2020-2021 Speakers

“A series of up-close and personal speaking experiences with eminent leaders, thinkers, and innovators of our time in an open and unbiased forum.”

 
 
 
 
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President Barack Obama
44th President of the United States (2009-2017)

Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States.

 

Few presidents have walked a more improbable path to the White House. Born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya, Obama was raised with help from his
grandparents, whose generosity of spirit reflected their Midwestern roots. The homespun values they instilled in him, paired with his innate sense of optimism, compelled Obama to devote his life to giving every child, regardless of his or her background, the same chance America gave him.

After working his way through college with the help of scholarships and student loans, Obama moved to Chicago, where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants. That experience honed his belief in the power of uniting ordinary people around a politics of purpose, in the hard work of citizenship, to bring about positive change. In law school, he became the first African-American president of
the Harvard Law Review, then he returned to Illinois to teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago and begin a career in public service, winning seats in the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate....(See Full Bio)

 

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Doris Kearns Goodwin
Pulitzer Prize-winning Presidential Historian and New York Times #1 Best-Selling Author

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a world-renowned presidential historian, public speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times #1 best-selling author.

Her seventh book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, was published in September 2018 to critical acclaim and became an instant New York Times bestseller. A culmination of Goodwin’s five-decade career of studying the American presidents focusing on Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson, the book provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field, and for all of us in our everyday lives.

Goodwin’s career as a presidential historian and author was inspired when as a 24-year-old graduate student at Harvard she was selected to join the White House Fellows, one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. Goodwin worked with Johnson in the White House and later assisted him in the writing of his memoirs...(See Full Bio)

Dr. Lisa Genova
Neuroscientist & New York Times Bestselling Author

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, she is the New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice, Left Neglected, Love Anthony, Inside the O’Briens and Every Note Played. Her first nonfiction book, REMEMBER: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting, was released March 23, 2021 and became an instant New York Times bestseller.

Lisa's extensively researched fiction focuses on people living with neurological diseases and disorders, people who tend to be ignored, feared, or misunderstood, portrayed within a narrative that is accessible to the general public. Through fiction, she is dedicated to describing with passion and accuracy the journeys of those affected by brain diseases and conditions, thereby educating, demystifying, destigmatizing, and inspiring support for care and scientific research. She has written novels about Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, autism, Huntington's disease, and ALS...(See Full Bio)

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Jay Leno
Legendary Host of "The Tonight Show" and "Jay Leno's Garage"

Acclaimed TV late night show host, admired stand-up comedian, best-selling children’s book author, much-in-demand corporate speaker, TV and movie voice-over artist, pioneering car builder and mechanic, and philanthropist…Jay Leno is widely characterized as “the hardest working man in show business.”

 

Jay Leno’s late night television ratings domination included two decades as the host of the #1-rated “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” – he never lost a ratings year in which he served as host...(See Full Bio)

 

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Annie Griffiths
Renowned National Geographic Photojournalist

One of the first women photographers to work for National Geographic, Annie Griffiths has photographed in nearly 150 countries during her illustrious career. She has worked on dozens of magazine and book projects for National Geographic, including stories on Lawrence of Arabia, Baja California, Galilee, Petra, Sydney, New Zealand, and Jerusalem.

In addition to her magazine work, Griffiths is deeply committed to photographing for aid organizations around the world. Annie is the Founder and Executive Director of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of world-class photographers, filmmakers, and journalists that identifies...(See Full Bio)

Dr. Robert Ballard
Renowned Undersea Explorer, Archaeologist, and Bestselling Author

With life experiences mirroring the adventures in his favorite childhood book, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Robert Ballard is among the world's most accomplished oceanographers. A pioneer in the development of deep-sea submersibles, he has taken part in more than 140 deep-sea expeditions and is most renowned for his discovery of the RMS TITANIC and underwater explorations of the Bismarck, Lusitania, and Britannic.

Ballard served in the U.S. Navy for more than 30 years, and now serves as the Founder & President of the Ocean Exploration Trust, Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration, and Professor of Oceanography at the University Of Rhode Island Graduate School Of Oceanography...(See Full Bio)

 

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Bob Woodward
Legendary Pulitzer Prize-Winning Investigative Journalist; Associate Editor, The Washington Post; and Author, 20 Bestsellers

Bob Woodward gained international attention when he and Carl Bernstein uncovered the Watergate scandal in 1973. Since then, he’s worked to shine a light on the inner-workings of secret government. Woodward’s factual, non-partisan revelations to readers and speech audiences provide a view of Washington they’ll never get elsewhere. Woodward has written about the last nine U.S. presidents and chronicled how the power of the presidency has evolved. He is author of 20 bestselling books – 14 went to #1 – more than any contemporary nonfiction writer. His bestseller, Fear: Trump in the White House, is the deepest dive ever made into the first months of any American president....(See Full Bio)