Ken Adelman

Ambassador and Former Arms Control Director for President Ronald Reagan and Author of Reagan at Reykjavik
Ken Adelman
  • Brings Ronald Reagan to life as only one of his senior advisors can
  • Served on the Defense Policy and National Center for Counter-Terrorism Boards
  • Shares leadership lessons from President Reagan as woven into an engaging and suspenseful narrative of the tumultuous Reykjavik meeting

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Ken Adelman is a Renaissance man, having been a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Arms Control Director for Ronald Reagan, translator for Muhammad Ali during “The Rumble in the Jungle” in Africa, professor of Shakespeare at Georgetown University, and author of five books, most recently the critically-acclaimed Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours that Ended the Cold War.  That story, of the historic superpower summit in Iceland in 1986, is being turned into a four-part streaming series starring Michael Douglas as President Reagan.

Through his multimedia presentations, Adelman offers audiences an “up close and personal” portrait of Reagan during his finest hours in the Presidency. Adelman’s first-hand account of advising President Reagan at the tumultuous summit—with its cliffhanger plot, powerful personalities, and sweeping significance—lends a feeling of “being there” to the speech, which commonly ends in a rousing standing ovation. Bolstered by photos, video, and personal stories, superb storyteller Adelman describes what happened that historic weekend and highlights leadership lessons audience members can readily apply to their own lives.

Government Expertise. Adelman began working for the government in 1969 at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and then served in the Office of Economic Opportunity with a very young Donald Rumsfeld and even younger, 28-year-old Dick Cheney. From 1975 to 1977, he was an assistant to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Adelman became a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and then Arms Control Director for President Reagan, accompanying him on three superpower summits with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He served on the Defense Policy Board during the George W. Bush Administration and the Board of the National Center for Counter-Terrorism during the Barak Obama Administration.

Ken, who has a both Master’s degree and Doctorate degree from Georgetown University, was also national editor of Washingtonian magazine for 20 years, wrote five books and hundreds of articles, and appeared frequently on television and radio as a policy expert. Ken, alongside his wife Carol, also teaches executive leadership through the wisdom of William Shakespeare with their firm, Movers & Shakespeares.

Africa, Adventure, and Education. The Adelmans lived in Africa from 1972–1975, when Ken translated for Muhammad Ali during the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship fight. He was a member of the Zaire River Expedition in 1975, venturing down the Congo River on the 100th anniversary of Sir Henry Morton Stanley’s legendary exploration.

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Ken Adelman on Reagan at Reykjavik

Leadership Lessons from the Master: Ronald Reagan. Ken Adelman, an advisor to the president during the historic Iceland superpower summits with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, offers a dramatic, first-hand look into the character and leadership of Ronald Reagan based on his book Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours that Ended the Cold War. Told through photos, video, and personal stories, he shares what happened during the weekend that became the key turning point in the Cold War and led to the most sweeping nuclear arms accord in history. With its cliffhanger plot, powerful personalities, and sweeping significance, this summit was like nothing before or after, and Adelman is a superb storyteller as he provides an honest and up-close portrait of Reagan, showing executives what they can learn from the president during his finest moments.

National Security: Balancing Interests and Ideals. Having served as assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, a member of the Defense Policy Board for the U.S. Secretary of Defense and other advisory and authoritative roles in defense, Ken Adelman is widely regarded as one of the most credible experts on national security. In this talk, Adelman focuses on Ukraine and the dangers of Putin resorting to nuclear weapons as conflict continues to escalate. As he shares need-to-know insights on the threat of terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the rise of nation-state actors in the cybersphere, Adelman urges maintaining military might, while relating this to the impact on business and American society.

Community at a Crossroads: A Conversation on Jewish Issues. Born to a Jewish family and becoming a leading voice on issues affecting Jewish life in America, Ken Adelman gives insight into what matters most to Jewish people. He draws from his connections and conversations with high-ranking Jewish leaders, as well as his own expertise to engage audiences on topics ranging from the U.S.-Israel dynamic, the future of Israel, the resurgence of antisemitism, and what it means to be Jewish in America today.

Fascinating (and Funny) Stories from Inside the White House. In this talk, Ken Adelman takes the audience on a journey through modern presidential history, beginning with Nixon and moving to the current administration — while paying special attention to the president he served for seven years, Ronald Reagan. Throughout the session, he shares gripping stories and anecdotes from inside the White House that are complete with historical lessons on leadership, moments for reflection, and, most of all, many hilarious tales. Audience members will feel as though they are front-and-center at some of modern history’s most pivotal moments, while getting a rare opportunity to understand who our leaders are up close and personal behind the scenes.  

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