US Arctic Council Chairmanship: Achievements & Remaining Priorities

October 17, 2016 - 12:00 pm

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC

US Arctic Council Chairmanship: Achievements & Remaining Priorities

A conversation with:
Ambassador Mark Brzezinski
Executive Director 
 US Government Arctic Executive Steering Committee

Melanie Nakagawa
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation, Bureau of Energy Resources
US Department of State

Cathleen Kelly
Senior Fellow
Center for American Progress

Moderated by:
Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky
 Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project​
Harvard University JFK Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs;
Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

Introduced by:
Ambassador Richard Morningstar 
Founding Director and Chairman, Global Energy Center
Atlantic Council 
Although the United States holds the two-year rotating Chairmanship of the Artic Council until Summer 2017, the upcoming presidential election offers an inflection point to assess the work of the Arctic Council under US leadership. Our panelists will discuss topics including climate and energy diplomacy issues, local resilience, and key goals of the US Chairmanship. We hope that you can join us for this timely discussion. 

On Twitter? Follow @ACGlobalEnergy and use #ACEnergy

Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 
Washington, DC 

This event is open to press and on the record. 

VISITING THE COUNCIL: Metro and parking info 


Ambassador Mark Brzezinski serves as executive director of the U.S. Government Arctic Executive Steering Committee. On January 21st, 2015, in recognition of the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the Arctic, President Obama issued an executive order to enhance coordination of national efforts in the Arctic. The executive order creates expanded opportunities for Alaskans and those in the federal government to work on Arctic issues and establishes a clear structure to improve the coordination of federal Arctic activity. The AESC convenes at the deputy secretary level to guide the development of department and agency plans to assure that federal activity is well-coordinated and better communicated to partners such as the State of Alaska, Alaska Native communities, the U.S. Congress, the business community, international partners and other stakeholders. As U.S. Ambassador to Sweden between 2011-2015, Mark worked closely with the Swedish government during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The U.S. is one of eight member nations of the Arctic Council and currently is the council’s chair. Mark served on the National Security Council staff under President Clinton between 1999-2001, first as director for Russia and Eurasia, then as director for the Balkans. He received his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, his law degree at the University of Virginia Law School and has a doctorate in political science from Oxford University. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Warsaw, Poland between 1991-1993. He was a partner at a Washington, D.C. law firm before joining the Obama Administration, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Melanie Nakagawa serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation in the Bureau of Energy Resources. Ms. Nakagawa is responsible for promoting the shift toward a low carbon economy as integral to economic development and addressing global energy and climate change challenges. By focusing on innovative financing approaches and the use of market forces to achieve greater efficiency and cleaner performance in energy systems, she guides the Bureau’s effort to engage in the critical intersection of energy with national security and foreign policy priorities. She directs the Bureau’s efforts to reform electricity and power systems and develop more efficient and reliable municipal, national, and regional electricity markets. She also leads the Department’s efforts to assist countries as they work toward implementing their energy commitments to address global climate change, focusing on sustainable energy policy, addressing institutional reforms, and supporting business opportunities as essential components to a global energy transition. To foster this transition, she will be advancing efforts to support countries’ energy goals to deploy lower carbon energy resources into key markets, expanding regional cooperation and interconnectivity, and through the United States’ participation in multilateral and international organizations and partnerships. From June 2013-December 2015, she served on Secretary Kerry’s Policy Planning Staff, focusing on climate change, energy, environment, and development issues. In this role she served as a strategic advisor to the Secretary, supporting his efforts to elevate climate change as a foreign policy priority. Previously, she served as the Senior Energy and Environment Counsel on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for then-Chairman John F. Kerry. She developed policy recommendations, drafted legislation, and conducted oversight on energy security, climate change and environmental issues. Prior to her government service, she was an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She received her J.D. and M.A. in International Affairs from American University’s Washington College of Law and School of International Service, and A.B. from Brown University.

