A Letter from the President
Dear Members and Friends of the American Council on Germany:
The end of one year and the beginning of a new year offers the opportunity to reflect on the past and to consider what might lie ahead. In the context of the transatlantic relationship, there is a great deal of history to draw upon – and much to anticipate as we think about the coming year.
Thirty years ago in June, President Ronald Reagan made his famous speech in West Berlin imploring the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to “tear down this wall!” that had divided West and East Berlin since 1961. Next month will mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, which set the stage for greater political integration and launched Europe’s economic and monetary union. And, 15 years ago, on January 1, 2002, Europe’s “single currency” – the euro – was introduced as legal tender in the 12 EU member states that make up the eurozone.
Although the ultimate fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Communism, the opening of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet space, as well as the seeming integration of Europe gave cause for bounding optimism concerning Europe’s future, developments over the past two years offer a different reality. Russia’s smoldering conflict with Ukraine on Europe’s eastern flank, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, as well as the continuing euro crisis, mass migration, and a breakdown of the Schengen Agreement on the Continent all contribute to unease about the future of Europe.
With their own national elections slated for September, many Germans are concerned about political developments elsewhere earlier in the year. What will President Donald Trump’s foreign policy look like? When will Prime Minister Theresa May trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty that allows EU member states to leave the EU – and what will the timeline for Brexit look like? Will a populist far-right party win the election in Holland in March? Will Marine Le Pen win the Presidential election in May and take steps to lead France out of the European Union and the euro?
Many Germans have expressed concern about President-elect Trump and uncertainty about America’s future role on the world stage. Outside observers can gain some insights about the incoming Trump administration from his Cabinet appointments and the confirmation hearings that will begin soon. Two weeks from today, President Trump’s Inaugural Address will provide an important blueprint for what he hopes to achieve during his time in office. And, roughly a month later, he will present a budget to Congress. This will flesh out his plans and priorities. There is no doubt that candidate Trump ran a disruptive campaign, and there is reason to believe that the transition of power in Washington will be disruptive. But, the coming weeks and months will offer much deeper insights into the kind of President Donald Trump will be.
In Germany, three state elections this spring will serve as bellwethers for the Bundestag election in the fall. With six political parties vying for power and the traditional Volksparteien – the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats – losing traction, it will be interesting to see how the Greens, the socialist Left Party, the liberal Free Democrats, and the populist right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) will fare on the state level.
In late November, Angela Merkel announced that she would run for a fourth term in office. Her re-election would be significant for the large part of the electorate that is looking for stability and a steady hand in uncertain times after the Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump, and the rise of populist movements in several European countries. Chancellor Merkel had acknowledged that this would be a tough campaign – but the terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in late December may make her re-election even more difficult than she had anticipated. Germany’s vulnerability was exposed when a truck rammed into holiday revelers. In her New Year’s address, Chancellor Merkel said that the biggest challenge facing Germany is Islamist terrorism. The steps she and her government take may be critical in shaping public opinion.
Europe’s integration has been considered one of the world’s greatest success stories. For more than 70 years, Europe has enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity. As the American Council on Germany gets ready to celebrate its 65th anniversary this year, it is worth remembering that the ACG has been an important interlocutor since the end of World War II. It has brought together opinion leaders and decision-makers from business, politics, the media, and academia from both sides of the Atlantic, and it has developed new generations of transatlanticists by creating fora for dialogue. The ACG will continue to serve as a catalyst for building mutual understanding – and in uncertain times this is more important than ever.
On behalf of the ACG’s Board and our entire team, let me wish you all a good start to what promises to be a very interesting year!
With best regards,
The ACG and Warburg Chapters Mark Anniversaries
2017 is an important year for the American Council on Germany: Not only will the Council celebrate its 65th anniversary, but this year also marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the ACG’s national outreach efforts through its network of Eric M. Warburg Chapters.
Founded in 1952, the ACG was created to promote reconciliation and understanding between Germans and Americans after World War II. Now, 65 years later, the Council continues to serve as a forum for transatlantic dialogue. Through a range of programs and activities, the ACG provides a deep and nuanced understanding about the critical issues affecting the transatlantic relationship.
The Warburg Chapters were launched in 1992 as a lasting tribute to ACG founder and longtime Treasurer Eric M. Warburg. The goal of the Chapters is to educate and inform people across the country about contemporary Germany, Germany’s role in Europe and around the world, as well as the most pressing issues affecting people on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Council is able to reach thousands of people through its network of 21 Chapters, which are located in Atlanta, Boca Raton, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Madison, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Greater Washington, D.C.
