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Frank Church Society

The Frank Church Society is a dedicated group of people interested in having deep conversations with today’s leading experts and thinkers. The Society is a membership-based group within the Frank Church Institute that meets four to six times a year.

The Frank Church Society operates under the auspices of the Frank Church Institute at Boise State University. The mission of the Frank Church Society is to create opportunities for the public to engage in interactive, non-partisan discussions with experts on a broad range of issues that were important to the late Senator and continue to be vital today. If you are interested in joining the Frank Church Society, follow this link:

Membership is an Annual 250.00/person Donation to the Frank Church Society Fund

Need more information or have a Society event idea? Click here

UPCOMING EVENTS - Mark your calendars!

Frank Church

February 22nd, 2024 – Deputy Secretary of State – U.S. State Department – “Public Diplomacy and 21st Century Democracy”

March 11th, 2024 – Annual U.S. Former Members of Congress event – “Democracy is a participatory sport”


Diplomacy and Democracy

February 22, 2024

6:00pm – 8:00pm MT @ Boise State University (email for more info)

The Frank Church Society is thrilled to host Kristin M. Kane, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) of the State Department’s Bureau of Global Public Affairs.

Kristin Kane photo

PDAS Kane is a Senior Foreign Service Officer with the rank of Minister Counselor. She most recently served as Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Lisbon from 2019-2022 and then as Director of Policy at the Office of the Inspector General.

From 2016-2019, Kristin was the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy Brasilia, where she oversaw the political affairs work of one of the largest U.S. Missions in the world, during the transitions between three Brazilian presidents. Before Brasilia, Kristin directed an African Affa

irs office located in Paris, Africa Regional Services.  As Public Affairs Officer in Dakar, Senegal (also covering Guinea-Bissau); Maputo, Mozambique; and in Lagos, Nigeria, Kristin led large teams working on U.S. assistance programs — from counter-terrorism funding (TSCTP), to PEPFAR (AIDS relief) to the Millennium Corporate Challenge (MCC).

In Washington, DC, Kristin worked on policy, press, and congressional issues in the bureau of International Organizations. Early in her Foreign Service career, Kristin served in the Political-Economic and Consular sections at Embassy Lisbon.

Kristin is from Los Angeles and Monterey, California.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA), with distinction, from UC Berkeley and a Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS), cum laude, from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School.  Kristin currently speaks Portuguese and French.   She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Fouta Djallon, Guinea) and has traveled through much of sub-Saharan Africa.  She is married to Hamed Lamine Kane, an IT specialist also in the Foreign Service, and they have two young adult daughters, both in college.

A Real Diplomat Reviews Netflix’s “The Diplomat” – YouTube

What Is Public Diplomacy? [Video] – The National Museum of Am. Diplomacy (

October 18, 2023

Frank Church Society Interview with James Risen and Peter Fenn

On October 18th, the FCI held an exciting opportunity exclusively for our esteemed Frank Church Society members and special guests!  A private meet and greet with James Risen and Peter Fenn.

This unique reception provided members with the chance to engage in intimate conversations with two people who have deep understanding of the character and importance of Senator Frank Church’s life and legacy.

James Risen is an author and investigative reporter. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Risen is the author of five books. His most recent book The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys — and One Senator’s Fight to Save Democracy, is about Idaho Senator Frank Church and the Church Committee, which he co-authored with his son, Thomas Risen. James Risen’s last three books, including The Last Honest Man, have all been New York Times Best-Sellers

Risen and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area.

Peter Fenn is the founder of Fenn Communications Group. Peter served on the Senate Intelligence Committee and as Washington Chief of Staff for Senator Frank Church. In 1983, Peter helped found Center for Responsive Politics/ Open Secrets and served as their Executive Director for many years. Today Peter continues to engage in the political discourse writing for many publications and appearing on national syndicated news.

Peter lives with his wife in Washington, D.C.


