Join us for our next Bridge Builders conversation featuring Dr. William J. Perry, former secretary of defense during the Clinton Administration, and moderated by president and COO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Joan Rohlfing. President Bill Clinton will offer opening remarks.
Bridge Builders: An Inspiring Conversation with Dr. William J. Perry and Joan Rohlfing
Monday, January 25, 2021 | 1 p.m. CT / 2 p.m. ET
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Dr. William J. Perry was the 19th secretary of defense for the United States, serving from February 1994 to January 1997. He previously served as Deputy Secretary of Defense (1993-1994) and as Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (1977-1981). He has been a professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford University since 1986 (now Emeritus). His previous business experience includes serving as a laboratory director for General Telephone and Electronics and as founder and president of ESL, Inc.
From 1946 to 1947, Perry was an enlisted man in the Army Corps of Engineers, and served in the Army of Occupation in Japan. He was a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves from 1950 to 1955. He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Knight Commander of the British Empire, Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun, and has received decorations from the governments of Albania, Bahrain, France, Germany, Hungary, Korea, Poland, Slovenia, and Ukraine. Perry is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Perry has published three books: "Preventive Defense" (with Ashton Carter), "My Journey at the Nuclear Brink", and "The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump" (with Tom Collina). In 2015, he founded the William J. Perry Project to educate the public on nuclear dangers.
Perry is the father of five, grandfather of eight, and great-grandfather of five. He continues to engage with leaders and scholars all over the world in pursuit of his goal of reducing the threat from nuclear weapons.
Joan Rohlfing became president and chief operating officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in January 2010, after nine years as NTI's senior vice president for programs and operations. She is responsible for managing all NTI programs and operations.
She was part of the original team that created the mission and scope for NTI in 2000. Once the organization launched in 2001, she played strategic roles in several of NTI’s hallmark projects such as the formation of the World Institute for Nuclear Security, the creation of the Middle East Consortium on Infectious Disease Surveillance and the Nuclear Security Project led by former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and former Senator Sam Nunn in their effort to galvanize global action to reduce urgent nuclear dangers and build support for reducing reliance on nuclear weapons, ultimately ending them as a threat to the world.
Before joining NTI, she held senior positions with the U.S. Department of Energy during the Clinton Administration, as senior advisor for national security to the Secretary of Energy and as director of the Office of Nonproliferation and National Security. In 1999-2000, after the nuclear tests in India and Pakistan, Rohlfing served at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India where she advised the ambassador on nuclear security issues. Earlier, she served as a professional staff member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. Rohlfing began her career in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she was awarded a Presidential Management Internship and later worked in the office of Strategic Forces Policy.
Rohlfing holds a master’s degree from the University of Maryland and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois. She was awarded the Department of Defense Civilian Service Medal in 1989. In 2011, the University of Maryland School of Public Policy gave her the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award, citing her career in public service.
Rohlfing is a member of the National Security Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
President Clinton said, “In the end, all that matters is the builders. And after the builders are forgotten, all that remains are the ripples of what they’ve built.” Bridge Builders will present the stories of distinguished change makers, thought leaders, and influencers. This programming series is presented by the Clinton Foundation and sponsored by Coulson Oil.
Each conversation will allow our compelling speakers to share their insightful perspectives; name pivotal moments that inspired them – and why; and offer first-hand accounts of the moments that shaped their lives and, in many cases, the course of history. The conclusion of each conversation will include a call to action, a charge to each person in attendance to learn more or do something that adds to the bridge that, together, we are building to the future.
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