The Milken Institute Associates is a network of top supporters from corporate, governmental, economic and philanthropic organizations. Members of the Milken Institute Associates are actively involved in our programs and receive special invitations to private events. They are provided access to the annual Global Conference, regional Summits in California, London, Asia, and MENA, and the Future of Health Summit. Most importantly, their support and generosity increase global prosperity. For information about joining the Associates click here



September 2009

Associates Breakfast with Rebecca Patterson, Chief Markets Strategist, J.P. Morgan Wealth Management

Santa Monica

Trading in currency markets and commodities is not for the faint of heart. But Rebecca Patterson, a Managing Director and Global Head of Foreign Exchange and Commodities for J.P. Morgan Wealth Management, has an enviable track record.

She recently joined the Milken Institute Associates for a private breakfast to reveal the science — and the art — of staying one step ahead of world currency trends.

Patterson noted that over the last six to nine months, the dollar has been weakening. When consumer confidence ticks upward, she explained, Americans tend to buy foreign goods, creating a bigger current account deficit. And as risk appetite returns, investors are gradually pulling out of Treasuries and money market accounts. Right now they are seeing opportunities in emerging markets, so capital is leaving the United States.

"As long as the world keeps getting better, I think the dollar stays under pressure," she remarked. "But it's important to remember that sentiment is still very fragile."

Patterson discussed which currencies she favors for the next 12 to 18 months, including several in emerging Asian nations and commodity-based economies.

Patterson feels that OPEC learned a lesson last year: By raising oil prices too aggressively, they ultimately shot themselves in the foot. She feels that current levels of $70 to $75 per barrel represent a "sweet spot" for OPEC, returning oil-producing nations to surplus without harming global demand and recovery.

In an interaction question-and-answer session, Patterson also discussed natural gas prices, the U.S. deficit, inflation and the impact of stimulus spending by world governments.

This event was open only to Milken Institute Associates. To join, contact Mindy Silverstein, director of the Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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July 2009

Associates Breakfast with Bill Lockyer, California State Treasurer

Santa Monica

California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer says lawmakers in Sacramento have to face up to necessary budget cuts and "just get it done."

"Here we go again," said California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, summing up the recurring partisan gridlock that produced a 2009 budget impasse of epic proportions.

At a private breakfast briefing with Milken Institute Associates, Lockyer reminded the attendees that Sacramento didn't always work that way. During his tenure in the state legislature, budget negotiations were marked by discipline and compromise. But in recent years, the state increasingly relied on deferrals, gimmicks and borrowing. When revenues tumbled in the wake of the economic downturn, the day of reckoning finally arrived, he said.

Lockyer believes that term limits have worsened the stalemate, as freshman legislators are more focused on their donors and more rigid in their ideology. He feels that mediating skills are learned over time, and the constant churning of the legislature produces increased polarization.

"It's the Hollywood effect. Sacramento has become about fluff and PR, not the day-to-day grind of governing," Lockyer lamented. He called for policy to be driven by facts, not polls. "The plural of anecdote is not evidence."

While he supports the notion of removing the legislature's two-thirds majority rule for passing the annual budget, he feels it should be kept in place for approving new taxes. "I think we've bumped the ceiling of potential levies in California."

Tax increases just aren't going to get through, Lockyer observed. "It's going to have to be cuts," he said. "My message is to just get it done. We have to be responsible and reconcile these accounts."

His guiding principles are to make government more efficient, fix K-12 education and "don't chase business out of the state." Lockyer is particularly concerned that the state is cannibalizing higher education, a trend he referred to as "eating our seed corn."

This event was open only to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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June 2009

Associates Breakfast with Stuart Pearce, CEO and Director General, Qatar Financial Centre Authority

Santa Monica

It's been hard to find bright spots in the global economy — but Qatar has managed to sustain remarkable momentum, posting year-over-year GDP growth of 13 percent in 2008. Stuart Pearce, CEO and Director General of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority, recently joined the Milken Institute Associates for a private breakfast to discuss opportunities and the broader economic outlook for the Middle East.

Designed to attract international financial services institutions and multinational corporations, the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) affords Pearce a unique vantage point on one of the world's most strategically important regions.

He began by noting "the sheer scale of wealth being generated in the Middle East," a trend that led to the founding of the QFC as a means of developing and regulating a financial services industry.

Qatar's recent growth represents a rather amazing turn of events. The nation sits on an enormous reserve of natural gas — and no so long ago, "you couldn't give the stuff away," recalled Pearce. But the development of new technology and infrastructure to extract and transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) proved to be game-changing.

