Assessment at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and a recipient of the New York State Suicide Prevention Award in 2013. Among her notable achievements, the FDA commissioned Dr. Posner Gerstenhaber to establish methods of suicide identification, which are now required across the U.S and many countries. She continues to work with the FDA, CDC, NIMH, military health care agencies, the U.S. Department of Education, and other international agencies. In a lead article in The New York Times, her work was characterized as “one of the most profound changes of the past 16 years to regulations governing drug development.” Dr. Posner Gerstenhaber serves on the board of Hereditary Disease Foundation and SmartTots, an FDA/private foundation addressing the safety of pediatric anesthesia. She is the founding chairman of the board of Turnaround for Children, the groundbreaking model that has been proven to fix failing schools in high-poverty communities, and is co-founder of The Speyer Legacy School and Institute, the first independent school and education reform approach for advanced learners.

Robert Rosenkranz

Robert Rosenkranz is Chairman of Delphi Capital Management, an investment concern with more than $35 billion in assets under management, and the founder of a group of investment and private equity partnerships. From 1987 until 2018 he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Delphi Financial Group, an insurance company with some $20 billion in assets. Delphi grew from one of his acquisitions and increased its value 100-fold under his leadership.

 

He is the Founder and Chairman of Open to Debate, a public policy debate series that provides a forum for reasoned public discourse. He serves on the board of directors for the Manhattan Institute and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California; and the Serpentine Galleries and Policy Exchange, the center-right think tank, in London. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the Visiting Committees for the Departments of Photography and Asian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

A graduate of Yale University (A.B. summa cum laude 1962) and Harvard Law School (J.D. 1965), he was a tax lawyer with the New York law firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel and an economist with The RAND Corporation, where he was engaged in research on foreign policy issues and municipal finance. In 1969, he joined Oppenheimer & Company where he was a General Partner when he left to form Rosenkranz & Company, a private equity firm, in 1978. Mr. Rosenkranz is a longstanding art collector, with prominent collections of Asian art, modern design, and time-based media. He resides in East Hampton, New York and Aspen, Colorado with his wife Alexandra Munroe, Ph.D., Senior Curator of Asian Art at the Guggenheim Museum. He has two adult children, Nicholas and Stephanie, both constitutional law scholars.

Philippe Selendy

Philippe Selendy is a general trial lawyer and the Chair of Securities and Structured Finance at Quinn Emanuel.  His practice covers many areas of complex civil litigation at both trial and appellate levels, with an emphasis on financial products, securities, energy, and insurance.  Lauded by the Financial Times as “The Man Who Took on Wall Street,”  Selendy is nationally ranked in Chambers, named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in America by Benchmark Litigation, and named a “Leading Lawyer” in America by LawDragon 500.  Described as “outstanding” by The Legal 500, Selendy is a multiple Law360 MVP,  a National Law Journal “Trailblazer,” and a three-time AmLaw “Litigator of the Week,” which reported that the Federal Housing Finance Agency “hit the jackpot” by hiring him as its lead lawyer for its “litigation assault” on the world’s largest banks. In 2016, The American Lawyer named him “Litigator of the Year” and awarded him its first Grand Prize in Litigation.

Eddie Stern
ADVISORY COUNCIL
Visionaries in media and policy issues affecting the world
Max Boot

Max Boot is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and the Los Angeles Times, and a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and other publications. He is author of the bestselling book, Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present (2013).

R. Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns is Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is faculty chair of the school’s Middle East Initiative, India & South Asia Program, and is the director of the Future of Diplomacy Project. He writes on foreign policy for the Boston Globe and Global Post and is director of the Aspen Strategy Group. During his career in the State Department, he served in a variety of positions, including as under secretary of state, ambassador to NATO and Greece and at the National Security Council.

Devon Cross

Devon Cross is director of The Policy Forum on International Affairs. She was founder and president of The Donors Forum on International Affairs, was executive director of the Gilder Foundation in New York City, and president of the Donner Canadian Foundation in Toronto. From 1984-1993, she was director of the Smith Richardson Foundation in New York. Cross served on the Defense Policy Board, a civilian advisory board to the Pentagon, from September 2001-2008.

