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5 Questions with the CEO

5 Questions with the CEO podcast title card

In this podcast, President and CEO General Joseph Votel (ret.) interviews private-sector leaders contributing their expertise and industry best practices to help the Department of Defense and other national security agencies execute their missions to keep America secure. The show features short conversations of 10-15 minutes. Speakers include leading BENS members and experts in the topics driving trends in national security, American foreign policy, U.S. resilience, and issues with which the membership is engaging. New episodes will debut 1-2 times per month and will be featured in the Executive Brief newsletter, our website, and social media. You can find the podcast at the popular streaming platforms below.

Since 1982, BENS has brought the best talent in business together with senior national security leaders to apply their experience and innovative ideas to finding solutions to some of the Nation’s most complex and pressing security challenges.

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David Bonfili

Ep. 15: David Bonfili

General Joseph Votel speaks with BENS New York member, David Bonfili. David is CEO of Acme General Corporation, a consulting firm leveraging decades of experience as warfighters, researchers, investors, and entrepreneurs to bridge the gap between government problem holders & non-traditional solvers. The conversation explores Bonfili's experience as a nuclear submarine officer and naval intelligence officer, proposed reforms for defense innovation, and helping startups and small companies work more effectively with the national security enterprise.

Ryan Millsap

ep. 14: Ryan Millsap

General Joseph Votel speaks with BENS Southeast member, Ryan Millsap. Ryan is the Chairman & CEO at Blackhall Americana (and formerly Blackhall Studios), an Atlanta-based streaming service which seeks to create aspirational high-action and high-intensity content that reaffirms the American spirit. The discussion explores how Millsap entered the film industry, approaches to the creative problem solving that goes into designing and building a few of his favorite movie sets for blockbusters filmed at his studios, his experiences in Hollywood, and his goals for the future of Blackhall Americana.

Ross Perot Jr.

ep. 13: Ross Perot, Jr.

General Joseph Votel spoke with BENS Texas member, Ross Perot, Jr. Perot is Chairman of the Perot Companies and Chairman of Hillwood, a leading global real estate development company he founded in 1988. The discussion explores the soft-power role of private business in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine; the strong growth achieved through Perot’s Fort Worth Alliance, the nation’s first industrial airport and a unique public-private partnership; venture funding for applications of self-driving trucks and delivery drones; and more.

Dr. Kathleen Kiernan

ep. 12: Dr. Kathleen Kiernan

General Joseph Votel spoke with BENS DC member Dr. Kathleen Kiernan, President of NEC National Security Systems (NSS). Dr. Kiernan is a former Assistant Director of the ATF, where she served 29 years and blazed the trail for women rising to positions of leadership at the Bureau. Throughout the conversation, Votel and Dr. Kiernan discuss her experiences in advancing diversity and inclusion within the federal law enforcement talent pool, her facilitation of critical incident management exercises for government and private sector organizations, launching the new NEC division developing powerful biometric, AI and machine learning technologies, and more.

Jennifer Pritzker

ep. 11: Jennifer Pritzker

General Joseph Votel speaks with BENS Chicago member Jennifer Pritzker, founder of Tawani Foundation and Pritzker Military Museum & Library which works to increase the public’s understanding of military history, military affairs and national security by providing a forum for the study and exploration of our military past, present, and future. Pritzker is a retired Illinois Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel, previously served on active duty in the U.S. Army, and is a prominent investor and philanthropist. Throughout the conversation, Votel and Pritzker discuss her background and military service, the importance of military advocacy, and her lifelong interest in collecting and archiving military books and memorabilia.

Dr. Lisette Cooper

ep. 10: Dr. Lisette Cooper

General Joseph Votel speaks with BENS Boston member Dr. Lisette Cooper. Dr. Cooper is Vice Chair of Fiduciary Trust International following its 2020 acquisition of the pioneering impact investment firm Cooper founded in 1993: Athena Capital Advisors, LLC. In her role at FTI, Cooper oversees risk management and sustainable investing for the firm. Throughout the conversation, we get insight into Cooper’s transition from geology to investing, the future of impact investing, the risks of disinformation and privacy threats on social media platforms, and what brought her to BENS.

