Dr. Robert Lloyd and former U.S. Sen. George S. LeMieux opened a forum on March 15, 2022 about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They began by answering a basic but important question: why Americans should care.
Mike Pompeo, Seventieth Secretary of State and former CIA Director, spoke on February 1st, 2022, at the LeMieux Center’s annual speaker series event. He discussed brokering Middle East peace, a secret trip to North Korea and the ongoing challenges posed by China and Russia. The crowd cheered when Pompeo, addressing relations in the Middle East, said the U.S. has a great partner in Israel and will defend Israel however it can. Pompeo touted the success of the Abraham Accords, a joint agreement between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States to normalize relations between the Middle Eastern nations. Prior to his public remarks, Pompeo spoke with a group of high-achieving students selected to participate in a Q&A session. He began by encouraging them to stay focused on their values and not fear hard work. They have a responsibility, he said, to use their privilege to give back to others, whether in inner-city West Palm Beach or sub-Saharan Africa.
George Piro, Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Division of the FBI, was the guest speaker at PBA’s Warren Library Lassiter Rotunda on January 19th, 2022. Piro was assigned to interrogate Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. He then spent seven months interrogating Hussein in Baghdad. Hussein went on to be convicted of crimes against humanity and was hanged three years later, while Piro went on to a highly decorated career with the FBI. Piro provided a brief history of the FBI, explaining how the bureau evolved and changed focus over the years as the nation faced different threats. Today, he said, the biggest threat comes from foreign state actors. “Countries like China, Russia, North Korea and Iran are looking to not only steal our national secrets, but really our intellectual property, our technology, our innovation, and in some sense, trying to surpass us as the global superpower.”
On March 22nd, 2021, five former U.S. Ambassadors were hosted by the LeMieux Center for a discussion with former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux for a virtual interview of their careers. The Ambassador panel included Robin Bernstein, U.S Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Nancy Brinker, U.S Ambassador to Hungar, Sharon Day, U.S Ambassador to Costa Rica, Lana Marks, U.S Ambassador to South Africa, and Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, U.S Ambassador to Finland. These remarkable women discussed their experiences and lessons learned while serving as representatives of the United States.
Robin Bernstein, ambassador to the Dominican Republic 2018-2021, is a successful businesswoman, philanthropist and humanitarian. She is a recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Order of Duarte from Dominican President Luis Abinader and the Women in Leadership Award from the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches.
Nancy G. Brinker, ambassador to Hungary 2001-2003, is founder of Susan G. Komen and the Promise Fund of Florida, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, U.S. Ambassador and lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Sharon Day, ambassador to Costa Rica 2017-2021, has served the Republican Party at the local, state and national level for more than 20 years, including as Republican National Committee co-chairwoman. She has served on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.
Lana Marks, ambassador to South Africa 2019-2021, was born in South Africa to immigrants and earned the trust of the people by communicating hers and her family's opposition to the Apartheid government. She is a business executive who founded the Lana Marks fashion brand.
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, ambassador to Finland 2001-2003, is founder and CEO of Pace, the largest independently-owned custom content agency in the nation. She was appointed as the first woman National Chairman of the Board of the American Red Cross in 2004 and is currently serving her fifth term.
Sonny Perdue, former Governor and Secretary of Agriculture, was hosted on March 8th, 2021, at The Breaker’s Palm Beach for a dinner social with the LeMieux Advisory Board. At this event Sonny Perdue spoke on his time serving as Governor of Georgia and Secretary of Agriculture under the Trump Administration. Perdue also recognized the student involvement within the LeMieux Center and gave his remarks on the future of the country with its next generation of leaders.
Admiral James Stavridis: This event was chaired by former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, and Palm Beach Atlantic President, Dr. Debra Schwinn. An international relations expert, Stavridis predicted the United States will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic “diminished geo-politically” and broadly challenged by China, but he paints a picture of hope if Americans “work together and pull together.”
Dr. Deborah Birx: In October of 2020, the LeMieux Center hosted a virtual interview with former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx. Senator LeMieux and PBA President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn led the discussion. Throughout the early stages of the pandemic, Dr. Birx traveled to several universities. Dr. Birx stated that, “they [college students] are highly motivated to be there and have in-person learning,” Dr. Birx also stated that, “We can be that bridge to when we will have an effective vaccine that will protect the American people...We know what to do. It’s just ensuring that we do it in public and private every day.”
Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1997 to 2007, shared insight on civility in politics, his humanitarian work in Africa, the spread of Islamic extremism in the Middle East and North Africa, Israeli-Palestinian relations and Brexit during a public question-and-answer session moderated by former U.S. Senator George LeMieux on February 6th, 2020. Speaking about Brexit. Blair said Britons supported the plan for the same reasons Americans supported U.S. President Donald Trump: They belonged to a segment of the population that believed it’s being left behind. They worried about immigration and the rapid pace the world is changing, and not necessarily to their benefit, Blair said. In the yearlong transition out of the European Union, Britain needs to develop a new trade framework with Europe, he said. The UK can alter its relationship with the European Union, but not its geography, Blair said, noting Paris was only a 2-hour train ride away. “To be patriotic is not to left or right,” Blair said. “You should want the best for your country.” After leaving office, Blair served as the former representative for the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia, working toward peace in the Middle East.
The LeMieux Center for Public Policy invited Dr. Arthur Brooks, on December 2nd, 2019, to speak to students and community guests in the DeSantis Family Chapel about the political divide in United States with his presentation, “Leading Organizational Change: Capturing Innovation and Efficiencies While Operating in Complexity.” Brooks is the professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. Brooks, who served for 10 years as president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), one of the world’s leading think tanks, said that the polarization in American politics is the “biggest problem facing our country.” The bestselling author, social scientist, and Washington Post columnist offered the audience solutions in order to “empower you to be a change maker.” Brooks briefly shared how he came to formulate his solution to the divide in America, reminding the audience he grew up in Seattle, raised by parents who shared the liberal values of that part of the county. He noted that his parents raised him to “think for himself,” perhaps not realizing that their son would develop a more conservative perspective. His tips for fostering more civil discourse on political matters include tuning out those who profit from pitting citizens against one another; he called on members of the audience to defuse contempt wherever they encounter it; and he encouraged everyone to express more gratitude in those tense situations.
As part of the LeMieux Center for Public Policy’s speaker series, former judge and prosecutor Jeanine Pirro channeled her passion for politics and protecting vulnerable people in her remarks... at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Pirro hosts the highly rated primetime weekend show “Justice with Judge Jeanine” on the Fox News Channel. She is also a legal commentator and author of four books. She is a champion of rights for abused women and children, inspired by her time as a former district attorney and judge in Westchester County, New York. Prior to a lively talk in the DeSantis Family Chapel, journalism professor Israel Balderas interviewed Pirro in a Facebook Live for The Beacon in the Warren Library. During the presentation, “America Today: The Courts, The Media and Violence in Society”, Pirro, a longtime friend and outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, alluded to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testifying before Congress earlier in the day. She then shifted her focus to the rising popularity of socialism.
Visiting the LeMieux Center for Public Policy, foreign policy expert and scholar Michael O’Hanlon outlined strategies for the United States to mitigate danger posed by its three great rivals ‒ Russia, North Korea and China. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, specializes in American national security policy and defense strategy. He also serves as a director of research for the Brookings foreign policy program. He teaches at the Columbia, Princeton and Syracuse universities and at the University of Denver. In 2015, Brookings published the most recent of O’Hanlon’s books, The Future of Land Warfare. O’Hanlon visited Palm Beach Atlantic University on February 6th, 2019, to deliver the keynote address, titled “Geopolitics in the Next Decade,” in the LeMieux Center’s speaker series.
Presidential historian, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and contributor to TIME and The New York Times Book Review, Jon Meacham is one of America’s most prominent public intellectuals. A regular guest on Morning Joe, he is known as a skilled raconteur with a depth of knowledge about politics, religion and current affairs. He understands how issues and events impact our lives and why historical context matters. As the guest speaker at a LeMieux Center event on March 29th, 2018, Jon Meacham highlighted his knowledge of US Presidents in his presentation, “The Art of Leadership: Lessons from the American Presidency.” The evening was hosted by Senator LeMieux. When asked about Meacham’s favorite presidents, Lincoln, Reagan and Bush Senior were highlighted. To close the event, Meacham spoke about the future political parties and the shift in their ideologies.
Michele Rigby Assad, a PBA graduate and former undercover officer in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations, signed copies of her book “Breaking Cover” and shared her story at Trinity United Methodist Church in Palm Beach Gardens on March 1st, 2018. Assad spoke about her decade of service with the agency. Trained as a counterterrorism specialist, Michele served her country for ten years, working in Iraq and other secret Middle Eastern locations. Upon retirement from active service, Michele and her husband Joseph (also a former agent) joined a group of Americans who wished to aid persecuted Christians. Their efforts resulted in the evacuation of a group from northern Iraq that was featured on ABC’s 20/20. Michele's book “Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What’s Worth Fighting For,” reveals how courage and determination enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Her rise from modest beginnings in rural Central Florida was fueled by a fascination for the Middle East which she discovered in college. Despite this early realization, Michele’s efforts to find her place of purpose were filled with rejection and uncertainty before they took her to the frontlines of the war on terror. Detailing the arc of her career progression, Michele reminds us of the importance of faith and the criticality of hanging on, especially when you are tempted to fold.
