February 15, 2021


The Nixon Seminar will advance U.S. foreign policies based in conservative realism; Henry Kissinger is Honorary Chair

YORBA LINDA, CA — Former Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and former National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien will co-chair a new, monthly seminar-style roundtable discussion to consider and advance policies that maintain a balance among the world’s great powers that is favorable to America’s national interest. The first meeting will be on Tuesday, March 2 at 8 PM Eastern time via video conference.

The Nixon Seminar on Conservative Realism and National Security will reassert and advance the visionary international policies rooted in conservative realism that President Nixon brought to the fore 50 years ago, by carefully outlining policies that look 50 years into the future. Particular focus and emphasis will be given to advancing Sino-American relations, evaluating global technological innovations, and developing a lasting peace in the Middle East.

“We can think of no program more needed today than the Nixon Seminar, which we are honored to co-chair,” Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador O’Brien said in a joint statement. “President Nixon spent years setting out a vision for a more peaceful world. His example as the ultimate realist and foreign policy grand strategist is one to follow today, as the U.S. should seek to maintain a balance of power in its national interest. The policies we’ll develop every month at this gathering will push this agenda and ready the next generation of realists to lead the United States of America.”

Secretary Pompeo, now serving as a Distinguished Fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as America’s 70th Secretary of State from 2018 to 2021. Prior to that, he was Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2017 to 2018, a Congressman representing Kansas’ fourth district, was the CEO/President of two industrial companies and a United States Army Officer.

Ambassador O’Brien served as the 28th National Security Adviser from 2019 to 2021. He previously served as the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs and as a U.S. Representative to the UN General Assembly. Ambassador O’Brien had practiced law for 30 years in Los Angeles and has rejoined the firm he founded with Judge Stephen Larson, Larson LLP, as Of Counsel.

Dr. Henry Kissinger, National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, will serve as Honorary Chair of the Nixon Seminar and participate in its first meeting.

Members of the Nixon Seminar are limited to emerging national security and economic policy specialists who are committed to advancing conservative realism. The Nixon Seminar aims to prepare the next generation of policymakers grounded in these principles.

The Nixon Seminar will be held the first Tuesday of every month at 8:00 PM Eastern time. It will be broadcast exclusively online until the abatement of the COVID-19 pandemic, and members of the Richard Nixon Foundation’s President’s Cabinet will be invited to watch every session. To watch the Nixon Seminar, click here to become a member of the President’s Cabinet.

The Seminar’s conclusions and recommendations will be published every month at and distributed widely to policymakers within the Biden Administration and on Capitol Hill.

President Nixon was the ultimate geopolitical strategist, and implemented a visionary foreign policy rooted in realism that prioritized America’s interests, particularly with regard to his historic opening to the People’s Republic of China in 1972, his initiation of detente with the Soviet Union and his efforts to broker peace in the Middle East which have borne fruit with 1978’s Camp David Accords, 1993’s Oslo Accords and 2020’s Abraham Accords.


Jonathan Burks is Vice President of Walmart’s Global Public Policy team and former partner at the Brunswick Group. Burks held several prominent positions while working for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan including chief of staff and advised on national security and defense matters. Prior to that, he served as policy advisor to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and was a White House staffer in the George W. Bush administration.

Dr. Lanhee Chen currently serves as Director of Domestic Policy Studies at the Stanford University Public Policy Program and fellow of American Public Policy at the Hoover Institute. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Chen acted as policy director for the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign, senior advisor to Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, senior advisor for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and was the appointee for the bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board. Additionally, he has appeared on various news and opinion programs as a political commentator.

Christopher Nixon Cox is a nonresident fellow at Princeton University’s Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination. He co-founded OC Global Partners, LLC where he advised U.S. companies on international market penetration, and advised major private equity fund clients on acquisitions while at the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York. In 2008, Cox was the Executive Director for New York State in Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign.

Congressman Mike Gallagher represents Wisconsin’s 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to his election in 2016, Gallagher served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an intelligence officer. Deploying twice to Iraq, he worked in counterintelligence in the Middle East and Central Asia under General Petraeus’ CENTCOM assessment team. He wrote a dissertation on the Cold War and received his Ph.D. in Government/International Relations from Georgetown University. He began his career in Washington as a staffer for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before acting as a foreign policy advisor for Senator Scott Walker’s presidential bid in 2016.

Alexander Gray is a Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council. He most recently served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council (NSC); Special Assistant to the President for the Defense Industrial Base at the National Economic Council (NEC); and Director for Oceania & Indo-Pacific Security at the NSC. He previously served on the 2016 Presidential Transition Team at the U.S. Department of State and as Senior Advisor to former U.S. Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA).

Mary Kissel served as senior advisor to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo for policy and messaging. Prior to joining the State Department, she served on The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board in New York City, where she was the chief foreign policy writer and a Fox News contributor. Kissel also previously directed the newspaper’s opinion coverage of the Asia-Pacific region from Hong Kong and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a graduate of Harvard College and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

John Noonan is Senior Counselor for Military and Defense Affairs to Senator Tom Cotton. He held senior positions on two presidential campaigns, national security advisor to Governor Jeb Bush’s campaign for president, and defense policy advisor to Governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run. He spent years on the Professional Staff of the House Committee on Armed Services. Prior to his time on Congressional staff, Noonan was the Policy Director at the Foreign Policy Initiative and a U.S. Air Force officer.

Morgan Ortagus was the official spokesperson for the United States Department of State under Secretary Michael Pompeo. She was previously with Ernest and Young, where she helped establish a geostrategic business group. Ortagus served as Deputy Treasury Attaché at the United States Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the Obama administration. She is a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer and has been a national security contributor and political strategist on the Fox News Channel.

Matt Pottinger served four years in senior roles on the National Security Council staff, including as Deputy National Security Advisor from 2019 to 2021. Beginning his career as a writer in China for Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, Pottinger later joined the Marine Corps, serving three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Pottinger is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Kimberly Reed is an executive and former public official, most recently the President, CEO and Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Import-Export Bank of the United States (EXIM), the first woman to serve in the post. She had previously served as President of the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and advisor to two separate Treasury Secretaries. She was the first woman elected as Chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Reed was recognized as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Washington” by Washingtonian Magazine.

Christian Whiton is a senior fellow for strategy and trade at the Center for the National Interest. Serving as a diplomat and advisor for two Republican presidents, Whiton was Deputy Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues in the Bush Administration and senior advisor for strategic communications at the State Department in the Trump Administration. In the private sector, he is currently the Vice President of DC International Advisory. He is the author of Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War and has written articles for several nationally syndicated newspapers.

Alex Wong was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for North Korea in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and dual-hatted as the Deputy Special Representative for North Korea from 2017 to 2021. Before taking on his duties related to North Korea, he oversaw regional and security affairs for the bureau, including the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy. Wong previously served as Foreign Policy Advisor and General Counsel to Senator Tom Cotton and served as the Foreign and Legal Policy Director for the Romney-Ryan 2012 presidential campaign. Wong clerked for The Honorable Janice Rogers Brown of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School where he was the Managing Editor of the Harvard Law Review and an editor of the Harvard International Law Journal.

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