During the year, the ACG will recognize these important anniversaries with policy discussions and conferences as well as ongoing initiatives to engage the next generation of transatlanticists through our American-German Young Leaders Conference and fellowships.
On January 12, the ACG and Cultural Vistas will host a Political Salon in New York with Simon Book
, a journalist with WirtschaftsWoche
and a 2016 ACG Kellen Fellow. Mr. Book will discuss the future of transatlantic trade under the Trump administration. More information
On January 25, the ACG will host a policy discussion and luncheon with Ambassador Harald Braun
, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations. He will speak about the new leadership in both The White House and in the United Nations – and the global challenges ahead.
During the second week of January, Dr. Claudia Kemfert
, Professor of Energy Economics and Sustainability at Berlin’s Hertie School of Governance, will visit Warburg Chapters in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, DC. She will discuss Germany’s commitment to the Energiewende
, or energy transition, and the economic opportunities the transition could generate.
On January 10, the Phoenix Warburg Chapter will co-host “Arizona’s Energy Resilience Summit: Local to Global Perspectives.” A panel – which will include Dr. Kemfert and local elected officials, and energy experts – will focus on Arizona’s energy and resiliency needs. More information
Highlights from December
On December 5, the ACG hosted the last Political Salon of the year with Dr. Heidi Tworek
, who is part of a group of Fellows at the Transatlantic Academy in Washington, DC, studying the future of the German-American relationship. Dr. Tworek discussed the impact of Donald Trump’s election on the future of global business in a digital age. Although there is a strong economic relationship between the United States and Europe, she cited areas where America clashes with its European counterparts. One area where this is unfolding is Google and European concerns over privacy. Dr. Tworek shared policy prescriptions for addressing these concerns, while noting that these issues would have arisen regardless of who won the U.S. election. The ACG would like to thank Dentons US LLP for hosting this event.
As the last Transatlantic Global Agenda event of 2016, the ACG and American Friends of Bucerius held a discussion and luncheon with Ambassador Heiko Thoms
, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, on December 8. Ambassador Thoms shared his views on the future of multilateralism, expressing concern about a potential vacuum that may emerge if the United States reduces its international engagement. Special thanks go to Alston & Bird LLP for hosting the Transatlantic Global Agenda series.
On December 19, the ACG held a discussion and luncheon with Bundestag Member Peter Beyer
(CDU). Mr. Beyer reflected on the challenges facing Europe, Germany’s evolving role on the international stage, and the German election in 2017. The ACG would like to thank NORD/LB for hosting this event.
The ACG is grateful for the generous support of it’s corporate members. We are pleased to highlight the latest news from some of our corporate members.
is calling for expansion with its plans to acquire media giant Time Warner. This move would allow the second-largest wireless carrier to build on its recent purchase of DirecTV and provide content to its consumers, since Time Warner owns CNN, HBO, and Warner Bros. studio, among others. Also in the works are 5G streaming trials with its DirecTV Now streaming service. AT&T hopes that once 5G becomes the norm, its nationwide reach combined with Time Warner’s content creation will give it an edge over cable and pay TV.
Mercedes-Benz, a division of German automaker Daimler
, is bringing its signature style to a new market. The new luxury pickup truck – the X-Class – was unveiled in October, with two versions of the truck taking the stage: one tailored for off-road use (dubbed the “Powerful Adventurer”) and one emulating the feel of an SUV (the “Stylish Explorer”).
is reaching new heights as one of their electric motors set a new world climb record. At the end of November in Germany, the Extra 3330LE aerobatic aircraft, which is powered by a Siemens drive system, reached an altitude of 3,000 meters in four minutes and 22 seconds – 1 minute and 10 seconds faster than the previous world record in the category of “Electric-powered planes less than 1,000 kilograms.” This climb velocity of 11.5 meters per second is a significant milestone on the path to the electrification of air travel. Siemens and Airbus intend to cooperate to develop hybrid electric regional aircraft based on this record-breaking motor.
is revving up for the future on all fronts. In its recently expanded Chattanooga plant, production has begun on the 2018 VW Atlas, an all-new midsize crossover SUV. This seven-passenger vehicle marks a move to delve deeper into the American market with a more family-friendly lineup. Additionally, Volkswagen is aiming to increase its focus on electric vehicles, looking to be the leader of that industry by 2025. Its new corporate strategy, called TRANSFORM 2025+, plans for massive investments in e-mobility and connectivity in the next decade as part of a pivot to “create a new Volkswagen.”
