The SNF Agora Board of Overseers is comprised of a diverse group of committed individuals representing an array of fields, backgrounds, experiences, and ideologies. Board members are passionate about creating productive dialogue, developing an engaged citizenry, and supporting healthy democracies around the world.
The Honorable Rosalie Silberman Abella
The Honorable Rosalie Silberman Abella was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004, its first Jewish woman. She attended the University of Toronto (BA 1967, LLB 1970). She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1972 and practiced civil and criminal litigation until 1976, when she was appointed to the Ontario Family Court at the age of 29, the youngest and first pregnant person appointed to the judiciary in Canada. She later served on the Ontario Court of Appeal for 12 years. She chaired the Ontario Law Reform Commission and the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Justice Abella was the sole Commissioner and author of the 1984 Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, creating the term and concept of “employment equity.” She was the Boulton Visiting Professor at McGill Law School from 1988 to 1992, where she taught jurisprudence, administrative law, and constitutional law. She is a elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano, was a judge of the Giller Literary Prize, has written over 90 articles, and authored or co-edited four books on a variety of legal topics. Justice Abella chaired the Rhodes Selection Committee for Ontario and is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Classical Piano.
Justice Abella was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law; the Distinguished Service Award of the Canadian Bar Association (Ontario); the International Justice Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation; the Human Relations Award of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews; the Honourable Walter S. Tarnopolsky Human Rights Award; the Bora Laskin Award for Distinguished Service in Labour Law; the Global Jurist of the Year from Northwestern School of Law; the Ethical Leadership Award from the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University; the Calgary Peace Prize from Mount Royal University; and the Goler T. Butcher Medal for International Human Rights from the American Society of International Law. She has 38 honourary degrees.
She is married to Canadian history professor Irving Abella, with whom she has two sons, both lawyers. She is the first Jewish woman and the first refugee appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Ronald J. Daniels
Ronald J. Daniels is the President of Johns Hopkins University. Since taking office in 2009, Daniels has focused his leadership on three overarching themes – enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration, individual excellence, and community engagement. These themes are the backbone of the Ten by Twenty, the university’s strategic vision through 2020, and underscore the priorities of Rising to the Challenge, Johns Hopkins’ largest-ever fundraising campaign, a $5 billion effort.
Under Daniels’ leadership, the university has launched a series of transformative, multidisciplinary initiatives that seek to advance the understanding of some of society’s most vexing issues, from realizing the promise of individualized health to addressing the challenges facing urban environments. With the extraordinary support of Johns Hopkins alumnus Michael Bloomberg, the university began recruiting 50 new Bloomberg Distinguished Professors whose appointments in two or more divisions create bridges between diverse departments. Daniels is also championing a university wide vision for innovation, bolstering the efforts of faculty, staff, and students to translate their discoveries into novel technologies. As chair of the Executive Committee of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Daniels serves as a link between the university and Johns Hopkins Health System.
During his tenure, the university has invested heavily in student access, increasing the undergraduate financial aid budget by roughly 10 percent each year since 2010 and committing millions of dollars to graduate stipend supplements for doctoral candidates in Arts and Sciences. From launching the Gateway Science Initiative, designed to transform the traditional core undergraduate science curriculum, to establishing the first university-wide board to advocate for and support PhD programs, Daniels and his leadership team have worked to strengthen the student experience.
Dr. Vishakha N. Desai
Dr. Vishakha N. Desai is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University, Senior Research Scholar at its School of International and Public Affairs, and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University.
From 1990 through 2012, Dr. Desai served in various capacities at the Asia Society, ranging from being Director if its museum, to being the President and CEO of the organization from 2004. As President of the Asia Society, she expanded the Society’s reach in Asia through innovative programs such as Asia 21 Young Leaders programs and through establishments of centers and new buildings. She is widely credited with introducing contemporary Asian arts through major exhibitions and publications. A noted scholar of Asian Art, Dr. Desai is well known for her leadership in presenting contemporary Asian art to American audiences and in developing innovative approaches to the relationship between culture and foreign policy in Asia. In 2012, in recognition of Dr. Desai’s leadership in the museum field, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the National Museum and Library Services Board.
