Stacey Abrams is a New York Times bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO and political leader. In 2018, after serving in the Georgia House of Representatives for 11 years, including seven as Democratic Leader, she was the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia and won more votes than any other Democrat in the state's history. She was also the first Black woman to be a U.S. gubernatorial nominee for a major party and the first Black woman and first Georgian to deliver a response to the State of the Union. Abrams launched Fair Fight Action to ensure that every American has a voice in the election system. In 2019, she created Fair Count to ensure accuracy in the 2020 Census and greater participation in civic engagement, and the Southern Economic Advancement Project, a public policy initiative to broaden economic power and build equity in the South. Abrams is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the board of directors of the Center for American Progress. She is the author of Our Time is Now and Lead from the Outside, and she has written eight romantic suspense novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery. @staceyabrams
Anousheh Ansari is the CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation, the world's leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity's grand challenges. Ansari sponsored the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE, igniting a new era for commercial spaceflight. Previously, Ansari served as CEO of Prodea Systems, a leading Internet of Things technology firm. She captured international headlines by embarking upon an 11-day space expedition, becoming the first female private space explorer, first astronaut of Iranian descent, first Muslim woman in space, and fourth private explorer to visit space. Ansari co-founded The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, with a goal of investing $1 billion in women-founded companies by 2020. Her memoir, My Dream of Stars, aims to share her life story as inspiration for young women around the world. Ansari serves on the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Future Councils and has received numerous honors, including the WEF Young Global Leader, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and STEM Leadership Hall of Fame. She is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and serves on the boards of Jabil and Peace First and other not-for-profit organizations focused on STEM education and youth empowerment. @AnoushehAnsari
Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, a CNN presidential historian and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He works in many capacities in the world of public history, including on boards, museums, colleges and historical societies. The Chicago Tribune dubbed him "America's New Past Master." The New York Historical Society has chosen Brinkley as its official U.S. presidential historian. His recent book, Cronkite, won the Sperber Prize, while The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Brinkley has received a Grammy Award for Presidential Suite and seven honorary doctorates in American Studies. His two-volume annotated The Nixon Tapes recently won the Arthur S. Link—Warren F. Kuehl Prize. He is a member of the Century Association, Council of Foreign Relations and the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three children. douglasbrinkley.com
Lonnie G. Bunch III
Historian, author, curator and educator Lonnie G. Bunch III is the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum, education and research complex. He was appointed in June 2019. Previously, Bunch was the founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). When he started as director in July 2005, he had one staff member, no collections, no funding and no site for a museum. Driven by optimism, determination and a commitment to build "a place that would make America better," Bunch transformed a vision into a bold reality. The museum has welcomed more than 6 million visitors since it opened in September 2016. A former president of the Chicago Historical Society, Bunch has spent nearly 30 years in the museum field. He has also written books on a variety of topics including slavery, the black military experience, the American presidency, diversity in museum management, and the impact of funding and politics on American museums. Bunch has held numerous teaching positions, including at American University, the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and The George Washington University. @SmithsonianSec
Pete Buttigieg served as the two-term Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and was a Democratic candidate for president of the United States in 2020. A graduate of Harvard University and an Oxford Rhodes Scholar, Buttigieg enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve and became a lieutenant when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. In April 2019, he announced his candidacy for president, promising to build a new politics defined by belonging. In February 2020, he won the Iowa Caucuses, becoming the first openly gay person to win a presidential primary or caucus. In his speech withdrawing from the race on March 1, Buttigieg called on supporters to continue championing the values of his campaign and build, "a country that really does empower every American to thrive and a future where everyone belongs." He launched Win the Era PAC and Action Fund to support candidates who propose and support meaningful, bold policies and model the values and spirit of his campaign. @PeteButtigieg
