Scott Kirby

Scott Kirby

February 2, 2021

Chief Operating Officer/ United Airlines 

Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, addressed The Economic Club of Chicago on February 2 to discuss the road ahead for United and more. The conversation was moderated by Ted Souder, head of Industry – Retail at Google, Inc., and The Economic Club of Chicago First Vice Chair, Programs. The Economic Club of Chicago President & CEO David Snyder opened the program and posed questions from the audience.

Our guiding north star as we’ve gone through this has been just do the right thing in a world where there’s so much uncertainty.

Scott Kirby on leading United Airlines through the COVID-19 pandemic.

SCOTT KIRBY

SPEAKER

Chief Operating Officer/ United Airlines

Mr. Kirby is chief executive officer of United Airlines. He served as the company’s president from 2016 to 2020 and was responsible for United’s operations, marketing, sales, alliances, network planning and revenue management. As president, he played a pivotal role in enabling United’s cultural transformation and executing the Company’s strategic growth plan. Elected in December 2020, Scott serves as the Chairman of the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board (CEB).

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TED SOUDER

MODERATOR

Head of Industry, Retail/ Google

As Chief Operating Officer and group president for Starbucks, Roz Brewer leads the company’s operating businesses across the Americas (Canada, U.S. and Latin America), and Starbucks license stores as well as the global functions of marketing, technology, supply chain, product innovation, and store development organizations. Roz was appointed to the Starbucks board of directors in March 2017 and continues to serve on the board.

Prior to joining Starbucks, Roz served as president and chief executive officer of Sam’s Club, the eighth largest U.S. retailer with sales of $57 billion for fiscal year 2016. Roz joined Sam’s Club, the members-only warehouse channel of Walmart Inc. in 2012 and made history by becoming the first woman and first African American to lead a Walmart division. In 2018, Fortune ranked her #33 on its list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. During her time at the helm, she led the growth of Sam’s Club by focusing on three core growth areas: expanding membership; transforming merchandise; and amplifying the use of digital technology to enable a seamless shopping experience at scale which led to sequentially improved comp sales.

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Senators Amy Klobuchar & Mitt Romney

Senators Amy Klobuchar & Mitt Romney

JANUARY 26, 2021

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah joined The Economic Club of Chicago on January 26 to discuss “Governing from the Middle” and how to heal our American democracy. The conversation was moderated by David Axelrod, political analyst and director of The University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

There was a moment on the night of January 6 where 93 senators voted the same.

Senator Amy Klobuchar on how compromise and bipartisan efforts are possible. 

Amy Klobuchar

PANELIST

U.S. Senator/ Minnesota

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the United States Senate. Throughout her public service, Senator Klobuchar has always embraced the values she learned growing up in Minnesota. Her grandfather worked 1500 feet underground in the iron ore mines of Northern Minnesota. Her father, Jim, was a newspaperman, and her mother, Rose, was an elementary school teacher who continued teaching until she was 70.

Senator Klobuchar has built a reputation of putting partisanship aside to help strengthen the economy and support families, workers, and businesses. In 2019, an analysis by Vanderbilt University ranked her as the “most effective” Democratic senator in the 115th Congress.

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Mitt Romney

PANELIST

U.S. Senator/ Utah

Senator Mitt Romney was sworn in as Utah’s newest senator on January 3, 2019. He currently
serves on the Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Homeland Security &
Government Affairs; and Small Business & Entrepreneurship committees. He is chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism.
Senator Romney is also a member of the Senate National Security Working Group.

Before entering public service, he led a successful business career as the co-founder of Bain
Capital, a leading investment company, and the turnaround CEO of Bain & Company, an
international management consulting firm.

Prior to serving as the Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, Senator Romney led the
2002 Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Winter Olympics and, with a team of volunteers
and managers, helped turn the struggling Games into a Utah success story. He was a candidate
for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and Republican nominee for president in 2012.
Senator Romney earned his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and his JD/MBA
from Harvard University. He is the proud husband to Ann, father to five sons, and grandfather to
25 grandchildren.