Dr. Desai is a Trustee of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for AFS Intercultural Programs. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Teach For All, as well as the newly established KREA University, slated to be one of India’s top private Liberal Arts universities. She serves on the Corporate Board of Mahindra & Mahindra, one of India’s largest global corporations and has served as an Advisory Trustee to the Brookings Institution among other organizations.
Dr. Desai is also a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines in both the US and Asia. In addition to five honorary degrees, Dr. Desai holds a BA in Political Science from Bombay University and an MA and PhD in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan.
Andreas Dracopoulos is Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). The Foundation was established in 1996 at the passing of his great uncle, the late Stavros Niarchos, and since inception has made more than 4,000 grants to nonprofit organizations around the world. Mr. Dracopoulos was born and raised in Athens, Greece, and graduated from Athens College. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in New York City.
Mr. Dracopoulos is a Trustee of The Rockefeller University in New York, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. In addition, he serves on the Advisory Board of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at JHU and is an Honorary Trustee of the New York Public Library (NYPL), where he served as a Trustee from 2003 to 2010. From 2009 to 2018 he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, and from 2012 to 2018 he served on the Board of the Dalton School in New York.
In 2018, H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic awarded Mr. Dracopoulos the rank of the Grand Cross of the Order of Honor. In 2016, the Republic of France awarded Mr. Dracopoulos the rank of the Officer of the Legion of Honor. In 2012, the Hellenic Republic awarded him the rank of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Phoenix.
In 2017, Mr. Dracopoulos received humanitarian awards from the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) and the Fire Department of the City of New York Foundation (FDNY Foundation). The Child Mind Institute honored him in 2015 for his longstanding commitment and support of children’s mental health issues. In the same year, Mr. Dracopoulos was honored during the 100th Anniversary celebration of The National Herald for his contributions towards promoting and supporting Greek education, and he received the Person of the Year award from the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, the NYPL honored him for his personal contributions to the Library’s educational programs.
Andreas Dracopoulos has provided longstanding personal support to many projects, mainly in the areas of Education, Arts & Culture, and Medicine. Among these activities, he provided the founding grant to establish the Dracopoulos iDeas Lab at CSIS and endowed the directorship at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at JHU. He continues to support through his personal grant making the important work of several nonprofit organizations.
Kenneth C. Frazier
Kenneth C. Frazier has served as the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Merck & Co., Inc. since 2011.
Under Ken’s leadership, Merck is delivering innovative lifesaving medicines and vaccines as well as long-term and sustainable value to its multiple stakeholders. Ken has substantially increased Merck’s investment in research, including early research, while refocusing the organization on the launch and growth of key products that provide benefit to society. He has also led the formation of philanthropic and other initiatives that build on Merck’s 125-year plus legacy.
Ken joined the company in 1992 and has held positions of increasing responsibility including General Counsel and President. Prior to joining Merck, Ken was a partner with the Philadelphia law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath. Ken’s contributions, especially in the legal, business and humanitarian fields, have been widely recognized. He sits on the boards of PhRMA, Weill Cornell Medicine, Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Cornerstone Christian Academy in Philadelphia, PA. He also is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, The Business Council, the Council of the American Law Institute, and the American Bar Association.
Ken received his bachelor’s degree from The Pennsylvania State University and holds a JD from Harvard Law School.
John Hamre was elected president and CEO of CSIS in January 2000. Before joining CSIS, he served as the 26th U.S. deputy secretary of defense. Prior to holding that post, he was the under secretary of defense (comptroller) from 1993 to 1997. As comptroller, Dr. Hamre was the principal assistant to the secretary of defense for the preparation, presentation, and execution of the defense budget and management improvement programs. In 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appointed Dr. Hamre to serve as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, and he served in that capacity for four secretaries of defense.
