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Governing in North America: Strengthening Global Relations
through Intergovernmental Engagement


Friday, Oct. 21, 8:45-10 a.m.

In the age of the global economy, state leaders must understand and learn from the strengths your neighbors have to offer-–and that doesn’t stop at the geographic border.   Provinces and states have many similarities and much to learn from one another.  In this session, executive branch leaders will discuss successful stories of intergovernmental cooperation, opportunities to collaborate and share best practices, and pose solutions to shared obstacles. 




Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs
U.S. Department of State
Full bio >>


Panelists (check back for updates):



Assemblyman Marcus Conklin
Full bio >>





MP Wayne Easter
Member of Parliament for Malpeque
Full bio >>






Deputy Speaker Bob Godfrey
Full bio >>






Representative Russ Jones
Full bio >>







Former Speaker Richard D. Perkins
Full bio >>







Senate President Gary Stevens
Full bio >>







Minister David Wilson
Nova Scotia
Full bio >>






Moderator Bio


Reta Jo Lewis
Reta Jo Lewis was appointed special representative for global intergovernmental affairs in January 2010. Her office is responsible for serving the global needs of U.S. intergovernmental officials and the entities they represent. Ms. Lewis works to build and enhance relationships between state and local officials in the U.S. and their foreign counterparts around the world. She also promotes effective local governance and local capacity building efforts and serves as a point of entry for the global needs and goals of U.S. state and local officials. She reports directly to the Secretary of State.


Prior to her appointment, she recently was of counsel at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, LLP where she provided strategic corporate legal and consulting services to firm clients seeking to develop opportunities in emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Ms. Lewis worked with multilateral organizations, firm entrepreneurs and business owners on a wide array of industries that included investments in infrastructure, financial and energy projects.


Special Representative Lewis brings extensive experience in the private sector and government. She served as the vice president and counselor to the president at the United States Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation, and served as a policy expert on domestic and international issues affecting small business. Ms. Lewis served in the Clinton White House from 1993-1995. As special assistant to the president for political affairs, she was the senior domestic political advisor for the Summit of the Americas held in Miami, Fla. In addition, she was the principal staff coordinator for the White House Task Forces on the 1996 Atlanta Olympic, Paralympics Games and the 1994 FIFA World Cup of Soccer.
Ms. Lewis also has served as a partner at an international law firm and as an attorney-advisor she represented the city and county of Denver and Mayor Wellington Webb on international issues. She served as the city’s principal liaison to the U.S. government of Denver’s hosting of the 1997 G-8 Summit and Summit of African Leaders that preceded the G-8.


Furthermore, Special Representative Lewis is involved in numerous community and civic activities. Ms. Lewis served as the director of business outreach for the Obama-Biden Transition Project, and forged relationships between the incoming Administration, business leaders and national business associations. She also served as chair of the District of Columbia Commission for Women, where she launched the Commission’s economic and international committees, is a member of the International Women’s Forum, and numerous other organizations. While an associate at a prestigious law firm, she served as the national tour director for the Nelson Mandela eight city U.S.A tour, where she provided counsel and advice to ANC Leader Nelson Mandela and senior officials.


Ms. Lewis holds a B.A. from the University of Georgia, a M.S.A.J. from American University and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law. Ms. Lewis is a member in good standing of the District of Columbia and Georgia bars.

Panelists Bios


Assemblyman Marcus Conkin
Marcus Conklin was first elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2002, and is now serving his fifth term. In 2011, he was selected as the majority floor leader of the Assembly. Before serving as majority floor leader, Conklin served as assistant majority leader since 2007. He is currently serving as vice chair of the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means and the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor. He was the chair of the Commerce and Labor Committee during the 75th legislative session.
During his tenure in the legislature, Conklin has championed consumer protection and ethics reform legislation. He was the author of Nevada's Do Not Call legislation in 2003, and in 2007 he successfully sponsored legislation to penalize mortgage lending fraud, to better monitor gifts from the pharmaceutical companies to physicians, and new requirements for limited liability companies that give political contributions.
Conklin earned a B.A. from the University of Redlands in Economics and Political Science and an M.A. in Political Science from Midwestern State University. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in Economics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
With a strong belief in community service, Conklin became involved in working with homeless youth. He was a founding board member and is currently the board chairman of the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. He has also do extensive volunteer work for the United Way and the American Red Cross.
MP Wayne Easter
Wayne was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and was raised on the family farm in North Wiltshire. He attended Charlottetown Rural High School and holds a diploma from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. He was granted a certificate from the Canadian International Grains Institute in 1973. Wayne received an Honourary Doctorate of Law degree from UPEI in 1988 for his work and contribution to agriculture and social activism on the national and international level. He was awarded the Governor General’s Canada 125 Medal in 1992 for community service.


