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2022 Program

At the inaugural symposium, experienced professionals, academics, and other experts spoke on various topics related to China and U.S.-China relations.

9:00-9:10 am

Welcome Remarks by Drake University President Marty Martin and Consul General Zhao Jian of the People's Republic of China
9:15-10:15 am

U.S.-China Educational Exchange: Past, Present, Future

Min Fan Biography

Min Fan is the Executive Director of the U.S. Heartland China Association, and she will moderate this panel of experts on educational exchange between the U.S. and China.

Min was born in China and studied at Peking University before immigrating to the United States. Continuing her education at the University of North Carolina she earned a B.A. in Art followed by an M.B.A. at the Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Min went on to a successful career in the corporate world culminating in her role as the leader of the Ideation and Innovation Practice at Hewlett Packard (HP) Global Corporate Services. Upon leaving HP she joined the startup ecosystem as an entrepreneur and mentor at two Colorado incubators.

From 2018-2019, Min brought her entrepreneur experience and passion for US and China collaboration to the nonprofit sector as the Executive Director/COO of US China Innovation Alliance (UCIA). Over 100 US companies visited China on sponsored trips as a result of her team’s efforts.

Prior to joining the US Heartland China Association, Min launched US China Now, a not-for-profit endeavor, which partnered with a broad spectrum of organizations to build a bridge of understanding across the cultural divide between US and China.

Daniel Palm Biography

Daniel Palm is the Associate Vice President for International Affairs at the the University of Arizona.

Palm oversees the continued development of the university’s transnational education initiatives, including the global Microcampus Network and international large scale program development, as well as study abroad programming, international student admissions and support for international students and faculty.

Palm, who is proficient in Mandarin Chinese, brings fifteen years of international higher education experience to his new role. He joined the University of Arizona from Northern Arizona University (NAU), where from 2016 to 2021 he was Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives and Executive Director of the Center for International Education (CIE), and the university’s senior international officer. In 2017, the CIE received the IIE Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education.

With a Master’s in Leading Innovation and Change from York St. John University in York, England, Palm has devoted his career to cultivating global partnerships, building overseas operations, launching dual degree programs abroad, developing study abroad programs, and growing international student enrollment.

During his years in global education leadership roles, Palm has overseen the development of large-scale, in-person and online programs, initiated numerous dual degree programs, installed university representatives in six countries, established representative offices, and has grown student enrollment to record levels.

Mary Gallagher Biography

Mary Gallagher is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she is also the Director of the Center for Chinese Studies, and a faculty associate at the Center for Comparative Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research.

Her research areas are Chinese politics, comparative politics of transitional and developing states, and law and society. The underlying question that drives her research in all of these areas is whether the development of markets is linked to the sequential development of democratic politics and legal rationality. Put simply, she is interested in the relationships between capitalism, law and democracy. Her empirical research in China is used to explore these larger theoretical questions.  

Professor Gallagher was a foreign student in China in 1989 at Nanjing University. She also taught at the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing from 1996-1997. She was a Fulbright Research Scholar from 2003 to 2004 at East China University of Politics and Law in Shanghai, China. It was funded by the Fulbright Association and the National Science Foundation. From 2005-2007 she was part of the public intellectual program for the National Committee on US-China Relations, a program that brought together academics and policy makers working on US-China relations. 

Samantha McCabe Biography

Samantha McCabe is the International Student Services Director at the University of Wisconsin.

Samantha leads the charge of ISS to advocate and support international students studying at University of Wisconsin-Madison. As Director, Sam works closely with campus administration and Big Ten University colleagues to create policies and practices that support international students in the most inclusive and engaging way.

Yawei Liu Biography

Yawei Liu manages the China Focus and has been a member of numerous Carter Center missions to monitor Chinese village, township, and county people's congress deputy elections since 1997. Dr. Liu has written extensively on China's political developments and grassroots democracy, including three edited book series: "Rural Election and Governance in Contemporary China" (Northwestern University Press, Xi'an, 2002 and 2004), "The Political Readers" (China Central Translation Bureau Press, Beijing, 2006), and "Elections & Governance" (Northwestern University Press, Xian, 2009). He is the founder and editor of the China elections and governance website Dr. Liu is also co-author of the popular Chinese book "Obama: The Man Who Will Change America" (October 2008).

