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Conference Speakers

Opening SpeakerCaroline Nguyen Ticarro | Closing SpeakerMary Carlin Yates

Founder and Executive Director, Catalyst Foundation

Caroline Nguyen Ticarro is the founder of Catalyst Foundation, a Portland-based humanitarian organization that helps build communities in Viet Nam to fight human trafficking. Catalyst Foundation supports community programs in Viet Nam to provide basic needs, job opportunities, counseling, and education. In 2012, Ms. Ticarro’s work was highlighted on “CNN Freedom Project,” a 3-part series on CNN International.

Ms. Ticarro has been featured in National Public Radio (NPR), Washington Post, Voice of America, Huffington Post, and New York Times. Ms. Ticarro has spoken about human trafficking, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, gender equity, and living with a purpose. In 2017 she delivered a TEDx Talk at University of Minnesota describing her journey to action after returning to her home-country of Vietnam in 1998. She has spoken at many universities, the Asian Women’s Empowerment International Conference, and AAPI Student Leadership Summits. At the age of 4, Ms. Ticarro fled Viet Nam with her family during the Vietnam War.Ms. Ticarro graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in international business.

Former US Ambassador to Burundi, Former US Ambassador to Ghana, former US Special Assistant to the President for Africa

Mary Carlin Yates is a 32-year career diplomat for the United States. She has worked under Republican and Democratic US Presidential Administrations from President Reagan to President Obama. Ambassador Yates worked for the Department of State, with the US Military and at the National Security Council during President Obama’s administration.  In Africa, she served as Ambassador in Burundi and in Ghana. For the US military, she held the position of Foreign Policy Advisor to the European Command and then Deputy Commander in the new US Africa Command 2007-09.  She also drafted the 2010 National Security Strategy for President Obama’s first term and later served as his Special Assistant for Africa before returning to Africa to serve as Charge d'Affaires in the US embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.

Despite formally retiring from Department of State work, she remains active in foreign affairs work as a Board Member at The Atlantic Council, a Washington DC based think tank; she was Task Force leader of their recent work on Sudan. She is also an active alumna of Oregon State University, as a trustee of the OSU Foundation and a member of the Board of Regents for the OSU Honors College, and serves as a trustee for WorldOregon, formerly the Oregon World Affairs Council.