Florida Assistant Attorney General, Economic Crimes
White House Fellow
State Senator, 27th District
Special Prosecutor for Prescription Drug Trafficking
We are thrilled to announce that Special Prosecutor for Prescription Drug Trafficking and former Florida State Senator Dave Aronberg will kick off this year’s Speakers Series. He has been called the “top consumer advocate in state government” by two major Florida Newspapers, and has made it his mission to be a champion of public safety and a fierce consumer advocate.
Born and raised in Miami, Aronberg attended North Miami High School before going on to attend Harvard College and Harvard Law School where he graduated with a Juris Doctorate. Early in his career he was selected to serve as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury Department and then went on to be the youngest member of the Florida State Senate in 2002. As a Democratic State Senator, he represented a heavily Republican, diverse district from eastern Palm Beach County to Charlotte County and South through Lee County for three terms until he left the Senate in 2010.
As an active passionate Senator, Aronberg took on many aggressive initiatives. He was instrumental in the rewrite of Florida’s port security laws, led the effort to draft the state’s anti-gang law, and sponsored current laws for identity theft and consumer privacy. He tightened Florida law to protect children from sexual predators which earned him a special achievement award from the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. His priorities also included tightening laws against prescription drug diversion and reforming Medicaid laws to make it harder to “doctor shop” for controlled substances at taxpayer expense.
Early in Aronberg’s career he recognized the upcoming “pill-mill” epidemic. Several factors including the increase in promotional spending on Oxycontin by $30 million per year between 1996 and 2001, prompted him as the Florida Assistant Attorney General to lead one of the nation’s first investigations of Oxycontin’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma for its marketing practices. Presently, as Special Prosecutor for Prescription Drug Trafficking he continues to eradicate this epidemic that takes 7 lives per day in Florida. This figured combined with the 2007 report by the Justice Department National Intelligence Drug Center that deaths related to the opioid methadone jumped national from 786 in 1999 to 3,849 in 2004 representing an increase of 390 percent solidifies the Aronberg’s commitment to public safety and consumer advocacy.
Senator Mel Martinez
Former United States Senator
Born in 1946, in Sagua La Grande, Cuba, Mel Martinez fled to America in 1962 as part of a Catholic humanitarian effort called Operation Pedro Pan that eventually brought 14,000 children to this country. Alone and unfamiliar with the English language, Martinez was placed in a temporary youth home, and later lived with two foster families until 1966 when he was reunited with his family in Florida. Despite the years of constant change, his education and faith were unaffected. He graduated from Florida State University of Law with a Juris Doctor in 1973. During his 25 successful years of law practice in Orlando, he also pioneered various philanthropic faith-based initiatives.
In 2001, Mr. Martinez was unanimously voted by the United States Senate to be the nation’s 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development due to his work in the public and private sectors, his active involvement in community activities and his keen understanding of faith-based social services. Under his leadership, Martinez reactivated the Interagency Council on Homelessness and the joint homeless taskforce ensuring resources from the federal government provided better services to the homeless with an ultimate goal to end chronic homelessness.
Endorsed early on by Senate Majority Leader Bill Fist, Mr. Martinez won Florida’s vote for Senate in 2004. His passion for helping the homeless, elderly, disabled and HIV/AIDS patients also propelled him during his Senate term to launch HUD’s Center for Faith-Based and Community Services. During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Senator Martinez also served as a member on the Banking, Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce and the Special Committee on Aging Committees.
Currently, Mr. Martinez is the Chairman of JP Morgan Chase & Company’s Florida market and its operations in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and Chairman of the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. As Chairman of the Foundation, Martinez oversees and coordinates the firm’s philanthropic initiatives and charitable giving amounting to upwards of $150 million per year through grants and sponsorships to thousands of not-for-profit organizations across 28 states and more than 25 countries.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Algenol Biofuels
Industry wide, companies are striving to keep up with Paul Woods as he revolutionizes the energy sector. Fortunately for him, his charisma, passionate and keen understanding of the industry and dedication towards educating today’s scholars is hard to match. Woods is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Algenol, the Bonita Springs based alternative energy company.
