ProfNet Experts Available on the State of the Union Address

Jan 12, 2016, 16:12 ET from ProfNet

NEW YORK, Jan. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In advance of President Obama's final State of the Union address, below are experts from the ProfNet network that are available to discuss topics Obama is expected to address, including climate change, gun control, immigration, the Affordable Care Act, terrorism and more.

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Josh Sawislak
Global Director Resilience
Sawislak previously served in the administration of President Obama, where he served as the associate director for climate adaptation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, leading national efforts on climate adaptation and resilience policy, as well as working with cities, states, and foreign governments on project development and strategy. Prior to joining the executive office of the president, he led the development of the infrastructure recommendations for the president's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and served as a senior advisor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is available to discuss climate change, resiliency, urban planning, smarter cities, and green building.
Contact: Jordan Band,


L. Rowell Huesmann
Amos N. Tversky Collegiate Professor of Communications Studies and Psychology and Research Professor
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan
"President Obama has already taken significant action against gun violence both by promoting a public discourse on the topic and by directing NIH to fund research on gun violence. Some of this research, including research at Michigan's ISR, is directed at understanding the psychological characteristics of those who use guns to commit violent acts. The enhanced background checks for gun purchases that the president is likely to order certainly can diminish the likelihood of gun violence particularly when the background checks incorporate the findings from such research."
Contact: Jared Wadley,

Michael Thompson
Council of State Governments Justice Center
Thompson has worked on criminal justice policy issues for nearly 20 years. He started with The Council of State Governments (CSG) in 1997 as a policy analyst and the sole staff person assigned to the criminal justice program for CSG's Eastern Regional Conference. Under his leadership, that program launched major projects in the areas of victim rights, criminal justice/mental health collaboration, and prisoner reentry. Since transforming the regional criminal justice program into the national CSG Justice Center, Thompson designed the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and conceptualized the organization's work in school discipline. The CSG Justice Center's work has prompted major policy initiatives that have enjoyed broad bipartisan support in states across the country. A nationally recognized expert in criminal justice issues who is often quoted in major media outlets, Thompson has authored numerous publications and testified before Congress on multiple occasions. Prior to joining CSG, he worked for three years for the Office of the Court Monitor in San Juan, Puerto Rico -- an office established by a U.S. District Court Judge. Thompson received his BA with Honors from Middlebury College.
Contact: Michael Clark,

Chris Wilson
Partner, Litigation Practice; Chicago Office Managing Partner
Perkins Coie
Wilson is available to discuss gun control. Recently, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from gun owners who challenged Chicago suburb Highland Park's ban on assault weapons, and upheld the city of Highland Park's 2013 gun law that bans semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines. The court, though, left in place a lower court ruling that found that local governments have leeway in deciding how to regulate firearms. Wilson represented Highland Park in this case in a successful pro bono effort, and would be an excellent source to discuss the significance of the Supreme Court's rejection. He has been handling everything in this case from top to bottom since mid-2014. He served as lead counsel in September 2014 when Highland Park won summary judgement in the Northern District of Illinois, and he successfully handled a briefing and argument in the 7th Circuit in April 2015, when a panel decided in his favor in a 2-1 decision to uphold Highland Park's ordinance banning assault weapons. When the issue moved to the Supreme Court, he handled the briefing and also filed those briefs in September of this year. Wilson can talk about how the Supreme Court had been considering to grant cert (attended several conferences on the issue) but ultimately decided yesterday that the issue was denied.
Wilson represents clients in a variety of complex commercial litigation matters. He has represented a number of Fortune 500 companies in high stakes cases, including The Boeing Company in connection with shareholder derivative actions involving the Dreamliner 787, Microsoft Corporation in trade secrets and piracy matters, in qui tam actions arising under the Illinois Whistleblower Act, and Career Education Corporation defending consumer class actions.
Contact: Lisa Seidenberg,


Peter Jacobson
Professor of Health Law and Policy, and Director of the Center for Law, Ethics, and Health
School of Public Health
University of Michigan
"By the most important measures, the Affordable Care Act has been a significant and successful achievement. Millions of previously uninsured individuals now have access to health care, and the act contributed to lowering the cost of health care. People no longer need to fear that previous illness will bar them from having health insurance.  While reasonable changes could certainly improve the ACA, millions of Americans have seen real benefits from its enactment."
Contact: Jared Wadley,

