Covid Complexities: A Global Town Hall
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Covid Complexities: A Global Town Hall

On September 2nd and 3rd, in two one-hour programs via Zoom and Facebook Live, journalists, physicians, researchers, NGO officials and others will come together for this special event. The program will be promoted to audiences in the 90+ councils’ network of World Affairs Councils and among the RFE/RL and other media networks of participants.

9/2/2020 to 9/3/2020
When: Wednesday, September 2 - Thursday, September 3, 2020
7-8p ET/6-7p CT/5-6 MT
Where: Zoom
United States
Contact: Evan Verploegh

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COVID-19 has touched every part of the world but its effects and the reaction of different countries has been uneven. In an interconnected world we need to understand the pandemic’s impact beyond our borders. Importantly, the progress toward a COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic treatments is a global pursuit. There are, as well, already no shortage of changes made and those to come in reaction to the global catastrophe – in our communities, technology, health and science, government performance, elections, the global economy and our lifestyles.

A group of World Affairs Councils – nationwide, independent, nonpartisan educational organizations – is joining together with an international network of journalists and specialists to organize conversations over the course of two evenings in early September. The goal is to help Americans understand the impact of the pandemic in an interactive program open to all.

We invite you to join this unique partnership to inform and inspire Americans to know more about COVID-19’s impact around the world, the race for a vaccine and how the vaccine has changed the world. 

On September 2nd and 3rd journalists, physicians, researchers, NGO officials and others will come together to discuss the global impact of COVID-19 and the pursuit of a vaccine. 

The program is brought to the public in partnership with many of the nationwide networks of World Affairs Councils and an international network of journalists.

Panel One -- Covid-19: Impact in the Developing World
Wednesday, September 2
7-8p ET/6-7p CT/5-6 MT

The opening night of the two-night program will begin with a scene-setting keynote from Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, U Penn Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and a former advisor for health policy in the Obama White House. That will kick off a deep dive into COVID-19 beyond America’s borders. 

Through the eyes and reporters’ notebooks of journalists based around the world we’ll learn from: Yu Fen Tsao, Radio Free Asia’s Executive Director about “China, WHO and the Origins of the Pandemic”; Henry Flores, Regional Reporter Director for Unbound, an NGO that focuses on vulnerable communities on the situation in Latin America; Linord Moudou, VOA’s senior health reporter for Africa on COVID-19 in Africa; and Niusha Boghrati, Radio Farda RFE/RL Iranian Service Executive Editor on the situation in Iran. 

The conversations will be aided by questions from our worldwide audience, consisting of nationwide World Affairs Council viewers, the general public, student groups and a virtual group tied in through our global network of partners.

Panel Two – Covid-19: Global Response and the Future
Thursday, September 3, 2020
7-8p ET/6-7p CT/5-6 MT

The second evening of the COVID-19 Global Town Hall will focus on the responses to COVID-19 including the global pursuit of a vaccine and therapeutic remedies with a conversation with Irina Lagunina, Senior Editor at Radio Svoboda, Radio Free Europe’s Russian service; what was America’s response in an international context; and how the pandemic has impacted efforts at peace and security in an already troubled world, with Susan Stigant of the U.S. Institute of Peace. Other invited panelists will be announced.

As with panel one, the Wednesday evening panel will feature a distinguished keynote speaker to focus the conversation and the participation of a nationwide audience in the United States and attendees from a global network.


About the Speakers
Niusha Boghrati is the editor-in-chief of Radio Farda, RFE/RL’s Persian Language Service. Boghrati joined RFE/RL in 2005, having worked for the Italian news agencies ADN Kronos International and IBER Press, and for the American online magazine World Press Review, covering issues relating to politics, culture, society, and international affairs. He began working as a journalist in Iran when he was 19, writing for "Iran Javan" magazine, which was later banned by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and later working as a Tehran-based correspondent for foreign news outlets. In Iran he also worked for the United Nations, and authored a book on jazz music, the first of its kind to be published in the country. Boghrati holds a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a post-graduate degree in journalism, both from Iran.

Henry Flores is Regional Reporters Director for Unbound. Originally from El Salvador and now living in Medellin, Colombia, Henry leads a team of 5 journalists producing stories from communities facing extreme poverty in Latin America, East Africa, and South Asia. With two decades of experience at Unbound, Henry has traveled extensively throughout the developing world, meeting and interviewing hundreds of families in more than 15 countries. A gifted photojournalist, Henry’s work has won numerous awards and was recently featured in Sharing the Wisdom of Time by Pope Francis. Learn more at

Irina Lagunina is a senior journalist and editor of special projects for RFE/RL's Russian Service, known as Radio Svoboda. Lagunina served as director of the Russian Service until 2016 and was a host of the daily analytical radio journal “Time & World,” covering international relations, world politics, security, economic and energy issues. Before joining RFE/RL in 1995, she worked as the foreign policy and diplomatic editor for the Russian magazine “New Times” and the newspaper “Moscow News.” She was in the media pool of the Russian Foreign Ministry, covering the end of the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet Union. Lagunina’s analytical writing has appeared in several compendiums, including “Perils of Perestroika: Viewpoints from the Soviet Press, 1989-1991,” and the 1999 study “Kosovo News & Propaganda War” by The International Press Institute in Austria. She has been interviewed by National Public Radio, the BBC, and other western media.

Yu Fen (Nadia) Tsao, is the Director of Mandarin Service at the Radio Free Asia, who has previously served as a Washington bureau chief of The Liberty Times (Chinese) and Taipei Times (English), senior reporter for the Liberty Times in Taiwan, and reporter for China times in Taiwan. With over 32 years of journalism experience, spanning various continents, Mrs. Tsao was one of the few journalists to travel to all Chinese special economic zones for a month before the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1998.


Linord Moudou is the host of Voice of America (VOA) Africa TV program Healthy Living, and the French Health TV program Carnet de Santé, both designed to give viewers in Africa and around the world, practical solutions to keep their families and themselves healthy and informed. She also produces and hosts VOA Africa’s Health Chat, a live, radio call-in program that addresses health issues of interest to Africa. In addition, she is the producer and reporter for the Africa 54 health segment, VOA Africa's English daily news TV broadcast to Africa. Over the years she has covered a wide range of health topics including malaria, HIV/AIDS, autism, endometriosis, cancer, and currently keeps her viewers and listeners up-to-date and informed on the COVID 19 pandemic. Linord studied journalism and media productions at George Mason University and TV and Radio broadcasting at Columbia School of Broadcasting.

Presented By

Organized through a partnership of:

World Affairs Council of Harrisburg
International Relations Council, Kansas City
World Denver
Tennessee World Affairs Council
World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts
Colorado Springs World Affairs Council
World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana


Program Sponsors


Sponsorship Contacts 

Patrick Ryan
President, Tennessee World Affairs Council

Joyce Davis,
President WAC of Harrisburg             


Learn more about sponsorship opportunities here