Past Events

April 12, 2017 – The Kelly Brothers

The Kellys are identical twin brothers who both reached the rank of captain in the U.S. Navy, serving as fighter and test pilots before joining NASA as space shuttle pilots. They are the only known siblings who have both traveled in space. Mark Kelly flew 39 combat missions for the Navy during the first Gulf War. He flew on four space shuttle missions, two as pilot and two as commander. He retired from NASA in 2011 to help his wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, continue recovering from an assassination attempt on her life. Scott Kelly flew two missions on the space shuttle, one as pilot and one as commander and served as commander of the International Space Station on three missions. On his third mission he spent 340 consecutive days on the space station, in part as a unique experiment: NASA monitored Scott Kelly’s body in the space station and Mark Kelly’s on Earth, to determine if there were any genetic effects or physical differences caused by an extended time living in space. Scott Kelly ended this mission with the record for accumulated time in space by an American astronaut, a total of 382 days. He retired from NASA in 2016.

March 29, 2017 - W. Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell is a San Francisco-based comedian, satirist and host of CNN's United Shades of America who has built his career on candid, insightful and hilarious commentary on race, politics and issues in modern American society. In the Emmy-nominated "United Shades of America", Bell travels the country, offering viewers eye-opening looks inside American subcultures, including an episode that featured the Ku Klux Klan. Bell first came to fame in 2007, with his one-man show, “The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour,” which he periodically updates as part of his lecture appearances.

Oct. 3, 2016 - Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton was an out-of-work bond trader and part-time photographer in 2010 when he moved to New York City and decided to put his photography skills to work in a blog: Humans of New York, popularly known as HONY. His first idea was to take photos of 10,000 New Yorkers and plot them on a map. But then he began telling short stories about each person he photographed. The result was an internet phenomenon: to date Humans of New York has more than 22.5 million followers on Facebook and Instagram. He discovered that people who used the technology of the internet still had a huge appetite for stories about other people.Stanton has published two best-selling books, Humans of New York, which stayed on top of the New York Times bestseller list for 45 weeks, and HONY: Stories, another number one on that list.

April 18, 2016 – Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach is widely recognized as one of the world’s greatest soccer players, an intense competitor, with a history of clutch goals. She is the all-time leading scorer in international soccer history, with 184 career goals, but she is also known as the leading voice for women’s sports and for her generation of female soccer players and athletes. Wambach grew up in Rochester, New York and played college soccer at the University of Florida, where she was part of the NCAA championship team in 2001. In the 2004 and 2012 Olympics she led the USA team in scoring, taking home gold medals both years. She missed the 2008 Olympics because of a broken leg. She was also the leading scorer in the 2008 and 2011 Women’s World Cup tournaments, was named the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, and in 2015 was both World Cup Champion and one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. She continues to serve as ambassador for Right to Play and UN Women among other organizations, and she plans to continue working to inspire young people to work to achieve their goals.

February 25th, 2016 - Ari Fleischer and David Axelrod

Ari Fleischer was White House press secretary for President George W. Bush from January 2001 to July 2003, serving in the time following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He had a lengthy career as press secretary for several members of Congress and as spokesman for the Ways and Means Committee for the U.S. House of Representatives. He currently runs Ari Fleischer Sports Communications, and has worked as media consultant for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.

David Axelrod served as chief strategist for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. He was appointed senior adviser to the president following the election, leaving in 2011 to lead Obama's successful re-election campaign. He currently serves as the director of the non-partisan Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and is a senior political commentator for CNN.

February 18th, 2016 - Daymond John

Daymond John is the founder and chief executive officer of the clothing company FUBU – “for us, by us” – which he started with friends in his mother’s basement in Queens, New York, and is now a $6 billion brand. He joined the Emmy award-winning reality series Shark Tank in 2009. On the program John and four other business executives hear business pitches from everyday people, and decide whether or not to invest money in their projects.

John also works as a consultant and motivational speaker, sharing his expertise with everyone from students and aspiring entrepreneurs to small business owners and CEOs of major corporations.

September 18, 2015 - Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

Taylor was a highly regarded brain researcher when she suffered a stroke in 1996. It took her eight years to completely recover, but her training and knowledge of how the brain works made her uniquely able to analyze and learn from what she went through. Her “stroke of insight” started her on a mission to help others experience the world more fully, using both sides of their brains.

April 23, 2015 - Apollo 13 Astronauts

James Lovell and Fred Haise were captain and lunar module pilot of Apollo 13 when it was launched on April 11, 1970. This was intended to be the third NASA mission to land men on the moon. Two days into the flight, during a routine maneuver, an oxygen tank on the service module exploded, crippling the spacecraft. Apollo 13 and its three-man crew were some 200,000 miles from Earth.

