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Venezuelan First Lady, other key leaders gather at 2019 Sedona Forum

Sedona, Ariz. — Venezuelan First Lady Fabiana Rosales de Guaidó told participants at the McCain Institute’s 7th annual Sedona Forum that for the people of Venezuela, “There is no turning back from here… they have stolen so much from us; they have even stolen our fear.”

Speaking on May 4, 2019, Rosales was joined at the Forum by thought leaders such as former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, former Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham, Chris Coons, Dan Sullivan, Martha McSally and Sheldon Whitehouse, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Board Chair Cindy McCain, and Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow.

The McCain Institute at Arizona State University convened top government officials, business leaders, human rights leaders and a bipartisan group of senators and congressmen at its annual event, which took place on May 3-5, 2019.

At the first Forum since the passing of Senator John McCain, leaders honored the life and legacy of the Senator while recommitting to the values, principles and just causes he fought for. Held in the red rock country of Sedona, Ariz., the Forum addressed issues ranging from traditional military threats to online content policy challenges to the threats facing democracy around the world. A full agenda may be viewed here.

“At a time when we are facing complex and urgent challenges, gatherings like the Sedona Forum provide an important venue for us to reflect on our shared values and ideals,” said Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). “The legacy of my friend Senator McCain was alive throughout the weekend as we discussed and debated the tough issues and took a hard look at America’s role in the world. I am confident all those who gathered are recommitted, with Senator McCain’s example, to working toward a world that is safer, more just, and in which the rights of all are respected.”

“The McCain Institute at Arizona State University continues to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to character-driven leadership through its action-oriented, open exchange of ideas,” said ASU President Dr. Michael M. Crow, who moderated a panel on 5G technology at this year’s Forum. “By bringing together a diverse group of change agent leaders in Sedona, the McCain Institute reinforces its commitment to innovative and solution-based approaches to the world’s toughest problems.”

On Saturday morning, in a session broadcast live via YouTube, Fabiana Rosales de Guaidó, human rights activist and wife of Venezuela’s recognized acting President Juan Guaidó, addressed the crisis in her country and the movement of its people during a conversation with acclaimed foreign affairs journalist Elise Labott.

“We’re closer now than ever before to liberty and freedom,” said Rosales.  “This is a government of assassins. They’ve stolen so much from us; they’ve even stolen our fear.  But we believe in the power of an international coalition, and we believe in the strength of the United States.”  Rosales added that she wants smiles to return soon to the faces of Venezuelan children, and for school, bike rides and family vacations to be possible again.

The McCain Institute presented its Award for Courage and Leadership to Chhaya Sharma for her leadership in investigating the 2012 New Delhi gang-rape murder case. Sharma is a decorated police officer and now deputy inspector general of India’s National Human Rights Commission who has also faced down systemic human trafficking and sexual assault during her ongoing 19-year career. Previous recipients include Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, Dikembe Mutombo, aid worker Kayla Mueller (posthumously) and the Syrian humanitarian group The White Helmets.

An off-the-record panel on homeland security and immigration at the Forum featured former Cabinet SecretaryKirstjen Nielsen and Arizona governor Doug Ducey, moderated by former Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend.

The Sedona Forum annually convenes character-driven decision makers, innovators, activists and opinion shapers. Participants this year included Milo Đukanović, President of Montenegro; Kirstjen Nielsen, former U.S. secretary of homeland security; Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX 23rd District) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ 7th District); former Senators Kelly Ayotte, Jeff Flake, Jon Kyl and Heidi Heitkamp; John Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, U.S. Department of Defense; Arizona Governor Doug Ducey; David Axelrod, director, The University of Chicago Institute of Politics; Kristie Canegallo, vice president of trust & safety, Google; John Dickerson, CBS News correspondent and contributing editor to The Atlantic; Josh Rogin, Washington Post columnist and CNN analyst; AliRogin, PBS Newshour producer, YH Eom, president and CEO, Samsung Electronics America; Jacquelline Fuller, president of; Terry Halvorsen, CIO, Samsung Electronics; General (Ret.) James Jones, USMC, president, Jones Group International; Cindy McCain, chair, Board of Trustees, McCain Institute for International Leadership; Dikembe Mutombo, chairman and president, Dikembe Mutombo Foundation; Amb. John Negroponte, vice chairman, McLarty Associates; General (Ret.) David Petraeus, USA, chairman, KKR Global Institute; and Frances Townsend, former homeland security advisor.

View the full agendaspeakers and list of participants.

About the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University

Inspired by the leadership of Senator John McCain and his family’s legacy of public service, the McCain Institute implements concrete programs aimed at making a difference in people’s lives across a range of critical areas: leadership development, human rights, rule of law, counterterrorism and combatting human trafficking.

The McCain Institute was founded seven years ago, in 2012, and now has a full-time staff of 40 working across Arizona, Texas, California and Washington, D.C.  The Institute is proud to have ASU as its home, the largest public university in America–  ranked #1 in innovation for four years running.

Learn more about the McCain Institute at