Justin Sydnor
Associate Professor of Risk & Insurance, Wisconsin School of Business
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sydnor is available to discuss the future of the Affordable Care Act: "One thing we sometimes lose sight of in the discussion of the Affordable Care Act and the attempts to repeal it is that the law did two really important things -- it prevented insurers from turning away people with pre-existing conditions, and it expanded coverage to those who couldn't afford it. If you believe in those two things, there are going to be tradeoffs. There are no simple solutions to achieve those outcomes, and that's why we haven't seen any significant alternative proposals emerge in Congress."
Sydnor earned his B.A. in economics and German from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests are in psychology and economics, insurance markets, and risk and decision making.  He is an expert on how people make choices about insurance products and how people try to assess the value of having insurance.
Contact: Peter Kerwin,

Carol F. Roye, EdD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship and Professor
Pace University's College of Health Professions
Roye is author of the book, "A Woman's Right to Know: How Women's Health Became a Political Pawn and the Surprising Alliances Working to Reclaim It." She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Her degrees: EdD from Columbia University Teachers College, MS from Columbia University School of Nursing, MS-FNP from Pace University, MEd from the University of Oklahoma, and a BA from New York University. Areas of expertise: adolescent reproductive health; HIV/AIDS prevention. Areas of research: HIV/AIDS prevention in adolescent and young adult women; adolescent reproductive health; nursing education in Haiti.
Contact: Bill Caldwell,

Mark Rust
Partner, Healthcare Practice; Chicago Office Managing Partner
Barnes & Thornburg
Rust has spoken at several events on the ACA and has written several articles about or practiced in healthcare law for nearly 30 years. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including the Journal of the American Bar Association and USA Today. In 2002, he assisted in successfully arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court (Rush Prudential v. Moran) regarding how the relationship between providers, patients, managed care, and state regulation should work under the federal law known as ERISA. Rust served as counsel of record on behalf of the American Medical Association and fifty state medical societies on the same topic before the Supreme Court the following year in Kentucky v. Miller. He has represented large radiology and cardiology groups, multi-specialty clinics, hospitals and hospital-physician joint ventures, medical staffs, and managed care organizations, including provider-sponsored insurance companies and HMOs.
Contact: Lisa Seidenberg,


Jason De Leon
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Michigan
De Leon, who has spent the last five years researching immigration from Mexico and Central America to the U.S., says immigration still a priority for Obama Administration: "I expect Obama to highlight some of his administration's previous stopgap measures while stressing the need for comprehensive immigration reform, which will likely be vaguely outlined, if at all. I anticipate some discussion of increased border security measures that have happened under his administration and some reference to the slowing of recent Central American migration as a way to demonstrate that he has been tough on recent immigration. If recent ICE raids are mentioned at all, I imagine that he will be critical of them as a violent spectacle and place the blame for these raids on political pressure from Republicans. In general, the Central American migration crisis will likely be discussed in vague terms with no reference to the role that the U.S. is playing in helping/pressuring the Mexican government to stop migrants before they get to the U.S./Mexico border or the violence that people are currently experiencing upon return to their countries of origin."
Contact: Jared Wadley,

Silvia Pedraza
Professor of Sociology and American Culture
University of Michigan
Pedraza, an expert on the sociology of immigration, race and ethnicity in America, and the sociology of Cuba's revolution and exodus, can offer historical context to the immigration issue. Her research seeks to understand the causes and consequences of immigration as a historical process that forms and transforms nations.
Contact: Jared Wadley,

Mercedes Badia-Tavas
Barnes & Thornburg, Chicago
Badia-Tavas, a member of the firm's Labor & Employment Law Department and the Immigration and Global Mobility Services Practice Group, is available to discuss immigration reform. She concentrates on immigration and naturalization law, focusing on immigration matters for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. She regularly counsels clients on the employment of foreign nationals, the permanent residency process, and immigration compliance issues.
Contact: Lisa Seidenberg,


Tammy McCutchen
Littler Mendelson
McCutchen, a former administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, is available to discuss the DOL's overtime regulations. McCutchen, who oversaw the last overhaul of the overtime regulations when she was administrator of the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division under former President George W. Bush, can discuss the new proposal in depth, its immense impact on employers and what they should be doing now to get their house in order. She can also elaborate on the "unknowns" of the DOL's proposal, specifically the duties test, and what employers can expect as it relates.
Contact: Lisa Seidenberg,