Algenol is a global, biotechnology company that utilizes its patented DIRECT TO ETHANOL® technology that Woods invented back in 1984 for production of ethanol and green chemicals. The DIRECT TO ETHANOL® technology is unique in the fact that rather than growing the algae and then harvesting them, the ethanol is removed without killing the algae. Most other processes utilize dead organic matter for fossil fuels or recently dead organic matter for normal biofuel.
As a genetic student at the University of Western Ontario, Woods first conceived ethanol producing technology. Over the next several years, he continued working on the concept while building a very successful career in the natural gas business. He founded two successful companies and took one of them public allowing him to retire at the age of 38. However it wasn’t until oil prices started to rise dramatically in 2005 that Woods decided to come out of retirement and team up with biotechnology entrepreneurs, Ed Legere and Dr. Craig R. Smith to found Algenol.
At the helm of this trailblazing, innovative company, Woods has proven to be a very patient warrior. Several time sensitive setbacks have been futile and seen as opportunity for growth than as obstacles for Woods. Most recently Algenol was forced to halt plans for expansion after concerns were raised about potential environmental consequences, but after careful examination the plans were back on track. Algenol has been embraced by the fuel sectors, governments and SWFL. The U.S. Department of Energy selected Algenol for a $25 million grant and most recently they received a $10 million grant from Lee County to build a 40,000 square foot Integrated Bio Refinery facility. Furthermore, partnerships with Biofields in Mexico, Dow Chemical, Georgia Tech, Membrane Technology Resources, Florida Gulf Coast University, Valero, Abengoa their first European partner and the largest gas company in the world Linde Gas have proven to be very successful. Most recently, two years after announcing a partnership with Dow Chemical, Algenol moved from a relatively unknown developer of algae-based biofuel to a company that’s recognized as the world’s most advanced, largest integrated biofuels researcher and development complex and has maintained that status since.
Former Congressional Chair, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Internationally recognized expert on aviation and a 17-term Congressman, Jim Oberstar served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee during his entire time in the House. Congressman Oberstar authored, co-sponsored and helped to pass the SAFETEA-LU act, a $295 billion program that funds transportation infrastructure. Moreover, during his tenure in Congress, Oberstar held many leadership positions: the house Transportation and Infrastructure committee, was House Democratic At-Large Whip, a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic Study Group, served on the International Relations Committee, co-chaired the Great Lakes Task Force and the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, and was a member of the Upper Mississippi Task Force and the Democratic Homeland Security Task Force.
Professor, Harvard Business School “Godmother” of Consumer-Driven Healthcare
Gifted Harvard Business Professor Regina Herzlinger of the Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School was the first woman to be tenured and chaired at Harvard Business School. Dubbed my Money as the “Godmother” of consumer-driven health care, she is viewed as a pioneer in Health Care Reform and Innovations. All of her health care books have been best sellers in their categories and are widely viewed as a transformational work.
Robert A. Levy
Chairman, CATO Institute
One of the world’s foremost authorities on investments, law and public policy, Robert A. Levy, Chairman of the Board, Cato Institute will join us to share his perspectives. Levy founded CDA Investment Technologies, a major provider of financial information and software, and was its CEO until 1991. He also sits on boards of the Institute for Justice, the Federalist Society, and the George Mason University School of Law where he was also an adjunct professor of law. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, National Review, and many other publications. Additionally he has also discussed public policy on national radio and TV programs, including ABC's Nightline, CNN's Crossfire, Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, MSNBC's Hardball, and NBC's Today Show.
H. James Towey
President, Ave Maria University
H. James Towey is the second president of Ave Maria University.
His career has included service as a college president, senior advisor to the President of the United States, key aide to a Congressional leader, member of the cabinet of Florida’s governor, founder of a national non-profit organization, and legal counsel to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. His return to his home state of Florida and the assumption of his new duties as president and chief executive officer of Ave Maria University climax a remarkable professional journey.
Mr. Towey began his career in academia in 2006 when he became the 16th president of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. During his four years the college set records for enrollment and fundraising and moved into the first-tier of national liberal arts colleges in the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings. Mr. Towey has lectured at some of America’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Duke and Davidson.