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David Axelrod

MODERATOR

Founding Director/ University of Chicago Institute of Politics & Senior Political Commentator/ CNN

David Axelrod is a preeminent American political strategist and commentator and the former chief
strategist and senior advisor to President Barack Obama. Axelrod currently serves as the founding
director of the University of Chicago’s nonpartisan Institute of Politics and as a senior political
commentator for CNN. He is the host of The Axe Files, a top-rated podcast featuring in depth
conversations with public figures across the political spectrum. A former political writer for the
Chicago Tribune, Axelrod produced media strategy and advertising for 150 campaigns across the
U.S., culminating in President Obama’s historic elections. Axelrod is also the author of The New
York Times best-selling memoir, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.

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Sal Khan

Sal Khan

December 15, 2020

Founder & CEO/ Khan Academy

Sal Khan, Founder & CEO of Khan Academy, addressed The Economic Club of Chicago on December 15, 2020. The conversation was moderated by Phyllis M. Lockett, Founder & CEO of LEAP Innovations. Questions from Economic Club members were posed by David Snyder, President & CEO of The Economic Club of Chicago.

The last thing kids need right now is stressed parents […] take care of yourselves first.

Sal Khan on advice for parents navigating home school during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sal Khan

SPEAKER

Founder & CEO/ Khan Academy

Sal Khan is the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, a nonprofit educational organization that offers free lessons in math, science and humanities in multiple languages, as well as tools for parents, teachers and districts to track student progress.

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Phyllis M. Lockett

MODERATOR

Founder & CEO/ LEAP Innovations

Phyllis Lockett is a serial social entrepreneur who has led transformative efforts in the education, government and civic arenas. She is currently the founder and CEO of LEAP Innovations, an organization headquartered in Chicago that connects innovation and education to transform how students learn. LEAP works directly with educators and innovators across the country to pilot, research and scale personalized learning technologies and innovative practices across classrooms and outside learning environments.

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Stephen Schwarzman

STEPHEN SCHWARZMAN

OCTOBER 7, 2020

Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO/ Blackstone

Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Blackstone, participated in a virtual program. The conversation was moderated by ECC Chair Debra A. Cafaro, while President & CEO David Snyder moderated live questions submitted by attendees.

Sometimes failures are the most informative. If you’re adaptable, you’re observant, and you’re not scared to confront your own errors, you learn from them.

Stephen Schwarzman on how learning from failure is even more important than celebrating the wins.

Stephen Schwarzman

SPEAKER

Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO/ Blackstone

Stephen A. Schwarzman is Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment firms with $649 billion Assets Under Management (as of March 31, 2021). Mr. Schwarzman has been involved in all phases of Blackstone’s development since its founding in 1985. The firm has established leading investing businesses across asset classes, including private equity, where it is a global leader in traditional buyout, growth equity, special situations and secondary investing; real estate, where it is currently the largest owner of property in the world; hedge fund solutions, where it is the world’s largest discretionary hedge fund investor; and credit, where it is a global leader and major provider of credit for small, middle-market and other companies. Blackstone has also recently launched major new businesses dedicated to infrastructure and life sciences investing, as well as delivering the firm’s investment management expertise and products to insurance companies.

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DEBRA A. CAFARO

MODERATOR

Chairman & CEO/ Ventas Inc.

Debra A. Cafaro has been Venta’s Inc., Chief Executive Officer and a director since 1999 and Chairman of its Board of Directors since 2003. She also served as our President from 1999 to November 2010. In addition to her work at Ventas, Cafaro is broadly engaged across the business, public policy, arts, academic, sports and non-profit sectors. She serves on the Board of Directors of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., a bank holding company and financial services corporation (NYSE: PNC). Additionally, Cafaro is the Chair of the Real Estate Roundtable, a public policy organization that brings together leaders of the nation’s top real estate firms to address key national policy issues relating to real estate; the Chair of the Executive Committee and a Member of the Board of Directors of The Economic Club of Chicago, whose mission is to foster meaningful connections among the city’s leaders on important economic and social issues; a member of the Business Council, a private association of chief executive officers; serves on the Boards of Trustees for the University of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to successive terms on the Board of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (2015 to 2019). Prior to joining Ventas, Cafaro was President and a director of an NYSE-listed multi-family REIT, a practicing lawyer for 13 years and a judicial clerk for the Hon. J. Dickson Phillips, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cafaro earned her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was named its 2011 Distinguished Alumna.