Dr. Liu is adjunct professor of political science at Emory University and associate director of the China Research Center in Atlanta.

Raven Witherspoon Biography

Raven Witherspoon is the first Virginia Commonwealth University student recipient of the highly competitive Schwarzman Scholars graduate fellowship. Scholars chosen for the program have demonstrated exemplary leadership qualities and the potential to understand and bridge cultural and political differences. She is currently in China pursuing a master's degree in global affairs from Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University in Beijing. 

Joel Glassman Biography

Joel Glassman is the former Director for the Center for International Studies at the University of Missouri; he retired in 2018 after 45 years at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. 

He is also an associate professor emeritus at the university, specializing in Chinese and Japanese politics and U.S. relations with East Asia. He is especially interested in Chinese education. His research interests included state and local government programs to enhance international competitiveness, and the future of U.S.-China relations. He studied public policy in the People's Republic of China and has published articles in Contemporary China, Asia Quarterly, and Comparative Education.


10:30-11:30 am

Disability Rights and Inclusive Education in China, presented in partnership with The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement

Daniel Vant Sant Biography

Daniel Van Sant is the Disability Policy Director a the Harkin Institute, and he will moderate this panel.

Daniel is a disability rights attorney who has practiced most extensively in the areas of inclusive education, gender-based violence, and inclusive international development. He draws on his personal and professional experience with disability in leading the disability policy work at The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement.

Prior to joining The Harkin Institute, Daniel was a staff attorney at Disability Rights Iowa where he provided free legal representation to children with disabilities and their families; defending their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other state and federal disability laws. He also monitored institutions and facilities around Iowa that house youth with disabilities and provided consultation on emerging special education issues to state and local stakeholders. Prior to his work at Disability Rights Iowa, Daniel represented survivors of sexual assault in a variety of civil legal matters as a staff attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. In addition to his direct-representation legal work,  Daniel has worked in disability law and policy at the national and international levels through several fellowships, grants, and consultancies.

Zhou Xiaorong Biography

Zhou Xiaorong is a research scholar at St. Cloud State University.

She holds a master's degree in rehabilitation and languages. Xiaorong specializes in collaborating, cultivating, and utilizing her broad global network for the purpose of research and development of Deaf culture-based programs and sign languages for both Chinese and American Deaf academic communities. She also provided multicultural guidance regarding accessibility laws, cultural sensitivities, empowerment of Deaf identities, and facilitations & collaborations of American Sign Language/Chinese Sign Language/Korean Sign language for international Deaf communities. 

Renci Xie Biography

Renci Xie is a Chinese woman with disabilities and a disability rights self-advocate.

Her story about embracing her disability identity was broadly reported. In January 2022, Renci was featured in a National Public Radio All Things Considered interview, “China excels at the Paralympics, but its disabled citizens are fighting for access.” She is currently working on a Ph.D. in disability law at Syracuse University.


*Break for lunch on own*

Attendees who register for the full day of sessions will be provided a complementary voucher for lunch.
1:00-1:15 pm

Welcome by former U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, with a special virtual message from Dr. Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State

1:30-2:30 pm

A Conversation with John Pomfret, journalist and author of The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present, who will discuss U.S.-China relations after the 20th Party Congress.

John Pomfret Biography

John Pomfret is an award-winning journalist who worked with the Washington Post for decades.

Pomfret was a foreign correspondent for 20 years and spent eight years covering big wars and small in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Congo, Sri Lanka and Iraq. Pomfret spent seven years covering China—one in the late 1980s during the Tiananmen Square protests and then from 1997 until the end of 2003 as the bureau chief for the Washington Post in Beijing.

