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The Texas Symposium on Women, Peace, and Security

Challenges and Opportunities Amidst Global Change

Monday, November 20, 2017


The Texas Symposium on Women, Peace, and Security is designed to bring together academics, practitioners, and policymakers who are interested in advancing the goals of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which advocates for the increased participation of women in matters of national security, including conflict resolution, peace-building, countering violent extremism, transitional justice, and post-conflict reconstruction. The WPS agenda also suggests that national security and human security must proceed hand in hand for peace to be durable and just, including issues that some might see as normally within the scope of national security, such as education, health, and welfare. Women’s perspectives and voice on issues of national security has been sorely lacking, and this symposium is a contribution to the rectification of that deficiency. The Texas Symposium on WPS also aspires to showcase Texas-based scholarship, philanthropy, programming, and policy on these important issues.


The symposium will be held in the Orientation Room of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. Seating for the panels’ audience is limited to 100 persons, and is first come, first serve. Please arrive on time for the panel and stay for the entire panel so as not to disrupt the proceedings. The lunch-time mingle and the closing reception will be open to all Bush School students, faculty, and staff.




George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Orientation Theater
1000 George Bush Drive West
College Station, Texas 77843


9–9:10 AM
Conference Welcome Address
Dean Mark A. Welsh III, Bush School of Government & Public Service, Texas A&M University

9:10-9:30 AM
Conference Orientation and Logistics
Valerie M. Hudson, Director, Program on Women, Peace, and Security, Bush School of Government & Public Service Amanda Schnetzer, Director of Global Initiatives, George W. Bush Institute

9:30-10:20 AM
Opening Remarks, with Discussion Following
Ambassador Catherine Russell, former Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. State Department
Moderator: Valerie M. Hudson, Bush School of Government & Public Service

10:20-10:30 AM

10:30–11:30 AM
Women as Peacebuilders in Afghanistan
Panel Introduction: Metra Mehran, Bush School of Government & Public Service
Panel Speakers:

  • Farhat Popal, George W. Bush Institute
  • Razia Jan, Razia’s Ray of Hope
  • Nilofar Ibrahimi, MP, Wolesi Jirga, Afghanistan
Moderator and Discussion Leader: Sabrina Karim, Cornell University

11:30 AM-12:30 PM
Health as a Security Priority for Women and Nations
Panel Introduction: Silva Hamie, Bush School of Government & Public Service
Panel Speakers:

  • Kathleen O’Reilly, Department of Geography, TAMU
  • Sarah Evans, Well Aware
  • Jacob Allen, Mary’s Meals Board of Directors
Moderator: Brandie DePaoli Taylor, School of Health, TAMU

12:30–1:00 PM
Networking Break

1-1:40 PM
Panelists’ lunch

1:40–2:40 PM
Texas Perspectives on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS)
Panel Introduction: Beverly Hill, Gendercide Awareness Project
Panel Speakers:

  • Anita Marcos, PeaceMakers, Inc. of Dallas
  • Justine Cherutich, Women’s Federation for World Peace
  • Jan Langbein, Genesis Women’s Shelter of Dallas
  • Rena Menard, US National Committee for UNWomen
Moderator: Amanda Schnetzer, George W. Bush Institute

2:40-3:10 PM
Keynote Speaker
The Honorable Kay Granger, US House of Representatives

3:10–3:20 PM

3:20–4:40 PM
New Research on Women, Peace, and Security
Panel Introduction: Emily Sellars, Bush School of Government & Public Service
Panel Speakers:

  • Natalie Gonnella-Platts, George W. Bush Institute
  • Valerie M. Hudson, Bush School of Government & Public Service
  • Ellen Haring, Women in International Security (WIIS) & Dr. Megan MacKenzie, The University of Sydney
  • Sabrina Karim, Cornell University
Moderator: Leslie Ruyle, Scowcroft Institute, Bush School of Government & Public Service

4:40–5 PM
Closing Reflections
Valerie M. Hudson, Bush School of Government & Public Service

5–5:50 PM
Closing Reception, Bush Presidential Library Rotunda

Speaker Biographies

Kay Granger

Kay Granger A leader in national defense and global security, Kay Granger serves and fights for the 12th congressional district of Texas. Elected to her 11th term in 2016 by an overwhelming margin, Kay has earned her reputation in Congress as a hard-working, tough and principled leader on the issues that matter most to the people she serves. Her legislative prowess and ability to get things done, widely respected by both policy makers and influencers in Washington alike, led to her recognition by CQ’s Roll Call as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Congress.

