Besan Alhamwi

Child Psychologist, former UNICEF, Syrian Red Crescent, Fulbright Scholar

Besan Alhamwi is a forensic psychologist who specializes in delinquent and traumatized children. She started her career in 2008 with UNICEF and the Syrian Red Crescent providing psychosocial support for Iraqi refugees’ women and children. In her efforts to understand more about the roots of violence, human resilience, and trauma she became one of eight Syrians who received the U.S. government funded Fulbright Scholarship for 2010.

Upon receiving her master’s in forensic psychology Alhamwi’s priority was to employ her knowledge in helping those who need it the most. Despite the accumulating violence in Syria she went back and started working with the International Medical Corps and other NGOs in camps across Damascus, providing counseling and therapy for Internally Displaced People.

During the past seven years Alhamwi has been living between DC and Beirut. She works with Syrian refugees in her private practice in Beirut and follows up with them remotely from DC. She has been providing internet counseling throughout the Arab world and Europe for the past two years. She also advises parents, educators, and NGOs on children’s wellbeing.

BECOMING ψ PERSON is a project she has been working on since 2019. Through integrating forensic psychology, developmental psychology, and evolutionary psychology she is creating a unique approach to combat violence, delinquency, and crime. She is developing a program that accumulates the best nurturing practices for promoting children’s optimal development; in the hope to save today’s little humans from tomorrow’s mental illness, victimization and perpetration.

Zack Baddorf

Senior Fellow / Disinformation Researcher focused on Countering Violent Extremism

Zack Baddorf is a national security and foreign policy practitioner with more than 18 years experience on the frontlines of the world’s conflicts, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Crimea, Kashmir and the West Bank.

He has led and executed projects for U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Peace Corps, as well as various non-governmental organizations and private companies.

As a foreign correspondent, his research and analysis has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, and many other publications.

Zack has received multiple awards for his strategic initiatives, creative problem solving, and ability to manage crises.

Daniel Dufort

Retired U.S. Navy SEAL, Military Special Operations and Maritime Security Expert

Mr. Dufort is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Norwich University where he studied Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis. He’s also a highly experienced boots-on-ground leader with over 28+ years in the US Navy SEAL Teams. His training and operational experiences span the globe, he’s used to leading in dynamic and complex environments and organizations. Due to his experiences with the US Interagency, foreign military leaders, and civilian elected leaders he’s well versed in optimizing priorities and shaping manpower, schedules, and efforts to achieve high-end goals. Each time he’s tackled these complex problems, budgetary and manpower constraints have been identified and dealt with. Combine these organizational skills with his unique ability to set goals and achieve them, he’s also a subject matter expert in identifying risk - and mitigating risk

David L. Kasten

Senior Strategist

Dave is an accomplished executive-level leader and manager with a comprehensive background spanning 35 years of leading strategic planning, operations, analysis, and program implementation during his time in the U.S. Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, and the U.S. Department of Defense. Throughout his career as a U.S. Government Civilian, he has been appointed to leadership positions managing sensitive national security matters at the strategic level in a joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational, national security community.

Currently, he leads a strategy consulting firm that focuses on delivering tools to help leaders
manage risk to meet strategic goals. These tools are born from a wide-ranging background
leading strategic planning, operations, analysis, risk management, strategic communication, and program implementation in some of the world's most demanding environments. He is also a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and combat veteran with assignments primarily in Special Operations units.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from Arizona State University, a Master of Arts (with Merit) in War in the Modern World, War Studies from King's College London, and a Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Dave is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies, Red Team Leaders Course.

He is also a Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Seminar XXI Fellow in Foreign Politics, International Relations and the National Interest, Class 29. He is practiced Arabic and German speaker. Dave is happily married and has two awesome teenagers. In his spare time, he's a practitioner of functional fitness, an avid cook, a so-so guitarist, and dreams of one day being a vintner.