July 18, 2023

5:00pm – 7:00pm MT

open primaries initiative

The Frank Church Society event, What is the Open Primaries Initiative? brought together esteemed guest speakers, Dr. Luke Mayville, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, and Veterans For Idaho Voters co-founder, Todd Achilles, for an engaging discussion on the important topic of leadership accountability and accurate and representative voter participation. During this event, members delved into the Open Primaries Initiative and its potential impact on our democratic processes. Dr. Luke Mayville shared insights from his experience as a co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, an organization dedicated to increasing citizen participation in government. Additionally, the group benefitted from the valuable perspective of Veteran and advocate, Todd Achilles, who offered his unique expertise on the matter.


March 6th, 2023 – Bipartisanship is Breaking Out All Over

Kathy Dahlkemper

Kathy Dahlkemper (D – PA) represented Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 2009 to 2011. While in Congress she worked extensively on the passage of the Affordable Care Act, authoring the Young Invincible legislation that allows young adults to remain on their parent’s health plan until 26 years of age. Dahlkemper served on the Agriculture, Science & Technology and Small Business committees, chairing the Committee on Regulation & Healthcare (Small Business Committee). Her Congressional Delegation travel included trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. Motivated to continue serving northwest Pennsylvania, Kathy ran and won election to Erie County Executive in 2013. She served in that role for 8 years, completing her second term in early January 2022. Dahlkemper spearheaded various initiatives as County Executive, including the creation of the Erie County Community College of Pennsylvania; installation of the Next Generation Radio System; submission to NOAA for a National Marine Sanctuary designation for the Lake Erie Quadrangle; the revamping of the county economic development ecosystem; renovations and expansion of services within the county library system including participation with the NW PA Beehive network with the 4 local universities; and many other internal and external initiatives to improve Erie County for its residents. She was the local leader of the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and oversaw the utilization of recovery funding, being recognized nationally for the impactful and swift use of the recovery dollars.

Erik Paulsen

Congressman Erik Paulsen (R – MN) represented Minnesota’s Third Congressional District from 2009 – 2019. He served as a leading member of the chief tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care, economic and trade policy. Erik also was the Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship, access to capital, digital trade, and key economic issues, while working with the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and Federal Reserve Board. Erik served as co-chair of the House Medical Technology Caucus and was the premier leader and advocate for the medical technology industry, the life-saving technologies it provides to patients, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports.
In addition, Erik was a member of the Deputy Whip Team and co-chaired the Digital Trade Caucus and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Caucus to promote trade with Europe. In 2019, Paulsen served as co-chair of the Pass USMCA Coalition, a group of trade associations, businesses, and advocacy groups working together to ensure the swift passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He is an independent director on the boards of Cardiovascular Solutions, Inc. and Pediatric Home Service, Inc., and is the Chairman of the Institute for Gene Therapies. Erik also is a Strategic Advisor at Total Spectrum, a government affairs firm. In addition, Erik is a board member of the Economic Club of Minnesota.


January 25th, 2023 Boise & January 26th, 2023 Sun Valley

Allison Prasch

Allison M. Prasch is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on the intersections of rhetorical theory and history, U.S. presidential rhetoric, foreign policy, and space/place. Her first book, The World is Our Stage: The Global Rhetorical Presidency and the Cold War (University of Chicago Press, 2023), examines how U.S. presidents used their international travels to expand the reach of presidential power and extend the United States’ global influence during the Cold War. Her work has been published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Southern Communication Journal, and Women’s Studies in Communication. She is the recipient of a number of scholarly awards, including the Michael Pfau Outstanding Article Award from the Political Communication Division of the National Communication Association, the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from the National Communication Association, and the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Society for the History of Rhetoric. Her expert commentary has been featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, The Conversation, C-SPAN, and Public News Service. She currently serves as the Membership Coordinator for the American Society for the History of Rhetoric and sits on the editorial boards of the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Voices of Democracy.


November 11, 2022

Valerie Biden Owens

The Frank Church Society hosted Valerie Biden Owens for multiple events, including a celebration at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, a keynote luncheon at Zions Rock Canyon Room, and a private evening event.

