The Mid-Maine Global Forum contributes to the local community’s understanding of issues of global significance by organizing and disseminating informed public presentations and discussion. To become a member or be put on our mailing list, email Global Forum  

The Global Forum board is planning a full slate of programs for this fall and information will be posted as details are arranged. 

All of these programs will be on Zoom, and the programs will be recorded so you can watch them at any time. This reflects the reality of what we face as a society. It does mean that we can find speakers from farther away.

Our next program

Monday, December 14 Noon on Zoom

in partnership with the Waterville Rotary

George Ritz

Healthcare for the Indigenous People of Paraguay

George Ritz, a forester from Bradford, Maine is a University of Maine graduate.  He has been recognized by the School of Forest Resources as Distinguished Alumni and by the Society of American Foresters as Outstanding Field Forester in the Northeast region. He and his wife, Sylvia, are recipients of the Bernard Lown Humanitarian Award which is awarded by the University of Maine Alumni Association. The last half of his career George was a district forest land manager for the Maine Bureau of Public Lands and he is now retired.

George served in the Peace Corps 1968-1971, working with the Agricultural Extension service and Forestry Institute of Chile.  From 1982-87, he served as Director of natural resource programs, and Acting Director of Peace Corps Paraguay.

In 1995, George and Sylvia’s 12 year old daughter, Andrea, died suddenly.   Remembering the many parents and children in Paraguay who suffer with inadequate or no heath care, George and Sylvia felt the most appropriate memorial to Andrea would be to promote health and health care services in unserved rural areas of Paraguay. Their experience working in Paraguay pointed toward the need to address three important areas; the provision of medical clinics, safe drinking water, and education to ensure long term health and sanitation. They established a non-profit organization, Andrea Ritz Clinics in Paraguay, to work toward these goals.

For the last 22 years George has made annual trips to Paraguay ranging from one to 4 months in length.  Over these years and in conjunction with local communities, three full time clinics, three part-time clinic/dispensaries, running water systems for 11 villages, ten  elementary schools,  one agricultural vocational high school, and one combination village food kitchen /clinic have been constructed and are in operation. 

Each year a doctor from Maine has accompanied George for part of the trip to provide care to patients and training for local staff. Clinics have become largely self-sufficient with staff and basic medications now provided by the Ministry of Health. We located one of our first clinics near an indigenous Mby’a tribal settlement and was able to serve their medical needs.  As we gained this group’s trust, other Mby’a communities in the province also approached us to work with them. After first meeting with the villagers to learn of their needs and priorities, we got to work. Our focus has been on clean water, education, first aid/health training, agriculture, and income generation allowing the Mby’a to begin to enter the cash economy while retaining their traditional culture.

Our intent has always been to work ourselves out of a job as local communities and authorities take over the task. Since the original clinics are now largely independent, our current focus is primarily with Mby’a and Ache communities as these resettlement areas are largely abandoned by local governments.

Information about how to get the link for the meeting will be posted soon!

Upcoming this Winter

Prof Steven Simon

Date to be determined

Steven Simon is Professor in the Practice of International Relations at Colby College, following stints as John J. McCloy ’16 Professor of History at Amherst College and lecturer in government at Dartmouth College. He is also a research analyst for the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Prior to this, he was Executive Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies for the US and Middle East.  From 2011 to 2012 he served on the National Security Council staff as senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs. He also served on the NSC staff 1994 – 1999 as senior director for counterterrorism and Middle East security policy. These assignments followed a fifteen-year career at the U.S. Department of State.

Between government assignments, he was a principal at Good Harbor Consulting, LLC in Abu Dhabi; Goldman Sachs & Co. visiting professor at Princeton University; Hasib Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; analyst at the RAND Corporation; and deputy director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. He has held fellowships at Oxford University, Brown University and the American Academy in Berlin.