Gene Krantz, back at Mission Control in Houston, worked with the crew and a team of NASA engineers and astronauts to solve a series of critical problems on the craft, including limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of clean water, and the need to repair the carbon dioxide removal system. Their desperate efforts were successful: Apollo 13 and crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

April 9, 2015 - Bob Woodward

Woodward and Carl Bernstein were the main reporters for the Washington Post during the Watergate scandal, for which the Post won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. They co-authored two books on the scandal, All the President’s Men and The Final Days. Woodward was the lead reporter for the Post's articles on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks that won the National Affairs Pulitzer Prize in 2002. He has written 17 best-selling books based on his reporting and is currently an associate editor for the Post.

October 8, 2014 - Call for Hope: Kevin Hines and Kevin Briggs

Kevin Hines is author of the personal memoir Cracked But Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt. He is one of the few people to jump from the Golden Gate Bridge and survive. He recalls his first thought after jumping was “I don’t want to die.” He was seriously injured recovered and dedicated his life to working for suicide prevention.

Kevin Briggs is a retired California Highway Patrol sergeant who earned the nickname “Guardian of the Golden Gate” for helping convince people not to jump from the San Francisco Bridge on more than 200 occasions. He patrolled the bridge for 23 years and was known for his patience, commitment and ability to convince people not to jump. Since retiring he has become a leader in promoting suicide intervention and prevention, crisis training and management worldwide.

September 19, 2014- Bill Nye

Bill Nye is a scientist, educator, television personality, engineer, comedian, author and inventor, and he is on a self-proclaimed mission to help people everywhere understand and appreciate science.

March 5, 2014 - Condoleezza Rice

Rice served as the 66th secretary of state of the United States, the second woman and first African American woman to hold the post. Rice also served as Bush’s assistant to the president for National Security Affairs (National Security Advisor) from January 2001-2005, the first woman to hold the position.                                     

November 12, 2013 - Nick Nichols

He is a wildlife journalist who did his first story for National Geographic magazine in 1989 and was named editor-at-large for photography in 2008. He is known for his powerful and beautiful images, as well as his innovative photographic techniques.

April 29, 2013 - John Legend

He is more than a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and producer who has sold millions of albums worldwide in the last 10 years.  He is also an informed social activist who uses his fame, his philanthropy and his music to address issues of education, poverty, sustainability and health, both in the United States and around the world.                       

April 7, 2013 - Steve Wozniak

The inventor and engineer affectionately known as “the Woz” and often credited with launching the personal computer revolution. He designed and built the Apple I computer, and in 1976 Apple Computer Inc. was born.                   

October 5, 2012 – Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, is internationally known for her groundbreaking studies of chimpanzee behavior and revered as founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and United Nations Messenger of Peace. She has won numerous awards for her environmental and humanitarian work.

March 7, 2012 - Elie Wiesel

Born on September 30, 1928, in Sighet, Transylvania (then and now part of Romania), Elie Wiesel pursued Jewish religious studies before his family was forced to relocate to Nazi death camps during WWII. Wiesel survived, and later wrote the internationally acclaimed memoirNight. He has also penned many books and become an activist, orator and teacher, speaking out against persecution and injustice across the globe.

November 28, 2011 - Aron Ralston

On a solo excursion into Blue John Canyon in Utah in April, 2003 he was trapped by an 800 pound boulder that dislodged and crushed his right arm, pinning him against the canyon wall. He had told no one where he was going, had no means to communicate, and no hope of being rescued. On the sixth day of his ordeal he used the two-inch knife blade of a multi-use tool to cut off the lower part of his right arm. He then rappelled out of the canyon and started hiking across the desert. A vacationing family spotted him and managed to contact a rescue helicopter.

Ralston’s ordeal made national headlines, earning him ongoing coverage in national television, newspapers, magazines and online media. He wrote a book about his experience, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, published in 2004. The 2010 film, 127 Hours, retold his story, with James Franco starring as Ralston. The film received several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

November 10, 2011 - General Wesley Clark

During his 34 years in the U.S. Army, Wesley Clark rose to the rank of four-star general and was named director for strategic plans and policy of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Supreme Allied Commander and Commander in Chief of the U.S. European Command, Clark commanded Operation Allied Force, NATO’s first major combat action, which saved 1.5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

October 20, 2011 - Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni grew up in Cincinnati and first came to national prominence in the late 1960s with the publication of her first books of poetry, Black Feeling, Black Talk and Black Judgment. She has published 30 books so far in her career, including poetry, essay collections and children’s books. Rosa, her collaboration with illustrator Bryan Collier, is a children's picture book about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks. It was a Caldecott Honors Book and reached No. 3 on The New York Times Bestseller list.

