James Joye Townsend
James J. Townsend Jr. (Jim) is a senior advisor in the Scowcroft Center’s Transatlantic Security Initiative. He is also an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where he is the co-host of the podcast “Brussels Sprouts”, a global fellow at the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute, and a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London. Jim was elected the President of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) in July, 2020. He also teaches a course on transatlantic security at Sciences Po in Paris.
On January 20th 2017, Jim completed eight years as deputy assistant secretary of defense (DASD) for European and NATO Policy, capping 34 years of working in defense and foreign policy, mostly on European and NATO issues. His work spanned the last decade of the Cold War, post-Cold War political reconstruction in Europe and Europe’s new challenges including Russia and the rise of China. Through his work, he has helped execute US military engagements in almost every conflict from the Gulf War to the reintroduction of US forces into Europe after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He also played critical roles in NATO enlargement, NATO reform, and helping to build bilateral defense relations with the new European democracies coming from the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Before becoming DASD in 2009, Jim was a vice president of the Atlantic Council and Director of the Council’s Program on International Security (now the Scowcroft Center). In this position, he strengthened the Council’s voice and impact on transatlantic security and defense issues, making the Atlantic Council a leading player in shaping the Euro-Atlantic defense agenda.
Jim joined the Atlantic Council in 2006 after a distinguished Civil Service career at the Pentagon and at NATO. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Jim was the country director for Scandinavia, the deputy director of European Policy, director of the Defense Plans Division at the US Mission to NATO (1998-2002), the director of NATO Policy (2002-2003) and finally the principal director of European and NATO Policy (2003-2006).
In the 1980s, Jim worked in Foreign Military Sales at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) as a country director for European security assistance and as the assistant to the DSCA Comptroller, where he worked on most of the financial aspects involved in foreign military sales. Jim’s early career also included work in the Department of State, in the Office of Congressman Charles E. Bennett and in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA).
In 1986, Jim received a direct commission in the US Navy Reserve (intelligence) leaving the Reserves as a Lieutenant Commander.
Jim has been decorated by 11 European nations and multiple times by the Department of Defense for his work, including a Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious Executive).
He was an adjunct professor of international studies at American University and currently teaches at Sciences Po in Paris. Jim has lectured overseas and in the US at the War Colleges, National Defense University, at the Foreign Service Institute and at think tanks. He has also provided commentary in the international press on TV, radio and in newspapers.
Jim earned a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in International Economics and American Foreign Policy.
Monika Begovic holds a PhD in political science, specialized in international relations and international security. She is the President of the Atlantic Council of Croatia, a nongovernmental organization that promotes Euro-Atlantic values and is a member of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA). She works at the Ministry at the Government of the Republic of Croatia.
As a researcher, she specializes in studying transatlantic relations, especially from the perspective of international security, as well as studying the importance and influence of Euro-Atlantic values to the development of the region of Southeast Europe. Through research projects, she participates and holds presentations and lectures at international scientific conferences and has published scientific essays and papers. During her professional career, she specialized in project management, public policy issues, while managing various projects (EU IPA, ESF, Erasmus+, NATO PDD). She also has twelve years of service for the United Nations (UN ICTY), and has worked as a journalist
Mr. Serban has dedicated over 20 years to promoting and enhancing transatlantic relations, working in the ATA world and with think tanks on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a dedicated communication and public affairs specialists, active in fundraising and event management, and committed to promoting transatlantic cooperation.
His position in government, business and media have included advisor to the Prime Minister of Romania, corporate and entrepreneurial roles, academic work, interviews with heads of state and government and work with charities. As the founding President of the Euro Atlantic Council of Romania, he developed the national ATA chapter as an umbrella organization, opened to many and reuniting think tanks, research institutes, NGOs, and universities. He is also one of the longest serving members of the ATA Council, where he also held the position of Vice President.
Mr. Serban served on the “Next generation” advisory board of then SACEUR Adm. Jim Stravridis, and in recent years worked with former SACEUR Gen. James Jones on diverse issues and geographies of importance to NATO. He was decorated by the President of Romania with the National Order for Merit in the rank of Cavalier for his work on behalf of Romania’s NATO membership and attends international conferences representing Romania’s civil society and think tank community, both as speaker and organizer. His work over the years with the Atlantic Council of the US and various European think tanks have ranged from security and defence initiatives focusing on the Black Sea region, education and energy programs in the Balkans and recently on digitization and Three Seas Initiative.
In the private sector, Mr. Serban works across a broad range of industries (energy, health, telecom, defence and aviation) focusing on foreign investment and business development and also in the national security policy areas. Mr. Serban is a founding partner at Serban Musneci & Associates, a public affairs consultancy with international partners and affiliations.
He holds an MA from Columbia University (NY), a BA in Social Studies from Wresleyan University (CT), and has attended courses at the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies (Germany) and at the National Defence College of Romania.
Krista Mulenok has Master’s degrees in law and economics. She has been active in the private and security sectors for over 20 years and spent the last 11 of them as Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association’s Secretary General. She has been Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) Vice-President since July 30 2020. She also has been a Member of NATO’s first Civil Society Advisory Panel on Women, Peace and Security.
In 2014, Estonian radio Sky Plus organized a competition for citizens to become one of the candidates in European Parliament elections. Krista won and became a successful candidate. She received invitations from five parties in Estonia to continue in politics, however, Krista declined to all of them and continued as a Secretary General in EATA, to promote defense and security questions among society.
In EATA, Krista finds it important to strengthen co-operation between NATO and the EU in security and defense field. She also supports actively women’s role in crises management and even in war, when it comes to maintaining peace.
Krista is married and has two daughters.
Johannes Kahrs is a German politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) who served as a member of the German parliament, Deutscher Bundestag, from 1998 until 2020.
