Mercer Announces 2016-2017 Executive Forum Presentations


ATLANTA/MACON – Mercer University's 2016-2017 Executive Forum, presented by BB&T, will include presentations by national political correspondent Ron Brownstein, international strategic affairs consultant and lecturer Anja Manuel, and automotive and healthcare industry executives Joe Lawrence and Patrick Miles.

Brownstein, Lawrence and Miles will offer lunch presentations to Executive Forum members and invited guests in Atlanta and dinner presentations in Macon. Manuel will offer a breakfast presentation in Macon and a lunch presentation in Atlanta.

Brownstein, political director of Atlantic Media Company, editorial director and columnist for the National Journal and senior political and election analyst for CNN, will visit the forum Oct. 18, three weeks prior to Election Day.

Brownstein is the author or editor of six books, and his articles on politics, public policy, books and culture have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. He is known for his sharp analysis of politics, policy, the electorate, media, health care and the range of issues informed by his strong sense of American political and national history.

Twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, he was cited for “the clarity, consistency, and quality of his political reporting.” His work appears regularly in the Atlantic, and he pens a bi-weekly column in the National Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

Brownstein previously served as national political correspondent and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. In addition, he served as chief political correspondent and columnist for U.S. News and World Report for seven months in 1998. He also appeared frequently on network morning programs, MSNBC, CNBC, and C-Span, and served as an election analyst for ABC.

Manuel, co-founder and principal of strategic consulting firm RiceHadleyGates LLC, will visit the forum Nov. 29.

Manuel is also a lecturer in the International Policy Studies program at Stanford University, where she designed and teaches a course on U.S. foreign policy in Asia.

Manuel and her co-founders, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, assist CEOs and senior executives at major companies to expand their businesses and meet regulatory challenges in key international markets, including China, Europe, India, Russia, Latin America and the Middle East.

She previously served as special assistant to Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns at the U.S. Department of State, with responsibilities related to South Asia policy and all congressional outreach and legal matters. She was also an attorney at the law firm of WilmerHale, where she specialized in international litigation and arbitration, anticorruption matters and congressional investigations, including in China, India, Germany and Latin America, and worked on First Amendment issues before the U.S. Supreme Court. She started her career in the investment banking division of Salomon Brothers, working on German and Eastern European mergers and privatizations.

Manuel has appeared as a commentator on TV and radio and as an op-ed contributor on U.S. foreign policy toward Asia and the Middle East.

She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, and holds B.A. and M.A. degrees with distinction from Stanford University.

Lawrence, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Porsche Cars North America Inc. (PCNA), will visit the forum Feb. 21.

Headquartered in Atlanta, PCNA is the importer of Porsche sports cars, the Macan and Cayenne sport utility vehicles and the Panamera sports sedan for the United States. Lawrence is responsible for sales and dealer network development in the U.S. He also oversees PCNA's field operations and the Porsche Academy.

He assumed his current role in August 2013 after serving as president and CEO of Porsche Cars Canada Ltd. for four years. He began his career selling cars in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, in 1989. Prior to arriving at Porsche, he worked for 15 years at BMW in a variety of sales and marketing positions in the U.S., Germany and Canada.

Lawrence holds a B.A. in economics from Southern Methodist University and an M.B.A. from Emory University.

Miles, vice chairman of NuVasive, will visit the forum May 16.

The third-largest medical device company in the global spine industry, NuVasive is focused on developing minimally disruptive surgical products and procedures for the spine. The company features more than 90 products spanning lumbar, thoracic and cervical applications, neuromonitoring services, and a biologics portfolio. NuVasive's products have been used in hundreds of thousands of spine surgeries, with revenues of $811 million in 2015, including sales in over 30 countries, and more than 1,600 employees globally.

A 1988 graduate of Mercer's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics and former Bears baseball player, Miles has been a member of the NuVasive board of directors since August 2016.

Miles' responsibilities include leadership and management of the company's global products and services, as well as operational duties, including customer fulfillment, manufacturing, supply chain management and quality engineering. He previously served as the company's president of global products and services, president of the Americas, executive vice president of product marketing and development, senior vice president of marketing, and vice president of marketing. He has more than 25 years of experience in the orthopedic industry, including prior roles with Medtronic Sofamor Danek and Smith & Nephew.

He holds a B.B.A. in finance from Mercer.

BB&T is celebrating its 10th consecutive year as presenting sponsor of the Executive Forum. This year's co-sponsors include Cox Communications, Georgia CEO, Georgia Trend and The 1842 Inn.

The Executive Forum is a membership organization composed of businesses, organizations and individuals. Events are by invitation only to members. For more information on membership, call (800) 837-2911 or (478) 301-4169, or visit

About the Executive Forum, presented by BB&T

The Executive Forum, presented by BB&T, is a business outreach program of Mercer University's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics and the Office of University Advancement. The Executive Forum provides business professionals with an opportunity to hear nationally noted speakers while networking with other business leaders. For more information, call Mercer's Office of University Advancement at (800) 837-2911 or (478) 301-4169, or visit

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.