Young Leader News
Each year, the American Council on Germany hosts the American-German Young Leaders Conference to bring together promising professionals between the ages of 28 and 38 to discuss the transatlantic relationship and build an enduring network of individuals who are committed to the vitality of bilateral ties. Since 1973, more than 1,000 Americans and Germans have participated in the conference. We are delighted to share some of the recent achievements of our Young Leader alumni.
Government and Politics
Ines Alpert (2013 Young Leader) has left her Financial Markets Policy position at the Federal Chancellery and moved to Tokyo as Financial Counselor at the German Embassy. Also on the Tokyo Embassy staff is Young Leader alumnus Ambassador Robert von Rimscha (1996), heading up the Communications and Cultural Section. (Robert was formerly the German Ambassador to Laos.)
ACG Board member Paul Atkins (1993 YL) has been tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to serve on the transition team charged with recommending policies on financial regulation. Paul will help flesh out plans for remaking the financial rule book, and potentially dismantling much of Dodd-Frank. Paul served as a U.S. SEC Commissioner from 2002 to 2008, and from 1990 to 1994 on the staff of two former SEC Chairmen.
Andy Berke (2009 YL), Mayor of Chattanooga, was pleased to report at the end of 2016 that Chattanooga has added 8,000 new jobs. This declining unemployment was coupled with rising wages. The growth of Volkswagen and the entrepreneurial economy in Chattanooga helped make the self-described “Gig City” one of the most important cities in America in 2016. And Volkswagen announced this week that it will offer the performance-inspired R-Line package on the 2018 Chattanooga-made Atlas sport utility vehicle. The Atlas R-Line will be introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this month.
Oni Blair (2013 YL), Special Assistant to the U.S. Deputy Secretary, is currently on loan from the State Department to the Houston Mayor’s Office for Trade and International Affairs. She will work on countering violent extremism, identifying opportunities to aid the city’s economic development, and expanding the city’s footprint in international fora and engagements. Oni will be there about a year and, nicely, Houston is her hometown.
Uwe Brinkmann (2011 YL) has just been elected Mayor of Bad Schwartau. Bad Schwartau, a town of approximately 20,000 inhabitants, is in the district of Ostholstein in Schleswig-Holstein.
Joaquin Castro (2009 YL) was sworn in this week as a Member of the 115th Congress. Happily watching were Joaquin’s wife, Anna, and their children, Andrea and Roman Victor. Joaquin represents the 20th congressional district, including San Antonio. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees.
Completing service as a Policy Advisor on Foreign Fighters at the Department of State, Georgiana Cavendish (2015 YL) will join the staff of a yet-to-be-named Deputy Secretary of State.
Newly re-elected Florida State Senator Anitere Flores (2015 YL) has been named the Florida Senate’s President Pro Tempore for the 2017 session. In addition, she has been appointed to the powerful Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and the Senate Health Care Budget Committee. Also re-elected to the Florida State Senate, Jose Felix Diaz (2014 YL) has won a fourth term. He has now been appointed to serve as Chairman of the Florida House Commerce Committee and will also serve as Chair of the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation.
Eric Greitens (2010 YL), a former Navy Seal, Rhodes Scholar, Purple Heart and Bronze Star awardee, author, philanthropist, and former President and founder of The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization for veterans, has been elected Governor of Missouri. In 2013, Time magazine listed him on its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and in 2014 Fortune magazine listed him as one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders. Supporting him during the campaign and with him on election night were several Young Leader alumni from his 2010 group, including Frank Hogan, Marisa Porges, and Monu Joseph, who served as Chief Advisor for Eric’s campaign.
Peter Kim (2015 YL) was just sworn in for a new four-year term as a Member of the City Council for Las Palma in Orange County, California. Peter has been on a journey of public service activities since high school, working as an intern for a Member of Congress, and for Secretary Elaine Chao while she was Secretary of Labor.
Catherine Cortez Masto (1998 YL) won a very close race in Nevada, to become the first Latina Senator. She fills the Seat of Senator Harry Reid, who retired after three decades in the Senate. Catherine, a former Nevada Attorney General and the granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant, focused her campaign on pushes for an immigration overhaul, equal pay for equal work, an increase in the minimum wage, and paid family leave.
After serving as Public Diplomacy Officer Desk Officer in the Office of Brazil and Southern Cone at the Department of State, Lia Miller (2014 YL) has now been named Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia.