Andrew Milburn

Retired Marine Special Operations, author and expert in irregular warfare

Andrew Milburn was born in Hong Kong and grew up in the United Kingdom where he attended University College London. After graduating from law school, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps as a private. He was commissioned from the ranks, and as a Marine infantry and special operations officer, has commanded in combat at every grade.

As the commanding officer of the Marine Corps’ special operations regiment, he was selected to lead a multi-national task force given the mission of defeating ISIS in Iraq. He retired in 2019 as the Chief of Staff of Special Operations Command, Central (SOCCENT), the headquarters responsible for the conduct of all US special operations throughout the Middle East. While there he led the planning and execution of a campaign conducted below the level of armed conflict against a state adversary.

Since retiring, he has written a critically acclaimed memoir "When the Tempest Gathers", and a number of articles for national publications. He is on the Adjunct Faculty of the Joint Special Operations University and teaches classes on leadership, planning, ethics, command and control, mission command, risk, special operations, and irregular warfare at US military schools.

He tweets at @andymilburn8

Donald “Don” L. Parnell Jr.

A career CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer who retired in 2020 after 35 years of government service.

Mr. Parnell served as a senior leader in various CIA positions and has operational experience in Latin America, Near East, East Asia, and Europe, to include multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Parnell is broadly experienced in field operations, covert action, and cross-agency coordination. He has worked extensively within the Intelligence, Military, and Law enforcement communities, including FBI, SOCOM, JSOC, and DHS.

Mr. Parnell’s Awards and Commendations include:
The Distinguished Intelligence Cross, the highest award given by CIA for extraordinary valor/heroism
The Distinguished Intelligence Star, the 2nd highest award given for voluntary acts of courage
The Wazir Akbar Khan Medal, awarded by Afghanistan President Karzai.
The Career Intelligence Medal, for distinguished career service.

Prior to serving in the CIA, Mr. Parnell spent two years as a Police officer and 11 years as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps, which included serving as a Company Commander with 3rd Marines and flying as an Aerial Observer in the OV-10 Bronco. Mr. Parnell graduated from Austin College in 1983 and was an NAIA All-American football player. His hobbies include; golf, CrossFit, fishing, hunting, and skiing. He is married with two daughters.

Sasha Lezhnev

International Human Rights Advocate

Sasha Lezhnev is Founding Director of the Grassroots Reconciliation Group, which helps reintegrate former child soldiers and refugees through award-winning innovative projects, and consultant at The Sentry. He was previously Deputy Director of Policy at The Sentry and the Enough Project, where he focused on conflict, governance, corruption, and corporate accountability issues. He also worked at Global Witness, where he led the organization’s U.S. advocacy on conflict resources and energy policy issues, and with the International Crisis Group and U.S. Institute of Peace. Sasha worked for two and a half years in Uganda as Senior Program Officer with the Northern Uganda Peace Initiative and peace process advisor to the northern Uganda mediator. He is author of the book Crafting Peace: Strategies to Deal with Warlords in Collapsing States. He holds a Master’s in International Relations from Cambridge University and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.

Magdalen Amony

Human Rights Advocate and expert in the rehabilitation of former child soldiers

Magdalen Amony has seven years of progressive experience with the Grassroots Reconciliation Group as a Country Director, facilitating the peaceful reconciliation and reintegration of former LRA Child Soldiers, other ex-combatants, and refugees with their war affected communities in Northern Uganda.

Magdalen is both intimately familiar with the challenges of post-conflict communities in Northern Uganda, as, also, a victim of the LRA violent conflict which ended the life of her beloved brother in 1995. This experience compelled her to work for an organization that promotes reconciliation, peaceful reintegration, and prevents conflict and its reoccurrence.

In 2013, she worked closely with the department of Anthropology at Miami University Hamilton Ohio, to provide entrepreneurship training to empower female ex-child soldiers to become economically independent and self-reliant. Magdalen became a member of the Afrika Youth Movement in 2014 in order to raise awareness on violent extremism and the need to end violence against women and girls in Africa. In 2019, she also became an Intercultural Leader, an initiative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group with key interest on migration and peace and security.

