Leadership and Public Service
Katherine Boo
Bestselling Author │ Journalist │ Pulitzer Prize Winner

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo has devoted much of her career to writing about poverty here and abroad. Recipient of the 2012 National Book Award for Nonfiction and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Boo’s bestseller Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a gripping account of life in a Mumbai slum. A landmark work of narrative nonfiction, it tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the 21st century’s great, unequal cities. In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human. With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.


Read More >

Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon
Author │ Energy & Security Expert │ Political Scientist

A leading expert on resilience theory and the intricate links between nature, technology, and society, Thomas Homer-Dixon is the author of The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, which was a #1 best-seller in Canada, a Globe and Mail Top 100 pick, and the winner of the 2006 National Business Book Award, along with The Ingenuity Gap and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence. In uncomplicated language, Homer-Dixon shows how challenges such as global warming, energy scarcity, economic instability, and infoglut affect us and challenges audiences to consider new ways in which we can adapt and prosper in a world of ever-greater complexity and interdependence. He is the editor of Carbon Shift: How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change Will Define the Future, a collection of six essays by top international experts in economics, geology, politics, and science. He has presented to the CIA, The World Bank, the World Economic Forum, The Council on Foreign Relations, The National Security Council, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and at many universities, including Harvard, Cambridge, Yale, University of Chicago, Stanford and West Point among others.


Read More >

Piper Kerman
Bestselling Author │ Memoirist │Prison Reform Activist

Author of the New York Times bestseller Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman's Prison. This eye opening memoir recounts the year that Piper spent in the Danbury Correctional Facility for a crime she had committed ten years prior as a very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking. Compelling, moving, and often hilarious, the stories of the women she met while in prison raise issues of friendship and family, mental illness, the odd cliques and codes of behavior, the role of religion, the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailor, and the almost complete lack of guidance for life after prison. Her #1 New York Times Bestselling memoir was the inspiration behind the Peabody Award-winning, critically acclaimed Netflix series of the same name, which has been renewed for a second season. Kerman has delivered lectures to campuses across the country along with groups that include the White House, American Correctional Association’s Disproportionate Minority Confinement Task Force, federal probation officers, public defenders, justice reform advocates and volunteers, and formerly and currently incarcerated people. She serves on the board of the Women’s Prison Association. She speaks about the power of women’s communities, the need for prison reform and support for people after incarceration, her life and experiences and the memoir and television series.


Read More >

Tracy Kidder
Bestselling Author │ Journalist │ Essayist

Kidder’s exceptional and prolific writing career took off in 1983 with The Soul of a New Machine, a book celebrated for its insight into the world of high-tech corporate America that earned him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Other bestselling works include House, Among Schoolchildren , Old Friends , and Home Town. Regarded as a master of nonfiction narrative, Kidder has enjoyed enormous success with Mountains Beyond Mountains and Strength in What Remains, which have been extremely popular with campus and community Common Read programs. Mountains tells the story of charismatic humanitarian Dr. Paul Farmer and his efforts to address the global health crises of AIDS and TB through his NGO Partners In Health. Strength chronicles the tale of a young medical student, Deo, who survives the ethnic civil war in Burundi and emigrates to the U.S. to find redemption through education and service to others. Both books are masterful accounts of real people who have prevailed against seemingly impossible circumstances to better our world. Tracy Kidder’s writing has appeared in numerous periodicals over the years, including The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Granta, and The New York Times. His latest book, Good Prose, is a guide to the craft of nonfiction, written with his long-time editor Richard Todd. He is currently at work on a new book.

Selected Books: Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Strength in What Remains, The Soul of a New Machine, Good Prose


Read More >

Alex Kotlowitz
Bestselling Author │ Journalist │ Documentary Filmmaker

Award-winning journalist Alex Kotlowitz, lauded for his unflinching portrayal of race and poverty in America, is the author of the bestselling works of nonfiction There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River. He recently produced the critically-acclaimed documentary The Interrupters, with director Steve James (Hoop Dreams), which was inspired by an article Kotlowitz wrote about urban violence in Chicago for The New York Times Magazine. Hailed by A.O. Scott of The New York Times as one of the “must see” documentaries of 2011, The Interrupters was praised by The Miami Herald as “a heartbreaking, empowering documentary about inner-city violence” and was awarded the 2012 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. A staff writer for The Wall Street Journal from 1984-1993, Kotlowitz remains an active journalist and is a regular contributor to National Public Radio (This American Life, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition) and The New York Times Magazine. He is currently working on a new book.

Selected Books: There are No Children Here, Never a City So Real


Read More >

Christopher Phillips
Bestselling Author │ Founder, Constitution & Socrates Cafés │ Social Entrepreneur 

Christopher Phillips, The New York Times bestselling author of Socrates Café, Six Questions of Socrates, and Socrates in Love, has a passion for inquiry. A foremost specialist in the Socratic Method, he reminds us that we ought to ask questions—as Socrates put it in Plato’s the Republic, “about the way one should live.” Phillips’s inquiries reveal surprising points of intersection between classical philosophy, modern life, and the intellectual richness of diverse societies. Energized by the initial optimism surrounding Obama’s presidency and concerned with the increasingly fierce nature of the partisanship infecting Congress, Phillips’s latest project is Constitution Café, an effort to engage everyday Americans in constructive dialogue and debate about the nature of our government, the meaning of citizenship, and our most important political documents. Phillips has taught at New York University and is the founder and executive director of the Constitution Café and the Society for Philosophical Inquiry (SPI).  He is a Network Fellow at Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics and the first Senior Fellow at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and is at work on his next novel, What to Expect When You’re Childing: A Philosophy of Human Flowering.

Selected Books: Constitution Café, Six Questions of Socrates, Socrates Café.


Read More >

Dr. Geoff Tabin, MD
Physician │ Humanitarian

One of Dr. Tabin’s greatest passions—mountain climbing—led him to a career of incredible humanitarianism through medical service. After summiting Mt. Everest, on one of his expeditions, he came across a Dutch team performing cataract surgery on a woman who had been suffering from curable blindness. He then realized that in the developing world blindness can be a death sentence and he decided to do something about it. He and his partner Dr. Sanduk Ruit have pioneered a low cost ($20) surgical technique that restores sight to those with cataracts and vowed to work to eliminate all preventable and treatable blindness through their NGO, The Himalayan Cataract Project (www.cureblindness.org) which serves thousands of people each year in the Himalaya and Sub-Saharan Africa. Their amazing story is the subject of David Oliver Relin’s book, Second Suns. Tabin is Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Director of the Division of International Ophthalmology at the John A. Moran Eye Center, University of Utah. Tabin is only the fourth person in the world to reach the tallest peak on each of the seven continents, however he brings even greater passion and drive to the practice of medicine and healing.


Read More >