Why Do Foreign Actors Want to Erode U.S. Democracy?

  • 18 Oct 2022
  • 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
  • The Great Hall, Beus Center for Law and Society, ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, 111 E Taylor St, Phoenix, AZ 85004




Why Do Foreign Actors Want to Erode U.S. Democracy?

Since 2016, it became evident that America’s foreign adversaries want to influence the outcome of U.S. elections. Russia, China, North Korea and others have tried to undermine our election processes and our information sources – traditional and social media. The Alliance for Securing Democracy, the McCain institute and the Phoenix Council on Foreign Relations host an event on how and why foreign adversaries are impacting our elections at the national and local levels. Arizona is not only a battleground state for domestic politics but it will also attract attention around the world. Together, we will host an expert panel on how the United States and Arizona can protect itself from international cyber-attacks.


Complimentary Registration


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

5:00 PM Program

Networking Reception to Follow



The Great Hall, Beus Center for Law and Society

ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

111 E Taylor St, Phoenix, AZ 85004


Bill Gates

Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors

Bill Gates serves as the District 3 Supervisor for Maricopa County and is the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. His Maricopa County District 3 reaches from the far southern boundary of McDowell Road, north to the border of Yavapai County, from the eastern boundary of Scottsdale Road in places, to the western boundary of 43rd Avenue and includes the areas of Anthem, New River, and Desert Hills. Supervisor Gates' priorities on the Board of Supervisors include public safety; fiscal responsibility; intelligent growth; economic development; encouraging innovation; and finding efficiencies. Gates has been fiscally austere in his approach to providing core service delivery and minimizing fee increases. He has worked to build positive community environments by uniting businesses and residents with various county staff and other community groups to facilitate ongoing relationships. Gates focuses on the important needs and priorities of the unincorporated areas of the District.

Gates has served in a variety of capacities with nonprofit and community organizations such as Valley Leadership, INROADS, American Legion Boys State, the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar, Disabled Sports USA, Phoenix Symphony, and United Blood Services Arizona Community Leadership Council. He is currently a Board Member for the Foundation for Blind Children, Vitalant, and serves on the FCC’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee. The Phoenix Business Journal honored him in 2010 with a Forty under 40 Award, which recognizes prominent young leaders in various industries in metropolitan Phoenix. In 2012, the Arizona School of Public Relations Association presented him with the Award of Excellence for his contributions to public education and he received the Sentinel Award from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in recognition for his work to improve Arizona’s business climate.

Bill Gates is also Associate General Counsel & Director of Distribution for PING, a Phoenix-based golf equipment manufacturer. Prior to working for PING in 2001, Supervisor Gates was an associate at the firm of Fennemore Craig, practicing commercial litigation with an emphasis in property tax litigation. He was appointed by Governor Brewer to the Municipal Tax Code Commission and the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council. He also served as a member of Governor Ducey’s Transition Team.

Gates served on the Phoenix City Council representing District 3 from June 2009 through May 2016. He also served as Vice Mayor of Phoenix from January 2013 to February 2014. Mr. Gates served as the Chair of the City of Phoenix’s Finance, Efficiency, Economy and Sustainability Committee, Councilman Gates helped identify over $100 million in annual efficiency savings.

Gates is a graduate of Deer Valley High School in Glendale, Arizona. He attended Drake University where he received his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics in 1993 and he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1996. Supervisor Gates is married and has two daughters, 15 and 18.


Tim Roemer

Director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security

Arizona Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

Tim Roemer was appointed by Governor Ducey as the Director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security in April of 2021. Director Roemer also serves as the State’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), managing cybersecurity for the State of Arizona. In his role, Director Roemer advises the Governor on a wide range of topics including cybersecurity, border security, and counterterrorism. As State CISO, Director Roemer leads the State’s cybersecurity team, sets cybersecurity strategy, and defends the State against evolving cyber attacks that threaten our citizens' data and Arizona’s critical Infrastructure.

Prior to his appointment, Director Roemer served the State of Arizona in a variety of leadership roles including four years in a dual role as the Governor’s Public Safety Advisor and Deputy Director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security, one year as the Governor’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs, and two years as the State’s CISO. Since the beginning of Governor Ducey’s Administration in 2015, Director Roemer has served on multiple Boards and Commissions including the Arizona-Mexico Commission’s Security Committee and the Human Trafficking Council.

Prior to working for the State of Arizona, Director Roemer admirably served in the Central Intelligence Agency for ten years. The final two years of his CIA career were spent assigned to the White House Situation Room, where he provided critical national security updates to the President, Vice President,

and National Security Council. In this role, he briefed senior U.S. policymakers on a diverse range of national security-related issues. In addition to his time in the West Wing, Director Roemer supported the CIA mission at its Headquarters in McLean, Virginia. Over his decade career in the U.S. Intelligence Community, he also completed assignments at the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

An Arizona native, Tim graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and a minor in Political Science.


Laura Thornton

Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy

Laura Thornton is director and senior fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund. Prior to joining ASD, Thornton was director of global programs at International IDEA, a Stockholm-based intergovernmental think and do tank with the mission to advance democracy. She managed multiple teams across Europe focused on constitution-building, parliamentary process, elections, gender and inclusion, political parties, and democracy assessment and analysis. In this role she managed the Institute’s Global State of Democracy products, including a COVID-19 monitor tracking the impact of pandemic responses on democracy and human rights.

Thornton also worked at the National Democratic Institute for more than 20 years, serving in leadership positions across Asia (Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka) and in the country Georgia. She has written extensively about political party development, political finance and corruption, elections, and disinformation and has led multiple election observation missions across the globe. Thornton did her graduate work at Princeton University and Oxford University, and she earned her BA from Northwestern University.


Paul Fagan

Director of Human Rights and Democracy, The McCain Institute

Paul Fagan is the director of the Human Rights and Democracy programs for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University. Previously, he served as the executive director of the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), an organization founded by Ben Affleck that seeks to bring the world’s attention to the ongoing situation in that country but also highlight the abundant opportunities for economic and social development.

Prior to joining ECI, Fagan worked at the International Republican Institute (IRI), an organization that promotes democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, democratic governance and the rule of law. He was IRI’s Africa director for nearly four years, overseeing IRI’s programs during South Sudan’s successful and historic transition to independence; led election observation missions to Nigeria and Somaliland; implemented IRI’s first programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and ushered in IRI’s return to Mali. He was also chief of party for IRI’s programs in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Earlier while at IRI, he worked on programs in the former Soviet Union and Latin America, serving as the Latin America and Caribbean division deputy director.

Exploring Leading Foreign Policy Issues


PCFR is dedicated to growing Arizona’s global prominence by providing forums that explore critical foreign policy issues and build enduring international connections.


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