Wayne entered politics in 1993 when he was officially elected as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Malpeque, P.E.I. He was re-elected in 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008.


In Parliament, Wayne has served as Solicitor General of Canada, Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Oceans, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Agri-Food with special responsibilities for the Rural Secretariat, and is currently International Trade Critic.


On the national and international fronts, Wayne was National President and CEO of the National Farmers Union for 11 years, he was advisor to the Trudeau administration for the federal export agency, Canagrex, and was an advisor to the Minister of Agriculture at the FAO Conference in Rome in 1983. He was an invited participant under the European Community’s Visitors Program examining Common Agricultural Policy and International Agricultural Trade Issues in 1987 and toured New Zealand examining the impact of Farm Policy and Free Trade Issues in 1988.


In 1990, Wayne was an advisor and panelist for the Tri-national Exchange on Agriculture, the environment and Free Trade Agreements with Canada, the United States and Mexico.


In 1991, with the Ontario Minister of Agriculture and Food, Wayne was an advisor and delegate to GATT discussions in Geneva and Brussels. He also served as panelist to a Congressional briefing on NAFTA in Washington in March 1993.


In Wayne’s role as Parliamentary Secretary to Agriculture and Rural Development, he traveled across Canada conducting round table discussions on the farm income crisis. This resulted in his report, “Empowering Canadian Farmers in the Marketplace."


Deputy Speaker Bob Godfrey
Bob Godfrey serves as the state representative of the General Assembly’s 110th District in Danbury. Now in his 12th term in the House of Representatives, he has a leadership role as Deputy Speaker and is a member of the Judiciary, Government, Administration & Elections, and Legislative Management Committees.
Godfrey serves in a national leadership role as chairman of the influential Council of State Governments (CSG), a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing state officials in all three branches of state government. Prior to this role, he served as co-chairman of CSG’s Eastern Regional Conference in 2005.
Since his first election in 1988, he has been recognized as a state leader for legislation to protect children and families at home and in school, and to ensure that state government is both transparent and accessible. He is particularly proud of:
In addition to his legislative duties, he annually sponsors and participates in the YMCA’s Youth and Government program, which brings high school students to the Capitol to simulate state government. He serves on the Board of Directors of AIDS Project Greater Danbury.
Bob was born in Danbury in 1948 and has lived there all his life. He attended St. Peter’s School and Immaculate High School in Danbury. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University Of Connecticut School Of Law. He is an attorney. In the past, Bob managed the family pet shop, served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and was an executive with the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce. Prior to his election to the House in 1988, he served for five years on Danbury’s Common Council.


Representative Russ Jones
Russ Jones was born in San Diego, California. He graduated from Calexico Union High School and went on to study Business Administration at San Diego State University. He also studied economic development at the University of Arizona. Russ is bilingual in Spanish and English.
Russ has been married for over 41 years to his wife, Janet. They are the parents of two children and have four grandchildren. He and his wife have lived in Yuma, Arizona since 1974.
From 1970-1972, Russ served in the U.S. Army, 63rd TOPO Corps, 82nd Airborne Division (Top Secret Clearance, Sp 6). He is currently serving as a Major in the Civil Air Patrol. He is a pilot in the 508th Squadron based in Yuma, Arizona.
As an Arizona State Representative for District 24, Russ Jones is a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Environmental Committee. He is the Vice-Chairman for the Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee. Russ is also on the Council of State Governments, Border Legislators Committee, West.
In 2004-2006, Russ served his first term as a Representative of District 24. During that term, Russ served as a Vice Chairman for the Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee. He was also a member of the Transportation Committee as well as a member of Counties, Municipalities and Military Affairs.
Russ has been a successful small businessman for many years. He is currently the President/CEO of R.L. Jones Management Group. He is a licensed Insurance Broker and Notary for the State of Arizona. He also has a National Customs Brokers License with a Customs Import Specialists (CIS) designation.
Russ’s professional activities include Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the Border Philanthropy Partnership, Chairman for the Agro-Industries Committee as part of the Arizona/Mexico Commission, Treasurer for the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Border Trade Alliance.
Russ is affiliated with the National Customhouse Brokers Freight Forwarders Association, the Southwest Arizona Port Users Association, and the San Diego Customs Brokers Association.
Russ’s civic activities include Board Member for the Yuma Community Foundation, a member of the Caballeros de Yuma, District Advisory Committee for the Boy Scouts of America, Arts Commission in San Luis, Arizona, Charter President for the San Luis ‘Frontera’ Rotary Club, and Treasurer for the San Luis, AZ Industrial Park, L.L.C.
Besides serving as a State Representative, Russ enjoys reading, camping, hunting, flying, scuba diving, classical music, history, and sharing his life experiences with his grandchild.


