Spring 2021

Conference Speakers

Akram R. Elias

Co-Founder and President

Capital Communications Group, Inc.

Akram R. Elias has 35+ years of professional experience in the field of international relations and is the co-founder and President of Capital Communications Group, Inc. (“CCG”) an international consulting firm offering a variety of services to government and private clients in the areas of public diplomacy, cultural intelligence, strategic language services, communication strategies, and orientations to Washington, DC. 

In recognition of his commitment to the American spirit of service and his dedication to the Great Experiment, Prior to establishing CCG in 1998, Mr. Elias, a Lebanese-born American citizen, was a Program Officer and International Trade Consultant at Meridian International Center (1997 – 1998); Program Officer at the Institute of International Education (1996 – 1998) working on professional international exchange programs; and a Contractor with the U.S. Department of State (1985 – 1995), accompanying delegations of foreign dignitaries from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Mr. Elias holds a Master’s degree in International Service (American University, Washington D.C.); a Graduate Certificate in International Finance (Georgetown University, Washington D.C.); and a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics (University of Maryland, College Park, MD).

Karla Jones

Senior Director

ALEC Federalism and International Relations Task Force

Karla Jones is the Senior Director of the ALEC Task Force on International Relations as well as the Task Force on Federalism. Under Karla’s leadership, the Task Force on Federalism has spearheaded work in the states on a wide array of state sovereignty issues, including the transfer of select federal lands to state control and petitioning for an Amendments Convention under the U.S. Constitution’s Article V provision. Karla has written extensively on both; however, her love of the outdoors and the American West has allowed her to witness firsthand the federal government’s mismanagement of the lands under its purview. Karla has expanded the ALEC approach to international issues from being primarily EU-focused to one that is global.  She has established partnerships with lawmakers and other officials and organizations both domestic and overseas in order to highlight the important role that free markets and limited government play in promoting international trade and the protection of intellectual property rights. Karla also works to expand dialogue and educate ALEC members on these pivotal issues recognizing that the states are the ultimate stakeholders on these and many other policy areas that are debated at the federal and international level. With a lifelong interest in international affairs and politics, Karla was the Europe Project Director at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs before joining ALEC.  Karla has published op-eds in The Wall Street Journal and RedState and has authored articles that have appeared on the ALEC and JINSA websites and in the periodical Inside ALEC, and she has been quoted in the U.S., Argentine and Australian press.

Mark J. Rozell

Founding Dean

Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University

Mark J. Rozell is the Founding Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. He holds the Ruth D. and John T. Hazel chair in public policy. He is the author, or co-author of twelve books on various topics in US government and politics, including federalism, the presidency, religion and politics, and interest group politics. Among latest books is Federalism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2019 and his latest scholarly article is "Federalism in a Time of Plague: How Federal Systems Cope with Pandemic" (American Review of Public Administration) (both co-written with Clyde Wilcox). He has testified before Congress on executive privilege issues and has lectured extensively in the US and abroad. In recent years, he has lectured in Austria, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and Vietnam. Rozell writes frequent opinion columns on state and local politics for The Washington Post. He is often asked to comment about his areas of expertise for television and in news publications. He currently serves as a Judge for the Gerald R. Ford Award Committee for Outstanding Reporting on the Presidency for the Gerald R. Ford Foundation.

Edgar Ruiz


Council of State Governments West

Edgar Ruiz is the Director of the Council of State Governments West (CSG West), a position he has held since November 2011. He is responsible for staff management, engaging with partners nationally and regionally, and overseeing the development and implementation of programs and services provided to legislators and legislative staff from the Western states, territories and Canadian provinces covered by CSG West. He previously served as deputy director and managed the organization’s U.S. – Mexico programs. Edgar’s professional background expands over 25 years in the public and nonprofit sectors which has provided him a strong organizational foundation and knowledge of local, regional, national and international policy issues and politics. Prior to joining CSG West, he served as Management Analyst in the Community Development Department of the City of Lake Forest, California; legislative staff in the California State Legislature; and as a student worker for the San Diego County Probation Department. Edgar is a graduate of Lincoln Law School of Sacramento, holds a master’s degree in public administration, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from San Diego State University.

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