Qatar has built huge ports, an entire maritime industry and regassification plants, allowing it to control the entire supply chain. By entering into long-term energy contracts with Asia, Europe and United States, it now sits in a solid position.

The same steadiness of approach has served Qatar well in the financial sector. Unlike so many players around the globe, Qatar was not excessively leveraged or laden with toxic assets. Though falling commodity prices did hit Qatar, it has managed to weather the financial crisis with a minimum of disruption.

While previous oil booms saw much of the profit recycled back into Western economies, the recent rise in energy prices has seen sovereign wealth funds reinvesting in their home markets.

Qatar is intent on seizing this opportunity to "future-proof," according to Pearce — that is, diversifying beyond hydrocarbons, promoting research and nurturing the human capital that will be needed to build a knowledge-based economy. The country's leadership hopes that these moves will eventually make Qatar more immune to changes in technology or fluctuations in the global energy market. A number of U.S. universities have opened campuses in Qatar, which has also established an enormous cash endowment for medical research.

In response to audience questions, Pearce offered an overview of regional geopolitics and described the nuances of doing business in Qatar.

This event was open only to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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May 2009

Milken Institute Associates Economic Briefing

Santa Monica

On the heels of the many stimulating and substantive discussions that took place at the 2009 Global Conference, the Milken Institute gathered a select group of supporters for a special economic briefing. This luncheon event, held at the Institute, offered the chance to interact with our senior economists in a more intimate, off-the-record setting. Attendees were able to ask questions about prospects for economic recovery and follow up on the exciting ideas presented at the Global Conference.

This event was open only to Milken Institute Associates at the Contributing level or higher. To learn more about getting involved, please contact Katie O'Reilly at

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February 2009

Associates Breakfast with Peter Grauer, Chairman, Bloomberg LP

Santa Monica

Business and financial professionals around the world have come to rely on Bloomberg as an indispensable tool providing real-time information, data, news and insight. Peter Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg LP since 2001, joined the Milken Institute Associates for a private meeting to discuss how this global media giant has transformed the way business is conducted in the information age.

Grauer said despite the bad economic times, his company is doing well. Bloomberg now has 240,000 users daily, in addition to television, radio, a magazine and website.

Talking about the global economy, he said he was optimistic that capitalism would survive, albeit maybe in a slightly different form.

"The creative process of capitalism is working," Grauer told the Associates. "We will get through this. Things will get better."

This event was open only to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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February 2009

Associates Breakfast with Christopher Ailman, Chief Investment Officer of CalSTRS

Santa Monica

Christopher Ailman discusses his outlook for 2009 during a session with the Milken Institute Associates.

As Chief Investment Officer for CalSTRS, Christopher Ailman is responsible for safeguarding the nation′s second-largest public pension fund in the face of unprecedented market volatility.

"I tell everyone that I sleep like a baby these days," he said. "I wake up screaming every two hours."

Referring to 2008 as "a year in which there was no place to hide," Ailman stressed as a public investor with an exceptionally long horizon, he must take a steady approach. "You can build a portfolio to withstand a 100-year event, but it will underperform in the other 99."

These are unprecedented market conditions, in which past assumptions about the relationships between various baskets of assets were upended -- everything wound up being correlated.

"Risk has increased exponentially in a global world," he observed. "We've experienced an attack on U.S. soil and a 1929-style financial event in one decade."

Yet Ailman sees opportunities, even in these battered markets. One strategy in this environment may be to move into debt instruments, finding high-quality assets from distressed sellers.

Ailman believes we will see no early indicators signaling that the stock market is about to rebound.

"The news will still be bad, and one day it will turn for no good reason. The cash from the sidelines will come flowing back in."

This event was open only to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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December 2008

Associates Breakfast with Russ Stanton, Editor, Los Angeles Times

Santa Monica

These are tough times for the newspaper industry - and that's especially true at The Los Angeles Times, as editor Russ Stanton acknowledged during a breakfast meeting with the Milken Institute Associates.

The Times has gone through a difficult year of staff cuts, capped by the bankruptcy filing of Tribune Company, the paper's parent. But Stanton outlined strategies that he believes will leverage the paper's traditional strengths in the digital age.

Stanton held the post of innovation editor before taking the helm of the newsroom in February 2008. In that role, he focused on integrating the paper's print and online operations, an initiative that remains crucial to the long-term sustainability of the Times.

Now that the paper's online presence attracts 20 million readers, Stanton is training seasoned journalists to work in a new medium.