Mickey Edwards

Mickey Edwards, a Republican member of Congress from Oklahoma for 16 years (1977-92), is a vice president of the Aspen Institute and director of the Institute’s Aspen-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership program. He was a member of the House Republican leadership and served on the House Budget and Appropriations committees. He has taught at Harvard, Georgetown, and Princeton universities and has chaired various task forces for the Constitution Project, the Brookings Institution, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Richard Falkenrath

Richard Falkenrath is a senior manager at Bridgewater Associates and an adjunct senior fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was deputy homeland security advisor and deputy assistant to President George W. Bush. From 2006 to 2010, he served as the deputy commissioner for counterterrorism of the New York City Police Department. He was formerly a principal with The Chertoff Group and a contributing editor at Bloomberg LP.

David Frum

David Frum, a senior editor at The Atlantic, is a contributing editor at The Daily Beast and a CNN contributor. He is the author of eight books, including Why Romney Lost, Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again, and Dead Right, described as “the most refreshing ideological experience in a generation” by William F. Buckley. In 2001-2002, he served as a special assistant to President George W. Bush, and in 2007-2008, he served as senior foreign policy adviser to the Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign.

Doug Hecox

Doug Hecox is a nationally recognized public relations expert and currently leads the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Media Relations. He teaches journalism at American University and is an author, columnist and nationally touring comedian. Doug has worked for members of Congress, the White House, and the U.S. Departments of Justice, Transportation and Treasury.

Margaret Hoover

Margaret Hoover is a CNN political contributor and the bestselling author of the book, American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party, published by Crown Forum in July 2011. She is also president of the American Unity Fund, an organization that marshals GOP financial and political support to pass marriage and other LGBT rights at the state and federal level. Hoover is a veteran of the Bush Administration White House, two presidential campaigns, and a former staffer on Capitol Hill.

Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is also a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a co-founder of BaselineScenario.com, a member of the FDIC’s Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee, and a member of the private sector systemic risk council founded by Sheila Bair. In 2014, he joined the Financial Research Advisory Committee of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research (OFR). From 2009 to 2015, he was a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Economic Advisers. Johnson has published more than 300 high impact pieces in New York Times, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and many other outlets. He is the co-author of several books, including White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You (2013). Previously, he was the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist and director of its research department.

Andrew Keen

Andrew Keen is one of the world’s best known and controversial commentators on the digital revolution. He is the author of three books: Cult of the Amateur, Digital Vertigo, and The Internet Is Not the Answer. He is executive director of the Silicon Valley innovation salon FutureCast, the host of the popular Internet chat show “Keen On,” a Senior Fellow at CALinnovates, a columnist for CNN and a much acclaimed public speaker around the world. In 2015, he was named by GQ magazine in their list of the “100 Most Connected Men.”

Michael Levi

Michael Levi served as a special assistant to President Obama for energy and economic policy on the National Economic Council. Previously, Levi was the David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, and director of the CFR program on energy security and climate change. He is an expert on climate and energy, technology, and nuclear security.

Larissa MacFarquhar

Larissa MacFarquhar has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. Her Profile subjects have included John Ashbery, Barack Obama, Noam Chomsky, Hilary Mantel, Derek Parfit, David Chang, and Aaron Swartz, among many others. She is the author of “Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help” (Penguin Press, 2015). Before joining the magazine, she was a senior editor at Lingua Franca and an advisory editor at The Paris Review, and wrote for Artforum, The Nation, The New Republic, the Times Book Review, Slate, and other publications.

Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Minerva Project. In 2012, Minerva Project received a $25 million seed investment from Benchmark Capital and has since launched the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship and the Minerva Schools, a reinvented university experience for the brightest and most motivated students that provides an interdisciplinary curriculum using an advanced interactive learning platform. Prior to Minerva, Ben spent more than 10 years at Snapfish, an online photo sharing and storage service, where he served as CEO from 2005 to June 2010. During his tenure as CEO, he lead Snapfish’s sale to Hewlett Packard for $300M. Previously, Ben was president and CEO of Community Ventures, a network of locally branded portals for America’s communities. Ben holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors. It was at Penn that Ben first realized his passion for reforming undergraduate education.

Gerry Ohrstrom

Gerry Ohrstrom is a private investor in New York City and former chairman of the Ohrstrom Foundation. He is or has been a director of various corporations and nonprofit organizations, including the Reason Foundation, the Santa Fe Institute, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Gruter Institute, the Property and Environment Research Center, Africa Fighting Malaria, the International Policy Network, the Booker T. Washington Learning Center, the Museum of the Rockies, and the Yellowstone Park Foundation. He has been Co-Chairman of the President’s Council at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and is a member of the New York Academy of Science.