General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2011-2015) and chief of staff of the U.S. Army (2011), was a guest speaker at the LeMieux Center for Public Policy speaker event on February 8th, 2018. His lecture topic was, “Leading Organizational Change: Capturing Innovation and Efficiencies While Operating in Complexity.” General Martin Dempsey recently retired after 41 years of military service. During his time in the Army, he commanded a calvary troop, a tank battalion, a calvary regiment, a tank division and United States Central Command where he was responsible for securing U.S. interests in the Middle East and South Asia. He served in both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom accumulating 42 months in combat. In 2015, Dempsey was named one of the 100 most influential leaders in the world by TIME magazine.
Mark Halperin, the coauthor of the New York Times bestsellers Game Change and Double Down, spoke at a public lecture hosted by the LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University on February 15th, 2017. During his presentation, “Today in Politics and the Impact of the 2016 Presidential Election,” Halperin touched on three general topics: the environment in which the last election took place, the president himself and what might happen going forward. He said he believes faster growth and compromises on issues like regulation, healthcare, infrastructure improvement and tax reform are unattainable without bipartisanship. During the question-and-answer session, Halperin said he views President Trump as willing to work in a bipartisan way, possibly to the consternation of some in his own party.
During his hour-long presentation on January 11th, 2017, Steve Forbes touched on both politics and the economy, and he outlined four areas where he believes reform is coming that will help move the economy out of the “self-inflicted rut that we’ve been in for almost 15 years.” The first area is taxation, said Forbes, who believes a flat tax should replace the complexities of the current tax code. He also warned against the border adjustment tax, a sales tax on imports that he believes could result in Americans paying higher prices for goods. “Putting in a new tax is a dangerous thing, even if they think it’s for a good purpose,” he said. The second area where Forbes sees potential for reform is healthcare. He noted that while the growing demand for healthcare is considered a crisis, “growing demand for anything else is considered a great opportunity,” he said. The third area that is ripe for reform involves government regulations. Forbes said excessive regulations cost the American economy $2 trillion a year. The final area where Forbes sees reforms coming is in monetary policy. He noted that money is not wealth. “Money measures wealth. Money measures value,” he said. Money works best when it has a fixed value, said Forbes, who advocates a return to the gold standard. In the end, “you need a strong identity. You need a strong brand,” he said. “Trust is key.”
Exactly three months after being cleared of federal corruption charges, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell spoke publicly about his faith and overcoming adversity during a presentation hosted by the LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University on December 8th, 2016. Throughout the ordeal, McDonnell maintained his innocence. He said he found comfort in the Psalms of David, particularly in the verse “Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God” (Psalm 35:24). Among the lessons he learned were to look through the lens of eternity and to focus on loving God and loving your neighbor, he said. McDonnell also says not to put too much trust in government. “The justice system in America is the best justice system in the world, but it’s not perfect. It’s made up of imperfect people, and power does things to people,” he said. At the end of his discussion McDonnell said, “The thing we should never tolerate are people that are in office that are doing things that violate the oath of office, that violate the public trust and are in it for self-serving reasons. That violates all the other things we believe about public service.”
Bob Graham, the two-term Florida governor and three-term US Senator who co-chaired Congress’ joint inquiry into the September 11th terrorist attacks, addressed recent developments related to the investigation and explained why he believes that 9/11 is not ready to be consigned to the history books. Graham spoke as part of a panel discussion with the LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University on November 16th, 2016, with his presentation, “28 Pages and the Unanswered Questions of 9/11.” He expressed support for the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, the law that will allow the families of the more than 3,000 victims of the 2001 attacks to proceed with lawsuits against the government of Saudi Arabia. Graham said the government’s withholding of information about 9/11 for the past 15 years has contributed to a feeling of cynicism and skepticism in America that became apparent during the recent election. Joining Graham on the panel were First Amendment lawyer Tom Julin of the Gunster law firm and investigative journalist Dan Christensen of the Florida Bulldog. Christensen’s reporting and Julin’s legal work are credited with bringing about the declassification in July of 28 pages from the congressional joint inquiry report on the attacks. Graham urged the students to become engaged in public discourse. “Democracy was never meant to be a spectator sport,” he said.
