Philadelphia Speakers Series

2022–2023 Speakers

Loretta Lynch Former U.S. Attorney General

Monday, September 19, 2022

An influential prosecutor, Lynch, appointed by President Obama in 2015, was the first female African American U.S. Attorney General. As the head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York twice, she fought terrorism, financial fraud, and cybercrime, while defending civil and human rights.

John Brennan CIA Director 2013–2017

Monday, October 24, 2022

Having had a front row seat in the tumultuous arena of world affairs for more than three decades, Brennan worked his way up to head the Central Intelligence Agency from 2013-2017. He served six successive presidents, including Bill Clinton and G.W. Bush. Brennan is a senior national security and intelligence analyst at NBC.

Maria Ressa 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Monday, November 7, 2022

The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work exposing abuses of power in the Philippines, Ressa is the co-founder and executive editor of news outlet She has been honored around the world for her courageous and bold work fighting disinformation, “fake news,” and attempts to silence the free press.

Erik Larson Award-Winning Author

Monday, January 30, 2023

An award-winning master of narrative non-fiction, Larson has spent years on the New York Times Bestseller list for his vividly written books such as “The Splendid and the Vile,” “The Devil in the White City,” “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania,” “Thunderstruck,” and “In the Garden of Beasts.”

Scott Kelly NASA Astronaut

Monday, March 6, 2023

Kelly made history as the first American astronaut to complete a record-breaking year-long mission aboard the International Space Station. A former Navy fighter pilot, he is a veteran of four space flights—three of which he commanded. Kelly has traveled 200 million miles in space and orbited Earth 8,300 times.

Tom Friedman New York Times Columnist

Monday, March 27, 2023

Friedman is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of seven New York Times bestsellers, including “Hot, Flat, and Crowded.” As the New York Times foreign affairs columnist for 27 years, Friedman is renowned for his direct reporting and analysis of foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, and environmental issues.

Anthony Ray Hinton Death Row Exonoree

Monday, April 10, 2023

One of the longest-serving death row prisoners in Alabama history, Hinton was released after serving 30 years for a crime he did not commit. Released with the help of the Equal Justice Initiative, Hinton is now a powerful advocate for changes to the criminal justice system.

John Bolton National Security Advisor (2018–2019)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Known for favoring a strong U.S. foreign and defense policy, Bolton served as the National Security Advisor to President Trump from 2018 to 2019. He was appointed United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006 by President George W. Bush.

Walter Isaacson American Historian

Monday, November 22, 2021

Isaacson’s biographical works have focused heavily on geniuses, including Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Steve Jobs. A Professor of History at Tulane University, he is the former CEO of the Aspen Institute and has been chairman of CNN and editor of Time magazine.

Jamie Metzl Genetic Engineering Expert & Author

Monday, January 17, 2022

Metzl’s latest book, Hacking Darwin, explores the future of our species as scientists turn science fiction into reality with the genetic engineering revolution. A technology and healthcare futurist, Metzl was appointed to the World Health Organization’s advisory committee on global standards for the governance and oversight of human genome editing.

Platon Award-Winning Photographer

Monday, January 31, 2022

Platon’s portraits of world leaders have been featured on more than 25 Time magazine covers. A genius behind the camera, he is also a master storyteller who shares behind-the-camera tales from his experiences with some of the world’s most iconic personalities, such as Vladimir Putin, Aung San Suu Kyi, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Muammar Gaddafi.

Mara Liasson Journalist

Monday, February 21, 2022

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR and a frequent contributor to Fox News. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR’s programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC, focusing on the White House and Congress.

Theresa May Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2016–2019)

Monday, March 21, 2022

May served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 2016 to 2019, only the second woman in British history to hold that position. Mrs. May became Prime Minster after the historic Brexit referendum and shares her unique insight about how politics, technology, and business intersect at a time of profound global change.

Bill Nye The Science Guy

Monday, April 4, 2022

Widely known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, Nye is a television personality, best-selling author, and CEO of The Planetary Society. True to his personal mission, he helps foster a scientifically literate society, using his infectious blend of curiosity and humor to help people understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work.

John Kerry U.S. Secretary of State (2013–2017)

Monday, September 23, 2019

Kerry served as United States Secretary of State during President Barack Obama’s second term. He represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate for nearly thirty years, and was the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2004.

Zanny Minton Beddoes Editor-in-Chief of The Economist

Monday, October 28, 2019

Named one of the “Most Powerful Women in the World” by Forbes, Beddoes is the first female editor-in-chief of The Economist, a post she has held since 2015. Prior to her 25-year tenure with The Economist, she was an economist at the International Monetary Fund.

Bob Woodward Washington Post Investigative Journalist

Monday, November 25, 2019

A journalistic icon, Woodward is associate editor of The Washington Post. He, along with Carl Bernstein, uncovered the Watergate scandal detailed in their Pulitzer Prize-winning book, All the President’s Men. Woodward has written 19 bestselling books on American politics, most recently, Fear: Trump in the White House.

Douglas Brinkley American Historian

Monday, January 13, 2020

An award-winning historian, Brinkley has written on a wide range of topics, including D-Day, Hurricane Katrina, President Kennedy and the Great Space Race and the lives of Ronald Reagan, Bob Dylan and Walter Cronkite. Brinkley serves as CNN Presidential Historian, and as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Peter Diamandis Founder of the XPRIZE Foundation

Monday, February 17, 2020

Fortune named Diamandis one of the “World’s Greatest Leaders.” A space entrepreneur turned innovation pioneer, he founded the XPRIZE Foundation to fund big money competitions to inspire groundbreaking developments in science and technology, and to solve some of the planet’s most pressing challenges.

Susan Rice Former National Security Advisor & U.N. Ambassador

Monday, March 23, 2020

Rice served as National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017. She also served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. Under President Clinton, Rice worked for the National Security Council and was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Jason Alexander Seinfeld’s George Costanza, Actor & Comedian

Rescheduled to Monday, October 4, 2021

Alexander is best known for his role as George Costanza in the hit television series Seinfeld. Other well-known movie credits include Pretty Woman and Shallow Hal. He has also had an active career on stage, winning a Tony Award as Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his role in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.