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Previous Speakers

Previous Speakers


  • Tayari Jones
    42nd Annual Literary Festival Speaker
    New York Times Best-selling Author and Novelist
  • Travis Mills
    President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence Speaker
    Retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant and "Recalibrated Warrior"
  • Amy Webb
    Co-presented in Partnership with the Norfolk Forum
    Quantitative Futurist and Professor of Strategic Foresight at the NYU Stern School of Business


  • Bryan Stevenson
    Marc and Connie Jacobson Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Speaker Lawyer, Social Justice Activist, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative
  • Claudia Rankine
    NEA Big Read and President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence Speaker
    New York Times Bestselling Poet and MacArthur Award Recipient
  • Imbolo Mbue
    41st Annual Literary Festival Speaker
    New York Times Bestselling Author of "Behold the Dreamers"
  • Michael Lewis
    Co-presented in Partnership with the Norfolk Forum
    Journalist and Bestselling Author of "The Blind Side, Moneyball, Flash Boys and The Undoing Project"


  • Tamron Hall
    Women's Center Speaker
    Award-Winning Journalist and Host of Deadline Crime
  • Charles Best
    Marc and Connie Jacobson Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Speaker
    Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org
  • Michelle Alexander
    President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Speaker
    New Yok Times Best-Selling Author, Legal Scholar and Social Justice Advocate
  • Roz Chast
    40th Annual Literary Festival Speaker
    New Yorker Magazine Cartoonist and Author


  • Douglas Brinkley
    39th Annual Literary Festival Speaker
    CNN Presidential Historian and Professor of History at Rice University
  • Walter V. Robinson
    Pulitzer Prize Recipient Portrayed in the Oscar-winning Film
    "Spotlight" and Editor at Large at Boston Globe
  • Michele Norris
    President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence Speaker
    Former NPR Host and Special Correspondence
    and Founder of the Race Card Project
  • Adam Braun
    Marc and Connie Jacobson Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Speaker
    Entrepreneur, Best-selling Author and Founder of Pencils of Promise


  • Birth of an Answer - Multigenerational Panel of African American Filmmakers and Producers - Part of Arts@ODU and the Institute for the Humanities
  • Edwidge Danticat - MacArthur Fellow and Acclaimed Haitian-American Writer - Part of 38th Annual Literary Festival
  • Alicia Garza - Social Activist & Co-Creator of the Viral Twitter Hashtag and Movement, #BlackLivesMatter
  • Alan Gross - Former Cuban Hostage and Humanitarian Aid Worker - Marc and Connie Jacobson Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Speaker
  • Ai-jen Poo - Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-Director of the Caring Across Generations Campaign - Part of Friends of Women's Studies


  • Guy Kawasaki - Strome Entrepreneurial Center and Strome College of Business Landmark Executive in Residence Speaker; Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, Former Chief Evangelist of Apple, Bestselling Author and Chief Evangelist of Canva
  • Wes Moore - Bestselling Author, Army Combat Veteran and Entrepreneur
  • Chef Jeff Henderson - 37th Annual Literary Festival Speaker; Award-Winning Chef and New York Times Bestselling Author
  • Amy Cosper - Vice President and Editor in Chief for Entrepreneur Media, Inc.


  • Charles Mann - 36th Annual Literary Festival
    Journalist and Author, Specializing in Scientific Topics
  • David Titley (USN Ret.) - Director, Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, Pennsylvania State University
  • Sal Giunta - Medal of Honor Recipient and Author, "Living with Honor"
  • Robert Edsel - Marc and Connie Jacobson Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture; Writer, Founder and President of the Monuments Men for the Preservation of Art
  • Christine Brennan - USA Today Sports Columnist, Commentator and Bestselling Author, "Best Seat in the House"
  • Mark Moffett - Lytton J. Musselman Natural History Lecture; Ecologist, Explorer and Photojournalist
  • Jose Antonio Vargas - Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Founder of DefineAmerican.com and Undocumented Immigrant


  • Mark Plotkin, Ethnobotonist and Social Entrepreneur
  • Greg Gumbel, Emmy Award-Winning Sportscaster, Play-By-Play Announcer for The NFL on CBS
  • Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award-Winning Screenwriter, Director, Film and Television Producer
  • Rebecca Costa, Sociobiologist and Author, The Watchman's Rattle
  • Mark Emmert, President, National Collegiate Athletic Association
  • Joseph Nye Jr. - Part of Graduate Program in International Studies (GPIS) 20th Anniversary Celebration; Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor


  • Immaculee Ilibagiza - Marc and Connie Jacobson Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture; Rawandan Genocide Survivor and Author, "Left to Tell"
  • Jean-Michel Cousteau - Marine Explorer, Environmental Activist, Educator and Filmmaker