Why are so many politicians bad at politics? That was the observation posed by Peggy Noonan, the latest impressive guest speaker for The LeMieux Center for Public Policy, who spoke at Palm Beach Atlantic University on February 2nd, 2016. “It’s a people business,” Noonan said, yet it apparently attracts some who aren’t skilled at dealing with people. Noonan should know, having worked as a speech writer for Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush before going on to become an author of eight books and an influential columnist for The Wall Street Journal on American politics, history and culture. In support of her points, Noonan pointed to the ego-driven behavior of some presidential hopefuls noting, “Would John Kennedy have talked about leading in the polls? Would Ronald Reagan?” In response to a question about whether the anger of the electorate is being reflected in modern politics, Noonan surmised, “As people become less educated, serious and grounded, they become more emotional. That’s part of it.” She noted that some candidates appear to be “over the top, theatrical” in an effort to “break through the media clutter.” Noonan summed up her attraction to politics, saying that she “loves the humor and craziness.”
Governor Rick Scott (2011-2019) was the guest speaker at a LeMieux Center for Public Policy event on May 14th, 2015. A member of the Republican Party, Governor Scott was the 45th governor of Florida from 2011 to 2019. Scott ran for governor of Florida in 2010. He defeated Bill McCollum in a vigorously contested Republican primary election, and then narrowly defeated Democratic nominee Alex Sink in the general election. Scott was reelected in 2014, defeating former governor Charlie Crist. Before speaking at Palm Beach Atlantic University Governor Scott, spent some time with the LeMieux Center Advisory Board. After a brief visit with the LeMieux Advisory Board in the Rinker Board room (PBAU campus), Governor Scott, Senator LeMieux, and PBAU President William Flemming preceded to the Lassiter Rotunda. Governor Scott then presented his “State of the State.” Senator LeMieux ended the event with Q&A.
Karl Rove’s humor and insights were the highlights of his visit to PBA at the invitation of the LeMieux Center on March 3rd, 2015. During his public presentation, “Inside View of the White House,” Rove, who served as senior adviser to President Bush and later deputy chief of staff, spoke about how he became involved in politics and what he learned in the White House. Rove is credited with being “The Architect” of President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, and he was one of the first strategists to use microtargeting for political advertising, said former U.S. Sen. LeMieux. He also learned that “you’d better not think you’re a big deal. Because everybody’s watching, and people who think they’re big deals, they tend to flame out faster.” He described the pace of the typical workday as “drinking for a firehose 24 hours a day” and added that the president not only has to understand what is happening but also needs to think ahead. Rove also spoke in detail about the hours following the September 11th terrorist attacks and the lengths that were taken to whisk President Bush safely from a school in Sarasota back to Washington, D.C. Rove was the first to tell the president about the first jet plowing into the World Trade Center--before anyone realized what was going on. When asked what motivates him in a hostile environment to keep doing what he does, Rove said, “I love politics and I love my country... I do what I do because I care about our country, and I want it to be as great and grand for my son as it has been for me.”
George Will, columnist and TV commentator, gave a public talk about serious issues the country faces, followed by a question-and-answer session with former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux on April 16th, 2014. Among the topics Will took on was the national debt in his presentation, “The State of our Federal Government and the Prospects for Thoughtful Policy Solutions to Domestic and Foreign Challenges and Opportunities”. “The problem, ladies and gentlemen, is that the political class has a permanent incentive for deficit spending,” he said. “I think the political class in Washington is more united by class interest than it is divided by ideology.” Moving to the topic of “entitlements,” Will asked the audience if any of them are driving a 1935 car or use a personal computer or cell phone for 1965. Then he said, “The two programs that are driving our budget are Social Security (established in 1935) and Medicare (established in 1965). The world has changed. The programs haven’t.” He also sounded a note of optimism regarding Washington gridlock, saying that “the government is supposed to be difficult... it’s supposed to be hard.” Americans have the power to choose better policymakers, he said. “It’s in our hands.”
Although Fall break was under way and many students were away, there remained plenty of activity on campus. Jim Clifton, the chairman and CEO of the famous Gallup polling firm, spoke on October 24th, 2014, at Palm Beach Atlantic University about the importance of finding and developing young entrepreneurs. Jim Clifton was introduced by former U.S. Senator George LeMieux. Jim Clifton told the gathering that the development of new businesses by risk-taking entrepreneurs is a key to growing the U.S. economy. Jim Clifton was also promoting his new book Entrepreneurial Strengths Finder, about the importance of identifying young entrepreneurs. The event was sponsored by U.S. Trust of Palm Beach and the PBA LeMieux Center for Public Policy.