Atlanta Governor Nathan Deal has appointed the Honorable Tillman E. “Tripp” Self III (2008 YL) to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Tripp was elected as a judge in 2006. He also serves as President-elect of the Council of Superior Court Judges and presides over the Macon Circuit’s Veterans Court. He likens his new post to being in the replay booth at a football game and says he will miss presiding at trials and talking with lawyers. He said his goal is to “make the law clearer … be faithful to the Constitution first and foremost, do what the law says, not what we wish it was, not what we think it should be.”
Following 10 years as a State Senator and four in the Minnesota House, Katie Sieben (2014 YL) chose not to run for re-election. She has, however, just been appointed by Minnesota Governor Mary Dayton to serve a six-year term on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Governor Dayton said that “Senator Katie Sieben has been a strong leader in the Minnesota Senate on clean energy, consumer reforms, and fiscal responsibility. She will be an excellent Member of the Public Utilities Commission.”
Kinga Anna (Duerrbaum) Charpentier (2010 YL) has moved from Ernst & Young in London to Ernst & Young in Helsinki as Senior Manager, Corporate Finance (Power and Utilities).
Russell F. Coleman (1991 YL) has joined Dean Foods Company (whose brand portfolio includes Land O’Lakes, Friendly’s, and Pet) as Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and Government Affairs. He joins Dean Foods from Meadows Collier law firm, where he was a Partner. Previously, Russell served as General Counsel of national media company Belo Corp.
After a relatively long career at Pfizer and a stint as Chief Giving Officer for TOMS shoes, Sebastian Fries
(2006 YL) has joined Columbia University as Executive Director of Columbia Population Health Partnerships at the Mailman School of Public Health. Sebastian returns to New York from Los Angeles.
After a similarly long career at Pfizer (both in New York and Santiago) and a brief sojourn with Edelman in London, Timothy Goodman
(2000 YL) has joined public-relations and public-affairs firm MHP Communications in London as Director of Health.
(1998 YL) has been named Managing Director & Head of Policy at Alibaba Group, where he will lead public-policy development and strategy across the company’s international markets. Malcolm has spent the bulk of his career in public service, serving at The White House, the Department of State, and the Department of Commerce, with brief stints at Cisco and Microsoft.
Following six years at Allianz in Munich, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and a wonderful year of “garden leave,” Thorsten Liebert
(2010 YL) has joined ERGO Mobility Solutions. Torsten will be part of the executive management team as Chief Sales/Business Development Officer for this new company, which began operations January 1, 2017. The company aims to develop strategic international cooperation with the automotive industry and car trade.
After nearly four years at Patomak Partners, Walton Liles
(2013 YL) has joined Fidelity Investments as Vice President – Government Relations. At Fidelity, he joins James L. (JJ) Johnson
(1998 YL), EVP, Government Relations & Public Policy at Fidelity for the past eight years.
After nearly five years at Goldman Sachs in New York, Sanjiv Nathwani
(2001 YL) has been named a Principal at Deloitte.
Angie’s List CEO and co-founder Bill Oesterle
(1994 YL) decided to leave the company after 16 years. In addition to a desire “to do other things” and “to get involved in State of Indiana politics,” Bill is currently Executive Chairman of OurHealth, LLC.
(2004 YL) left BlackRock in New York to take over as Managing Director and Country Head for BlackRock headquartered in Sydney, Australia.
(2007 YL) has joined Wells Fargo in Des Moines, Iowa, as Vice President of Executive Communications. Stacy has had a relatively long career in communications, including as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Commerce, and two stints at The White House.
(2000 YL) has joined Bridgewater Associates in Westport, Connecticut, as Senior Compliance Officer. At Bridgewater, he joins alumni Richard Falkenrath
(1996) and Norah Beers
(2010 YL) has joined Willis Towers Washington as their first Global Head of Legal Investigations. He was previously with WilmerHale. Before that, Todd had a lengthy career in government that included stints as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston; in The White House as a Special Assistant to the President, and as counsel for crime and terrorism to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
(2005 YL) joined the Richmond law firm Jackson Lewis, a national firm exclusively representing employers in the area of workplace law, as Principal. Courtney was also just named to the “Legal Elite” in Legislative, Regulatory, and Administrative Law by Virginia Business.
After practicing law in Frankfurt for six years, Oliver Olah
(2009 YL) has returned to New York, joining Vinson and Elkins’ Mergers and Acquisitions and Private Equity Practice.
Following a stint as Assistant District Attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, Carranza Pryor
(1999 YL) has joined the Atlanta office of Greenberg Traurig, practicing in the areas of labor and employment law and litigation.
