In the Arena: Defining a New Destiny

FORUM II: In the Arena: Defining a New Destiny

Oct. 12, 2020; 7 PM (CT)

Never before has humanity faced today's level of crisis and uncertainty, change and scale of disruption. But it is also a tipping point in history. There is a renewed seriousness of purpose around the fight for racial justice and equity—a fight that gained traction in the LBJ era but has since stalled. This forum sheds light on the leadership and vision that can lead us forward. See the online conversation

Five U.S Presidents. One Enduring Message.


As part of The LBJ School's 50th anniversary, hear part of President Johnson's last public speech — read in part by four living former U.S. presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Melinda Gates (left) and Pat Mitchell

Session I: Genius for Good

One of the world's most transformative philanthropists discusses emboldening women and their role in changing the world — for good.

Melinda Gates, Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Founder, Pivotal Ventures
Pat Mitchell, Chair, Sundance Institute; Co-Chair, Women's Media Center; former CEO, PBS and the Paley Center for Media

Jamie Dimon (left) and Pattie Sellers

Session II: Getting to Financial Equity

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the yawning economic divide. Jamie Dimon has been among a handful of business leaders sounding the alarms about inequality while defending free markets at a time when socialist ideas are gaining political traction. How should the private sector shape an economy that serves all Americans?

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase
Interviewed by Pattie Sellers, Co-CEO, SellersEaston Media

Lonnie G. Bunch III (left) and Soledad O'Brien

Session III: Capturing the American Experience

Before he was appointed the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Lonnie Bunch III built the National Museum of African American History and Culture with a goal to create "a place that would make America better." A lifelong historian and museum leader who expertly balances a respect for the past with a passion for innovation, Bunch shares his insights about how we all best apply multidisciplinary knowledge in order to tackle societal problems, unite divided communities, and give our children greater access to quality education.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, 14th Secretary, Smithsonian Institution
Interviewed by Soledad O'Brien, award-winning documentarian, journalist and CEO of Soledad O'Brien Productions

Anousheh Ansari (left) and Nina Easton

Session IV: Innovation on the Fringe

Tackling the world's most unrecognized problems is the goal of the XPRIZE, which funds industry-changing technology to bring us closer to a safer, more sustainable planet. Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian woman in space and CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation, will showcase breakthroughs that are leading us to a better future.

Anousheh Ansari, CEO, XPRIZE Foundation; first Iranian woman in space
Interviewed by Nina Easton, Co-CEO, SellersEastonMedia

James B. Milliken (left) and Lawrence Wright

Session V: Higher Education Reimagined

There may never be a time when higher education is considered more important than now, and public higher education, which produces 70% of the degrees, is especially important. It offers the opportunity for individuals to achieve their potential and offers society the best hope for economic competitiveness and civic participation—enduring values embraced by President Johnson throughout his lifetime. Given today's current global challenges, the need to increase participation and educational attainment, as well as provide for lifelong reskilling, are critical. Chancellor Milliken shares his insights on how colleges and universities need to address new realities, reimagine the future, and reach the populations who need it — and fast.

James B. Milliken, Chancellor, The University of Texas System
Interviewed by Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author

William McRaven (left) and Douglas Brinkley

Session VI: Leadership in the Age of COVID

How can the United States regain its leadership role in the midst of a global pandemic, threats from China and Russia and its own domestic turmoil? In the past several years, the U.S. has taken an America First approach that has separated us from important international alliances and brought into question the future of U.S. leadership on the international stage. In this discussion, Adm. William McRaven will discuss his thoughts on how best to establish our credibility, strengthen our alliances and forge a brighter future for American foreign policy.

Adm. William McRaven, U.S. Navy (Ret.); Professor of National Security, LBJ School of Public Affairs
Interviewed by Douglas Brinkley, Author and Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and professor of history, Rice University

Stacey Abrams (MPAff '98) (left), Pete Buttigieg (center) and Angela Evans

Session VII: Democracy Forward: Building a Culture of Belonging

A voting rights champion and military vet-turned-presidential candidate share their visions for a future that connects and empowers everyone.

Stacey Abrams, Founder of Fair Fight Action
Pete Buttigieg, former presidential candidate and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
Interviewed by Angela Evans, Dean of the LBJ School

Lynda Johnson Robb

Closing: Lynda Johnson Robb