James Piereson

James Piereson is president and trustee of the William E. Simon Foundation. He is also a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute where he is director of the Institute’s Center for the American University. From 1985 to 2005, he was executive director and trustee of the John M. Olin Foundation. Previously, Piereson served on the political science faculties of Iowa State University, Indiana University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught government and political thought. He serves on the boards of the Pinkerton Foundation, Thomas W. Smith Foundation, Center for Individual Rights, Philanthropy Roundtable, Foundation for Cultural Review, American Spectator Foundation, Hoover Institution, and DonorsTrust.

Andrew Roberts

Andrew Roberts is the bestselling author of Napoleon: A Life, The Storm of War, Masters and Commanders, Napoleon and Wellington, and Waterloo. A Fellow of the Napoleonic Institute, he has won many prizes, including the Wolfson History Prize, the British Army Military Book Award, and the Fondation Napoleon’s Jury Prize, writes frequently for The Wall Street Journal, and has written and presented a number of popular documentaries.

Jeffrey Rosen

Jeffrey Rosen is the president and chief executive officer of the National Constitution Center. He is a professor at The George Washington University Law School, where he has taught since 1997, and the legal affairs editor of The New Republic. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he explores issues involving the future of technology and the Constitution.

Gail Saltz

Gail Saltz is clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, psychoanalyst with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, columnist, bestselling author, and television commentator, including frequent contributing to the Today Show, CNN, and MSNBC. She is the emotional wellness contributor to Health Magazine and Health.com, chair of the 92nd Street Y 7 Days of Genius Advisory Committee, and consultant and event moderator for the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative

Peter Schuck

Peter Schuck is the Simeon E. Baldwin Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School. His most recent books include Targeting in Social Programs: Avoiding Bad Bets, Removing Bad Apples; Meditations of a Militant Moderate: Cool Views on Hot Topics; Immigration Stories; Foundations of Administrative Law; Diversity in America: Keeping Government at a Safe Distance; and The Limits of Law: Essays on Democratic Governance. He is also co-editor, with James Q. Wilson, of Understanding America. He is a member of the American Law Institute’s advisory committee for the Restatement of Torts (Third), Basic Principles, and a contributing editor to The American Lawyer. He was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Jonathan Soros

Jonathan Soros is chief executive officer of JS Capital Management LLC, a private investment firm. He is also a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a think tank based in New York City, and co-founder of Friends of Democracy, a Super PAC and advocacy organization dedicated to reducing the influence of money in politics. Soros is a member of the board of the New America Foundation and holds several board positions affiliated with the Open Society Foundations.

Bret Stephens

Bret Stephens is an op-ed columnist for the New York Times. He previously worked at the Wall Street Journal, where he was most recently deputy editorial page editor and, for 11 years, a foreign affairs columnist. Before that, he was editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post. At The Post he oversaw the paper’s news, editorial, and digital operations and its international editions, and also wrote a weekly column. He has reported from around the world and interviewed scores of world leaders. Stephens is the author of “America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder,” released in November 2014. He is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including two honorary doctorates and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

John Tierney

John Tierney is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s quarterly publication, City Journal, and a contributing science columnist to the New York Times.  His work has been published in The AtlanticEsquire, New York, Reason, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Tierney’s latest book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, was a New York Times best-seller and has been translated into 20 languages.  His website is JohnTierney
JOHN DONVAN
NYC.com
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MODERATORS
John Donvan Headshot
John Donvan
Moderator-in-Chief

The moderator of Open to Debate since 2008, John Donvan is an author and correspondent for ABC News. He has served as ABC’s White House Correspondent, along with postings in Moscow, London, Jerusalem, and Amman. John is the coauthor of In a Different Key: The Story of Autism (Crown, 2016). In addition to premiering his first one-man show, “Lose the Kid,” in 2013 in Washington, D.C., John is a four-time Emmy Award winner and was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2010.

Twitter: @johndonvan

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Nick Gillespie
Editor-at-Large for Reason

Nick Gillespie is the editor-at-large of Reason, the libertarian magazine of “free minds and free markets,” and the host of The Reason Interview podcast with Nick Gillespie. A two-time finalist for the digital National Magazine Awards, he is co-author of “The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America” and holds a Ph.D. in American literature.