John Dickerson reports for "60 Minutes" as a correspondent and contributes as anchor to CBS News election specials. He is also a co-host of Slate's "Political Gabfest" and "Whistlestop" podcasts, and a contributing editor to The Atlantic. Dickerson is the author of the recently published The Hardest Job: The American Presidency. Earlier in his CBS News career, he was co-host of "CBS This Morning," and before that was CBS News’s chief Washington correspondent and anchor of "Face the Nation." Dickerson joined CBS News in 2009 and served six years as the network's political director. He has been a reporter in Washington, DC, since 1995, covering the White House, Congress and economics for Slate and as well as CBS News. He has covered the last six presidential campaigns. Dickerson wrote On Her Trail, a book about his mother, Nancy Dickerson, who was CBS News's first female correspondent. He is also the author of the bestseller Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History. @jdickerson
Jamie Dimon is Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., a global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. He began his career at American Express and then served as Chief Financial Officer and President at Commercial Credit, which acquired Primerica and Travelers. In the 1990s, Dimon was President and Chief Operating Officer of Travelers, concurrently served as COO of the company's Smith Barney subsidiary, and then became Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of a combined Smith Barney-Salomon Brothers. In 1998, Dimon was named President of Citigroup, the global financial services company formed by the combination of Travelers Group and Citicorp. In 2000, he joined Bank One as Chairman and CEO. After JP Morgan Chase acquired Bank One in 2004, Dimon became President and COO of JPMorgan Chase, and moved up to CEO in 2005. He holds a bachelor's degree from Tufts University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He serves on the boards of directors of a number of nonprofit institutions including the Business Roundtable, Bank Policy Institute and Harvard Business School. He also serves on the executive committee of the Business Council and the Partnership for New York City, and is a member of the Financial Services Forum and Council on Foreign Relations.
Nina Easton, Co-CEO of SellersEaston Media, is an award-winning author, columnist and TV commentator. She won numerous national awards during a decade with the Los Angeles Times, and later as Washington editor and national columnist at Fortune, where she covered politics, the economy and foreign affairs, built Fortune Most Powerful Women International and served as co-chair of the Fortune Global Forum. She has regularly appeared on prominent news shows such as "Meet the Press," "Special Report" and "Fox News Sunday," analyzing U.S. politics, the global economy and foreign affairs. She was a 2012 fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and is author of Gang of Five, a history of the conservative movement that ranks on the Vox list of "books to read to understand the world." At the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Easton hosts the global affairs series "Smart Women, Smart Power," interviewing world leaders and diplomats. She is on the board of the global nonprofit Vital Voices. @NinaEaston
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel
Ezekiel J. Emanuel is Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, and Co-Director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also Special Advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization. From January 2009 to January 2011, Emanuel served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council. He was the Founding Chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health from 1997 to 2011. Emanuel received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in political philosophy from Harvard University. He has published more than 300 articles, mainly on health care reform, research ethics and end-of-life care. He has also authored or edited 15 books, and in June 2020 published a book entitled Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care? Emanuel is the most widely cited bioethicist in history.
Angela M. Evans became Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 2016. She joined the LBJ School as a clinical professor after serving for 40 years in public service for the U.S. Congress. During the last 13 of these years, Evans was the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service, leading major organizational changes that enhanced the research capacity of the service and improved the effectiveness of critical operations. Among her achievements: the creation of unique management positions to lead the service's research and analysis, the development and implementation of an agency-wide research agenda aligned with the legislative deliberations of Congress, the development of a performance assessment system for service staffers, and the creation of the first federally funded succession plan to address the potential retirement of a large cohort of the workforce. Evans has been the recipient of grants from the Policy Research Institute, the National Science Foundation and the Dirksen Congressional Center. She has been honored with the Texas Exes Teaching Award and LBJ School accolades including Most Valuable Class, Best New Professor and Most Helpful Professor to Students.
Tom Freston is a Board Chair of the ONE Campaign, an advocacy organization that fights extreme poverty, and Principal of Firefly3, an investment and consultancy firm focusing on the media and entertainment industries. He is a former CEO and COO of Viacom, where in 1980, he was on the founding team of MTV. For 17 years, he was Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks, where he oversaw MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, Comedy Central and other television and digital businesses. Early in his career, he ran a textile import business in Afghanistan and India, and worked advertising in New York City. Today, Freston is an advisor to Vice Media, the Raine Group and Moby Media, which operates television networks in Afghanistan and Africa. He serves on several boards including Imagine Entertainment, Moby Media, Vice Media and the think tank New America. In 2005, Freston was named to 's "100 Most Influential People in the World" list. He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2010.