Cathleen Kelly is a Senior Fellow with the Energy and Environment team at the Center for American Progress. She specializes in international and U.S. climate mitigation, preparedness, resilience, and sustainable development policy. Kelly served in the Obama administration at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she led a 20-plus-agency task force to develop a national climate resilience strategy. This strategy helped form the basis of the climate-preparedness pillar of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Kelly also helped formulate the Obama administration’s positions on international sustainable development and climate policy issues. Previously, Kelly directed the Climate & Energy Program at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she led a highly acclaimed paper series and events on climate and clean energy policy that drew the world’s top energy and climate policy players. She also held policy director and senior policy adviser positions at The Nature Conservancy and the Center for Clean Air Policy and was a professor of international and environmental policy at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, or SAIS. Kelly is an internationally recognized climate policy expert and a regular adviser to U.S. and European officials on environmental policy issues. She is a prize-winning graduate of SAIS, where she earned a master of arts in international relations and energy and environmental policy.

Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky is a foreign policy expert and former diplomat specializing in national security affairs. She is a Senior Fellow at the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Vice Chair of the National Executive Committee, U.S. Water Partnership. From 2010 - 2012, Ambassador Dobriansky was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Thomson Reuters. In this position, she was responsible for designing and implementing a corporate approach for engagement in Washington, D.C. and other key capitals around the globe.  During this time, she was also appointed as the Distinguished National Security Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy.From 2001 to 2009, Ambassador Dobriansky served as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs.  Among her primary accomplishments, she established and led the U.S.-India, U.S.-China, and U.S.- Brazil Global Issues Fora -- which advanced crucial work and international cooperation on environment, energy, health, development, and humanitarian issues.  Additionally, she was head of delegation and lead negotiator on U.S. climate change policy. In February 2007, as the President's Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Ambassador Dobriansky received the Secretary of State’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, for her contribution to the historic devolution of power in Belfast. During her more than 25 years in national security affairs, Ambassador Dobriansky has held many Senate-confirmed and senior level positions in the U.S. Government including Associate Director for Policy and Programs at the United States Information Agency, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Deputy Head of the U.S. Delegation to the 1990 Copenhagen Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), Advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the 1985 U.N. Decade for Women Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, and Director of European and Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council, the White House.From 1997- 2001, Ambassador Dobriansky served as Senior Vice President and Director of the Washington Office of the Council on Foreign Relations and was the first George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies.  During this time, she also served on the Presidentially-appointed U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy, Ambassador Dobriansky serves on various boards, including the Smith-Richardson Foundation, IDS International, and the Atlantic Council.  She is also a Trustee of the Trilateral Commission, on the Board of Visitors of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Chair of the Bush Center's Women's Initiative Policy Advisory Council.  Previous boards include the Western NIS Enterprise Fund, National Endowment for Democracy (Vice Chair), George Mason University Board of Visitors and the World Affairs Councils of America as Chairman of the National Board. She received a B.S.F.S. summa cum laude in International Politics from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Soviet political/military affairs from Harvard University.  She is a Fulbright-Hays scholar, Ford and Rotary Foundation Fellow, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a recipient of various honors such as the Foreign Policy Association Medal for her service to country and leadership of the World Affairs Councils of America and the International Republican Institute's Women's Democracy Network Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award (2008).  She has received other high-level international recognition including the Commander Cross of the Order of Merit of Poland, Poland's Highest Medal of Merit, Grand Cross of Commander of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, National Order "Star of Romania", Hungary’s Commander’s Cross Order of Merit and Ukraine’s Order of Merit.  She has also received three Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters, one Honorary Doctorate of Laws and one Honorary Doctorate of International Affairs.

Ambassador Richard Morningstar is the Founding Director and Chairman of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center. Before founding the Global Energy Center, Richard Morningstar served as the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan from July 2012 to August 2014. Prior to his appointment, he was the Secretary of State's Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy. Morningstar previously lectured at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and Stanford Law School. From 1999 through 2001, Morningstar served as US Ambassador to the European Union. Prior to this, Morningstar served as Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State for Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy, where he was responsible for coordinating within the executive branch and with other governments and international organizations to promote US policies on Caspian Basin energy. From 1995 to 1998, Morningstar served as Ambassador and Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State on assistance for the new independent states of the former Soviet Union, where he oversaw all US bilateral assistance and trade investment activities NIS. From 1993 to 1995, he served as Senior Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).