Pomfret is the author of the best-selling “Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China” (1996). His book, “The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present” (2016) was awarded the 2017 Arthur Ross Award by the Council on Foreign Relations. His new book, “From Warsaw With Love: Polish Spies, the CIA and the Making of an Unlikely Alliance” was published in October 2021.


2:45-4:00 pm

Armchair discussion with former U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad and his former Deputy Chief of Mission Jonathan Fritz, moderated by Steve Churchill, former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing

Steve Churchill Biography

Steve Churchill is the former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and he will moderate this discussion.

An experienced diplomat, elected official, and CEO, Steve Churchill is a strategic leader with broad experience in the public and private sectors, and the nonprofit arena.

Churchill is a founding partner of the Branstad Churchill Group (BCG), a strategic consultancy that he launched with former U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad. The firm provides advice, guidance and solutions to organizations, corporate leaders and investors seeking to navigate the complexities associated with conducting business in China and the United States.

Prior to founding BCG, Churchill served as the Chief of Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. With four Consulates, nearly 50 federal agencies and more than 2,500 employees, Mission China is the busiest and most consequential posting in the world. In this role, Churchill worked side by side with the Ambassador to advance the strategic priorities for the United States Embassy in China.

Ambassador Terry Branstad Biography

Terry Branstad, former U.S. Ambassador to China and Governor of Iowa, is the Ambassador-in-Residence at Drake University.

Branstad is a partner with the Branstad Churchill Group, LLC, an international consulting firm that provides advice, guidance and solutions to organizations, corporate leaders and investors seeking to navigate the complexities associated with conducting business in China and the United States. He and his former Chief of Staff at the United States Embassy in Beijing, Steve Churchill, launched the firm in 2021.

Branstad holds the record for being the longest-serving governor in American history (1983-99, 2011-17) and was appointed ambassador to China (2017-20) in part due to his long-standing relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Formerly, Branstad served as president of Des Moines University (2003-09) and Lieutenant Governor of Iowa (1979-83). In 1972, while attending Drake Law School, he decided to run for the Iowa House of Representatives, where he served in from 1973-79. He is quick to point out that he selected blue and white for his campaign colors as a tribute to Drake University.

Jonathan Fritz Biography

Jonathan Fritz is the former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Jonathan has been the Chief of Staff to Jose Fernandez, the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy & the Environment, since August, 2, 2021. Previously, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian & Pacific Affairs responsible for China, Mongolia, and Taiwan. Before that, he was the Director for Bilateral & Regional Affairs in the State Department’s Office of International Communications & Information Policy. Prior to that he was posted at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where he served alternately as Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs, Chief of Staff, acting Deputy Chief of Mission, and chargé d’ affaires. From 2010-2014 Jonathan headed the economic sections of our embassies in Canberra and Kabul. Before that, he worked on trade, investment, and IPR issues in our posts in Beijing, Mexico City, and Hong Kong. Jonathan also served in Washington as a special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, as a trade negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and as a desk officer in the State Department’s Office of Chinese & Mongolian Affairs. Jonathan began his Foreign Service career with consular tours in China and Ecuador. Jonathan spent two years at the U.S. Air Force Academy and graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. and an M.A. in East Asian studies.


4:15-5:30 pm

Iowa and China: The Legacy of Xi Jinping’s Visit to Iowa in 1985

Kim Heidemann Biography

Kim Heidemann will moderate the Iowa-China panel discussion.

Kim is a native of rural Story County, Iowa. She has attended both the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. She received an M.A. in Diplomatic Studies from the Diplomatic Academy of London at the University of Westminster (United Kingdom). Upon returning to Iowa, Kim started her career in international relations and citizen diplomacy with Iowa Sister States, where she had the privilege to work in several countries building relationships between the citizens and institutions of the State of Iowa and their counterparts in countries including China, Ukraine, Kosovo, Taiwan, Russia, Mexico, Tajikistan, Italy, Japan, and Malaysia. A highlight during her 15 year career at Iowa Sister States was working with the Iowa “Old Friends” as a liaison for projects and partnerships between Iowa and China. Kim continues to work within the international relations arena in Iowa by working at the Kosovo Consulate in Des Moines, and as a consultant for organizations looking to establish international partnerships.