Cathy Russell

During her time as Ambassador, Cathy was responsible for U.S. efforts to advance gender equality and the status of women and girls around the world, developing a toolbox of policies, programs, partnerships, and diplomatic efforts. She traveled to nearly 50 countries, developed groundbreaking U.S. government policies and tested new approaches, coordinated interagency efforts, and built partnerships with Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 companies. She also worked with foreign governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society on a full range of issues, from women’s economic empowerment to adolescent girls’ education to women’s roles in peace and security.

Mark A. Welsh III

Mark A. Welsh IIIMark A. Welsh III became Dean of the Bush School in August 2016, after retiring from the United States Air Force. Welsh, who was born in San Antonio, earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a Master of Science degree in computer resource management from Webster University, and graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College, the Air War College, and the National War College. He was a fellow of Seminar XXI at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a fellow of the National Security Studies Program of Syracuse University and Johns Hopkins University, a fellow of Ukrainian Security Studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a fellow of the Pinnacle Course of the National Defense University, and a graduate of the General Manager Program at the Harvard Business School.

Valerie Hudson

Valerie HudsonDr. Valerie Hudson joined the faculty of the Bush School in 2012 as the George H.W. Bush Chair. An expert on international security and foreign policy analysis, she received her PhD in political science at Ohio State University and comes to Texas A&M University from a senior faculty position at Brigham Young University. In 2009, Foreign Policy named her one of the top 100 Most Influential Global Thinkers. Her recently published work, entitled The Hillary Doctrine: How Sex Came to Matter to in American Foreign Policy, looks at Secretary Clinton’s focus on gender policy and asks how it found a place on the “to do” list for future secretaries of state.

Amanda Schnetzer

Amanda SchnetzerAmanda Schnetzer is Director of Global Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas. In this role, she is responsible for developing innovative research, programmatic, and policy efforts to advance societies rooted in political and economic freedom and to empower women to lead in their communities and countries. Previously she served as the Bush Institute’s founding director of the Human Freedom Initiative.

Metra Mehran

Metra MehranMetra Mehran (MPSA, Class of 2018) majored in political science and public administration with a minor in law at the American University of Afghanistan (Afghanistan), graduating in December 2014. Metra was president of the debate club and vice president of SGA; and she served as a resident adviser, a writer for the school newspaper, and a student body representative to a campus board. She was also active in her community, working with different NGOs and service projects.

Farhat Popal

Farhat PopaFarhat Popal serves as the Manager of the Women’s Initiative Fellowship and the Afghan Women’s Project at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Farhat is responsible for research and programmatic efforts that empower women worldwide to lead in their communities and countries.

Farhat studied Political Science/International Relations and History of the Near East at the University of California, San Diego.

Razia Jan

Razia JanRazia Jan, founder and president of the Zabuli Education Center, has worked for many years to forge connections between Afghans and Americans. Born in Afghanistan, Razia moved to the United States in 1970. For two decades she was the proprietor of a small tailoring business in Duxbury, Massachusetts, where she served as president of the town’s Rotary Club.

Nilofar Ibrahimi

Nilofar IbrahimiDr. Nilofar Ibrahimi is a member of the national assembly of Afghanistan. She is representing Badakhshan province in the Wolesi Jirga (house of representatives). Her life story is one about survival, pursuit of dreams and dedication to women’s wellbeing and health. Dr. Ibrahimi’s childhood was marked by the murder of her father and grandfather (also a member of the parliament) in the 1970s. They were victims of the communist regime. They were buried alive like many other regime dissidents. Their bodies have never been found.

Sabrina Karim

Sabrina KarimSabrina Karim’s (PhD candidate, Emory University) will start as an assistant professor in Government at Cornell University in 2017. During 2016-2017, she is a Dartmouth Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security. She is the co-author of a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press entitled Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping.