Prior to leading Saint Vincent, Mr. Towey served as an Assistant to the President of the United States. He was a member of President George W. Bush’s senior staff and attended meetings of his Cabinet. As director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives from 2002 to 2006, Mr. Towey oversaw billions of dollars in federal grants that were awarded annually to faith-based charities serving the poor. His bipartisan collaborations led more than 30 governors to open offices to assist religious charities in their states, and he staffed presidential initiatives to assist drug addicts, prisoners re-entering society, and at-risk youth.
Mr. Towey was no stranger to government. Previously he served as legislative director and legal counsel to the Chairman of the United States Senate Appropriations Committee, Mark Hatfield (R-Oregon) and also served in the cabinet of Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. In the latter post he presided over 40,000 employees and a budget of $4 billion as head of the nation’s largest state health and human services agency.
In 1985 Mr. Towey became personal friends with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and served as her legal counsel in the United States during the last 12 years of her life. He was a full-time volunteer for her for two years, living with her order of priests in their seminary in Tijuana, Mexico, and caring for the dying in her home for people with AIDS in Washington. Mr. Towey was a member of the official delegations sent by the President of the United States for both Mother Teresa’s funeral in Calcutta in 1997, and beatification at St. Peter’s Basilica in 2003.
At the urging of Mother Teresa, Mr. Towey founded Aging with Dignity, a non-profit organization that helps families plan for and discuss end-of-life care. He created the widely-popular advance directive Five Wishes, which has sold over 14 million copies. Aging with Dignity has become the nation’s leading advocate for the rights of those facing serious illness and remains headquartered in Tallahassee.
Mr. Towey graduated from Florida State University in 1978 earning a Bachelor of Science degree with high honors and was inducted in the national honorary society Phi Kappa Phi. He went on to earn a Juris Doctor from Florida State University College of Law in 1981 and subsequently became a member of the Florida Bar. In 2009 he was recognized by Florida State University’s Alumni Association as one of its top 100 graduates of the century.
He has received many honors, including the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal from His Holiness Pope John Paul II, the “Fifty Most Influential Christians in America” award from Church World magazine, the “Power and Influence Top Fifty” award from the Non-Profit Times magazine, and the “Grads Made Good” award from Florida State University’s Omicron Delta Kappa. He also has been awarded six honorary doctorate degrees.
He and his wife Mary have five children and reside in the town of Ave Maria, Florida.
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation
Director, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies
A leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges, Dr. Carafano is The Heritage Foundation’s vice president for foreign and defense policy studies and the director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies. Before assuming responsibility for Heritage’s entire defense and foreign policy team in December 2012,Dr. Carafano served as deputy director of the Davis Institute as well as director of its Douglas and Sara Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.
In addition to Dr. Carafano’s masters and doctorate from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in strategy from the U.S. Army War College, he is also a graduate of West Point and a 25-year Army veteran. In his Army career, he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and served in Europe and the United States. His assignments included head speechwriter for the Army Chief of Staff, the service’s highest-ranking officer. Before retiring, Dr. Carafano was executive editor of Join Force Quarterly, the Defense Department’s premier professional military journal.
Lauded as an accomplished historian and teacher as well as a prolific writer and researcher whose most recent book is Wiki at War, Dr. Carafano is also a co-author of Winning the Long War, and Homeland Security. His other works include Private Sector/ Public Wars, Afghanistan and Future Conflicts, G.I. Ingenuity, Technology and Winning World War II, Waltzing Into the Cold War, and After D-Day. Dr. Carafano currently writes a weekly column on national security affairs for the Washington Examiner and is editor of a book series, The Changing Face of War. Moreover, his columns and commentary are published widely in various publications including the Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, New York Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, and the Washington Times. He is also a regular guest analyst for the major U.S. and global network and cable television organizations from ABC to Fox, to MSNBC the History Chanel and PBS.
Dr. Carafano now directs Heritage’s team of foreign and defense policy experts in four centers on the front lines of international affairs: the Allison Center, the Asian Studies Center, the Center for International Trade and Economics and the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. He is a senior fellow at George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute and serves on the board of trustees of the Marine Corps University Foundation and the advisory boards for the West Point Center for Oral History and Hamilton Society.