Before serving in the Department of Defense, Dr. Hamre worked for 10 years as a professional staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. During that time, he was primarily responsible for the oversight and evaluation of procurement, research, and development programs, defense budget issues, and relations with the Senate Appropriations Committee. From 1978 to 1984, Dr. Hamre served in the Congressional Budget Office, where he became its deputy assistant director for national security and international affairs. In that position, he oversaw analysis and other support for committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Dr. Hamre received his Ph.D., with distinction, in 1978 from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., where his studies focused on international politics and economics and U.S. foreign policy. In 1972, he received his BA, with high distinction, from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, emphasizing political science and economics. The following year he studied as a Rockefeller fellow at the Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the Soviet Union, Garry Kasparov became the under-18 chess champion of the USSR at the age of 12 and the world under-20 champion at 17. He came to international fame at the age of 22 as the youngest world chess champion in history in 1985. His famous matches against the IBM super-computer Deep Blue in 1996-97 were key to bringing artificial intelligence, and chess, into the mainstream.
Kasparov’s was one of the first prominent Soviets to call for democratic and market reforms and was an early supporter of Boris Yeltsin’s push to break up the Soviet Union. In 1990, he and his family escaped ethnic violence in his native Baku as the USSR collapsed. In 2005, Kasparov, in his 20th year as the world’s top-rated player, retired from professional chess to join the vanguard of the Russian pro-democracy movement. In 2012, Kasparov was named chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, succeeding Václav Havel. HRF promotes individual liberty worldwide and organizes the annual Oslo Freedom Forum.
Since 1990, Kasparov has been a regular contributor on politics to many major publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Daily News.. He is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Martin School with a focus on human-machine collaboration. In 2016, he was named a Security Ambassador by Avast Software, where he discusses cybersecurity and the digital future, and to the executive board of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics.
In 2017, Kasparov founded the Renew Democracy Initiative, dedicated to promoting the principles of the free world. After adding hundreds of prominent signatories from all parts of the political spectrum and around the world, RDI’s first project was an essay collection modeled on the Federalist Papers titled Fight for Liberty, which was published in October 2018.
Kasparov is the author of two acclaimed series of chess books, My Great Predecessors and Modern Chess. Kasparov’s prescient 2015 book, Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped, is a blend of history, memoire, and analysis of the threats to the modern world order.
Kasparov’s latest book is Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins (2017). It reveals the full story of his matches against Deep Blue and his optimistic and pragmatic analysis of our future with intelligent machines. He says, “AI will transform everything we do, and we must press forward ambitiously in the one area robots cannot compete with humans: in dreaming big dreams. Our machines will help us achieve them. Instead of worrying about what machines can do, we should worry more about what they still cannot do.”
Ambassador Dina Kawar
Ambassador Dina Kawar was appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United States of America in June 2016. Ambassador Kawar also served as the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations from August 2014 to June 2016. She has led the Jordanian delegation during Jordan’s non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council from 2014 to 2015 and became the first Arab woman to ever preside over the Council. In February 2016, she was appointed by the President of the General Assembly as a cofacilitator for the high-level meeting of the plenary of the General Assembly on the large movement of refugees and migrants to take place in September 2016.
Prior to her position in New York, Her Excellency Dina Kawar served as the Ambassador of Jordan to France from 2001 to 2013, with concurrent accreditation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and to the Holy See, since 2002. She also served as non-resident ambassador to Portugal from 2005 to 2013. Ambassador Kawar was awarded the Medal of Independence of the first degree by His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and holds a number of decorations including the “Commandeur De La Legion d’ Honneur” from France, the “Medalha de D. Afonso Henriques” from Portugal and the “Insignes de Dame de Grand-Croix de l’Ordre de Saint Grégoire le Grand” from the Holy See. Ambassador Kawar holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Mills College, both in the United States. She attended Harvard’s Center for International Affairs from 1986 to 1987. She speaks Arabic, French, and English.
Gail J. McGovern
Gail J. McGovern joined the American Red Cross as president and CEO in 2008, and has taken a strong leadership role at the nation’s leading emergency response and blood services organization.
Under her direction, the Red Cross has become more effective in fulfilling its mission and is better prepared to face current and future challenges. Her transformational initiatives have led to improved financial stability and have expanded the reach of lifesaving Red Cross services. McGovern has initiated extensive modernization projects at the Red Cross. Among them are an overhaul of Red Cross IT systems and the growth of the organization’s leadership in social media and mobile technologies – including the introduction of a series of free apps that put lifesaving skills at people’s fingertips during emergencies.