Melinda French Gates is a philanthropist, businesswoman and global advocate for women and girls. As the Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates sets the direction and priorities of the world's largest philanthropy. She is also the founder of Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company working to drive social progress for women and families in the United States, and the author of the bestselling book The Moment of Lift. Gates grew up in Dallas, Texas, and earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Duke University and an MBA from Duke's Fuqua School. She spent the first decade of her career developing multimedia products at Microsoft before leaving the company to focus on her family and philanthropic work. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, Bill. They have three children: Jenn, Rory and Phoebe. @melindagates
Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress in 2016. The first woman and the first African American to lead the national library, she was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Previously, Hayden was a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board (nominated by President Obama in 2010) and the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland, for 23 years. Prior to joining the Pratt Library, she was Deputy Commissioner and Chief Librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993, and for four years before that was Assistant Professor for Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Hayden served as Library Services Coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from 1982 to 1987. She began her career at the Chicago Public Library as a Library Associate and Children's Librarian and then Young Adult Services Coordinator. @libnofcongress
Michael Hole, M.D., MBA, FAAP is a physician, professor, researcher, author and serial entrepreneur at The University of Texas at Austin. He is on the faculty at both Dell Medical School and the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he teaches courses on U.S. public policy, human-centered design and entrepreneurship. He is Founder and Executive Director at The Impact Factory, a hub for civic entrepreneurship aiming to improve health and prosperity in the U.S. Hole is also a "street pediatrician" onboard Children's Health Express, a mobile medical clinic serving families and children experiencing homelessness. Alongside his students, Hole started Good Apple, a grocery delivery company fighting food insecurity, and Early Bird, a milestone-driven scholarship fund for babies born into poverty. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he launched Main Street Relief, a national volunteer corps helping small businesses survive and recover from economic crises. Hole, a product of public schools and first-generation college graduate from rural Indiana, was Butler University's top student before earning his M.D. and MBA from Stanford University. He completed his pediatrics residency at Harvard. In 2019, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush named Hole a Presidential Leadership Scholar. @DrMichaelHole
Tom Johnson served as CEO of the Dallas Times Herald, the Los Angeles Times and CNN. He started his career as a reporter on the Macon (Georgia) Telegraph, and in 1965, as a White House Fellow, was assigned to White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers. The fellowship led to a series of positions on the staff of President Lyndon B. Johnson, including Deputy to Press Secretary George Christian, special assistant to the president, and executive assistant to former President Johnson. He became EVP of Texas Broadcasting Company — the Johnson family's Texas business — which included a CBS television affiliate (KTBC) in Austin, radio stations, cable TV franchises, ranching, banking, Muzak and photo processing. Later, under his leadership, the Dallas Times Herald, Los Angeles Times and CNN won numerous journalistic and broadcasting awards. Johnson now serves as Chairman Emeritus of the board of the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation, on the board of visitors of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and on the advisory boards of Points of Light Foundation and the J. Rex Fuqua Adolescent Mental Health Center, a division of Skyland Trail. He served on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation, Mayo Clinic Foundation, Knight Foundation, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, Associated Press, Turner Broadcasting and Times Mirror.
Adm. William McRaven (Ret.)
William McRaven, former University of Texas System Chancellor and retired U.S. Navy four-star Admiral, joined the LBJ School as a professor in national security in 2018. As chancellor, McRaven oversaw 14 institutions that educate 221,000 students and employ 20,000 faculty and more than 80,000 health care professionals, researchers and staff. As the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, he led a force of 69,000 men and women and was responsible for conducting counter-terrorism operations worldwide. He is a recognized national authority on U.S. foreign policy and has advised Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders on defense issues. McRaven oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. His book, Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice, is considered a fundamental text on special operations strategy. He has received the Republic of France's Legion d'Honneur, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association's National Award and the National Intelligence Award. In 2016, he received the Ambassador Richard M. Helms Award from the Central Intelligence Agency Officers Memorial Foundation. McRaven joined LBJ School Dean Angela Evans on the "Policy on Purpose" podcast in September 2018.)
