YPFP Events

Innovation and National Security – Do They Mix?

August 29, 2013 06:30 pm


1800 K Street NW
20006 Washington, DC
United States

How does change happen? Some change can’t be held back: the world is becoming more complex, more interconnected, and faster. But are our institutions keeping pace? How will they adapt, let alone anticipate?

There is a growing appreciation that the best practices of innovation – and the characteristics of innovators – can contribute to national security thinking, policy, and strategy.

YPFP and Disruptive Thinkers DC (DTDC) foster communities of emerging leaders with diverse perspectives and new ideas. They share a common belief that the next generation of foreign policy and national security leaders must inspire and drive organizations to innovate. But no matter how good the ideas, driving innovation into the national security and foreign policy space will require overcoming deeply entrenched habits and traditional ways of doing business.

This joint panel discussion will examine what innovators and defense professionals can learn from each other to understand how young leaders can mix innovation and security.

Beth I. Flores has had a serial career in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy for the past 9 years. She currently leads a team dedicated to leadership development, organizational impact, and innovation. Shortly after joining the Department as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2004, she traded in her business suit for a bulletproof vest and served in Afghanistan where she was up close and personal with a driving interest of her career – the human stories that play out against the backdrop of international affairs. Beth believes that solutions to the world’s most challenging problems depend on collaborating across sectors. Before coming to government, Beth worked 6 years in the private and non-profit sectors: she applied systems thinking to complex problems during the Coro Fellowship in San Francisco, led social marketing efforts at two Silicon Valley start-ups, helped companies anticipate long-term strategic change at the Institute for the Future, and got her hands dirty guiding multi-day bicycle trips in the U.S. and Mexico. Beth seeks inspiration from physical challenges and creative experiments, including: bicycling really long distances, teaching crash courses on innovation (she’s a 2011 graduate of Stanford University’s “Design Thinking Boot Camp”), and performing true stories on stage (cast member of SpeakeasyDC’s “Sucker for Love” in February 2012). Her most recent accomplishment was creating an online community of over 5,000 federal workers around the world to share stories and survival tips during the 2013 furlough. Beth earned a Master of Science in Foreign Service and a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University in Washington, DC in 2004 and received a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University in 1995.

Ben Kohlmann is a military officer in the United States Navy. He has a passion for discovering and discussing new trends and ideas shaping society. He has made numerous deployments overseas while attached to two carrier air wings, and flew combat missions over Afghanistan between Oct 2009 and Jan 2010. He is currently a flight instructor in Miramar, CA. Ben’s interest in innovation began during his senior year of college during an independent study with his mentor, CAPT Dan Moore. While discussing the philosophy of John Boyd and other military strategists, Ben discovered a passion for getting to the bottom of why decisions were made the way they were. He is a voracious reader, and enjoys discovering new realities about human behavior and innovative solutions. He is intrigued by non-traditional collaborations, enjoys barefoot running, and has no idea what he wants to do when he grows up. He is the Chair of the upcoming Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.

Neil Levine is currently an Assistant Professor of Strategic Leadership at the National Defense University Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, on assignment from the U.S. Agency for International Development.  From 2008-2013, he served as Director of the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.  CMM leads USAID efforts to develop approaches to the causes and consequences of conflict.  From 2000-2007, Mr. Levine served as the Chief of the Governance Division in USAID’s Office of Democracy and Governance where he worked on issues involving promotion of transparent, accountable and effective democratic institutions.  Mr. Levine served as deputy director for USAID’s Office of Central American Affairs from 1995-2000. From October 1998 through June 2000, he worked to develop the strategy, budget justification, and implementation of the post-Hurricane Mitch Hurricane Reconstruction programs in Central America. From 1993 to 1995, he served as congressional liaison officer in the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs with responsibility for the Latin America Bureau and democracy and governance issues.  Before coming to USAID, Mr. Levine served on Capitol Hill for 10 years, first on the House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs and then as a legislative assistant for foreign affairs to Congressman Edward Feighan (OH). He has also worked as a research assistant at Human Rights Watch in New York.  He is an adjunct professor teaching conflict and development at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Levine has master’s degrees from the National War College (2008) and the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (1986), and a certificate from the Institute for Latin American and Iberian Studies, Columbia University (1986). He was a Seminar XXI Foreign Policy Studies Fellow in 2007-08, a program sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  He has a B.A. in International Studies from Earlham College (1983).

Leon G. Shahabian is the co-founder and evp of Layalina Productions, Inc., a public diplomacy initiative to inform and influence television viewers in the Middle East and North Africa. Shahabian is in post-production on Generation Entrepreneur, a youth entrepreneurship reality series, which he created, wrote and is executive producing. He is also in post-production on the first season of American Caravan, a reality series featuring six young Americans traveling across the Arab world in the footsteps of the Arab Spring. Shahabian has executive produced the three seasons of the reality series On the Road in America, carried by MBC1, the Sundance Channel and MBN, and distributed by Warner Brothers and New Line Television. He was executive producer of Back from the Brink, a feature documentary on countering violent extremism; produced and executive produced the award-winning 9/11 documentary Life After Death, carried on Al-Arabiya and MBN. Shahabian served from 2005 to 2011 as the senior editor of The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media. He is a life member of the Public Diplomacy Council and lives in Washington, D.C.

Please join us immediately after the event at Cities, located at 919 19th St Washington, DC 20006, to continue the conversation!

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