Past Events

The image is a collage of people, past speakers hosted by the Distinguished Lectures Committee. It features individuals from 2013 to 2023 and includes both men and women smiling and posing.

From left to right: Row 1: Bill Nye, Condoleezza Rice, John Legend, Kevin Briggs, Kevin Hines, Fred Haise, Ken Mattingly, Jim Lovell. Row 2: Bob Woodward, Steve Wozniak, Molly Rawn, Daymond John, Tony Hale, Laverne Cox, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Abby Wambach. Row 3: Scott Kelly, Mark Kelly, Gloria Steinem, Venus Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Angela Davis, Jill Bolte Taylor, John White. Row 4: John White, John White, David Axelrod, Jennette McCurdy, Tan France, Skip Rutherford, Olivia Trimble, Tyler James Williams, Nick Nichols. Row 5: Laura Bush, Brandon Stanton, Aly Raisman, John Green, Tarana Burke, Bob Goff, Ezra Klein.

List of all the DLC presentations:

March 27, 2024 - Daveed Diggs

Daveed Diggs originated the double role of “Thomas Jefferson” and “Marquis de Lafayette” in the global sensation, Hamilton: An American Musical and won a Tony Award and a Grammy Award for his performance. He reprised his dual role in the Hamilton movie on Disney+ and earned nominations for an Emmy and a SAG Award.

February 28, 2024 - Dr. Bernice King

Dr. Bernice King is the youngest daughter of the late civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Coretta Scott King. An ordained minister, King holds a degree in psychology from Spelman College, as well as a Master of Divinity and Juris Doctor from Emory University. A licensed attorney, King has worked with the Fulton County Juvenile Detention Court in Georgia and was influential in the passage of Georgia’s 2020 Hate Crime legislation. She is the author of Hard Questions, Hard Answers, and the children’s book It Starts with Me. King serves as the CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change which, as a living memorial, provides visitors with a place to learn about the life and work of her father. King continues her parents’ legacy by educating youth and adults worldwide about nonviolent principles and strategies in the Kingian philosophy of nonviolence, which she has rebranded Nonviolence365™. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for her work across the globe and is committed to sharing her parents’ teachings with new generations.

November 9, 2023 - John Green

John Green is a New York Times bestselling author of books popular in the Young Adult genre including Looking for Alaska, Turtles All the Way Down, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and The Fault in Our Stars, the last of which became a major motion picture in 2014. He has sold more than 24 million copies of his books in 55 languages across the world. Though most of Green’s books focus on fictional teens' “coming of age”, his most recent book, The Anthropocene Reviewed, was developed from his podcast of the same name and examines different aspects of the world we live in today.

April 27, 2023 - Tyler James Williams

Tyler James Williams is the 2023 Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, Comedy or Drama for his role of ‘Gregory Eddie’ in the hit award-winning series Abbott Elementary. After hitting it off with Quinta Brunson on A Black Lady Sketch Show, she specifically wrote the Abbott Elementary substitute teacher character with Williams in mind. He will next be seen recurring in the sketch comedy History Of The World: Part II which premiers on Hulu on March 6, 2023. Outside of acting, Williams is a talented musician, songwriter, and producer with songs available on iTunes. Born in Harlem, N.Y.C. and raised in Yonkers, Williams lives between New York and Los Angeles. 

December 5, 2022 - Jennette McCurdy

As a  New York Times  bestselling author, McCurdy has been showcasing her multitude of talents for over 20 years, with more than 100 credits under her belt between film and TV. Most recently, McCurdy has chronicled the unflinching details surrounding her life and rise to fame in her newly released memoir,  I'm Glad My Mom Died . In the inspiring book of resilience and independence, McCurdy uses candor and dark humor as she dives into her struggles as a former child actor — including eating disorders, addiction and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother — and how she retook control of her life. 

April 12, 2022 - Venus Williams

With seven Grand Slam titles, five Wimbledon championships and four Olympic gold medals, tennis champion Venus Williams is arguably one of the most accomplished and inspiring women in the history of sports. Not only a force on the court, Williams parlayed her fine-tuned business acumen with her healthy competitive spirit into two successful design ventures:  V Starr , a full-service commercial and residential design firm, and fashion-forward lifestyle and activewear brand,  EleVen by Venus Williams . Most recently, Venus served as an Executive Producer on the Warner Brothers Oscar-winning biopic  King Richard , which detailed the influence her father and coach, Richard Williams, had on her as she became a tennis icon and changed the sport for generations to come

Feburary 9, 2022 - Tan France 

Tan France, successful fashion designer and witty wardrobe wiz, leads the charge in the fashion department on the Emmy-winning makeover hit and Netflix re-boot, Queer Eye. One makeover at a time, France showcases how the experience is so much more than just new clothes; it’s about real-life issues, changes, and acceptance on all sides. Following the global success of Queer Eye, Tan released his New York Times bestselling memoir, Naturally Tan, which reveals what it was like to grow up gay in a traditional South Asian family, as one of the few people of color in South Yorkshire, England. Tan also released the first season of his viral YouTube series, Dressing Funny, which features him making over his celebrity friends, including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Nick Kroll, Miranda Sings, Pete Davidson, and John Mulaney. He also co-hosts a Netflix competition series Next in Fashion and a MasterClass Style for Everyone. He is the host of the Queer Icons podcast and has a gender-neutral clothing line, ‘Was Him’. 

