Famed authors, thought leaders to visit Cleveland through speaker series

Town Hall of ClevelandA key player in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein, an undocumented immigrant (and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist), an environmental activist who’s part of one of the nation’s most famous families—these are just a few of the inspiring individuals who will share their stories with the greater Cleveland community in the upcoming academic year.

The speakers will visit the city as part of the Town Hall of Cleveland Speaker Series, with Case Western Reserve University as the academic sponsor. From distinguished authors to prominent thought leaders, speakers will provide commentary and insight on a variety of topics, including global economics, politics and childhood obesity.

“The mission of Town Hall is to educate and inform the citizens of Northeast Ohio on topics of current importance and interest, so we put together a program that does just that,” said Russell Warren, Town Hall board member, past president and chairman of the program selection committee. Warren also is a trustee emeritus of Case Western Reserve.

Since the partnership launched in 2010, Case Western Reserve faculty have moderated the question-and-answer session that follows each talk. Moderators have included Provost W.A. “Bud” Baeslack, Vice President for Research Robert Miller, leadership expert Richard Boyatzis, and Inamori International Center for Ethics Director Shannon French.

The expertise faculty members provide is critical to creating an active, informative question-and-answer session, which is often cited as guests’ favorite part of the event, Warren said.

“One of the great things you get out of going to Town Hall is an intimate sense of the speaker or presenter,” he explained. “You can get your question answered, and you feel up to speed on the topic for that evening.”

The upcoming season will feature the following speakers; all moderators are from Case Western Reserve. Additional moderators will be named as schedules are confirmed.

Sept. 24 – Steve Russell

Retired United States Army Infantry Officer Steve Russell is the author of We Got Him!: A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein. Russell served 21 years, deploying operationally to Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. The unit he commanded in Iraq was a central player in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein.

Faculty moderator: Michael Scharf, associate dean for Global Legal Studies and John Deaver Drinko – Baker and Hostetler Professor of Law.

Oct. 29 – Zanny Minton-Beddoes

Zanny Minton-Beddoes is the economics editor of The Economist, overseeing the magazine’s global economics coverage and managing a team of writers around the world. She is also a regular television and radio commentator on “Marketplace” on NPR, and on CNN, PBS and CNBC. Prior to joining the magazine in 1994, she spent two years as an economist at the International Monetary Fund.

Faculty moderator: Sam Thomas, professor of banking and finance

Nov. 12 – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions. He was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for leading the fight to restore the Hudson River. He also has authored several books, including New York Times’ bestseller Crimes Against Nature, and worked on several political campaigns.

Faculty moderator: Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, associate professor of philosophy with a focus on environmentalism and sustainability

Dec. 10 – P.J. O’ Rourke
P.J. O’Rourke is an established political satirist and best-selling author. His books include Give War a Chance, Eat the Rich and On the Wealth of Nations. His latest book, Don’t Vote—It Just Encourages the Bastards, was published in September 2010. He frequently appears on television, and is a regular panelist on National Public Radio’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

Faculty moderator: Joseph White, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science

Jan. 28 – William H. Dietz
William H. Dietz, MD, PhD, is the director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a leading expert and speaker on the obesity epidemic. Prior to his appointment to the CDC, he was a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. He is the author of more than 150 publications in scientific literature and the editor of three books, including A Guide to Your Child’s Nutrition.

Feb. 25 – Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founder of Define American, a new campaign that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration. He came to national prominence following his June 2011 essay, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant,” in The New York Times Magazine.

March 18 – Michael Beschloss
Michael Beschloss has been called “the nation’s leading presidential historian” by Newsweek. He has written eight books on American presidents, is a presidential historian for NBC News who regularly appears on Meet the Press, Today and other NBC News programs as well as a commentator on the PBS NewsHour. His books include Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989 and two volumes on Lyndon Johnson’s presidential tapes. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (2011).

All lectures begin at 6 p.m. in the Ohio Theatre in downtown Cleveland. Season tickets are $280 for members of the general public or $45 per event. Faculty and staff members receive a discounted ticket price of $30 per event, while students can attend for just $17.50.

For information about season subscriptions or individual tickets, call Town Hall at 216. 241.1919 or visit www.townhallofcleveland.org.