Full bio is available here

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Nayeema Raza
Journalist, New York Magazine

Nayeema Raza is a journalist and filmmaker whose work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine and the Tribeca Film Festival. She is currently the Executive Producer and co-host of the Vox Media podcast “On with Kara Swisher.” She was previously a Senior Editor at The New York Times where she ran the podcast “Sway,” produced Video Op-Eds on topics like immigration and internet privacy, and penned Opinion essays on modern culture. Nayeema came into journalism with a background in documentary filmmaking and international development consulting. She started her career at the Monitor Group, where she spent five years advising foreign governments in Libya, Vietnam, Jordan and Sub-Saharan Africa on economic reform and market-based solutions to poverty.

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Gillian Tett
Editorial Board Chair and Editor-at-Large US of the Financial Times; Provost Elect at King's College Cambridge

Gillian Tett is chair of the editorial board and U.S. editor-at-large of the Financial Times, where she oversees global coverage of the financial markets. An award-winning journalist and best-selling author, Tett is also the co-founder of “Moral Money,” a twice-weekly newsletter on socially responsible business. Her most recent book, “The Silo Effect,” analyzes the financial system through the lens of cultural anthropology. She has been named Columnist of the Year (2014), Journalist of the Year (2009), and Business Journalist of the Year (2008) in the British Press Awards and received three awards from America’s Society of Business and Economic Writers Awards. She is a best-selling author and has received the Royal Anthropological Institute Marsh Award and the American Anthropological Association President Medal for her work in social science.

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Xenia Wickett
Geopolitical strategist and moderator, Wickett Advisory and Trustee of Transparency International UK

Xenia Wickett runs a geopolitical advisory and executive coaching business, Wickett Advisory, that helps organizations and individuals find clarity and direction amid uncertainty.

Previously, Xenia has held positions as VP of Political Analysis and Integrity Due Diligence at Equinor, Head of the US and Americas Programme and founding Dean of the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs at Chatham House, Executive Director of the PeaceNexus Foundation, which she helped found, and Executive Director for Research at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.

Xenia served with the US government on the National Security Council and at the State Department. Shortly after 9/11, she was detailed to the US Office of the Vice President to help launch the Office of Homeland Security Affairs.

Among other volunteer activities, Xenia is a trustee of Transparency International UK and sits on the executive team of the Pilgrims. She has an MPP from Harvard’s Kennedy School and a BA from Oxford University. She is a qualified coach with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

STAFF
Clea Conner Headshot
Clea Conner
Chief Executive Officer

As the CEO of Open to Debate, Clea Conner is on a mission to restore civility, respect, and intelligence to the public square. Clea has produced more than 150 award-winning public policy programs spanning technology, culture, economics, law, and global affairs, convening the world’s most influential voices on the most provocative questions of our time. Named one of Crain’s New York “40 Under 40,” Clea developed “Up For Debate” and “That’s Debatable” as television programs on Bloomberg, PBS, and Newsy, and produced the first debate between artificial intelligence and a human debater in partnership with IBM’s historic Project Debater. She holds more than two dozen awards for excellence in public affairs programming in radio, television, and podcasting.

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Lia Matthow
Chief Content Officer

Lia Matthow’s tenure at Open to Debate spans many years and has included multiple editorial leadership and strategic development roles. As Chief Content Officer, Lia currently leads content expansion and strategy across debate topics, guest curation, radio and television broadcasts, podcasts, digital platforms, and partnership integrations. Prior to Intelligence Squared, Lia worked in television news in senior management positions at CNN, Court TV and MSNBC. Lia is also the President and Founder of Beacon Strategies Inc, where she has curated live events for numerous nonprofit and private entities and global media companies including Newsweek, Scientific American, Macmillan Learning and Bloomberg L.P. Lia provides bespoke media training programs for bestselling authors, C-Level executives and corporate leadership teams. Prior to launching Beacon Strategies, she served as the founding Director of Grants and Special Projects at a private foundation endowed at one billion dollars, where she managed strategic funding initiatives and a wide range of editorial events and summits. Ms. Matthow holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and graduated magna cum laude from American University.

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Marlette Sandoval
Editorial Producer

Marlette has worked in the Editorial Department at Open to Debate since 2020, providing research and production support to every debate produced in that time. Prior to this, she worked at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory researching cognitive psychology and counterfactual reasoning. She also served as a member of Minerva University’s accreditation team, which was successful in gaining independent accreditation. Marlette holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Science from Minerva University (formerly Minerva Schools at KGI), with a focus on psychology, neuroscience, and sociology.