During her tenure, McGovern has overseen the American Red Cross response to multiple high-profile disasters across the country and around the world, including the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, as well as the multitude of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, home fires and other local disasters that affect our country each year.
Prior to joining the Red Cross, McGovern was a faculty member at the Harvard Business School and earlier had served as president of Fidelity Personal Investments, a unit of Fidelity Investments. She was also executive vice president at AT&T for the Consumer Markets Division, the company’s largest business unit, and was responsible for its $26 billion residential long-distance service.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from Columbia University, and has since been recognized as alumna of the year from both universities.
McGovern is currently a member of the board of trustees for Johns Hopkins Medicine. She also serves on the board of directors of DTE Energy and PayPal.
McGovern was recognized by Fortune magazine in 2000 and 2001 as one of the top 50 most powerful women in corporate America.
Robin Niblett became the Director of Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) in January 2007. Before joining Chatham House, from 2001 to 2006, Dr. Niblett was the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). During his last two years at CSIS, he also served as Director of the CSIS Europe Programme and its Initiative for a Renewed Transatlantic Partnership.
Dr. Niblett’s commentary and analysis have appeared in the Financial Times, Washington Post, Daily Telegraph, Guardian and Reuters. He is the author of Britain, the EU and the Sovereignty Myth (Chatham House 2016), Britain, Europe and the World: Rethinking the UK’s Circles of Influence (Chatham House, 2015), and Playing to its Strengths: Rethinking the UK’s Role in a Changing World (Chatham House, 2010). He is also editor and contributing author to America and a Changed World: A Question of Leadership (Chatham House/Wiley-Blackwell, 2010); a contributor to Influencing Tomorrow: Future Challenges for British Foreign Policy (Guardian Books, 2013) by Douglas Alexander MP and Dr. Ian Kearns; author and contributor to a number of CSIS reports on transatlantic relations, and contributing author and co-editor with William Wallace of Rethinking European Order (Palgrave, 2001).
Dr. Niblett is a frequent panellist at conferences on Europe and transatlantic relations. He has testified on a number of occasions to the House of Commons Defence and Treasury Select Committees and Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as the U.S. Senate and House Committees on European Affairs.
He is a Non-Executive Director of Fidelity European Values Investment Trust and a member of the World Economic Forum Europe Policy Group. He was a Special Adviser to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (2015-16) and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on International Security (2016). He was Chairman of the Experts Group for the 2014 NATO Summit; Chairman of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Europe (2012-13) and Chair of the British Academy Steering Committee of Languages for Security Project (2013). In 2012 he was awarded the Bene Merito medal by the Polish government. He became a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 2015.
He received his BA in Modern Languages and MPhil and DPhil from New College, Oxford.
Morris W. Offit
Morris W. Offit is Chairman of Offit Capital, a wealth management advisory firm in New York. Prior to that time he was founder and CEO of OFFITBANK, a wealth management private bank, which merged into Wachovia Bank in 1999.
Mr. Offit began his career in investment research in 1960 at Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Company in Baltimore. He joined Salomon Brothers in 1969 and for 10 years was a general partner, establishing the Stock Research Department with subsequent responsibility for fixed income and equity sales.
Mr. Offit received a bachelor of arts from Johns Hopkins University in 1957 and an MBA. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. He was the recipient of an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters from Johns Hopkins University in 1996. In 1983, he served as an adjunct professor of finance at the Columbia Graduate School of Business, lecturing on the secondary capital markets.
Primary affiliations in the non-profit sector include serving as President and Chairman of UJA-Federation of New York (2001−2007), Chairman of the Board of Johns Hopkins University (1990−1996), Trustee Emeritus of Johns Hopkins Medicine and Chairman of the Board of the Jewish Museum (1987−1990). Other current trusteeships are WNET (Public Broadcasting) and The Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. Mr. Offit served as a Director of the AIG Board (Chairman of Finance and Risk Management Committee) from 2007-2014.