Sam Meek, Sandboxx

ep. 9: Sam Meek

General Joseph Votel speaks with BENS DC member Sam Meek, Co-Founder and CEO of Sandboxx, a military media platform based in Arlington, VA, with a mission to build content and technology to simplify the military journey. Throughout the conversation, we get insight into Sam's service as a Marine, the transition from military life to Wall Street, how Sandboxx is bringing communications with servicemembers into the 21st century, Sam's take on BENS' recent delegation to Ft. Knox, what brought him to BENS, and his hobby in aviation.

Jonathan Evans, Lithium Americas Corp

ep. 8: Jonathan Evans

General Joseph Votel speaks with BENS Southeast member Jonathan Evans. President and Chief Operating Officer of Lithium Americas Corporation (LAC); a company currently bringing to market two world-class lithium resources located in Argentina and in Nevada, USA. Formerly he was the Chief Operating Officer of Diversitech, a portfolio company of the private equity firm Permira. Jon has more than 20 years of operations and executive management experience across businesses of various sizes and industries. Throughout the conversation, we get insight into Jon's perspective on the lithium industry, supply chain resilience, AUKUS Alliance, and what brought him to BENS. 

George Knost III

ep. 7: George Knost III

General Joseph Votel speaks with BENS Texas member George Knost III. Owner and President of Arkel International, an infrastructure and technical services company helping organizations, governments, and militaries work successfully in the world’s most austere and remote locations. With a 60+ year history of working overseas building plants, providing construction and power generation, logistical and life support, Arkel goes where others cannot or will not. Throughout the conversation, we get insight into George's perspective on climate change, battling corruption, managing in developing markets, and what brought him to BENS. 

Pete Dordal

ep. 6: Pete Dordal

General Joseph Votel speaks with BENS DC member Pete Dordal, President of GardaWorld Federal Services. He's an accomplished security management professional and a business leader with over 35 years of experience in the military, private and public security, the intelligence community, and entrepreneurial commercial endeavors. Throughout the conversation we get insight into Pete's perspective on the Afghan evacuation, changing threats and risk hotspots, the role of government contractors, GardaWorld's logistical support of government agencies during the COVID-19 crisis, and what brought him to BENS.

Ed Davis

ep. 5: Ed Davis

General Joseph Votel interviews BENS Boston member Ed Davis, founder and CEO of the Edward Davis Company, a business strategy and security services firm. Davis leads a team of former federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, military officials, researchers, and attorneys advising on crisis response, risk management, and more. His prior career in law enforcement culminated as Police Commissioner for the City of Boston from 2006 to 2013 and included oversight of the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing—now a model of inter-agency cooperation and communication. The discussion explores Davis’ background, the physical and cybersecurity challenges his clients face, and improving resiliency and crisis response.

Dr. Suzet McKinney


ep.4: Suzet McKinney

General Votel interviews BENS Chicago member Dr. Suzet McKinney, Principal and Director of Life Sciences for commercial real estate developer Sterling Bay. In this role, McKinney helps create urban campus labs and research environments optimized for quality of life. She shares perspectives from her work as a former public health official and educator who literally wrote the book about emergency response (Public Health Emergency Preparedness: A Practical Approach for the Real World.) Votel and McKinney discuss lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic response, decompressing the health care system in Illinois through alternative care facilities, and the intersection of national security and commercial real estate.

Nate Morris, Rubicon

ep. 3: Nate Morris

General Votel speaks with Nate Morris, founder and CEO of Rubicon, a software company focused on waste and recycling. The conversation highlights the innovative approach Morris and his company have used to disrupt the waste management industry, the national security implications of tech hardware disposal, and Morris’s efforts to promote education and entrepreneurism in the state of Kentucky.

Raj Shah, Resilience

 ep. 2: Raj Shah

General Votel interviews California member Raj Shah, the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Resilience, which provides insurance and tools to help mid-market companies manage cybersecurity threats and recovery. The conversation explores Shah’s perspectives from the private and public sectors, his time at the helm of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), and his experience as an Air Force F-16 pilot and reserve pilot.

Hank Greenberg

 ep. 1: Hank Greenberg

In the first episode, we mark the June 6 anniversary of D-Day as General Votel speaks with BENS Director and longtime member, Hank Greenberg. The conversation recalls Mr. Greenberg's experience as a young soldier at the D-Day landing, his career leading financial services firm C.V. Starr, and insights on business in Asia.



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