He is the co-author, among other books, of The Age of Sacred Terror, winner of the Arthur C. Ross Award for best book in international relations; The Next Attack, a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize, and one of the “best books of the year” in the Washington Post and Financial TimesIraq at the Crossroads: State and Society in the Shadow of Regime ChangeThe Sixth Crisis: The US, Israel, Iran and Rumors of WarThe Pragmatic Superpower: The United States and the Middle East in the Cold War; and Our Separate Ways: The Struggle for the Future of the US-Israel Alliance. He is now working on a new book, The Long Goodbye: The United States and the Middle East from the Islamic Revolution to the Arab Spring

The Margaret Chase Smith Library

Leeke-Shaw Lecture

Lora Pitman

Thursday, October 22 at noon

At Easter time in 1949, Margaret Chase Smith gave a radio speech over the Mutual Broadcasting System expressing regret “that so few women have been chosen to participate in the United Nations.”  In the aftermath of two World Wars, Senator Smith went on to assert that: “Wars are man-made. Peace could be partially woman-made.” 


Seventy years later, the 2020 Leeke-Shaw Lecture on International Affairs will examine the role of women in global issues.  The speaker will be Lora Pitman, who holds a Ph.D. in International Security from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Pitman has interned at the Joint Forces Staff College and consulted with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  In her presentation, she will explore theories about women in international security, their achievements in the field, the professional challenges they encounter, and their role in conflict zones.

Co-sponsored by the Margaret Chase Smith Library and Mid-Maine Global Forum, the event will be held via Zoom on Thursday, October 22nd, beginning at noon. To register, please by October 19th fill out the Google form at the following link: https://forms.gle/UYTieoiygiqbBtoF6 .  This will be used to send you the Zoom login information a few days before the talk. We hope you will be able to participate.


Friday, September 25

on Zoom

2020 Oak Human Rights Fellow: Nasim Lomani

Nasim Lomani is a human rights defender and migrants’ rights activist working both in the field and at the political level in Greece and the greater EU for over a decade.

Lomani arrived in Greece nearly two decades ago as a 16-year-old from Afghanistan. Upon arrival, he was arrested and charged with illegal crossing of the Greek border, ultimately serving a two-year prison sentence. During the process of appealing to the court for having his rights as a refugee abused and violated, he learned about the bureaucratic difficulties that all migrants face while on the move to Europe. He joined a number of solidarity groups, such as the Network for Social Support to Immigrants and Refugees and the Migrants’ Social Center in Athens, where he coordinated free language classes and the Athens Anti-racist Festival. He also engaged in solidarity work that included lawyers, human rights defenders, as well as refugees and migrants.

Lomani, together with other solidarians, founded and served as one of the key organizers of City Plaza – Refugees Accommodation Solidarity Space in Athens, where he organized daily life for migrants, managed media communication, coordinated international volunteers, and served as the public representative to researchers, students, and academics.

© Marios Lolos

City Plaza, once one of the largest solidarity migrant accommodations in Athens, was a repurposed abandoned hotel in central Athens that offered people on the move (400 at a time, 3,000 in total and for almost three and half years) the right to live in dignity in the urban space with access to social, economic, and political rights. Lomani lived inside the now-suspended City Plaza as long as it was open, organizing to create international solidarity.

Lomani faces increasing risk, as migration solidarity work and defending human rights in Greece, and Europe at large has been criminalized in recent years. Helping refugees and criticizing human rights violations by authorities is now a major offense by both national and European law. In Greece, this has led to large-scale evictions of refugees and asylum seekers from housing sites and increased arrests and prosecutions of activists.

Lomani has been active in the human rights field since he was a child. The Oak Fellowship will offer some much-needed respite. As the 2020 Oak Fellow, he will teach students at Colby about the Balkan Route, solidarity organizing, and anti-racist politics.