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Margo Georgiadis

Margo Georgiadis

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Chief Executive Officer/ Ancestry

Margo Georgiadis participated in a fireside conversation moderated by ECC Board Member Christine A. Leahy, president & CEO of CDW. ECC President & CEO David Snyder moderated live questions submitted by attendees. Georgiadis spoke about leadership, including insights on remote working.

I think it’s really important right now as everyone is going through a kaleidoscope of emotions, that we are honest as leaders about the real challenges we face.

Margo Georgiadis on the importance of leading with empathy and recognizing the challenges of navigating remote work during a pandemic.

MARGO GEORGIADIS

SPEAKER

President & CEO/ Ancestry

Margo is a mission-driven executive who has dedicated her career to transforming products and services with data and technology to deliver outsized growth and to empower consumers to live better lives. 

Most recently, Margo served as the President and CEO of Ancestry where she brought together content, science and technology to transform Ancestry into the undisputed global leader in family history and consumer genomics. Under her leadership, the company scaled to over 3.6M subscribers, doubled its genomics network to over 20M consumers, and delivered over $1B in subscription revenue with record setting profitability and cash flow. 

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CHRISTINE A. LEAHY

MODERATOR

President & CEO/ CDW

Christine A. Leahy is president & chief executive officer of CDW. Leahy is responsible for the strategic direction and performance of the company as well as leading the senior management team.

Leahy has held numerous roles at CDW, most recently serving as chief revenue officer, where she was responsible for all customer-facing units of the company including its corporate, public, small business, international and integrated technology solutions organizations. Prior to that role, Leahy was senior vice president, international, where she led the development of the company’s international strategy, including the acquisition of Kelway, now CDW UK, and was responsible for the performance of its international business. Leahy also was our chief legal officer/general counsel and corporate secretary. Prior to joining CDW in 2002 as the company’s first general counsel, Leahy was a corporate partner in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin, an international business law firm.

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Kenneth Frazier

Kenneth Frazier

August 26, 2020

Chairman of the Board & CEO/ Merck & Co, Inc.

Kenneth C. Frazier participated in a virtual program moderated by Debra A. Cafaro, chair of The Economic Club of Chicago. President & CEO David Snyder moderated live questions submitted by attendees. Frazier shared leadership wisdom and insights on how we will overcome COVID-19. 

I have great optimism about science, and I have great optimism about the underlying spirit of the American democracy and the ability for it to reinvent itself in a positive way.

Kenneth Frazier on the ability to recover after the pandemic. 

KENNETH FRAZIER

SPEAKER

Chairman of the Board & CEO/ Merck and Co, Inc.

Kenneth C. Frazier has served as the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Merck since 2011. ​

Under Ken’s leadership, Merck is delivering innovative lifesaving medicines and vaccines as well as long-term and sustainable value to its multiple stakeholders. Ken has substantially increased Merck’s investment in research, including early research, while refocusing the organization on the launch and growth of key products that provide benefit to society. He has also led the formation of philanthropic and other initiatives that build on Merck’s 125-year plus legacy.

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DEBRA A. CAFARO

MODERATOR

Chairman & CEO/ Ventas Inc.

Debra A. Cafaro has been Venta’s Inc., Chief Executive Officer and a director since 1999 and Chairman of its Board of Directors since 2003. She also served as our President from 1999 to November 2010. In addition to her work at Ventas, Cafaro is broadly engaged across the business, public policy, arts, academic, sports and non-profit sectors. She serves on the Board of Directors of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., a bank holding company and financial services corporation (NYSE: PNC). Additionally, Cafaro is the Chair of the Real Estate Roundtable, a public policy organization that brings together leaders of the nation’s top real estate firms to address key national policy issues relating to real estate; the Chair of the Executive Committee and a Member of the Board of Directors of The Economic Club of Chicago, whose mission is to foster meaningful connections among the city’s leaders on important economic and social issues; a member of the Business Council, a private association of chief executive officers; serves on the Boards of Trustees for the University of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to successive terms on the Board of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (2015 to 2019). Prior to joining Ventas, Cafaro was President and a director of an NYSE-listed multi-family REIT, a practicing lawyer for 13 years and a judicial clerk for the Hon. J. Dickson Phillips, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cafaro earned her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was named its 2011 Distinguished Alumna.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI

JULY 28, 2020

Director/ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Dr. Anthony Fauci participated in a virtual program moderated by ECC member Dr. Bridget C. Coughlin, president & CEO of the John G. Shedd Aquarium. Dr. Fauci discussed the latest regarding the COVID-19 virus. 