Kahrs became a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1982. He first worked for the Young Socialists in the SPD (Jusos).
In the 1998 elections, Kahrs was first elected to the Bundestag, representing the Hamburg Mitte constituency.
During his first term between 1998 and 2002, Kahrs served on the Defence Committee. Since 2002, he has been a member of the Budget Committee and the Audit Committee. In addition, he joined the parliament’s Council of Elders in 2002, which – among other duties – determines daily legislative agenda items and assigns committee chairpersons based on party representation. From 2018 until 2020, he chaired the so-called Confidential Committee (Vertrauensgremium) of the Budget Committee, which provides budgetary supervision for Germany’s three intelligence services, BND, BfV and MAD.
In addition to his committee assignments, Kahrs served as member of the German-Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group, first as deputy chairman (2003-2011) and then as chairman (2011-2013). From 2014, he was also a deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the States of the Southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia).
Within his parliamentary group, Kahrs led the Bundestag group of SPD parliamentarians from Hamburg from 2009. In this capacity, he was part of the parliamentary group’s leadership under its successive chairs Thomas Oppermann (2013-2017), Andrea Nahles (2017-2019), and Rolf Mützenich (2019-2020). He was also the speaker of the Seeheim Circle.
In the negotiations to form a Grand Coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU together with the Bavarian CSU) and the SPD following the 2013 German elections, Kahrs was part of the SPD delegation in the working group on banking regulation and the Eurozone, led by Herbert Reul and Martin Schulz.
In 2015, Kahrs served on the supervisory board of the Bewerbungsgesellschaft Olympia 2024 GmbH, the agency in charge of Hamburg’s unsuccessful bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Counsellor and Legal Advisor
Theodossis Georgiou is the Chairman of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation. He is an honorary Lawyer after 40 years of practice at his own firm. Furthermore, he is the President of the Eurodefense – Greece, a Member of the Governing Council of AWEPA (The Netherlands), and its contact person in Greece.
Additionally, he is a Member of the Board of Regents of the Fund for American Studies (Washington D.C.) and Co-Chairman of the International Institute for Political and Economic Studies ( IIPES) since 1996. From 2003 till 2012 he has served as a member of Board of the International Foundation for Election Systems, (UK Limited) Washington D.C.and London.
Having been involved in various networks of the Euro-Atlantic cooperation for more than 8 years, in 1991 Mr. Georgiou established the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation to revive the principles of transatlantic links in Greece within the framework of Atlantic Treaty Association. GAAEC experienced a dynamic development and rapidly took a leading role among other NGOs in Greece and Europe, focusing on transatlantic cooperation, security and education. GAAEC works in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense of Greece, as well as with NATO Public Diplomacy Division.
On October 7, 1997, Mr. Georgiou was unanimously elected the President of Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA; Paris; Brussels), an international organization (confederation) of the National Atlantic Councils and Committees of 42 States (all NATO and PfP countries) and remained in office until November 2000.
Moreover, he was a Director of the Office for the Minister of Interior Affairs Mr. Kostis Stephanopoulos (1974-1976), Member of the Greek Delegation to the European Communities in Brussels (1976-1979 during the negotiations period of Greece integration), Secretary General of the Council of Economic and Social Policy (ECOSOC), and a Special Advisor of Prime Minister Mr. Georgios Rallis .He was also a Member of the Economic and Social Assembly (Committee) of the European Communities. Member of “Nea Demokratia” party and a Founding Member of the “Democratic Renewal Party” until its cessation at the election of Kostis Stephanopoulos as the President of the Hellenic Republic. He has run in national elections in Athens and Patras electoral districts, as well as in elections for the European Parliament.
He has been a guest lecturer in various academic institutions and universities in Europe, Caucasus, Canada, the US and Africa and still continues his activities.
His academic interests and research focus primarily, from the political point of view, on transatlantic security and cooperation, Euro – Atlantic integration, role of NGOs in the 21st century, dialogue between the North and the South, resolution of conflicts and conflict prevention.
During the last 25 years Mr. Georgiou has been organizing and has chaired hundreds of symposiums, conferences and round table discussions both in Greece and around the globe and he has delivered a vast number of speeches. Additionally, he has led and participated in countless international meetings, representing governmental and non – governmental sectors.
Having a strong involvement in the field of interdisciplinary education, in 2012 Mr. Georgiou, together with other distinguished personalities, founded The International Center for Leading Studies (TICLS), a new platform compounding various educational programs.
On June 4, 2003, he was awarded the “Chevalier dans l’ Ordre de la Legion D’ Honneur” by the President Jacques Chirac and on November 26, 2004 he received the “Golden Laurel Branch Award” from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria. He also has several other decorations and distinctions given in the recognition of his support for the integration of South-Eastern European countries to NATO and the EU.
In July 2019 he has been elected Co- Chair representing all European Countries- Members of the Atlantic Treaty Association to elaborate and present, along with the US Co-Chair “The new Strategic Reform “of the Atlantic Treaty Association for the 21 Century
Mr. Georgiou studied Law in the University of Athens, European Law at the “Université Libre de Bruxelles” in Belgium and International Law at the Academy for International Law in The Hague, Netherlands. He is married to Aliki Mitsakos and has one son.
Selin Yılmaz is an alumnus of Yeditepe University in Istanbul and the University of Amsterdam. She is a lawyer and legal consultant and partnering a law firm. She has been a member of the Young Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) since 2017. She had been the president of YATA Turkey and she was elected as the president of YATA International in November 2022. She was a part of the Women, Peace, and Security Task Force of ATA International, a student ambassador at the University of Amsterdam, a teaching assistant for International Business Transactions, and a member of Make a Wish.