Here’s what he has to say about his activities:

“My name Nasim Lomani and I am an activist on the field of migration, borders and human rights. I have migration background by myself because I am an Afghan, resident in Greece. I work since 2005 with transit refugees coming from different countries of Asia, Middle East and Africa who are trying to reach western and central Europe. Since 2015 I have been very much involved with the refugees movement during the long summer of migration or so called by media or officials, “refugee crisis”. My activist work as part of the collectives I am participating, in Greece and in Europe is always based on the principles of solidarity with people on move, resistance against EU’s anti-migration policies and EU’s militarized fortressed borders, as well as against detention and deportation of asylum seekers back to the war zones. As part of the social movement apart from criticizing the EU’s migration policies, we were/are creating also alternative projects together with the people on the move. Projects like alternative houses, alternative schools etc. This fall I am honored to be the Oak’s Human Rights fellow and I am here to bring all those experiences from the front line of the borders struggles to the Colby’s campus and to the class rooms and to make the connections.”

To register, email the Forum at:


Summer Dinner Program Now Summer 2021

Colby College

The Linda Cotter Lecture

late July or early August: details will be posted as soon as plans are finalized.

The speaker: Ambassador Dennis Ross

Ambassador Dennis Ross is counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Prior to returning to the Institute in 2011, he served two years as special assistant to President Obama and National Security Council senior director for the Central Region, and a year as special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

For more than twelve years, Ambassador Ross played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process and dealing directly with the parties in negotiations. A highly skilled diplomat, Ambassador Ross was U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. He was instrumental in assisting Israelis and Palestinians to reach the 1995 Interim Agreement; he also successfully brokered the 1997 Hebron Accord, facilitated the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and intensively worked to bring Israel and Syria together.

A scholar and diplomat with more than two decades of experience in Soviet and Middle East policy, Ambassador Ross worked closely with Secretaries of State James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Madeleine Albright. Prior to his service as special Middle East coordinator under President Clinton, Ambassador Ross served as director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff in the first Bush administration. In that capacity, he played a prominent role in U.S. policy toward the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany and its integration into NATO, arms control negotiations, and the 1991 Gulf War coalition.

During the Reagan administration, he served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff and deputy director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment. Ambassador Ross was awarded the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President Clinton, and Secretaries Baker and Albright presented him with the State Department’s highest award.

A 1970 graduate of UCLA, Ambassador Ross wrote his doctoral dissertation on Soviet decisionmaking, and from 1984 to 1986 served as executive director of the Berkeley-Stanford program on Soviet International Behavior. He received UCLA’s highest medal and has been named UCLA alumnus of the year. He has also received honorary doctorates from Brandeis, Amherst, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Syracuse University. Ambassador Ross was named a 2016-2017 senior fellow by Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

Ambassador Ross has published extensively on the former Soviet Union, arms control, and the greater Middle East, contributing numerous chapters to anthologies. In the 1970s and 1980s, his articles appeared in World Politics, Political Science Quarterly, Orbis, International Security, Survival, and Journal of Strategic Studies. Since leaving government at the end of 2011, he has authored many op-eds in the New York TimesWashington Post, and other papers and magazines. In addition, he writes monthly columns for US News and World Report, and the New York Daily News. In addition, he writes monthly columns for the Middle Eastern newspaper Asharq al-awsat.

Ross is the author of several influential books on the peace process, the Middle East, and international relations. His most recent book, co-written with his Washington Institute colleague David Makovsky, is Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny (PublicAffairs, September 2019). The book illustrates “profiles in courage” of four Israeli leaders who faced existential questions about the future of Israel: David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ariel Sharon. Ross and Makovsky provide a reminder of the courageous decisions taken by these leaders in the past and calls for yet another courageous decision in the present to preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. Previously, Ross authored Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, October 2015). That book was awarded the 2015 National Jewish Book Award for history. He also co-authored Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East (Viking, June 2009) with Mr. Makovsky. An earlier study, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004), offers comprehensive analytical and personal insight into the Middle East peace process. The New York Times praised his 2007 publication, Statecraft, And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), as “important and illuminating.”