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Tuesday, July 18 @ 11:00AM – 12:00PM (ET)
Fentanyl, Foreign Policy, and the Global Effort to Combat Synthetic Drugs
July 12, 2023

The Open Forum welcomes Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to discuss:
Fentanyl, Foreign Policy, and the Global Effort to Combat Synthetic Drugs
Moderated by INL Deputy Assistant Secretary Margaret Nardi


As Secretary Blinken noted in his remarks to the newly formed Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drugs, nearly 110,000 Americans died last year of a drug overdose and the vast majority of those deaths involved synthetic opioids. On Tuesday, July 18th at 11:00 AM, the Open Forum will host Secretary Blinken for a special discussion on the fentanyl/synthetic drug crisis and the Department’s (increasing) role in advancing foreign policy initiatives intended to help solve the crisis and save lives.

The Secretary will discuss the role of the new Global Coalition in advancing a three-part policy strategy to mitigate the crisis: mitigating illicit manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs; detecting threats and patterns; and advancing public health interventions to prevent and reduce drug use. The Secretary will also take questions from the in-person and virtual audiences.



Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken

Antony J. Blinken is the 71st U.S. Secretary of State.

He was nominated by President Biden on November 23, 2020; confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 2021; and sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris the following day.

Over three decades and three presidential administrations, Mr. Blinken has helped shape U.S. foreign policy to ensure it protects U.S. interests and delivers results for the American people. He served as deputy secretary of state for President Barack Obama from 2015 to 2017, and before that, as President Obama’s principal deputy national security advisor. In that role, Mr. Blinken chaired the interagency deputies committee, the main forum for hammering out the administration’s foreign policy.

During the first term of the Obama Administration, Mr. Blinken was national security advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden. This was the continuation of a long professional relationship that stretched back to 2002, when Mr. Blinken began his six-year stint as Democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Then-Senator Biden was the chair of that committee from 2001 to 2003 and 2007 to 2009.

During the Clinton Administration, Mr. Blinken served as a member of the National Security Council staff, including two years as the senior director for European affairs, the president’s principal advisor on the countries of Europe, the European Union, and NATO. He also spent four years as President Clinton’s chief foreign policy speechwriter, and he led the NSC’s strategic planning team.

Mr. Blinken’s public service began at the State Department. From 1993 to 1994, he was a special assistant in what was then called the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs. Now he is proud to lead the department where he got his start in government nearly 30 years ago.

Outside of government, Mr. Blinken has worked in the private sector, civil society, and journalism. He was a founder of WestExec Advisors, an international strategic consulting firm focused on geopolitics and national security. He was a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies from 2001 and 2002. Before joining government, Mr. Blinken practiced law in New York and Paris. He was also a reporter for The New Republic magazine and is the author of Ally Versus Ally: America, Europe and the Siberian Pipeline Crisis (Praeger, 1987).

Mr. Blinken attended grade school and high school in Paris, where he received a French Baccalaureat degree with high honors. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School. He and his wife Evan Ryan have two children.



Deputy Assistant Secretary (Acting) Director of Global Programs and Policy Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Maggie Nardi

Maggie Nardi joined the INL Bureau in August 2022 to oversee the over $150M portfolio of programs and multilateral engagement to combat corruption, cybercrime and synthetic opioids in the Office of Global Programs and Policy. She has worked 28 years for the Department of State covering a range of geographic and substantive issues. Maggie served from 2019-2022 at the U.S. Embassy in Manama, where she split her time as Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires, in Jerusalem from 2016-2019 as the Director for the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs assistance program to the Palestinian Authority Security Forces and as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia from 2013-2016. Other assignments include Director of Regional Policy in the State Department’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau; Deputy Director and Director of the Office of North African Affairs; Deputy Director in the Political-Military Affairs Office in Ankara, Turkey; desk officer covering Croatia; service on peacekeeping missions in the Balkans; economic and commercial work in El Salvador; and political and consular work in Warsaw, Poland.

She is married to Greg Nardi and has two children: Madison, a third-year university student, and David, who is a senior at the Bahrain School in Manama.







Leslie Thompson,
Chair, Secretary’s Open Forum

Leslie Thompson is a member of the Policy Planning Staff (S/P) currently serving as Chair of the Secretary’s Open Forum. Leslie has been with the Department since 2014, primarily in roles supporting the U.S. government response to the conflict in Syria. Prior to joining S/P, Leslie served as Syria Team Lead and Senior Coordinator in the Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, Office of Assistance Coordination. She was also part of the second cohort of the Secretary of State’s Leadership Seminar at Harvard Business School, which concluded in March 2022. Prior to joining the Department, Leslie was a consultant in the United Arab Emirates from 2011-2014, where she provided expertise on global Islamist and Arab Spring movements to private sector clients in the region. She also worked at the U.S. Institute of Peace from 2008-2011, focusing on Egypt, Syria, Iran, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. She holds an MA in Arab Studies from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, a BA in political science from Davidson College, was a Fulbrighter in Malaysia in 2006, and holds certificates in Arabic language from Georgetown and from the American University in Cairo.