Her experiences and expertise include; Peace and conflict resolution, Project Planning and Management, Human Resource Management, Business Administration, Civic education, survivors’ crisis management, and environmental security and sustaining peace from reputable institutions like Uganda Management Institute, Gulu University, Miami University Hamilton, Ohio, and Sustainable Development Goal Academy.

Rich Puglisi

Retired U.S. Navy SEAL

Retired Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) Command Master Chief. A Strategic and Operational level subject matter expert with 33 years of special operations planning experience concerning theater security cooperation, counter-terrorism activities, and future operations in Desert, Jungle, and Mountain Arctic Warfare environments. Effective at conducting environmental analysis and building the highest functioning teams who resolve complex foreign policy challenges. Looking for a rewarding career that leverages my previous experience and allows me to continue to serve.


Vast experience in planning, training, conducting, and leading the full range of special operations inside and outside Declared Theaters of Active Armed Conflict to include Europe, Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Middle East. Expert knowledge of U.S. joint special operations techniques, tactics, and procedures.

Extensive network of contacts including military, foreign, interagency, and academic partners.
Executive level briefer with highly effective interpersonal communications skills.


Prior experience includes a successful history of numerous classified SOF operations in command, leadership, and staff assignments with United States Special Operations Command organizations. Details available upon request.

Command Senior Enlisted Leader, Joint Special Operations University 2017-2019 USSOCOM, MacDill AFB

Led, coached, and mentored, a six month, 15 person transformational working group consisting of joint military members, academics, and corporate designers in drafting a new University vision that laid the foundation for several new SOF specific educational lines of effort and courses which incorporate Design Thinking, Creative Problem Solving, Irregular Warfare, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data, Cyber, Space, and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Engaged and advised senior leadership from all Theater Special Operations Commands and NATO SOF Headquarters in the continued development of International SOF Non- Commissioned Officer Career Education Programs. This strategic global initiative resulted in the expansion of SOF International Educational Programs in Columbia, the Indo-Pacific region, multiple NATO countries, and Africa.

Requested as a panel speaker at the 2018 Canadian SOF Symposium in Kingston, Ontario providing an engaging presentation on “Operational Risk in Combat and the Non- Commissioned Officers role”.

Command Senior Enlisted Leader, Theater Special Operations Command Africa 2015-2017 Stuttgart, GE

Provided executive leadership to a Theater Special Operations Command (TSOC) consisting of 350 staff and 1000 deployed joint military, civilian, and coalition partner personnel in support of U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and 20 priority U.S. Embassy Country Teams throughout Africa.

Instituted a TSOC level professional development program designed to train and educate new staff and partner forces from basic Special Operations Force design to how a Joint Staff functions daily and during conflict.

Consistently created the trusted and mature working relationships necessary to synchronize African and European Partners, the Interagency, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Ambassadors and their Country Teams when executing strategic level operations in support of the USAFRICOM Theater Campaign Plan.

Command Senior Enlisted Leader, USSOCOM Joint Interagency Task Force 2013-2015 Washington, DC

Professionally coordinated and synchronized the strong network of Joint Military and Interagency Partners in the National Capital Region during crisis action and deliberate contingency planning in response to USSOCOM National level taskings.

Attended ACCU-Hire to provide guidance and over-site to the restructuring of the Unit’s hiring process, increasing top performer selection immediately.

Command Master Chief, Naval Special Warfare Unit TEN 2010-2013 Stuttgart, GE
Initiated the NSWU-10 manpower requirements process in establishing a 55 person Activities Manning Document, to include Basis of Issue and Facilities Design in bringing the command towards Initial Operating Capacity.

Provided tactical and operational leadership for 12 deployed Naval Special Warfare elements comprised of Small Boat Detachments, SEAL Task Units, and multiple Special Operations Liaison Elements in six priority African nations.

