Dr. Richard Downie

President & CEO

(213) 312-9458 

Richard Downie is President & CEO of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall. He is also on the faculties of the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point and Missouri State University’s Defense and Strategic Studies Program. Additionally, he chairs the Pacific Council on International Policy’s Mexico Initiative Advisory Board, and serves on the Boards of the World Hwa Rang Do Association and Westport Construction Inc., He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. A graduate of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point (Class of 1976), he holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Southern California. Previously, Dr. Downie served for nine years as the Director (SES-3 level) of the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington, D.C., the Department of Defense’s regional security center for the Americas. At the Perry Center, he led a wide variety of courses, seminars and conferences on security and defense topics, as well as dialogues and workshops for ministries of defense and cabinet-level national leaders. During a distinguished military career, he held a wide variety of command and staff positions, serving as an Infantryman and as a Foreign Area Officer specializing in Latin America. Dr. Downie had several assignments in Germany; was an exchange officer in Colombia, where he completed the LANCERO (International Ranger) School as the distinguished graduate; worked at both the U.S. Army South and the United States Southern Command in Panama; coordinated Western Hemisphere affairs on the U.S. Joint Staff; served with the Multinational Specialized Unit in Bosnia; and was the Defense and Army Attaché in Mexico. His final U.S. Army assignment was in command of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), where he served as the Institute’s first Commander. Dr. Downie authored Learning from Conflict: The U.S. Military in Vietnam, El Salvador and the Drug War, Greenwood Press, as well as numerous scholarly articles and other publications. His military education includes the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Course and the Defense Strategy Course. He was also a Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Seminar XXI Program. His numerous US and foreign awards and decorations include: the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious and the Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service and Army Commendation and Achievement Medals, the Army Expeditionary Medal, the Inter-American Defense Board Medal, the Order of Military Merit (Colombia), the Bosnia/ Former Yugoslavia NATO Medal, the Order of Military Merit (Mexico), the Order of the Peruvian Cross (Peru), the Order of Merit for Democracy, Grand Knight level (Colombia), the Superior War College Medal (Colombia), the First Medal of Laws (University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico), and the Order of St. Maurice (Cdr-level).

Alexander Messmann

Executive Vice President

(213) 725-9099 

Alexander Messmann has been with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall since 1987. He studied at universities in Germany and the United States and obtained a graduate degree in Public Administration from the University of Konstanz. Before starting his tenure at the Council, he had worked at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York and as a research assistant at the University of Konstanz.


Spencer Gross

Programs and Events Manager

(213) 328-4861 

Spencer Gross is the Programs Manager for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall. Before joining LAWACTH he was the lead Program Coordinator for the East-West Center in Washington's flagship Asia Matters for America/America Matters for Asia initiative and led the Center's Young Professional Program. During his time with the East-West Center in Washington, he oversaw the research and writing of multiple Asia Matters publications including those on Korea, Japan, Taiwan, ASEAN, The Philippines, Asia, and a groundbreaking publication on public and elite attitudes in the United States towards the Indo-Pacific. Spencer received his B.A. in Political Science with a minor in History from The George Washington University and studied abroad at King's College London and the University of Cape Town. He received his Master's from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC where he concentrated in International Political Economy with a minor in Korea Studies and a specialization in emerging markets. Before attending Johns Hopkins Spencer led the Customer Success team at El Segundo-based educational technology startup GoGuardian, and was an English teacher in South Korea. Spencer has traveled extensively visiting over twenty countries and self-governing territories including North and South Korea, South Africa, and Argentina.


Victoire Auguste-Dormeuil

Membership Manager

(213) 328-3181 

Victoire Auguste-Dormeuil is the Membership Manager for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall (LAWACTH). She brings two decades of transatlantic business expertise, having graduated from the prestigious Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris and holding a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Victoire began her career in London's high-stakes world of mergers and acquisitions with Smith Barney, later acquired by Morgan Stanley. Her career then took a creative detour into the entertainment industry, working for MTV (Paramount Media Networks) and Fashion TV, and eventually launching her own music production companies in Paris. In 2002, she transitioned to Southern California, returning to her financial roots. She served as a financial advisor for industry giants UBS Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch, later moving into business operations management in the manufacturing sector. More recently, she founded Auguste-Dormeuil & Associates Inc., a consulting firm specializing in providing foreign businesses with comprehensive, end-to-end solutions for U.S. market entry and expansion. In recognition of her efforts in fostering connections among entrepreneurs and bridging relationships with public entities, Victoire was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce as a member of the District Export Council of Southern California (DECSC) in 2024. Fluent in French, English, and Russian, she is a global citizen and an intrepid traveler, having visited over 50 countries. Her passions extend to economy and philosophy, hiking, ocean kayaking, and the appreciation of fine wines.


Rachel Kenderdine

Community Manager

(213) 328-3181 

Rachel Kenderdine serves as the Community Manager at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall. In this position, Rachel leads the strategic growth and development of the LAWACTH community through relationship-building and communications. Rachel oversees member relations, the High School Program, and serves as the livestream producer for all virtual events. Rachel's previous experience includes roles at nonprofits in the education and youth justice spaces. She has a B.A. from George Mason University and a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.


Katie Gilman

Membership & Communications coordinator

(213) 328-5243 

Katie Gilman is the Membership & Communications Coordinator for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall. As Membership & Communications Coordinator, Katie will work directly with members to provide support and create digital content to share on our website and social platforms. She graduated from the University of Southern California where she received a B.A. in Communication. Her experience includes working closely with a nonprofit organization expanding arts programs for youth in her hometown of Portland, Maine, as well as being a summer intern for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.


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