James B. Milliken
James B. Milliken is chancellor of The University of Texas System and Lee Hage and Joseph D. Jamail Regents Chair in Higher Education Leadership. He oversees one of the largest U.S. public university systems, with 14 health and academic institutions, including six medical schools. UT institutions enroll more than 240,000 students and employ more than 100,000 health care professionals, researchers, faculty and support staff. Before joining the UT System, Milliken served as chancellor of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation's largest urban public university. Prior to that, he was president of the University of Nebraska (NU), his alma mater. Earlier in his career, he was senior vice president of the University of North Carolina, overseeing strategy and economic development, among other duties, across UNC's 16-campus system. In all of these roles, Milliken led efforts that advanced student access, affordability and success, economic development, online education and global engagement. With a law degree from New York University, Milliken began his career at a large Wall Street law firm but left to become an administrator and professor at NU and pursue his passion for public higher education. @jbmilliken
Pat Mitchell is the editorial director, curator and host of TEDWomen. Throughout her career as a journalist, Emmy-winning producer and pioneering executive, she has focused on sharing women's stories and increasing the representation of women onscreen and off. She was the first woman President and CEO of both PBS and the Paley Center for Media. Before that, she served as President of CNN Productions. Today, her commitment to connect and strengthen a global community of women leaders continues as a conference curator, advisor and mentor. Mitchell is Chair of the Sundance Institute and the Women’s Media Center. She is also on the board of Participant Media, a trustee of the VDAY movement and the Skoll Foundation, and on the Advisory Council of Women Without Borders. She received a congressional commission to The American Museum of Women's History Advisory Council. Mitchell is the author of Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing Risk to Change the World. @patmitchell
Soledad O'Brien is an award-winning documentarian, journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist who founded Soledad O'Brien Productions, a multiplatform media production company dedicated to telling empowering and authentic stories on a range of social issues. She anchors and produces the Hearst TV political magazine program "Matter of Fact with Soledad O'Brien" and is a correspondent for "Real Sports" on HBO. O'Brien has anchored shows on CNN, MSNBC and NBC, and has reported for Fox, A&E, Oxygen, Nat Geo, "PBS NewsHour," WebMD and Al Jazeera America. Her work has been recognized with three Emmy awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards and three Gracie Awards, which honor women in media. She has also received two Cine Awards for her work in documentary films, and an Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast and digital journalism in the public service. With her husband, O'Brien is founder of the PowHERful Foundation, which helps young women get to and through college. @soledadobrien
Martine Rothblatt is Chairman & CEO of United Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that she started to save the life of one of her daughters. The company offers FDA-approved medicines for pulmonary hypertension and neuroblastoma, and it is working on manufacturing an unlimited supply of transplantable organs. Rothblatt previously created and led Sirius XM as Chairman and CEO, and she launched other satellite systems for navigation and international television broadcasting. She also designed the world's first electric helicopter and piloted it to a Guinness world record for speed, altitude and flight duration. In the legal arena, Rothblatt led efforts for the transgender community to establish their own health law standards, and of the International Bar Association to protect autonomy rights in genetic information via international treaty. She published dozens of scholarly articles and papers on the law of outer space, resulting in her election to the International Institute of Space Law, and represented the radio astronomy community's scientific research interests before the Federal Communications Commission. Rothblatt's recent books are on xenotransplantation (Your Life or Mine), gender identity (Transgender to Transhuman) and cyberethics (Virtually Human). @skybiome
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Ben Sasse, a fifth-generation Nebraskan, represents the Cornhusker State in the U.S. Senate. He is a member of the intelligence, judiciary, finance and banking committees. His areas of focus are the future of work, the future of war, and the First Amendment. Before he was elected to the Senate in 2014, Sasse spent most of his career helping companies and institutions through technological and leadership disruptions. From 2005 to 2009, he commuted between Washington, DC and Austin to serve in various positions in the George W. Bush administration as well as teach at The University of Texas. In 2009, Sasse joined the LBJ School of Public Affairs' Center for Politics and Governance as a fellow, before being appointed president of Midland University. Taking charge at Midland at age 37, he transformed the school into one of the nation’s fastest-growing colleges in just three years. Sasse has written two best-selling books: The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis—and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance and Them: Why We Hate Each Other—and How to Heal.