"In some ways, it's bringing back the old wire-service mentality. You start with solid beat reporting, hop on it, file it quickly and file updates," he observed.

He talked about the paper's new emphasis on "360-degree storytelling," creating interactive packages that enhance traditional stories with graphics, maps or video.

"Today, readers can get any paper in the world with a click of the mouse," Stanton said. "We have to own certain pieces of the pie. We need to own coverage of the entertainment industry."

The paper is struggling to monetize its online popularity, given that most Internet users are reluctant to pay for content. generated enough revenue to pay for newsroom operations this year, giving Stanton hope that a new sustainable business model is taking shape.

Associates breakfasts are open to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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December 2008

Associates Breakfast with Klaus Scharioth, German Ambassador to the U.S.

Santa Monica

The financial crisis was topic number one during a recent Milken Institute Associates breakfast meeting with Klaus Scharioth, the Federal Republic of Germany's ambassador to the United States.

"It can only be solved if the Europeans and Americans work closely together," he said. "We can't spend time blaming each other."

Scharioth said that more transparency is needed, recalling his sense of shock upon hearing that bankers simply didn't know the size of their own losses. He called for new "international rules of the road" to provide greater oversight, and suggested that the Financial Stability Forum may be a starting point for building such a framework. "The expertise is there, but we would have to enlarge the circle of nations," he stated.

Scharioth was encouraged by the constructive dialogue that was begun at the global economic summit recently held in Washington. He predicted that concrete solutions will begin to emerge at next April's G-20 summit.

Even in today's difficult economic climate, Germany is increasing its spending on education and human capital, especially in scientific research and development. Scharioth observed that Germany has embraced the concept of "brain circulation" in the new global economy and is welcoming greater numbers of foreign students to its universities.

During his talk, the ambassador also touched on the state of the auto industry, Iran's nuclear ambitions and the need to fully engage with Russia on matters of international security. He expressed optimism that the Obama administration will usher in a new era of increased global cooperation.

This event was open only to Milken Institute Associates. To join the Associates or to learn more about the program, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of the Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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November 2008

Associates Breakfast with Mack McLarty, Former White House Chief of Staff

Santa Monica

Thomas "Mack" McLarty III understands the pressures of a new presidency better than most.

As President Clinton's first chief of Staff, McLarty learned first-hand the critical transition from campaigning to governing, as well as the all-important first 100 days in office.

Based on what he's seen so far, the transition from President Bush to President Obama is going well. Both men and their staffs are taking the transfer of power seriously, which they must at a time when America is at war in two countries and is suffering from its worst financial crisis in more than half a century, McLarty said.

"This transition is a particularly important one," McLarty told members of the Milken Institute Associates.

When Obama takes office in January, the new president needs to focus on three things: the economy, avoid contentious issues and find a balance in dealing with the Democratic Congress.

While many in the country believe the United States is headed in the wrong direction, McLarty said the election of a new president offers a chance at a new beginning for Americans.

"Our country is a country of tomorrow," he said. "It's a country of hope and promise."

If Obama is able to deal with the economic situation in a positive way and restore people's confidence that things will turn around, he should do well, he said.

During his talk, McLarty also touched on the issues of trade, Latin America, the financial bailout measures, and globalization.

This event was open only to Milken Institute Associates. To join the Associates or to learn more about the program, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of the Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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October 2008

Associates Breakfast with Frank Luntz, Pollster and Political Analyst 

Santa Monica

Frank Luntz, one of America′s most respected and sought-after pollsters, doesn′t mince his words. The 2008 presidential election, he says, is over.

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, Luntz said that based on his own polling and information from Kaufman Foundation surveys, Sen. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. Obama is winning in most of the key states needed for victory on November 4, he told Milken Institute Associates.

The reason, he says, is simple: buffeted by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Americans are scared and angry, and they will take out their anger on Sen. John McCain and the Republican Party. He foresees a "rout" by Democrats on Election Day.

Americans are also angry at Wall Street and want candidates elected who they feel are more in tune with their needs than those of large corporations.

"People have not lost faith in the free-market system," he said, "but they have lost faith in Wall Street."

As always, Luntz filled his remarks with polling statistics (only 14 percent of Americans feel the country is on the right track), humor and insight onto politics and politicians.

The founder and CEO of Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research, Luntz has provided communications guidance for numerous Fortune 100 companies. He is also the author of "Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear."