This will end. We will get over this and we will ultimately get back to normal both by practicing public health measures and by the science that will give us a vaccine.

In July 2020, Dr. Fauci reassured the audience by saying we will get through the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that we cannot give up or get discouraged. 

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI

SPEAKER

Director/ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Dr. Fauci was appointed Director of NIAID in 1984. He oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis and malaria as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies. The NIAID budget for fiscal year 2021 is an estimated $6.1 billion.

Dr. Fauci has advised seven Presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.

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DR. BRIDGET C. COUGHLIN

MODERATOR

President & CEO/ Shedd Aquarium

Bridget C. Coughlin, Ph.D., was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Shedd Aquarium in 2016. Under her leadership, 1.9 million aquarium guests each year enjoy innovative experiences that are focused on Shedd’s Mission of compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world.  A relentless advocate for access in all ways, Dr. Coughlin commits the organization to offering tens of millions of dollars in free admission each year; champions varied learning styles and approaches; and is a voice for real diversity, equity and inclusion practices in the business world.

A nature lover and scientist at heart, Dr. Coughlin is passionate about animal life in oceans, rivers and lakes and her commitment to learning and conservation extends well beyond the walls of Shedd Aquarium. She has connected families and community members to Shedd’s aquatic life on the Great Lakes, in neighborhoods across the city and in the digital world with urban outposts and immersive virtual learning experiences.  

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Mayor Lightfoot

LORI LIGHTFOOT

MAY 13, 2020

Mayor/ City of Chicago

Mayor Lightfoot addressed Economic Club members and participated in a fireside conversation
moderated by Debra A. Cafaro, chairman & CEO, Ventas, Inc., and chair of The Economic Club of Chicago. Mayor Lightfoot spoke about the plans to reopen Chicago amid  the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are the great American city of Chicago, and we will come out of this crisis like we always have – more resilient, more prosperous, and more powerful than we’ve ever been before.

Mayor Lightfoot on Chicago’s post-pandemic recovery.

THE HONORABLE LORI E. LIGHTFOOT

SPEAKER

Mayor/ City of Chicago

Lori E. Lightfoot is the 56th Mayor of Chicago. 

Since assuming office following her historic election, Mayor Lightfoot has undertaken an ambitious agenda of expanding opportunity and inclusive economic growth across Chicago’s neighborhoods and communities, with early accomplishments including landmark ethics and good governance reforms, worker protection legislation, and closing a record $838 million budget gap, as well as key investments in education, public safety and financial stability. Mayor Lightfoot also placed Chicago on the path to a $15 minimum wage by 2021. 

In response to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, Mayor Lightfoot has led a coordinated, citywide response across government, business, and community organizations to effectively address its spread and broader public impact, including the creation of the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, among other actions.  

Prior to her election, Mayor Lightfoot most recently served as a senior equity partner in the Litigation and Conflict Resolution Group at Mayer Brown. Previously, she served as President of the Chicago Police Board, as well as the Chair of the Police Accountability Task Force.  

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DEBRA A. CAFARO

MODERATOR

Chairman & CEO/ Ventas Inc.

Debra A. Cafaro has been Venta’s Inc., Chief Executive Officer and a director since 1999 and Chairman of its Board of Directors since 2003. She also served as our President from 1999 to November 2010. In addition to her work at Ventas, Cafaro is broadly engaged across the business, public policy, arts, academic, sports and non-profit sectors. She serves on the Board of Directors of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., a bank holding company and financial services corporation (NYSE: PNC). Additionally, Cafaro is the Chair of the Real Estate Roundtable, a public policy organization that brings together leaders of the nation’s top real estate firms to address key national policy issues relating to real estate; the Chair of the Executive Committee and a Member of the Board of Directors of The Economic Club of Chicago, whose mission is to foster meaningful connections among the city’s leaders on important economic and social issues; a member of the Business Council, a private association of chief executive officers; serves on the Boards of Trustees for the University of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to successive terms on the Board of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (2015 to 2019). Prior to joining Ventas, Cafaro was President and a director of an NYSE-listed multi-family REIT, a practicing lawyer for 13 years and a judicial clerk for the Hon. J. Dickson Phillips, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cafaro earned her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was named its 2011 Distinguished Alumna.