Pattie Sellers, Co-CEO of SellersEaston Media, is an award-winning writer, producer and veteran multimedia journalist. In 2016, after writing for Fortune magazine for 32 years, Sellers and fellow senior Fortune editor Nina Easton launched SellersEaston Media to tell stories of leadership and impact. SellersEaston produces independent documentaries (including Port of Destiny: Peace about the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos) and premium-quality content in every media (print, film, digital, live events) for prominent families, renowned CEOs and other leaders, global nonprofit organizations and Fortune 500 companies such as Accenture, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, PayPal, SAP and Visa. Previously a Fortune Assistant Managing Editor and author of more than 20 magazine cover stories, Sellers co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women (MPW), built it into the world's preeminent women leadership community, and still chairs the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. In 2013, she won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP (Most Valuable Performer) award for her innovative work and leadership at Fortune. @pattiesellers
Dr. Rajiv J. Shah serves as President of the Rockefeller Foundation, a global institution with a mission to promote the well-being of humanity around the world. Before joining the foundation in 2017, he spent eight years serving as USAID Administrator, reshaping the $20 billion agency's operations in more than 70 countries by increasing innovation, creating high-impact public-private partnerships, and focusing U.S. investments to deliver stronger results. Shah secured bipartisan support for the passage of two significant laws: the Global Food Security Act and the Electrify Africa Act. He led the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake and the West African Ebola pandemic, served on the National Security Council, and elevated the role of development as part of U.S. foreign policy. Prior to USAID, Shah served as Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Previously, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he created the International Financing Facility for Immunization, which helped reshape the global vaccine industry and save millions of lives. Shah is the founder of Latitude Capital, a private equity firm focused on power and infrastructure projects in Africa and Asia. @rajshah
Darren Walker is President of the Ford Foundation, a $13 billion international social justice philanthropy. He is Co-Founder and Chair of the Presidents' Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. Before joining Ford in 2010, Walker was Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he oversaw global and domestic programs. In the 1990s, he was COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, Harlem's largest community development organization. Walker co-chairs New York City's Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, the New York City Census Task Force and the Governor's Commission. He also serves on The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and UN International Labour Organization Global Commission on the Future of Work. He serves on many boards, including Carnegie Hall, the High Line, VOW to End Child Marriage, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, PepsiCo, Ralph Lauren and Square. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the recipient of 16 honorary degrees and university awards, including Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Medal. @darrenwalker
Sherrie Westin is President of Social Impact & Philanthropy for Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind "Sesame Street." She leads the Workshop's efforts to serve vulnerable children through mass media and targeted initiatives around the world, and spearheaded Sesame's work to win a historic $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to fund the largest early childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response. With an additional $100 million grant from The Lego Foundation, this initiative has expanded to Bangladesh. Westin has held leadership positions in media, nonprofits and public service. She was Assistant to the President for Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs for President George H.W. Bush. Westin serves on the board of directors of UNICEF USA, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Communities in Schools and Vital Voices Global Partnership. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was named a "Leading Global Thinker" by Foreign Policy and one of Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business." @SherrieWestin
Lawrence Wright is a renowned author, screenwriter, playwright and staff writer for The New Yorker. His book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, was a New York Times bestseller and winner of multiple awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Before joining The New Yorker, Wright worked for Texas Monthly and Rolling Stone. He has published numerous prize-winning articles (receiving two National Magazine Awards) and has authored 10 nonfiction books and two novels, including the critically acclaimed bestseller The End of October in 2020. Wright is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Society of American Historians. He is also the keyboard player in the Austin-based blues band WhoDo.