This event was open only to Milken Institute Associates. To join the Associates or to learn more about the program, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of the Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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October 2008

Associates Breakfast with Jami Miscik, Global Head of Sovereign Risk, Barclays

Santa Monica

"Wall Street as we know it ceased to exist within a week."

With a single sentence, Jami Miscik, global head of sovereign risk for Barclays (formerly with Lehman Brothers), summed up the financial world's wild ride.

Miscik is best known for her expertise at forecasting global risk, a skill she honed during a 20-year career in U.S. intelligence. During a recent breakfast with the Milken Institute Associates, she focused on Wall Street's turmoil and how it will affect global markets.

"There's not a lot of rationality in the market right now," she observed.

She emphasized that Europe has to work through its own crisis, and she believes it will be especially tough for the EU to forge a cohesive response.

"You thought it was tough to bring the House Republicans on board with the bailout — just try coordinating all those central banks," she said.

Miscik believes that one of the biggest challenges facing the incoming U.S. president will be the need to forge a new relationship with Russia. Investors were spooked by Russia's recent invasion of Georgia, she noted, and tensions have also been rising with Ukraine.

Miscik reviewed several other potential hot spots around the globe, calling special attention to dangers in Pakistan and Iran. She also outlined the hurdles that India and China will face as they try to manage growth in a more sustainable manner. Among the so-called "BRIC" nations, Miscik mentioned being especially impressed with the business climate and prospects in Brazil.

This event was open only to Milken Institute Associates. To join the Associates or to learn more about the program, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of the Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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July 2008

Associates Lunch with David Crane, Special Advisor to the Governor of California for Jobs and Economic Growth

Santa Monica

David Crane, one of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's key economic advisors, expressed optimistic that a good agreement on the state's 2008-09 budget can be reached soon with the legislature.

During a luncheon meeting with members of the Milken Institute Associates, Crane said that one of the governor's key areas of focus in the budget talks is "revenue stabilization." Schwarzenegger and others want to create a better way to fund state government, which faces at $15 billion deficit as revenues — which come mainly from income taxes — have fallen.

Specifically, the governor would like to see a plan that would require the legislature to set aside a reserve fund that can be used in years when the economy sours and revenues decline.

Crane, who is special advisor for jobs and economic growth, touched on a number of issues, including: the need to improve California's infrastructure, the importance of successfully implementing new laws affecting energy and emissions that have been blamed for global warming, and political reform, such as redistricting.

The event was open only to Milken Institute Associates. To join the Associates or to learn more about the program, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of the Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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May 2008

Associates Breakfast with Former Sen. George Mitchell

Santa Monica

Foreign policy dominated the discussion as former Sen. George Mitchell joined the Milken Institute Associates for a private breakfast. He shared insights based on his extensive experience in conflict resolution.

Having just returned from Northern Ireland, Mitchell was able to observe firsthand the fruits of the peace agreement he brokered there.

"Where sectarian war once raged, with bombings and assassinations every day, you now have a peaceful, progressive, energetic and rising society," he observed.

Recalling the contentious process of bringing both sides together in Northern Ireland, Mitchell offered hope for peace in the Middle East. He believes that the United States is the only entity that can negotiate and implement a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians — and the next president will have a window of opportunity to make it happen.

He cautioned, however, that achieving a breakthrough in the Middle East will require complete and sustained commitment to the peace process. Mitchell reminded attendees that it took five years of complex negotiations to resolve the dispute in Northern Ireland.

Mitchell outlined several principles for successful negotiations: understanding your own objectives, having the wisdom and the strength to quit when you're ahead, exercising patience, and making sure that each party feels it has had its say. He also noted that economic development is a key ingredient of conflict resolution, since violence and fanaticism flourish where there is widespread unemployment and a resulting lack of self-worth and purpose.

Mitchell acknowledged that the United States is held in low regard around the world right now. Part of that is inevitable, he noted, since dominance arouses hostility. But he expressed optimism that America can regain its international standing by returning to its basic principles and using its power in a manner that is consistent with its ideals.

Mitchell also touched on his investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.

Mitchell's appearance was part of a regular series of breakfasts bringing distinguished speakers to meet with the Associates.

Associates breakfasts are open to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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March 2008

Associates Breakfast with HRH Prince Radu of Romania

Santa Monica

From Romania, it is a short flight to the Middle East, Russia, Asia and other parts of Europe. In some ways, it is the gateway to the rest of the world.

Because of its geographic location, natural resources and pro-West policies, Romania should be a prime investment nation for multi-national companies. But U.S. investors in his country are few.