Andra Gillespie
Associate Professor of Political Science
Emory University
"First, I want to see if the speech is an unorthodox as the White House is billing it. Because I am working on an analysis of SOTU addresses for my book, I also will be looking for explicit and implicit references to racial issues in his speech. Related to that, I'm very interested in President Obama's overall tone. There has been a lot of speculation (and Obama has even outright said it) that he expects his last year to be different. What I want to know is will we hear the same exasperated tone in the SOTU that we heard in last week's gun speech and how that connects to the policy proposals and strategy that he presents to Congress."
Dr. Gillespie is available to comment on Obama's legacy and how his last State of the Union fits into it. She's the author of the soon-to-be-published "Symbols, Substance and Hope: Race and the Obama Administration" and a prolific media commentator, and specializes in minority voters and voting and President Obama's legacy.
Contact: Megan McRainey,

Allan Louden
Communication Professor
Wake Forest University
"Many previews of Obama's last State of the Union predict a more visionary speech, aimed at framing the 2016 presidential contest. In part this expectation is positive.  It is time for the speech to return to a 'state of the union,' what can and should be our national conscious. In recent decades, the speech has become hostage to too many government units seeking their agenda-setting moment. Laundry lists are just that, not memorable, generally ineffective. If the speech transcended more like an inaugural it could serve national consensus. Media accounts, which are just another extension of the 2016 presidential race, while part of the picture, frame the State of the Union in a narrow, easily dismissed view. The speech is more than how it affects Hillary's match with Sanders."
Louden analyzes political debates and follows political advertising; he has provided expert commentary and analysis for many national level media outlets.
Contact: Bonnie Davis,

Aaron Kall
Director, Debate Program and Debate Institute
University of Michigan
Kall says President Obama's speech will give context to the president's legacy: "President Obama will use his last State of the Union Address to shine a spotlight on his wide array of international and domestic accomplishments, while simultaneously outlining his policy vision for his final year in office. This will be one of the last opportunities for him to command a large national viewing audience before the November election, which will largely determine the legacy of President Obama and the fate of his signature agenda items."
Contact: Jared Wadley,

Josh Pasek
Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Faculty Associate
Center for Political Studies
University of Michigan
Pasek says there's not much of a bully pulpit left: "The State of the Union has traditionally been the occasion for the president to use the bully pulpit to shape the national agenda. But in the era of partisan polarization, social media and immediate response, there isn't much of a bully pulpit left."
Contact: Jared Wadley,

Arthur Lupia
Hal R. Varian Collegiate Professor of Political Science and Research Professor, Center for Political Studies
University of Michigan
Lupia says the SOTU and opposition response need a clear vision for the future: "Democracy benefits when both political parties effectively articulate their vision for the future. So, when a State of the Union address or the opposition's response is notable for something other than its message, the outcome is bad for the nation as a whole."
Contact: Jared Wadley,

Robert Boatright
Political Scientist
Clark University, Massachusetts
"For much of the past 40 years, interest groups have played a central -- and highly regulated -- role in American elections. In no other country do interest groups have such detailed official recognition as campaign contributors or as a formal part of the election process. Most regulatory proposals share the admission that the genie is out of the bottle."
Boatright is available to discuss campaign finance laws, deregulation, and political parties/behavior/theory. He was a research fellow at the Campaign Finance Institute, an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow, and research associate at the American Judicature Society. He is editor/contributor of "The Deregulatory Moment? A Comparative Perspective on Changing Campaign Finance Laws."
Contact: Jane Salerno,

Jamie McKown
Wiggins Chair of Government and Polity
College of the Atlantic
Dr. McKown's work primarily focuses on the history of American political rhetoric and campaign communication. He is particularly qualified to speak on the specifics of the State of the Union as a genre, the larger historical questions of presidential rhetoric in a contemporary context, and the specifics of the various oratorical and textual strategies the president will employ Tuesday night. Dr. McKown will be available for interview either over the phone or via email immediately following the address.
Contact: Rob Levin,

David A. Caputo
President Emeritus and Professor of Political Science
Pace University
Caputo has taught courses on "Presidential Leadership: Politics of Change"; "Road to the White House"; and "The Future of Democracy: Presidency." His research interests: the future of advocacy; presidential signing statements; non-profits and the federal budget; the future of American democracy. Caputo received his B.A. in government in 1965 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. As the recipient of a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship, Caputo enrolled at Yale University, where he went on to earn two master's degrees in political science and his Ph.D. (1970).
Contact: Bill Caldwell,


