Speakers are listed in order of their appearance on the schedule.
2021 Fall Leadership Conference Speakers
Amy Chua is the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where she was Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review. After practicing on Wall Street for a few years, she joined the Yale Law School faculty in 2001 and is a noted expert in the areas of foreign policy, globalization, and ethnic conflict.
Amy is the bestselling author of numerous books, including World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (2002), which was selected by both The Economist and the U.K.’s Guardian as a Best Book of 2003, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance – and Why They Fall (2007); and The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America (2013). Her 2011 memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” was a runaway international bestseller that has been translated into 30 languages. Her most recent book is Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations (2018).
Professor Chua has lectured widely around the world, including at the World Bank, the CIA, Aspen Ideas Festival, the Brookings Institution, the World Knowledge Forum in Seoul, and the World Economic Forum in Davos.
In 2011, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, one of the Atlantic Monthly’s Brave Thinkers, and one of Foreign Policy’s Global Thinkers. She also received Yale Law School’s “Best Teaching” award.
John Wood, Jr. is a writer, philosopher, community advocate, and political figure from Los Angeles whose work has focused on creating dialogue and understanding between polarized communities, specifically in the areas of politics, race, and religion.
In 2014 Wood was California’s youngest active nominee for Congress, featured on programs like The Larry Elder Show and in publications such as The National Review Online. Subsequently, Wood was elected Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County from January 2015 to May 2016.
Eric Liu is the co-founder and CEO of Citizen University. He also directs the Aspen Institute’s Citizenship & American Identity Program. He is the author of several books, including The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker; The Gardens of Democracy (co-authored with Nick Hanauer); You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen; and his most recent, Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy. Eric served as a White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later as the President’s deputy domestic policy adviser. He has served as a board member of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Washington State Board of Education, and the Seattle Public Library and is a co-founder of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. A regular contributor to the Atlantic, Eric can be found on Twitter @ericpliu.
William McNulty is a social entrepreneur, a Marine veteran, and the founder & CEO of Team Rubicon Global. In 2010, William co-founded Team Rubicon, an internationally acclaimed veteran-led disaster response organization with over 100,000 members and 400 operations around the world. In 2014, William founded Team Rubicon Global, serving as CEO until 2017, and then again from 2020 to the present. In eight years, William launched five Team Rubicon country units in Australia, Canada, Norway, United Kingdom, and the USA.
Prior to Team Rubicon, William served as a civilian intelligence analyst in Washington, DC. He worked in support of the National Security Council’s Iraq Threat Finance Cell, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
After college, William enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was the Platoon Honor Graduate in Recruit Training and completed Anti-Tank Missileman training at the School of Infantry, Camp Pendleton. Later, he lateral moved to Intelligence and graduated with honors from the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center, Virginia Beach.
William holds a BA from the University of Kansas - with a double major in Economics and Communication Studies - and an MA in Government from Johns Hopkins University. William serves on the board of directors of Airlink Flight, Team Rubicon Australia, Team Rubicon Canada, Team Rubicon Norway, Team Rubicon UK, Team Rubicon USA, and Team Rubicon Global. He serves on the advisory board for the Truman National Security Project and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
William is a 2015 Presidential Leadership Scholar. His awards include the 2018 Humanitarian Award from the New York Global Leaders Dialogue, 2017 Honorary Ph.D. in Humane Letters from the University of Kansas; the 2015 Heinz Award for the Human Condition; the 2012 Grinnell College Young Social Innovator of the Year; and the 2010 Johns Hopkins University Government Service Alumni Award.
David Bellavia is the first and only living Iraq veteran to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is our country's highest military honor. He was awarded this medal at the White House on June 25, 2019, surrounded by his family and every living member of his Task Force.
Bellavia was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic efforts on Nov. 10, 2004, during the Third Battle in Fallujah — dramatic efforts that saved the lives of his unit members. He served three military campaigns: Kosovo 2003 and Operation Iraqi Freedom I and Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
Bellavia enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1999 and chose to stay and fight following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. That sense of duty was ingrained in Bellavia by his World War II veteran grandfather, who served in the Army during the Normandy Campaign. Bellavia returned home in 2005 and founded advocacy organization Vets for Freedom and in 2019 founded Deuce Deuce Relief Fund, which supports the soldiers of his former Task Force 2-2 in Iraq.
Bellavia returned to Iraq as an embedded reporter covering heavy fighting in 2006 and 2008, and in 2007 wrote and published House to House, a book detailing his experiences in Fallujah. His book is considered one of the best first-hand military accounts ever written.
Bellavia’s many awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, the National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, New York State Conspicuous Service Cross, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the NATO Medal. He was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame in 2005.
Bellavia is a Western New York native. He is a 1994 graduate of Lyndonville High School in Orleans County and studied biology and theater at the University of Buffalo.
Today he is active traveling the country as a speaker sharing the important message of service over self and as a sought-after source for national media.
- MODERATOR: Lt. Col. Jamica Love, Ph. D., VMI Chief Diversity Officer
- Lester Johnson '95, member, VMI Board of Visitors; Restaurant Owner
- E. Sean Lanier '94, member, VMI Board of Visitors; veteran, Founder & Executive Director of Resolve Solutions Incorporated™
- Keniya Lee '19, VMI Alumna