And that is why His Royal Highness Prince Radu of Romania visted America, which included a stop at the Milken Institute. He is trying to win over U.S. investors, educators, media and policy makers about the potential of his country.

"There is still a huge gap between the western part of Europe and the eastern part," he said in his meeting with Milken Institute Associates. "But we have performed extraordinarily in this part of the world."

Despite the lack of enough modern infrastructure, such as ports and airports, Romania has made great progress, Prince Radu said. Unemployment, for example, is only 4 percent today, and countries such as Italy and Turkey have made many investments in companies in Romania.

Prince Radu is a special representative of the Romanian government. He was joined by several key officials, including Romania's consul general and economic consul, plus a representative of the Romanian Agency for Foreign Investments.


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March 2008

Associates Breakfast with James Wood, President and CEO, J. Paul Getty Trust

Santa Monica

Since taking over the helm of the J. Paul Getty Trust last year, James Wood has faced some extraordinary challenges, including legal disputes that many museums face over the source of their antiquities.

But his biggest challenge, he told Milken Institute Associates, is trying to figure out what the Getty should be and how it fits in with the culture of Los Angeles. Is it a local institution or a global one? Should it be more like a Greek temple or a Roman piazza?

With more than 1.6 million visitors each year at its two locations - the Getty Center and the Getty Villa in Malibu - the facility is one of the most visited museums in the world, Wood said.

"It's a strangely populist destination," he said.

With the completion of renovations at the Getty Villa, the focus will no longer be on building, but on improving the experience of visitors through its art, said Wood, adding that "we're at a point where a certain maturation is a good thing."

Wood joined the Getty in 2007, after serving for more than two decades as director and president of the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the nation's premier museums. Prior to that, he was the director of the St. Louis Museum of Art, an adjunct professor of art history at SUNY-Buffalo and associate director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. He also held positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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February 2008

Associates Breakfast with Hungarian Ambassador Ferenc Somogyi

Santa Monica

In the past two decades, Hungary has undergone remarkable political and economic growth and development. The first Central European nation to apply for EU membership and the first EU member to ratify the Lisbon Treaty in support of a proposed European Constitution, Hungary boasts strong manufacturing and service sectors, has emerged as a regional biotech leader and enjoys the highest per capita FDI rates in Central and Eastern Europe.

Ferenc Somogyi, Hungary′s ambassador to the United States, met with members of the Milken Institute Associates to discuss his country′s economic achievements, its role in the EU, and new challenges and opportunities in U.S.-Hungarian relations.

The ambassador, who holds a Ph.D. in world economics, began his diplomatic career in the late 1960s, attached to overseas embassies; he later served as Hungary′s permanent representative to the United Nations, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs′ state secretary for Euro-Atlantic Integration and as Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the private sector, he most recently held the position of director for international affairs for Magyar Telekom, Hungary′s largest telecommunications company.

This event was open only to Milken Institute Associates. To learn more about the program or to join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of the Associates, at (310) 570-4634, or

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February 2008

Associates Breakfast with Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson

Santa Monica

The relationship between Canada and the United States remains one of the world's most enduring and important. Each day, these two nations conduct $1.6 billion worth of cross-border commerce — more than $1 million every minute.

Given those strong trade ties, border security has become a dominant issue, said Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador to the United States.

With the United States tightening security along the Canadian border after 9/11, both sides have worked closely to ensure that restrictions don't impact the cross-border supply chain. If it does, "that will affect both countries' competitiveness," he said.

In his talk with Milken Institute Associates, Wilson discussed other key areas of Canadian-U.S. relations, including energy (Canada is America's largest supplier of oil and natural gas), water rights and immigration.

Wilson, a former investment banker and former Chairman of UBS Canada, also discussed the economy and the growing relationship between Canada and California, which have partnered recently on sustainable energy, technology and the life sciences.

Before joining UBS in July 2001, Ambassador Wilson was responsible for RBC Financial Group's institutional asset management business. He also served as vice chairman of RBC Dominion Securities, responsible for senior client relationships and advising both Canadian and international companies and governments.

In 1979 Ambassador Wilson was elected to the House of Commons. In 1984 he was appointed minister of finance, a position he held until 1991, when he became minister of industry, science and technology and minister for international trade.

Wilson's appearance was part of a regular series of breakfasts bringing distinguished speakers to meet with the Associates.

Associates breakfasts with individuals of distinction are open to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or

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January 2008

Associates Breakfast with Bill Bennett, Former U.S. Secretary of Education

Santa Monica

Bill Bennett, former secretary of education, author and host of a popular radio talk show, offered his views on a range of subjects in a meeting with members of the Milken Institute Associates.