Silva Hamie

Silva HamieDr. C. Silva Hamie has been a lecturer in the Department of International Affairs (IA) since 2014, teaching courses on post-conflict recovery and development, and international organizations. She has also been advising students and is involved in IA capstone projects. In addition, she has been teaching a course on issues in world politics in the Department of Political Science.

Kathleen O'Reilly

Kathleen O'ReillyKathleen O’Reilly is a feminist geographer with extensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) experience in urban and rural India. She studies drinking water supply systems’ management and the impacts of sanitation interventions for marginal groups, particularly women and lowest castes. Her career spans over 20 years of data collection, research findings' dissemination, and teaching.

Sarah Evans

Sarah EvansSarah Evans began her professional life as a securities lawyer but launched her career in international development as the founder of Well Aware, an Austin-based nonprofit working with impoverished communities to establish safe and sustainable water infrastructure as a foundation for prosperity. Through this work, her team-building and her dedication to realistic solutions, she has become a subject-matter expert and has published several articles on international development, nonprofit management, women’s issues and water system success on various platforms; including, Wandering Educators, Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling, among others. Features about her and her work have been seen in The New York Times,, USA Today and many others.

Jacob Allen

Jacob AllenJacob Allen is a Partner with Cicero Group and Managing Director of the Social Impact practice, partnering with leading foundations, nonprofits, and social enterprises to improve impact through strategy, performance monitoring and impact evaluation (M&E), performance management, and donor and beneficiary analytics.

Over the past 15 years, Jacob has worked with mission-driven organizations, including leading corporate philanthropies, international NGOs, and nonprofit providers. He has led the strategic design, measurement, and implementation of social impact programs run by Presidents Bush and Clinton, United Way, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, YouthBuild International, Junior Achievement, Church World Service, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Nature Conservancy, and many others.

Brandie DePaoli Taylor

Brandie DePaoli TaylorDr. Brandie DePaoli Taylor joined the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health as an Assistant Professor in January 2014. Dr. Taylor received both her M.P.H. and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. Following her pre-doctoral training, Dr. Taylor received a NIH T32 post-doctoral fellowship in perinatal epidemiology at Michigan State University.

Beverly Hill

Beverly HillBeverly Hill founded the Gendercide Awareness Project in 2011 to combat the little known atrocity of gendercide. Beverly graduated from Duke University summa cum laude with a BA in Economics. She later returned to Duke for graduate work in History, specializing in the History of Science and Renaissance/Reformation History.

Anita Marcos

Anita MarcosAnita have been committed to the elimination of sexism, racism, cultural barriers and has been involved in Women and Civil Rights since 1970. She has owned several business and is a motivational speaker, a retired real estate broker, an entrepeneur and a community leader. She is also the President of Marcos Productions, a women-owned business providing bilingual seminars and training for women.

Emily Sellars

Emily SellarsDr. Emily A. Sellars joined the Department of International Affairs at the Bush School this fall as an assistant professor. Prior to coming to the Bush School, she was a postdoctoral scholar in political economy at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Dr. Sellars received a joint PhD in political science and agricultural and applied economics from the University of Wisconsin—Madison.

Natalie Gonnella-Platts

Natalie Gonnella-PlattsNatalie Gonnella-Platts serves as the Deputy Director of the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Natalie is responsible for research and programmatic efforts that empower women worldwide to lead in their communities and countries. The portfolio currently includes the First Ladies Initiative, the Afghan Women’s Project, and the Women’s Initiative Fellowship.

Ellen Haring

Ellen HaringDr. Ellen Haring is the Director of Programs and Research at the Service Women’s Action Network. She is also a senior fellow at Women in International Security where she directs the Combat Integration Initiative. Haring’s research and work focuses on women and gender in the military.

Leslie Ruyle

Leslie RuyleDr. Leslie Ruyle is a conservation ecologist, program leader, and educator who has traveled to over 65 countries in her career. She’s particularly interested in understanding the dynamics of conservation and development in regions of conflict. She works closely with USAID, in-country Missions, embassies, NGOs, and leaders from protected areas ranging from World Heritage Sites to local community-based conservation initiatives seeking innovative development solutions.

Justine Cherutich

Rena Menard

Contact Information

Ashley Lovell, MIA 2018


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