May 11, 2011 - His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama was born Lhamo Thondup in Taktser, China. At age 15, he assumed political power of Tibet as the Dalai Lama. The People's Republic of China invaded that same year. Fearing assassination, he and thousands of followers fled to Dharamsala in northern India, where they established an alternative government. Since then, the Dalai Lama has taken numerous actions in hopes of establishing an autonomous Tibetan state within the People's Republic of China. The Dalai Lama has also conducted hundreds of conferences, lectures and workshops worldwide, as part of his humanitarian efforts. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. 

March 16, 2011 - Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani rose to national prominence in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. He was widely praised for his leadership in the weeks after the bombing and was a visible presence in the national media, expressing the emotions and determination of the people of New York. He was hailed as “America’s Mayor” by Oprah Winfrey, a label that was adopted by many in the media. He was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2001.

November 4, 2010 - Christopher Gardner

Chris Gardner is known for his chronicled journey from homeless father to millionaire stockbroker in his autobiography The Pursuit of Happiness. Gardner’s life story was published in 2006 and was a best seller in both hardback and paperback editions. It has been translated into 14 languages and inspired the 2006 movie of the same name. In 2009 Gardner published his second book, Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Gardner remains a successful businessman, but in his work, his writing and his speaking engagements he says that his foremost goal is to help others achieve their full potential.

January 19, 2010 - Martin Luther King III

Martin Luther King III has been a strong advocate for equality and justice both in the United States and in the rest of the world. He served as leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1997 to 2004. In 2006 he founded the nonprofit coalition Realizing the Dream to work to end poverty in this country and to campaign for peace and human rights internationally.

October 13, 2009 - Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

The 64-year-old Olmert served as prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, following a long career in Israeli politics. He was first elected to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in 1973. He served two terms as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003, before returning to the Knesset. During his time in parliament he held three cabinet positions, in which he was responsible for minority affairs, health and industry and trade. He was serving as deputy prime minister in 2006 when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke. Olmert served as acting prime minister until new elections were held, and took office as prime minister in May 2006.

April 6, 2009 - Former President George Herbert Walker Bush

George H.W. Bush fought in WWII and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was Ronald Reagan's VP for two terms and then won the 1988 presidential race, losing his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton. He has since made appearances for George W. Bush, his oldest son, and started the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with President Clinton.

October 16, 2008 - Magic Johnson

Earvin “Magic” Johnson – entrepreneur, philanthropist, HIV/AIDS activist, and one of the National Basketball Association’s “50 Greatest Players". In 1991 Johnson created the Magic Johnson Foundation as a nonprofit public charity to promote HIV/AIDS treatment and awareness. It has since grown to help “develop programs and support community-based organizations that address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities,” according to the foundation’s Web site. The foundation has donated more than $1.1 million to community-based organizations that focus on HIV/AIDS education and prevention. In addition, it has provided college scholarships for more than 800 minority high school students, opened 20 Magic Johnson Community Empowerment Centers located in underserved communities across the country, and provided a range of community-based initiatives.

April 29, 2008 - Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine who has placed two books on top of the New York Times bestseller’s list. The most recent, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), is about instinctive reasoning, the process the mind uses to make snap decisions and arrive at first impressions.

April 1, 2008 - Apollo Ohno

Apolo Ohno, a Seattle native, became the youngest person to win an overall U.S. championship in short-track speed skating when he was only 14 years old, in 1997. At 15, however, he failed to make the 1998 U.S. Olympic team, and faced a personal crisis. He now describes himself in those days as a rebellious and undisciplined teenager who had to decide if he wanted to make the commitment required to be an Olympic-caliber athlete. He made that commitment and within the next four years he became the first American to win a World Cup title and earned a place on the 2002 Olympic team. He won gold and silver medals in the 2002 Winter Olympics, three more World Cup overall titles in the next three years and in the 2006 Winter Olympics he claimed his second gold medal, along with two bronze medals.

February 20, 2008 - Anderson Cooper

In 2003, CNN gave Cooper his own news show, Anderson Cooper 360, on which he examines in depth major stories of the day. The show was an instant success, and Cooper himself became a household name, propelled by his coverage of such events as Hurricane Katrina, the death of Pope John Paul II and the revolution in Lebanon.

Cooper and his show have won several major honors, including several Emmy Awards. Additionally, outside of Anderson Cooper 360, he has won an Emmy Award, a National Headliners Award for his tsunami coverage, a Silver Plaque from the Chicago International Film Festival, a Bronze Award from the National Educational Film and Video Festival, and a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Journalism, among others honors.