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn Biography

Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, Ph.D. is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia and President Emeritus of the World Food Prize Foundation.

He assumed the leadership of the World Food Prize Foundation in 2000, following a 32 year career as an American diplomat in the U.S. State Department. He retired from the World Food Prize Foundation in 2020.

Ambassador Quinn first visited China in 1979, when he had the privilege to meet with Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping and to travel extensively around the country. A year later, he escorted Governor Xi Zhongxun of Guangdong Province around Iowa on a tour with a particular emphasis on agriculture. Since then, Ambassador Quinn has made more than 20 visits to China and hosted several events of significance in Sino-American relations. In his capacity as Strategic Advisor to the U.S. Heartland China Association, he moderated the "U.S.-China Agricultural Dialogue" in 2022 that featured Ambassador Terry Branstad, current Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang, and current U.S. Ambassador to China Nick Burns virtually from Beijing.

Luca Berrone Biography

Luca Berrone was born and raised in Torino, Italy, and built his ties to Iowa as a foreign exchange student at Hoover High School and then as an international student at Iowa State University. Luca is the president of SACMI, USA, Ltd., a subsidiary of an Italian manufacturing company. Luca spent 12 days with Xi Jinping's 1985 delegation as an official of the Iowa Development Commission. He has also been involved with the Sister State partnership between Hebei Province, China, and the State of Iowa since 1983, and is currently a board member for Iowa Sister States.


*Break for dinner on own* 


7:00-8:15 pm

The United States and China: Can a Cold War Be Averted? 

In person at Collier-Scripps Hall Room 301 or virtual

David Skidmore Biography

David Skidmore, Ph.D. is Professor of Political Science at Drake. He will moderate the panel discussion.

During the 1996-97 academic year, he taught at the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China. He also served as a Fulbright Scholar based at the University of Hong Kong in 2010-2011. Skidmore is author, co-author or editor of six books including The Unilateralist Temptation in American Foreign Policy (2011) and International Political Economy: The Struggle for Power and Wealth in a Globalizing World (2017). He has published in Political Science Quarterly, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Studies Perspectives, and the Chinese Journal of International Politics. His recent publications include “Searching for a ‘China Model’ along the Belt and Road” (forthcoming in Asian Politics and Policy). Along with journalist Kyle Munson, Skidmore co-hosted the podcast "US-China: Searching for Common Ground".

John M. Owen Biography

John M. Owen, Ph.D., is Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

John is the author of multiple books, including International Politics: How History Modified Theory (2018). He has published in the European Journal of International Relations, Foreign Affairs, International Organization, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, National Interest, New York Times, and Perspectives on Politics. He has held fellowships or been a visiting fellow at such institutions as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford, and the Free University of Berlin.

Yun Sun Biography

Yun Sun is a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center.

Her expertise is in Chinese foreign policy, U.S.-China relations and China’s relations with neighboring countries and authoritarian regimes. From 2011 to early 2014, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, jointly appointed by the Foreign Policy Program and the Global Development Program, where she focused on Chinese national security decision-making processes and China-Africa relations. From 2008 to 2011, Yun was the China Analyst for the International Crisis Group based in Beijing, specializing on China’s foreign policy towards conflict countries and the developing world.

Zhu Feng Biography

Zhu Feng, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea, Nanjing University.

He is also a senior research fellow at the China Center for Peace and Development, and Professor at Peking University’s School of International Studies. Professor Zhu writes extensively on regional security in East Asia, the nuclear issue in North Korea, China-US military and diplomatic relations. Recent books include China’s Ascent: Power, Security, and Future of International Politics (2008), China-Japan Security Cooperation and Defense Communication: the Past, Present, and Future (2011), and China-US Relations and the World Order (2014).

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