November 10, 2021 - Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem, American journalist, political activist, and feminist, began her career as a freelance writer in New York. She first gained recognition for her exposé, published in Show magazine in 1963, recounting her experience as an undercover bunny in Hugh Hefner’s Manhattan Playboy Club. Steinem later worked as a political columnist and feature writer for New York magazine, again commanding national attention for her 1969 piece entitled “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation”.  Steinem is best known for her role in the women’s liberation movement during the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries. She co-founded the Women’s Action Alliance and the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971, Ms. Magazine and the Ms. Foundation for Women in 1972, Voters for Choice in 1979, and the Women’s Media Center in 2004. Author of the bestselling My Life on the Road and recipient of numerous esteemed awards, including the Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Steinem continues to express her feminist views and advocate for social equality.

April 6, 2021 - Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman, team captain of the gold medal winning Women’s Gymnastics teams in 2012 and 2016, is the second most decorated American gymnast of all-time. The most decorated U.S. gymnast at the 2012 Games, Raisman captured the hearts of millions as she became the first American gymnast to win gold in the floor exercise. One of only two U.S. gymnasts to make back-to-back teams in more than 15 years, she helped guide the team to gold and landed a silver medal performance in the All-Around competition at the 2016 Games. A leader on and off the floor, Raisman uses her platform to help normalize the conversation around mental health, promote positive body image and the importance of self-care. In her New York Times best-selling memoir, Fierce , she shares the highs and lows of her journey, including her survival of sexual abuse. Inspired by an army of survivors, Raisman continues to advocate for systematic changes within the sport of gymnastics and the eradication of sexual abuse.

Febuary 16, 2021 - Angela Davis

For over fifty years, Angela Davis has been recognized as a committed torchbearer in the struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice. A professor, activist, and cultural icon, Davis’ voice has been and continues to be instrumental to social reform. She is the author of ten books, including recent works Are Prisons Obsolete? and a collection of essays, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement . Davis has taught at a number of American colleges and universities including San Francisco State University, Mills College, and UC Berkeley. She currently serves as the Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and of Feminist Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz. In addition to teaching in the classroom, Davis has shared her expertise and scholarship in lectures throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. Central to her work as an educator are her own experiences as a leading activist of the seventies. Davis’ recent activism is dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. She founded the prison system abolition organization Critical Resistance in 1997, and she works closely with the abolitionist group Sisters Inside in Queensland, Australia.

Nov. 5, 2020 – Bob Goff

Bob Goff, “recovering lawyer,” author, and motivational speaker, is a  philanthropist and life-coach. He has secured international acclaim as a professional motivator. Goff founded human rights organization Love Does, formerly known as Restore International, in 2003 with the goal of addressing the needs of children living in zones of conflict. Love Does currently operates schooling facilities and safe houses in Uganda, Nepal, India, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Goff’s books Love Does, published in 2012, and Everybody Always, published in 2018, were both featured on “The New York Times” best-sellers lists. In 2016, Goff created the Dream Big Framework, a step-by-step guide for individuals to realize their full potential and to pursue their dreams. Goff enlivens his audiences with optimism, and he equips them with the tools to achieve their own definition of success.


Oct. 22, 2020 – Growing Pains: Olivia Trimble

Olivia Trimble, Northwest Arkansas native and Fayetteville-based artist, is the founder of Sleet City Signs + Murals and of the Repaint Hate initiative. Trimble comes from a family of muralists, starting her own company in 2011. Her murals and signs can be seen around Fayetteville at Onyx Coffee, Pink House Alchemy, and at the downtown square. In addition to beautifying Fayetteville, Trimble serves on the boards of the NWA Community Clinic and the Fayetteville Arts Council. Over the summer, Trimble completed her “Love Unites Us” mural that can be seen on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, only to have it vandalized with phrases invoking white supremacy. In the spirit of the Repaint Hate movement, Trimble repaired the mural and has ambitious plans for the remaining walls of the building.

“Growing Pains” was conceived by the Distinguished Lectures Committee as a platform for Northwest Arkansas leaders to share their professional stories and inspire University of Arkansas students.