Ron Gula
Tenable Network Security
Gula, an expert on cybersecurity, says he would like congress and Obama to address the following cybersecurity legislation for 2016: "In 2016, I would like to see Congress pass legislation that requires public companies to disclose their cyber investment at both the board level and the technological level -- similar to S.2410, which was drafted right before the end of 2015, requiring companies to be more transparent about the security controls in place would help public investors take into account the level of investment being made and increase accountability at the executive and board level."
Gula is a leading cybersecurity thinker, innovator, and visionary in the information security industry. Since co-founding Tenable Network Security in 2002, he serves as chief executive officer and focuses on product strategy and R&D to keep Tenable at the forefront of network security innovation. He champions the benefits of continuous monitoring for both commercial and government organizations, and is passionate about promoting enterprise-wide security policy to C-level executives. Gula began his career as a penetration tester at the National Security Agency. He is the original author of the Dragon IDS and former CTO of Network Security Wizards, which was acquired by Enterasys Networks. While at BBN and GTE Internetworking, he helped develop one of the first commercial network honeypots and oversaw security policies for large carrier-class networks. He was also the director of risk mitigation for US Internetworking, which was one of the first cloud application hosting companies.
Contact: Carly Buchanan,

Dan Waddell, CISSP
Managing Director, North America
Waddell is available to discuss technology policy, security workforce gap, and cybersecurity: "It's definitely concerning if cybersecurity is not addressed in President Obama's State of the Union Address tonight. 2015 was one of the most challenging years for security breaches, and U.S. citizens have truly started to realize how these attacks affect their daily lives. In 2016, the U.S. government must address critical topics such as information sharing and risk management, so I hope to see cybersecurity as a focal point for our nation."
Waddell is responsible for managing operations in the North America Region for (ISC)2, which primarily focuses on supporting U.S. and Canadian members, customers and strategic partners. He also leads all U.S. government affairs activities and is the primary (ISC)2 official responsible for interacting with public sector entities (i.e. federal, state and local governments); major corporations; universities and other higher education institutions; and professionalization organizations throughout the U.S. He has over 20 years of experience in information technology, information assurance, and cybersecurity, with over 15 of those years in management. He serves as the principal point of contact for various trade associations; public interest groups and other entities focused on information security and information security workforce issues.
Contact: Joanne Mason,

Andrea Limbago, Ph.D.
Principal Social Scientist
Limbago is available to discuss international and domestic technology policy, cybersecurity, and data science: "As part of this State of the Union Address this evening, President Obama should address the growing need for government cooperation with the tech industry, evocative of successful cooperation of previous eras, as a key source of innovation and American competitiveness. This could largely be framed as a key aspect of counterterrorism, but he should allude to the Cyber Information Sharing Act that was included in last month's omnibus budget bill. In fact, the need for greater defenses and capabilities in cyberspace could likely be framed as a counter-terror issue. The usual suspects -- China, Russia, Iran -- are more likely to be referenced in other contexts, not as key national security threats to the United States. For instance, President Obama should stress the need for global norms to continue the pursuit of a global free and open Internet, with the Sino-U.S. agreement as part of that vision. Russia and Iran likely will not be referenced at all with regard to cyber, but should more so as players in the conflict in Syria and the Middle East. Finally, the necessity for a work force with STEM skills should be reinforced in the event of a domestic policy discussion, and the cyber skill sets necessity to protect critical infrastructure."
Contact: Joanne Mason,


Thomas Karako
Professor of Political Science; Director, Center for the Study of American Democracy
Kenyon College
Karako is a senior fellow on national security with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. He has published widely on national security, missile defense and executive-congressional relations. He teaches a class titled "The American Presidency," which examines the constitutional powers of and restraints on the modern president. He is available to discuss terrorism.
Contact: Rose Shilling,

Katherine Lemire
Lemire LLC
Lemire is available to discuss how terrorist attacks heighten focus on bank regulations: "In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali, regulators swiftly outlined measures to curb terrorist financing and money laundering in banks doing business in New York. Perceived gaps in transaction monitoring, oversight, and accountability have prompted the New York State Department of Financial Services to propose new rules imposing more stringent reporting requirements on senior bank officers. The new rules add an additional layer of accountability, requiring bank officials to certify annually that banks have in place compliance programs to flag potential violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and related anti-money laundering regulations. The new rules also require the use of 'real time' watch list filtering programs to identify suspicious transactions. Under the proposed rules, institutions found not in compliance would be subject to civil enforcement actions with penalties ranging up to banking license revocations. Particularly worrisome for bank executives, a certifying senior officer who files an incorrect or false annual certification also may be subject to criminal penalties, according to the proposed regulation."
Lemire is president of Lemire LLC, an investigations firm that offers a variety of services, including corporate fraud investigations, banking monitorships, construction integrity compliance, investigative due diligence, and background screenings.  Current engagements include the monitorship of Credit Suisse AG, providing forensic accounting and other investigative support in the course of a two-year monitorship ordered by New York State Department of Financial Services.
Contact: Mollie Fullington,

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