  • Mark Bowden (Presented with the 32nd Annual Literary Festival)
  • Greg Mortensen (Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture)


  • Jonathan Kozol - "In Praise of a Beautiful Profession: Educators Working in the Front Lines of the Public Schools" (Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture)
  • Richard Dreyfuss - A Conversation with Richard Dreyfuss (Presented with the 2009 ONFilm Festival of Independent Film)
  • Frank DeFord - "Sports: The Hype and the Hoopla"


  • Jaap Doek - "Reducing Global Violence: The Role of Protecting Children from Corporal Punishment" (Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture)
  • Tim Flannery - "The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth"
  • Mia Farrow - "With Knowledge Comes Responsibility: The Darfur Crisis" (Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture)
  • Kim Phuc - "Icon of the Vietnam War" (Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture)


  • Reza Aslan - Iranian-American Writer, Professor of Creative Writing at the
    University of California and Author of the Internationally Acclaimed "No God But God"
  • Jon Meacham - "Franklin and Winston: Leadership Lessons for Today"


  • Terry Waite - "Iraq, Guantanamo and Human Rights"
  • Elie Wiesel - "An Afternoon with Elie Wiesel" (Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture)


  • Coleman Barks - "Rumi's Work with Community"
  • Richard Rodriguez - "Brown: The Last Discover of America"
  • Shashi Tharoor - "From Midnight to Millennium: Democracy and Identity in Today's India"
  • Susan Landry - "Creating Family and School Environments that Support School Readiness for Young Children"
  • Louise Leakey - "Origins and Evolution: In Search of How We Became Human"
  • Garrison Keillor - "An Evening with Garrison Keillor"


  • Jill Kerr Conway - "When Memory Speaks"
  • Sarah Vowell - "A Partly Cloudy Patriot"
  • Norma Field - "Japanese Women's Pursuit of Global Justice"
  • David Pearson - "The Politics of Reading Pedagogy"
  • Gail Buckley - "Black America at War: From George Washington to George Bush"
  • Rory Kennedy - "The Camera Doesn't Lie: Social Change Through Documentary Filmmaking"
  • Harry Greene - "Darwin, Kant and Biodiversity"
  • Robert Evans - "Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with the Crisis in Childrearing"


  • Gordon Shaw - "Keeping Mozart in Mind"
  • Susan Sontag - "Regarding Other People's Pain: War and the Visual Arts"
  • Carol Etherington - "Childhood Interrupted by War and Disaster"
  • Randall L. Kennedy - "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word"
  • Betty Williams - "Creating Safe Havens for the World's Children"
  • Kerry Kennedy Cuomo - "Speak Truth to Power"


  • Gen. Wesley Clark - "Waging Modern War"
  • Edward Albee - "The Playwright vs. The Theater"
  • Michael Berube - "Disability and Democracy"
  • Gregory Pence and Nigel M. De S. Cameron - "Cloning Debate"
  • Mae Jemison - "An Evening with Mae Jemison"
  • Janet Reno - "The Legal Profession as Problem Solvers and Peacemakers"
  • Richard C. Holbrooke - "AIDS: The Humanitarian Crisis"


  • Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Prize winner, former president of Costa Rica - "The Struggle for Peace in the New Millennium"
  • Ernest Gaines - "Gaines on Gaines"
  • Dwight Duncan & Richard Mohr - "Who Should be Allowed to Marry: The Same Sex Marriage Debate"
  • Stephanie Guttmann - "The Kinder, Gentler Military: Can It Fight?"
  • Jon Entine & Kenneth Shropshire - "Taboo; Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It"
  • Sarah Weddington - "Some Leaders are Born Women"
  • The Capitol Steps - "The Lighter Side of Politics"


  • Dr. Patch Adams (Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture)
  • Greta von Susteren
  • Robert Zubrin
  • Shay Banks-Young and Julia Jefferson Westerinen
  • Naomi Wolf
  • David Horowitz


  • Lynne V. Cheney
  • Sir Ghillean Prance
  • Nat Hentoff
  • Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders
  • Barbara Enrenreich
  • Kati Marton (Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Lecture)


  • William F. Buckley
  • Admiral Elmo Zumwalt
  • Arianna Huffington
  • Nadine Strossen
  • Ralph Wiley
  • LouAnne Johnson
  • Bettina Gregory


  • Pierre Salinger
  • Dr. Ruth Westheimer
  • Morris Dees
  • Julian Bond
  • Phyllis Schlafly
  • Cathy Rigby


  • Charles Murray
  • Lillian Vernon
  • Dr. William Schulz
  • Ralph Reed, Jr.
  • Benjamin Karim
  • Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer
  • Molly Ivins

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