Selected by Naval Special Warfare Command as a charter member of the 2025 Strategic Initiatives Group, to create a vision where NSW is trained, educated, and equipped, to operate successfully in a future environment of combined, joint, interagency coordination and execution.
Deputy Force Master Chief, Naval Special Warfare Command 2009-2010 Coronado, CA
Expertly monitored and managed Naval Special Warfare senior enlisted pay and compensation charts, selection board guidance, doctrinal structure, detailing issues, career progression reviews, and the Command Master Chief Program.

Maintained a database that tracked over 700 Naval Special Warfare senior enlisted personnel helping to define priorities for approximately 900 requirements globally.

Command Master Chief, Naval Special Warfare Group ONE Logistics Support Unit 2008-2009 Coronado, CA

Mentored, advised, and trained 320 officers and enlisted personnel directly preparing three NSW GWOT deployments to Iraq supporting combat operations.

Hand selected to develop and manage the new Combat Service Support (CSS) / Combat Support (CS) NEC Qualification Program for Naval Special Warfare Group ONE (NSWG-1). Primary author of the NSWG-1 NEC Qualification Program Instruction and CSS/CS training curriculum resulting in 350 personnel receiving the new warfare designation.
Command Master Chief, SEAL Team ONE 2006-2008 Coronado, CA

Responsible for the leadership, management, tactical guidance, and operational readiness of 415 forward deployed personnel in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
Provided critical recommendations on how to maximize the operational capabilities of an undersized staff in order to meet and exceed three lines of operations at eight separate geographic locations throughout the Anbar Province in Iraq.

Operations Master Chief, SEAL TEAM ONE 2004-2006 Coronado, CA

Zach Armstrong

Retired U.S. Navy SEAL and Professional Mountain Guide

Zach spent 25 years as a Navy SEAL where he specialized in winter and mountain warfare. His vast experience and proven leadership in program development and safe implementation makes him a highly valued asset to any organization. In addition to his military service, he is a graduate of Colorado Mountain College’s Avalanche Science Program and a certified Avalanche Field Technician, an Alpine Ski Patroller at Snow Valley Ski Resort and a member of the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) Winter Search and Rescue Team (SAR). When not in the field for work or volunteer activities he can be found pursuing various mountain sports to include climbing, paragliding and seeking new adventures with his wife and two sons.

Worth Parker

Writer and retired Marine Raider

Russell Worth Parker grew up in Athens, Georgia and left to attend the University of Colorado. After graduating with a BA in US History, cum laude, he commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

Over more than twenty-seven years as a Marine, Worth performed a broad range of leadership, operations, and policy duties in combat and peace in Asia, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. After assignments in infantry, intelligence, and force reconnaissance, Worth was selected to serve as one of first members of Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command. He spent the remainder of his career as a Marine Raider assigned at all levels of United States Special Operations Command. Worth served as a direct action platoon commander in Al Anbar Province, Iraq; worked closely with members of all elements of the Afghan National Security Forces; and led the executive support team for the Vice Commander, USSOCOM in the Pentagon for more than two years. He retired in 2021.

A student of conflict, Worth earned his Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law where he interned as a felony prosecutor in the 1st District of Florida, successfully prosecuting narcotics, sexual assault, child molestation, firearms, and assault cases. Worth earned his Masters of Arts in Conflict Management and Resolution from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2018 with a 4.0 GPA. He was the Department of Public and International Affairs Alumnus of the Year and Graduation Keynote Speaker for 2019.

Worth began freelance writing in 2018. He is published in the New York Times, The National Interest, Garden and Gun Magazine, Outdoor Life Magazine, The Bitter Southerner, and numerous other outlets all of which are available at For book length projects he is represented by Peter McGuigan of Ultra Literary in New York City.
Worth lives in Wilmington, NC with his wife, Katy Lewis Parker, an attorney, his daughter, Annabelle Marie Trapier Parker, a big dog named Laurel, and a small cat named Arya. He is a hunter and angler who fortunately knows his way to the grocery store, a slow ultra-marathon runner, a sub-mediocre but enthusiastic surfer, and a notorious BBQ snob.