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Gabrielle Iannucelli
Social Media and Digital Platforms Coordinator

Gabrielle worked on multiple Webby-Award-winning HBO properties in social media branding and broadcast media production before serving as Social Media Director for a New York State Senator, where she managed communications for large-scale public affairs campaigns. Prior to the New York State Senate, she worked at the Emma Bowen Foundation in communications. Gabrielle holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Mass Communications from Pace University, with a focus on engaging domestic audiences, optimizing campaigns for global audiences, and making complex content accessible.

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Andrew Lipson
Director of Project Management and Production

Andrew is an experienced Production Manager and Executive having held positions for traditional broadcasters such as MTV, VH1, and Fuse as well as for digital media for Viacom New Media, Cablevision and Scholastic. He has also managed media production, operations, and distribution for Synaptic Digital/Definition6 servicing the PR industry. Immediately prior to joining Intelligence Squared, he was VP of Production for The Lighting Design Group where he was fortunate enough to work with Open to Debate. This inspired him to want to contribute to its mission to produce robust, respectful conversations about difficult topics.

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Max Fulton
Production Coordinator

Max is an experienced media professional. He has worked as a production coordinator on TV and film projects for industry giants such as HBO, Netflix and 20th Century Television. Max has also worked on a variety of smaller projects taking on many different roles, including video editor, sound editor, colorist and music composer. Max has a B.A. in Sociology and Emerging Media from Hunter College.

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Gabriella Mayer
Editorial and Research Manager

Gabriella is an experienced writer and editor, who has always been passionate about media’s ability to strengthen our society and have a meaningful effect on the world around us. At Open to Debate, she builds upon her marketing and digital editorial experience by researching and crafting written content for our debate program and social media. Before joining the team, she worked for TED Talks, where she wrote, edited, and published posts for their social media platforms. Her articles have been published in various publications, including the Palm Beach Daily News, Bookreporter.com, and My Jewish Learning, and her poetry has been published in anthologies and literary magazines. Gabriella holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New York University.

Linda Lee
Account Manager

Linda is an experienced accounting professional. She began her journey in the investment industry as fund administrator for hedge funds. She has also managed small business operations and became a leading financial advisor on numerous projects. Her achievements include streamlining accounting processes for efficiency. She now strives to optimize budgets and financial strategies in the nonprofit sector.

Devin Shermer
Devin Shermer
Operations and Events Coordinator

Devin is an experienced live events coordinator having worked for Skeptics Society Lecture Series at Caltech, The Martha Graham Company, as well as producing her own series of dance films and their screenings. Devin holds a B.A. in Cognitive Neuroscience from Occidental College, where she published multiple research papers in peer-reviewed journals. She holds a Dance Certification in Martha Graham Technique and has been a touring principal dancer to smaller dance companies for many years.

Alexis Pancrazi
Editorial Producer

Alexis is editorial producer for Open to Debate. She’s an experienced producer with an interest in audio storytelling and public affairs content. Prior to Open to Debate, she worked at the documentary film production company Fork Films, and during her time there launched and produced the podcast All Ears with Abigail Disney. She got her start working for Bill Moyers on Bill Moyers Journal and his subsequent television program, Moyers & Company. She lives in New York City, only a short drive from where she grew up in New Jersey.

Mili Shah
Mili Shah
Director of Audience Development

Mili Shah is an accomplished Audience Development and Digital Partnerships Executive, with over a decade of experience building brand and content awareness for streaming and traditional media platforms. Before joining Open to Debate, she directed the growth marketing strategy for HBO Max on platforms such as Amazon, Apple, and Google. Prior to its acquisition by Paramount Global, Mili built a small but mighty Digital Partner Marketing group at Smithsonian Networks and helped expand the documentary Channel’s reach to 90+ territories. She has also held positions at CBS News, Discovery, and Fox Broadcasting. Throughout her career, Mili has seen the ways in which technology, marketing, and storytelling can shape the zeitgeist. She is inspired by Open to Debate’s mission to bring viewpoint diversity and critical thinking back to public discourse.

Rachel Kemp
Rachel Kemp
Chief of Staff

Rachel Kemp has an impressive track record in executive operations and fundraising across a variety of sectors including startups, real estate, and non-profit organizations. Her expertise in aligning and implementing the visions of CEOs has been a key factor in driving organizational growth, notably contributing to the successful acquisition of Feedback Loop. Rachel’s diverse skills and her knack for overcoming complex challenges are integral to propelling Open to Debate’s mission of fostering informed and respectful discourse.

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