Richard D. Perkins
Native Nevadan Richard Perkins spent 14 years in the Nevada Legislature, including 2 years as Democratic Floor Leader, 4 years as Majority Leader, and 6 years as Speaker of the As­sembly. With a record for consensus and coalition-building, he is considered a bi-partisan leader and counts his friends in both major parties. In 2006, he chose not to seek re-election to the Legislature and focused on his law enforcement career as the Chief of the Henderson Police Department, a career he re­tired from after 25 years. As president of the Perkins Company, Richard oversees the quality political and strategic consulting services clients have come to ex­pect.
Perkins’ extensive political and law enforcement network reaches all corners of Nevada and all across the country. He is also very involved in the National Speakers’ Conference (Past President), the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (past Board Member), the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and many other political, policy, and law enforcement organizations. He has developed a network of elected and police officials whom he considers friends in other states and on Capitol Hill who include U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the entire Nevada delegation, about two dozen other members of Congress (many were legislators), and many Governors, Speakers, and other legislators.
Perkins served as the President of the National Speakers Conference in 2005 and still serves on its executive committee. Richard participated with the National Conference of State Leg­islatures (NCSL) Law and Criminal Justice Committee and Task Force on Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Perkins has been a guest speaker on anti-terrorism, crimi­nal justice and many other topics for the NCSL, State Government Affairs Council (SCAC), and the Council of State Governments (CSG). In 2004, Perkins was invited as a guest lecturer at an international anti-terrorism conference in Gdansk, Poland.
After a distinguished career in the ranks, Perkins became the Police Chief for Nevada’s second largest city in April of 2006. Throughout his career, he was recognized for his work with crime victims and in 1991 was honored by the Clark County District Attorney and the Nevada Attorney General. Perkins attended the 183rd Session of the FBI National Academy in 1995, and is active in the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association (NSCA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).


Senate President Gary Stevens


Date/Place of Birth: August 21, 1941, McMinnville, Oregon
Occupation: Retired Professor
Family:  Wife - Rita  Children - Anna, Matthew, Natalie
Education: Taft High School, Taft, Oregon: 1955 - 1959, Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon - B.A.: 1959 - 1963
University of Oregon - M.F.A.: 1963 - 1965 - Ph.D.: 1982 - 1984
Military Service: 3 years service U.S. Army - 1st Lieutenant Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Medal
Alaska State Senate: 2003 – present; President of the Senate: 2009 – present; Chair, Rules Committee: 2008; Majority Leader: 2005 – 2008; Chair, Advisory Task Force on Higher Education and Career Readiness 2010-2011 Chair, Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee: 2005 – 2006; Chair, Senate State Affairs Committee: 2003 – 2004; Vice-Chair, Joint Legislative Salmon Industry Task Force: 2003 - 2004; Vice-Chair, Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee: 2003 - 2004; Vice-Chair, Senate Labor and Commerce Committee: 2003 - 2004; Legislative Council Joint Committee: 2003 - present; Alaska State House of Representatives: 2001 - 2003; Co-Chair, Special Committee on Fisheries: 2001 - 2002; Health, Education, & Social Services Committee: 2001 - 2002; Joint Legislative Salmon Industry Task Force: 2001 - 2002; Resources Committee: 2001 - 2002
State Affairs Committee: 2001 - 2002; Special Committee on Education: 2001 - 2002
Other Political and Government Positions: Member, Executive Committee, Governing Board, National Conference Committee and Energy Committee, Council of State Governments; Ex-Officio Member, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute; Mayor, Kodiak Island Borough; Mayor, City of Kodiak; President, School Board; Presiding Officer, Borough Assembly; Board of Directors, Alaska Municipal League; Alaska Conference of Mayors; Vice-President, Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference; Chairman, Kodiak Mayor’s Conference; Member, Pacific Fisheries Legislative Task Force; Ex-Officio Member, Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation: 2002 Host Committee, CSG Conference: 2003
Business and Professional Positions: Professor, University of Alaska: 25 years; General Manager, Northern Processors: 5 years; Director, Kodiak Oral History Project; President, Alaska Historical Society; Board of Directors, Alaska Humanities Forum
Service Organizations and Community Involvement:  Rotary International Governor, District 5010


Minister David Wilson
David Wilson was first elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature in 2003 and he was re-elected in 2006 and in 2009.  In June of 2009, David was named Deputy Government House Leader.
On January 11, 2011, he was sworn in to Cabinet as Minister for Communities, Culture & Heritage. 
His cabinet responsibilities also include:
-Minister responsible for the Heritage Property Act -Minister responsible for Part I of the Gaming Control Act
- Chair of Economic Development Cabinet Committee that oversees the Industrial Expansion Fund for the Province of Nova Scotia.
David is also on the executive of CSG-ERC.