(2010 YL) and Anna von Bayern
(2010 YL) have begun a political talk show every Monday morning, “Die Richtigen Fragen,” live at Bild
(1994 YL), Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News, was presented the Joan Shorenstein Barone Award for Excellence in Journalism.
(2001 YL), associate editor and nonfiction book critic at The Washington Post
, won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.
On December 8, a Change of Command Ceremony in Augustdorf, Germany, marked the end of Brigadier General Kai Rohrschneider
’s (1998 YL) three-year term as Commander, 21st Armoured Brigade “Lipperland.” This month, he will join U.S. Army Headquarters – Europe in Wiesbaden as Chief of Staff. The U.S. Army offered this post to the German Army three years ago, and Kai will follow the first German General in that position. (Kai and his wife will live in the General Lucius Clay Barracks. General Clay, who had served as commander of U.S. forces in Germany and had spearheaded the airlift that saved blockaded Berlin in 1948 and 1949, was among the founders of the American Council on Germany.)
(1990 YL) has been included in Savoy
magazine’s 2016 Power 300 – Most Influential Black Corporate Directors. In addition to involvement in such companies as Levi and Nike, Vada has served on the corporate board of Fortune 500 global specialty company Ashland Inc.
(2000 YL) was awarded the coveted 2016 Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award for her mentoring work in support of New York City Scouts through the ScoutReach Program, which delivers traditional Scouting programs to New York City’s most economically challenged and underserved neighborhoods. The event in her honor was held at the JW Marriott Essex House in Manhattan.
Back to School
(2015 YL) is now a full-time MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Following his graduation from West Point in 2002, Andy has served in a number of roles for the U.S. Army, lastly as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Drum. He currently serves as a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves.
(2014 YL) was so taken with her experience as a Young Leader that she then successfully applied for and was awarded a Robert Bosch Fellowship in 2015-2016, which she spent in Berlin. Having fallen in love with Germany, Berlin, and Christmas markets, Cristina decided to make Berlin her home. She is now happily positioned as a Social Media and PR Associate at the Hertie School of Governance.
After 15 years with Global Kids, where she has served as Deputy Director and Director of Programs, Courtney Coco Killingsworth
(2011 YL) will join BAM! (Brooklyn Academy of Music) as Vice President of Education and Community Engagement in February. During her time at Global Kids, Coco won the PASEsetter award for her work with Global Kids in after-school education. She also was awarded the Revson Fellowship with Columbia University.
(1999 YL): “Business and the Roberts Court.” This is the first book examining the Roberts Court’s treatment of “business law” issues. Chapter authors, all prominent legal scholars, consider the Court’s approach in specific areas of the law, including antitrust, securities regulation, and pre-emption.
(1973 YL): “Laid Low: Inside the Crisis That Overwhelmed Europe and the IMF.” Paul has written extensively about international economics and financial crises. His latest work goes behind the scenes at the highest levels of global economic policymaking, chronicling the International Monetary Fund’s role in the eurozone crisis.
Edwina S. Campbell
(1973 YL): “Citizen of a Wider Commonwealth: Ulysses S. Grant’s Postpresidential Diplomacy.” Following his presidency, Grant embarked on a two-year-long world journey, the first diplomatic mission ever undertaken by a former U.S. President – marking a decided turning point in the role of the United States in world affairs. By illuminating the significance of Grant’s often overlooked post-presidential travels, “Citizen of a Wider Commonwealth” establishes the 18th President as a key diplomat whose work strongly influenced the direction of future U.S. foreign policy and contributes substantially to the study of American international relations.
Eliot A. Cohen
(1984 YL): “The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force.” In this book Eliot explains that American leaders must learn to use hard power in new ways and for new circumstances. The rise of a well-armed China, Russia’s conquest of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran, and the spread of radical Islamist movements like ISIS are some of the key threats to global peace.
(1975 YL): “Margin of Victory: Five Battles That Changed the Face of Modern War.” Doug tells the riveting stories of five military battles of the 20th century, each one a turning point in history. Jim Fallows
(1977 YL), author of “Blind into Baghdad: America’s War in Iraq,” comments that “It is a measure of Douglas Macgregor’s power as an analyst, historian, and writer that even readers who differ with some of his conclusions will enjoy and learn from his argument. This is the rare book on military policy that is both interesting and important.”
Peter R. Neumann
(2012 YL): “Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West.” One of Europe’s leading thinkers on jihadist terrorism, Peter warns that jihadist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq are incubating a generation of trained terrorists from Western countries whose survivors will return to Europe, sowing the seeds of “the beginning of a new wave of terrorism that will occupy us for a generation.”
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