Great Decisions Conference

The United States and Mexico

Friday, October 4
3M Auditorium
Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
321 19th Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55455



Includes continental breakfast.

  • Global Minnesota Members / College and University Students $30
  • Nonmembers $45


8:00 am – Check-in and Continental Breakfast – Atrium

8:30 am – Welcome by Mark Ritchie, President, Global Minnesota

First Session: A Shared Border, A Shared Future – Tom Hanson, Diplomat-in-Residence, University of Minnesota – Duluth

Keynote Presentations – Challenges and Opportunities Ahead  Ambassador of Mexico Martha Bárcena Coqui and former Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow

Conversation and Q&A with Ambassadors Bárcena and Davidow Moderated by Fred de Sam Lazaro, Executive Director of the Under-Told Stories Project and correspondent for the PBS NewsHour

10:30 am – Coffee Break – Atrium

Second Session: Mexico and Minnesota – A brief history and panel discussion on Mexican history in Minnesota with Mexican-Minnesotan leaders in the arts, education, business, and civic life. Moderated by Patricia Lopez, Editorial Writer, Star Tribune

Closing Remarks – Mark Ritchie, President, Global Minnesota

12:30 pm – Conference Adjourns

Featured Speakers

Tom Hanson, Former U.S. Foreign Service Officer
Tom Hanson currently serves as Diplomat-in-Residence at the Alworth Institute for International Affairs at the University of Minnesota – Duluth. He is a former U.S. Foreign Service Officer whose postings included East Germany, France, Norway, the Soviet Union, Sweden, and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. He also participated in the opening of new U.S. embassies in Mongolia and Estonia, worked on the Foreign Relations Committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and served as director for NATO and European Affairs at the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, D.C. A member of Global Minnesota’s Great Decisions advisory committee, Tom speaks frequently on international issues and contributes to local and international media. He is also a board member of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, the International Leadership Program at the University of St. Thomas, and the Cultural Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Minnesota – Duluth. Tom holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and graduate degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; the Institute of Advanced International Studies in Switzerland; and the National School of Administration in France.

Ambassador of Mexico Martha Bárcena Coqui
Since joining the Mexican Foreign Service in 1979, Ambassador Bárcena has held diplomatic positions in Denmark, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. She has also been the Head of the Department of Migrant Workers and Border Cooperation in the General Directorate for North America and has participated in multiple international conferences, including the G-20 and the World Humanitarian Summit. In the social sector, Ambassador Bárcena served as adviser to the Director of the Regional Center for Cooperation in Adult Education in Latin America and the Caribbean and General Director of CELAG (Latin American Center for Globality), an NGO that promotes research on Global Governance and the impact of globalization in Latin America. She has combined professional activity with academic work as a professor since 1981 at the Universidad Iberoamericana, where she has taught the subjects of International Organizations and International Trade Negotiations. Ambassador Bárcena is also the author of several articles on the reconceptualization of security, globalization, United Nations peacekeeping operations, the role of civil society in international relations, culture and diplomacy, and Mexico-EU relations, as well as the Agenda 2030.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow
Ambassador Davidow spent much of his diplomatic career overseas with postings in Guatemala, Chile, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and as Ambassador to Zambia, Venezuela, and Mexico. In 2003, he retired from the U.S. Department of State with the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest position in the Foreign Service. After leaving the Foreign Service, Ambassador Davidow served for eight years as President of the Institute of the Americas in San Diego, a public policy center focused on Latin America. Currently, he is a Senior Counselor of the Cohen Group, a Washington-based international business consultancy. Ambassador Davidow has published articles in Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs and authored two books, one on international negotiations and the other, “The U.S. and Mexico: The Bear and the Porcupine.


Fred de Sam Lazaro, Executive Director, Under-Told Stories Project
Fred de Sam Lazaro is the Executive Director of the Under-Told Stories Project and has served as a correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, since 1985. He was a regular contributor and substitute anchor for PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and directed films from India and the Democratic Republic of Congo for the acclaimed documentary series, Wide Angle. Fred has reported from 70 countries with a focus on the myriad issues that underlie poverty and human suffering. He founded the Under-Told Stories Project, which is building a library of social innovation and entrepreneurship reports, designed to use storytelling to enhance students’ understanding of the pressing global issues of our time. Fred is the recipient of three honorary doctorates, numerous journalism awards and media fellowships from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Michigan’ Knight Wallace program. He has served on the board of the College of St. Scholastica, Minnpost, the Asian American Journalists Association, and the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota.

Patricia Lopez, Editorial Writer, Star Tribune
Patricia has more than 30 years working as a reporter, editor, and editorial writer in newspapers from California to Virginia. Originally from Chicago, Patricia has called Minnesota home since the early 1990s, and while here has specialized in politics. She started at the Star Tribune in 1992 covering Minneapolis City Hall, moved to the state Capitol bureau, where she covered every major political figure and event in the state, from the late Sen. Paul Wellstone to Gov. Jesse Ventura and several government shutdowns. She became chief political writer and in 2009 political editor, supervising the Star Tribune’s statehouse and Washington D.C. bureaus. Patricia joined the editorial board in 2015, concentrating on national politics, Congress, and a broad range of other topics. She can be heard on the Star Tribune’s weekly Playing Politics podcast, done in conjunction with WCCO-AM and is active on social media.


Presented in partnership with the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and the Under-Told Stories Project at The University of St. Thomas.