Valerie Biden Owens is the first woman in U.S. history to have run a presidential campaign, that of her brother, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. She also led his seven straight U.S. Senate victories and has been his principal surrogate on the campaign trail. Today, Valerie serves as Chair of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. She is a partner at Owens Patrick Leadership Seminars. Valerie sits on the Advisory Board of the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. For 20 years, when Valerie was not managing or advising President Biden’s campaigns, she served as Executive Vice President of Joe Slade White & Co., a media consulting firm. She has worked extensively with Women’s Campaign International, teaching women how to organize and develop communication and political skills. Valerie has also served on the National Board of the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee and has served for 35 years on the board of The Ministry of Caring. In 2015, Valerie delivered the keynote address for Harvard Law School’s International Women’s Day celebration and was one of 50 women presented with the school’s international “Women Inspiring Change” award. In 2021, she was named to the Forbes “50 Over 50 Women Who Are Leading the Way” impact list. Valerie is the New York Times  bestselling author of “Growing Up Biden.” She is a graduate of the University of Delaware. Valerie is married to Jack Owens, an attorney and businessman. They have three children.


September 28, 2022

Amy Herzfeld Copple

Amy joined the society for a special talk Rising White Nationalism and Anti-Democracy Movements in the West and Beyond: Strategies for Community Resilience. Our Guest speaker Amy Herzfeld-Copple is Deputy Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives at Western States Center.

Raised in Idaho, Amy has deep roots in organizing for inclusive democracy. She started volunteering for LGBTQ rights campaigns at the age of 14 and never looked back. She has been active in progressive movement building in the West for over 20 years and her past roles have included Executive Director of the Idaho Human Rights Education Center (now Wassmuth Center), Oregon State Director for Working America, and Co-Executive Director for Basic Rights Oregon. Amy first connected to Western States Center as a young human rights organizer in Boise and remained an active volunteer leader for over 18 years – including as board chair from 2007-2016 – before joining the staff as the Deputy Director of Programs & Strategic Initiatives in 2018. At WSC, Amy leads a national program team and oversees a robust portfolio of innovative projects to equip communities and democratic institutions with narratives, tools, and strategies to respond to rising white nationalism and other anti-democracy social movements.


January 6, 2022

Ty Seidule

Rediscovered Books and the Frank Church Institute welcome Brigadier General Ty Seidule to discuss his book “Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause.”

“In a forceful but humane narrative, former soldier and head of the West Point history department Ty Seidule’s “Robert E. Lee and Me” challenges the myths and lies of the Confederate legacy—and explores why some of this country’s oldest wounds have never healed.

Ty Seidule grew up revering Robert E. Lee. From his southern childhood to his service in the U.S. Army, every part of his life reinforced the Lost Cause myth: that Lee was the greatest man who ever lived, and that the Confederates were underdogs who lost the Civil War with honor. Now, as a retired brigadier general and Professor Emeritus of History at West Point, his view has radically changed. From a soldier, a scholar, and a southerner, Ty Seidule believes that American history demands a reckoning.”

Seidule is Professor Emeritus of History at West Point where he taught for two decades. He served in the U.S. Army for thirty-six years, retiring as a brigadier general in 2020. He is the Chamberlain Fellow at Hamilton College as well as a New America Fellow. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appointed Ty to the National Commission on Base Renaming. He serves as the Vice Chair.

He has published numerous books, articles, and videos on military history including the award-winning West Point History of the Civil War. Ty graduated from Washington and Lee University and holds a PhD from the Ohio State University.


December 1, 2021

joe weisberg

Watch the Conversation with Joe Weisberg on our YouTube Channel

The Frank Church Society hosted a conversation with Joe Weisberg, co-creator of the TV series, The Americans, and author of the new book Russia Upside Down.

This program was moderated by Frank Church Institute Board Member Tom Beckwith. Joining Joe for an “insiders” look into his journey and the making of the successful television series, The Americans, is Ann Blanchard, Senior Packaging Agent at CAA in Los Angeles. Steven Feldstein, Frank Church Institute Board Member and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, then guided the discussion to Weisberg’s book and US-Russian relations going forward.