April 30, 2007 - Geraldine Ferraro

While Ferraro is best known for her bid as a vice presidential candidate, that is only a small part of her life in public service. Ferraro was first elected to Congress from New York’s Ninth Congressional District in Queens in 1978 and served three terms in the House of Representatives. Her committee assignments in Congress included the Public Works Committee, Post Office and Civil Service Committee, and Budget Committee.

April 18, 2007 - Salman Rushdie

Rushdie was condemned to death in 1989 by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who issued a “fatwa” — a religious decree — calling on Muslims to execute Rushdie for insulting Islam and the prophet Mohammed in his novel “The Satanic Verses.” Rushdie went into hiding in England for much of the next decade, only gradually re-emerging into public life during the last seven years, after the fatwa was lifted in 1998.

March 30, 2006 - James Carville and Mary Matalin

Carville and Matalin are political experts and Washington insiders; between them they’ve advised every U.S. president for the past 25 years. Together they’ve become one of the most influential “power couples” inside the Beltway. They’ve both been hosts of CNN’s Crossfire, they’ve written several books and co-written a best seller, and explored the world of politicians, lobbyists and consultants on the HBO series “K Street.”

Beyond that they don’t have much in common. Carville is an outspoken liberal; Matalin is a no-nonsense conservative. She’s a Yankee from Illinois; he’s the “Ragin’ Cajun” from Louisiana. He ran Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign all the way to the White House; she was deputy campaign manager for the man Clinton defeated, President George H.W. Bush.

November 28, 2005 - Seymour Hersch (canceled because of weather)

Hersch has been a contributor to The New Yorker magazine for more than 30 years, uncovering some of the most important stories during those times. He has focused his research during the last three decades on the abuse of power, especially in the name of national security.

April 13, 2005 - Robert Redford

Robert Redford has proved to be one of the greatest talents in American film, starring in classics such as The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  In 1978, Redford helped start the Sundance Film Festival, which has grown into one of the film industry's most prestigious events.  He has also moved successfully into producing and directing.  

November 18, 2004 - The Capitol Steps

The Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them. The group was born in December, 1981 when some staffers for Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. Their first idea was to stage a nativity play, but in the whole Congress they couldn't find three wise men or a virgin. So, they decided to dig into the headlines of the day, and they created song parodies & skits which conveyed a special brand of satirical humor.

Since they began, the Capitol Steps have recorded over 30 albums, including their latest, How to Succeed in Congress Without Really Lying. They've been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, and can be heard 4 times a year on National Public Radio stations nationwide during their Politics Takes a Holiday radio specials.

April 1, 2004 - Dave Barry

A writer who has built a career out of finding the humor in nearly everything, Dave Barry was born on July 3, 1947, in Armonk, New York. He first started out as a reporter in the early 1970s, and later developed a newspaper column that provided readers with his comic take on daily life. At its peak, his weekly column eventually appeared in more than 500 newspapers.

November 23, 2003 - Ben Stein and Al Franken

Ben Stein studied economics and law, and worked at the Federal Trade Commission. During the Watergate scandal, he became a speech writer for Richard Nixon. Throughout this time, Stein also had a foot in Hollywood, and in 1986 he got a bit part in Ferris Bueller's Day Off as an economics teacher droning attendance. Stein received more movie roles and hosted a game show, Win Ben Stein's Money.

Al Franken first gained notice as a writer, comedian, and sharp political satirist during his long tenure on the comedy sketch program, Saturday Night Live. He wrote for and performed on SNL from its inaugural season in 1975 to 1980; he returned in 1985 and served as one of the show's producers until 1995. He is currently a junior senator of Minnesota.

January 21, 2003 - James Earl Jones

Jones suffered from a stuttering problem as a child and took up acting to help him get rid of it. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and soon began a career on Broadway. In 1959, he won a Tony award for his role as a prizefighter in The Great White Hope. He later reprised the role on film and in 1971 was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. Jones gained widespread fame as the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films. He also starred with Kevin Costner in the award winning film Field of Dreams. His rich, melodic voice can be heard doing voiceovers for CNN and as the voice of King Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King.

October 24, 2002 - Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto

As the former prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto is considered a living icon of the battle for democracy, and stands with only a handful of female executive leaders who have shaped the global events of the last century.

A leader of his country in both war and peace, Ehud Barak served until recently as Israel’s 10th prime minister. During his tenure, Prime Minister Barak lead Israel out of prolonged recession into an economic boom, with 5.9 percent annual growth, record foreign investments, near zero inflation, a halved deficit and significantly decreased external debt.