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Peter Orszag

Peter Orszag

May 1, 2020

CEO of Financial Advisory/ Lazard Frères & Co. LLC

Dr. Peter Orszag, CEO of Financial Advisory at Lazard Frères & Co. LLC, discussed the current state of the economy, fiscal responsibility, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health care policy. The conversation was moderated by Peter Q. Thompson, chair of Midwest Advisory at Lazard Frères & Co. LLC.

Never has so much been owed by so many to so few. It’s a kind of moment where the world hangs on a relatively small band of medical researchers to come through.

Dr. Peter Orszag on being hopeful that a vaccine will end the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PETER ORSZAG

SPEAKER

CEO of Financial Advisory/ Lazard Frères & Co. LLC

Peter R. Orszag is CEO of Financial Advisory at Lazard Freres & Co LLC, leading the firm’s advisory businesses that serve companies and governments across the globe. 

Dr. Orszag previously served as the firm’s Head of North American Mergers & Acquisitions and Global Co-Head of Healthcare.  Before joining Lazard in May 2016, he was Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking and Chairman of the Financial Strategy and Solutions Group at Citigroup, Inc. 

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Peter Thompson

MODERATOR

Chair of Midwest Advisory/ Lazard Frères & Co. LLC

Peter Thompson is the Managing Director & Chairman, Lazard Freres & Co., Midwest Advisory. His primary focus is on market development and stakeholder strategy and he has 25+ year career as a financial services executive also provides depth to Lazard’s relevant investment banking industry groups.

Additionally, leading Lazard’s Strategic Client Development initiative across North America. As one of the world’s preeminent financial advisory firms, Lazard operates from 43 cities across 27 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Central and South America.

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General John Allen

General John R. Allen

April 23, 2020

President/ Brookings Institution

General John R. Allen spoke to The Economic Club of Chicago for a Virtual Program on April 23, 2020. The conversation was moderated by David Weinberg, Chairman & CEO, Judd Enterprises, Inc., and audience questions were posed by Donna Zarcone, President & CEO, The Economic Club of Chicago.

This is a difficult moment, and we’ve been spending a lot of time and energy calling each other names and it has wasted our capacity to focus and come together right now.

General Allen on the importance of countries cooperating to mitigate the COVID-19 virus. 

General John R. Allen

SPEAKER

President/ Brookings Institution

John Rutherford Allen assumed the presidency of the Brookings Institution in November 2017, having most recently served as chair of security and strategy and a distinguished fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. Allen is a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. He is the co-author of the book Turning Point: Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence alongside co-author Darrell M. West (Brookings Press, 2020). He is also the co-author of Future War and the Defence of Europe alongside LTG (Ret.) Frederick “Ben” Hodges and Professor Julian Lindley French (Oxford University Press, 2021).

Allen served in two senior diplomatic roles following his retirement from the Marine Corps. First, for 15 months as senior advisor to the secretary of defense on Middle East Security, during which he led the security dialogue for the Israeli/Palestinian peace process. President Barack Obama then appointed Allen as special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, a position he held for 15 months. Allen’s diplomatic efforts grew the coalition to 65 members, effectively halting the expansion of ISIL. In recognition of this work, he was presented the Department of State Distinguished Honor Award by Secretary John Kerry and the Director of National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Award by Director James Clapper.

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DAVID WEINBERG

MODERATOR

Chairman & CEO/ Judd Enterprises, Inc.

David B. Weinberg is Chairman and Chief
Executive Officer of Judd Enterprises, Inc., a private, investment-management office with diverse interests including natural resources, beverages, and financial services. He is also President of its early-stage technology investing affiliate, Digital Bandwidth, LLC.

Mr. Weinberg is a director of The Coca-Cola Company, a trustee and co-chair of the Foreign Policy Leadership Council of the Brookings Institution, a member of the International Council of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of the Kennedy School of Government, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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