Renzo Piano was born in Genoa in 1937 into a family of builders. While studying at Politecnico of Milan University, he worked in the office of Franco Albini. In 1971, he set up the “Piano & Rogers” office in London together with Richard Rogers, with whom he won the competition for the Centre Pompidou. He subsequently moved to Paris.
From the early 1970s to the 1990s, he worked with the engineer Peter Rice, sharing the Atelier Piano & Rice from 1977 to 1981. In 1981, the “Renzo Piano Building Workshop” was established, with 150 staff and offices in Paris, Genoa, and New York.
He has received numerous awards and recognitions among which: the Royal Gold Medal at the RIBA in London (1989), the Kyoto Prize in Kyoto, Japan (1990), the Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO (1994), the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo, Japan (1995), the Pritzker Architecture Prize at the White House in Washington (1998), the Leone d’oro alla Carriera in Venice (2000), the Gold Medal AIA in Washington (2008) and the Sonning Prize in Copenhagen (2009).
In 2004 he also founded the Renzo Piano Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the architectural profession through educational programs and educational activities. The new headquarters was established in Punta Nave (Genoa), in June 2008.
In September 2013 Renzo Piano was appointed senator for life by the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and in May 2014 he received the Columbia University Honorary Degree.
Joshua L. Steiner
Joshua L. Steiner is a senior adviser at Bloomberg, L.P., where he was previously Head of Industry Verticals. Prior to joining Bloomberg, Steiner co-founded and was co-president of Quadrangle Group, LLC, a private equity and asset management firm. Before co-founding Quadrangle, he was a as managing director at Lazard Frères & Co. LLC. From 1993 to 1995 he served as chief of staff for the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
He currently serves on the boards of Yale University and Phillips Academy (Andover). He serves on the boards of Castleton Commodities, Engineers Gate and a number of technology start ups. He is an honorary trustee of the New York Public Library, where he was previously the vice-chair of the board. Steiner received a BA in history from Yale and an MSt in modern history from Oxford University.
Bret L. Stephens
Bret L. Stephens joined The New York Times as an Op-Ed columnist in April 2017. His column appears Thursday and Saturday.
Mr. Stephens came to The Times after a long career with 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.
Mr. Stephens is the author of “America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder,” released in November 2014. He is is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including three honorary doctorates and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He was raised in Mexico City and holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MSc from the London School of Economics. He and his wife, Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, a music critic for The Times, live with their children in New York City.
Alan Stoga is a strategist and entrepreneur with extensive experience in communications and public relations, corporate consulting, digital media, geopolitics, banking and government. Currently, he serves as Senior Adviser at Kissinger Associates, the international consulting firm chaired by Dr. Henry Kissinger, as well as president of Zemi Communications, L.L.C., a New York based firm that provides communication counsel.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Stoga founded a private equity firm; was managing director of Kissinger Associates; served as chief economist for the Bipartisan National Commission on Central America, created by President Reagan; established and managed the country risk management activities for the First National Bank of Chicago; and served as an international economist in the U.S. Treasury (1975-77).
Mr. Stoga is Chairman of the board of the Tällberg Foundation (based in Sweden), Vice Chairman of the boards of the Americas Society and Chairman of the board of the Tinker Foundation. He also served as Secretary of the multimedia awards jury for World Press Photo, based in Amsterdam. Mr. Stoga has economics and international relations degrees from Michigan State and Yale University, respectively.
Shirley M. Tilghman
Shirley M. Tilghman was elected Princeton University’s 19th president on May 5, 2001 after serving on the Princeton faculty for 15 years. Upon the completion of her term in June of 2013, she returned to the faculty. During her scientific career as a mammalian developmental geneticist, she studied the way in which genes are organized in the genome and regulated during early development, and was one of the founding members of the National Advisory Council of the Human Genome Project for the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Tilghman is an Officer of the Order of Canada, the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Developmental Biology, the Genetics Society of America Medal, and the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and The Royal Society of London. She serves as a trustee of Amherst College, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Simons Foundation, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. She serves on the Science Advisory Board of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, isa director of The Broad Institute and a Fellow of the Corporation of Harvard College.