Former US Attorney General US Senator and Governor of Missouri, John Ashcroft spoke at the December Commencement on December 14th, 2013. Ashcroft spoke about his experience during 9/11. Just hours after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft sat across the table from President George W. Bush at an undisclosed location. The president, Ashcroft recalls, stared into his eyes and said, “Never let this happen again.” Ashcroft told students he knew then that he had to change his strategy as attorney general if he was to guarantee the safety of the American people. Eventually, Ashcroft became instrumental in passing the Patriot Act, which increased security measures to prevent attacks.
Patrick Whitehead, who is on the general counsel to Palm Beach Atlantic University, met with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at Palm Beach Atlantic University in February 2014 for a LeMieux Center event. Justice Thomas spoke about life lessons and shared personal stories regarding his path to the attendees. Speaking before the group of college students, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas bemoaned how "sensitive" Americans have become over issues of race and other markers of social "difference." Thomas also weighed-in on matters of faith, implying that non-believers are incapable of making a "meaningful" oath. "I quite frankly don’t know how you do these hard jobs without some faith. I don’t know. Other people can come to you and explain it to you," he said. "I have no idea. I don’t know how an oath becomes meaningful unless you have faith. Because at the end you say, ‘So help me God.’ And a promise to God is different from a promise to anyone else."
While acknowledging that there is much “disunity” in the United States today, celebrated neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson sounded a hopeful tone as he delivered the commencement address to more than 500 Palm Beach Atlantic University graduates and hundreds of guests at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in January 2014. He reminded them that as they go out into the world, “always remember God is in charge.” “Forget about science. It doesn’t matter what anatomical equipment you have, and it doesn’t matter what your genetics say. It only matters what you think you are,” Carson said. “This is the direction we are moving in as a nation. That doesn’t mean that we don’t feel compassion and we don’t try to do everything we can to accommodate everyone. But there is an actual reason that God gave us a brain, so that we can think,” he said. Carson has written nine books, four of which were coauthored with his wife of 40 years, Candy. The couple, who are Palm Beach County residents, also are cofounders of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments.
On November 21st, 2013, the LeMieux Center for Public Policy hosted a discussion concerning the 2012 presidential election. Top Florida organizers from both campaigns offered insider information on the election during a panel discussion. Ashley Walker, director of the Obama campaign in Florida, spoke about how the national campaign, instead of signing up many traditional Democratic operatives to staff its effort nationwide, turned to young people with sophisticated computer data and social media skills. Brett Doster, senior adviser to Romney in Florida, said the Obama campaign had the advantage that they had an incumbent candidate, but he agreed that his troops had lost the technology and social media battle. Also on the panel was Helen Aguirre Ferre, a journalist with Univision Radio and WPBT2. As for what will happen in the 2014 Congressional races, the panelists were cautious. Palm Beach Post veteran political reporter George Bennett said he considered it unwise to give too much weight to the issue of the moment. “Six weeks ago, it looked like the Republican brand was going to be extinct because of the fallout from the government shutdown,” he said. “And now we’re speaking about Obamacare fallout,” he said referring to the troubled roll out of the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Weatherford addressed a wide range of issues, from the economy to education to the situation in Syria at a LeMieux Center for Public Policy event on September 9th, 2013. He proposed the combination of developing an “unbelievably 21st century-based, high standards education system that is second to none” and embracing the American free enterprise system. Despite the challenges of poverty, pensions and healthcare reform, Rep. Weatherford believes that Florida has many things in its favor, including a steady increase in the graduation rate and an influx of new residents at the rate of 1,000 a day. Rep. Weatherford was also asked about his future plans after his term in the House is up. The father of three said he preferred to keep his options open and to rely on God’s guidance. He added that “public service is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
David Gergen, a senior political analyst for CNN, best-selling author and past adviser to four U.S. presidents, was the inaugural speaker at the LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University on March 21st, 2013. Gergen also serves as professor of public service at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the director of its Center for Public Leadership. In 2000, he published the best-selling book, “Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton.” Gergen pointed to the strong sense of optimism he has about the Millennial Generation coming up and into its own, and he noted that one positive effect of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the number of U.S. servicemen and women returning with strong leadership skills and a can-do spirit. Gergen said his best advice for PBA students is to read – especially biographies of great men and women, and to learn lessons from their struggles. Speaking about the current climate in Washington, Gergen said that he is a short-term pessimist and long-term optimist about solving the nation’s debt problems and the future of America, in general.