But it was politics and education — two issues on which he is considered one of the country's most influential voices — that took up the bulk of the conversation.

Bennett lamented the state of education in America today, and talked about some of the prescriptions for improvement, such as accountability and the need for more quality teachers.

"The system is not run for the consumers," he said, offering a few stories that illustrated how many school systems sometimes operate more for teachers and principals than for students and parents.

He also offered his thoughts on the presidential campaign, something he does regularly as a contributor on CNN.

He said he spoken to all of the major Republican candidates, and each one heard a slightly different version of the same advice: "Remind people who you are. People will figure out who you are anyway, so be who you are."

In addition to his opening remarks about the campaign, Bennett answered questions from the Associates that ranged from his radio program, "Bill Bennett's Morning America," to the news media, terrorism and immigration.

Bennett's appearance was one in a regular series of breakfasts with speakers of distinction and the Associates.

Associates breakfasts with individuals of distinction are open to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634, or by e-mail at

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December 2007

Associates Breakfast with Lawrence Butler, Deputy Chief of Mission, Belgrade, Serbia

Santa Monica

As deputy chief of mission in Belgrade, Lawrence Butler helped implement the Bosnia peace process that culminated in the Dayton Accord.

As U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia, he successfully implemented the Ohrid Peace Agreement that ended that country's internal conflict.

And while on the White House National Security Council staff, he was directly involved in achieving the "Good Friday" Northern Ireland peace agreement.

So when he was selected as one of the U.S. State Department's leading diplomats focused on Iraq earlier this year, he was clearly no stranger to crisis management. But even with all his skills and experience, no one had ever had to manage a conflict as complex as Iraq, he said in a meeting with Milken Institute Associates.

With sectarian violence, al-Qaida, foreign government influence, internal political fighting and much more, it has been a slow and difficult process to push Iraq toward stability and democracy.

Fortunately, Butler said, the "surge" in troops that began earlier this year, along with the reconstruction and political reconciliation tactics that have accompanied the military buildup, has helped reduce violence in the country.

"The violence is down to levels we haven't experienced since 2005," he said. This has allowed important progress to be made in many parts of Iraq, he added.

But while the military surge has been a success, the Iraqi national government is still a work in process, Butler conceded.

After his opening remarks, Butler took questions from the Associates that ranged from concerns about Iran and Syria to reconstruction efforts.


Associates breakfasts with individuals of distinction are open to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634, or by e-mail at

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October 2007

Associates Breakfast with Sherry Lansing, CEO, Paramount Pictures

Santa Monica

As CEO of Paramount Pictures for 12 years, Sherry Lansing led the studio to new heights of creative and financial success. But in 2005, she took on an even bigger challenge.

As Lansing shared with the Milken Institute Associates over breakfast, she left Hollywood behind to embark on a new mission: bringing together public officials, teachers, researchers and volunteers as she forged a new path in the foundation world.

As head of The Sherry Lansing Foundation, she funnels her passion and energy toward empowering the human and social capital needed to improve education and health. Through its initiative PrimeTime LAUSD, a partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School Discrict, the foundation matches experienced retirees to specific needs of area public schools. The foundation also supports cancer research, as well as artistic and cultural initiatives.

Lansing plays an active role on numerous boards and committees. She serves on the board of Teach for America and the American Association for Cancer Research; she is a regent of the University of California and chairs the University Health Services Committee. She also serves on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Committee on Education Excellence and was appointed to the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

When asked about the differences in her past and current endeavors, Lansing confessed that she′s had to adjust to a new reality. In her former life, she could draw on the immense human, physical and capital resources of a major studio -- now she's making do with less and taking on complex tasks with a barebones staff. This resource challenge is reflected in the pace of foundation work, which can be excruciatingly slow, she said, compared to the breakneck speed and relentless deadlines that defined her previous role.

"I underestimated the amount of patience you need to get things done," said Lansing. "The foundation world doesn't have the same sense of urgency -- it is easy for momentum to get lost."

Yet there are also striking similarities between Lansing's corporate career and her latest endeavors. "I actually bring a bit of naiveté to the job. I don't balk when I meet resistance. I'm not afraid to say things or get my hands dirty."

The Sherry Lansing Foundation may not be large, but given Lansing's skills at building coalitions of people who bring different resources and talents to the table, she has the building blocks to pursue her vision of a better world with great success.

Associates breakfasts with individuals of distinction are open to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634, or by e-mail at msilverstein

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