Sept. 23, 2020 – Growing Pains: Molly Rawn

Molly Collier Rawn, University of Arkansas alum, is CEO of the Fayetteville Advertising & Promotion Commission.  Before joining the Fayetteville Advertising & Promotion Commission, Rawn was a leader in bringing the region its first hands-on museum for children and families. She served as the director of development and communication for the Scott Family Amazeum. Currently, Rawn serves as president of the Northwest Arkansas Tourism Association, and she contributes to the city as a board member of the Northwest Arkansas Film Commission, the Arkansas Hospitality Association’s Travel Council, and the Arkansas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. In 2015, Rawn was included as a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s “40 under 40.” Most recently, Rawn has worked as an ally to the city’s local businesses, being appointed by mayor Lioneld Jordan to Fayetteville’s Small Business Development Task Force.  

“Growing Pains” was conceived by the Distinguished Lectures Committee as a platform for Northwest Arkansas leaders to share their professional stories and inspire University of Arkansas students.


December 4, 2019 - Reshma Saujani

Reshma Saujani is Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. Saujani began her career as an attorney and activist. In 2010, she surged onto the political scene as the first Indian-American to run for the United States Congress. Her inspiration to create Girls Who Code was a direct result of her campaign. In addition to starting Girls Who Code, Saujani has been an outspoken advocate for education and gender equality in the workplace, especially in tech fields.


October 30, 2019 - Dr. John White

White is a native Arkansan and a 1962 graduate of the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering. After brief employment at Tennessee Eastman Company, in March of 1963 he embarked on an academic career as a tenure-track instructor at Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he received a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering in 1966. He taught full-time at Virginia Tech from 1963 to 1966 before moving on to Ohio State University, where he taught while continuing his graduate studies.


October 10, 2019 - Ezra Klein  

Journalist Ezra Klein is editor-at-large and co-founder of Vox media and policy analyst for MSNBC where his commentary focuses on, as he describes it, "domestic and economic policy-making, as well as the political system that's constantly screwing it up." Klein hosts the  Ezra Klein Show , a weekly podcast that gives listeners a chance to get inside the heads of the newsmakers and power players in politics and media. Klein brings far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories and cutting-edge research.


April 18, 2019 - Laura Bush 

Laura W. Bush was First Lady of the United States (2001-09). As First Lady, Mrs. Bush advanced literacy and education to support America’s young people. Today, as the Chair of the Woman’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, she continues her work on global healthcare innovations, education reform, empowering women in emerging democracies and supporting the men and women who have served in America’s military.


March 28th, 2019 - Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke is a civil rights activist and the original founder of the ‘me too’ movement. She started using the phrase “me too” while working at Just Be Inc., a nonprofit she founded in 2003 that focused on the overall well-being of young women of color. In 2006, she began her campaign for activism to help girls and women who have experienced sexual harassment, abuse or assault and #MeToo became a global phenomenon in 2017.


October 3, 2018 - Laverne Cox

Emmy Award-winning actress, documentary film producer and civil rights advocate Laverne Cox received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (2014, 2017) for the portrayal of Sophia Burset on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black." She was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy. Since her breakout role, she continues to work as a trans-rights advocate through her writing, acting and producing.


March 8, 2018 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Abdul-Jabbar retired from the NBA in 1989 and has built new careers as a social activist, commentator, philanthropist and author. Abdul-Jabbar is most widely known for his basketball career – and his signature “skyhook” shot -- first as a college star at UCLA from 1967-69, and then for 20 years in the NBA, playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. He retired in 1989 as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a record that stands today. His accomplishments did not end when he stepped away from basketball. As he has said of himself: “I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop; my greatest asset is my mind.” In 2016 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.


January 29, 2018 - Tony Hale

Tony Hale is a two-time Emmy Award winning actor. Hale won his Emmys for his performance as “Gary” on the HBO series VEEP. The comic actor first came to national fame playing “Buster” on the cult favorite series Arrested Development.


November 1, 2017 - Skip Rutherford

Rutherford is an active supporter of downtown Little Rock. Starting in 1997 he supervised the planning and construction of the Clinton Presidential Center and Park, greatly contributing to the rebirth of what became the River Market District. When the library opened in 2004, Rutherford was named Arkansan of the Year by the Arkansas Broadcasters Association and the Arkansas Times, Headliner of the Year by the Arkansas Press Association, and received the Tourism Person of the Year Award at the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism.


September 20, 2017 - Dr. Shirin Ebadi

Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 in recognition of “her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children." She left Iran in 2009 after several years of harassment by government authorities. She currently lives in exile in London, but speaks frequently in the West, and is still an outspoken critic of Iran’s record on human rights. She remains a devout Muslim and an advocate for peaceful change in Iran.


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.