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Best-Selling Author of The Glass Castle, An Amazon "Top 10 Book of the Decade"
7:30 p.m., Thursday, September 25, 2014 | Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts
Critics have called Jeannette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle, “spectacular,” “extraordinary,” “incredible,” and “riveting.” It has been a New York Times best-seller for more than six years, has sold 3.5 million copies in the US alone, been translated into 22 languages, and is being made into a movie by Paramount. It was named one of the “Top 10 Books of the Decade” by Amazon, and has won numerous awards including the Christopher Award, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and the Books for Better Living Award.
In The Glass Castle, Walls describes growing up in the desert of the American Southwest and then in a West Virginia mining town with her three siblings and the brilliant, unorthodox, irresponsible parents who manage at once to neglect them, love them, and teach them to face their fears.
The story is at times harrowing and at times hilarious as the children go without food and indoor plumbing yet are encouraged to read Shakespeare and dream of the beautiful glass house they will all one day build. Despite all her hardships, Walls develops the determination to leave West Virginia on her own at the age of sixteen, move to New York City, enroll in Barnard College and eventually become a well-known columnist for New York magazine and MSNBC.com and a television personality.
This inspirational book has been taught at universities in courses on literature, psychology, parenting, child development, and poverty. Walls has spoken at colleges, corporations, and business associations about overcoming hardship and the keys to turning adversity to your advantage.
Rosie O’Donnell called The Glass Castle “a beautiful, brave, transformative book….The best book I’ve read in years.” And the Atlanta Constitution said, “Charles Dickens has nothing on Jeannette Walls…Dickens’s scenes of poverty and hardship are no more audacious and no more provocative than those in the pages of this stunning memoir.”
In 2012, Lionsgate purchased the rights to The Glass Castle and will be releasing the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games.
Walls lives in the Virginia piedmont with her husband, the writer John Taylor. She has appeared on Prime Time Live, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Oprah, and the Diane Rheem Show.
Her follow-up to The Glass Castle, Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel, was released in October 2009, and was an immediate New York Times best-seller. It has been selected by Independent Book Sellers as their “Best Read” for October, and was called “essential reading” by Library Journal.
Her latest book, The Silver Star, released in June 2013, is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world.
Topic: The Glass Castle: Demon Hunting and Other Life Lessons
Jeannette Walls discusses her compelling memoir, The Glass Castle, by sharing anecdotes from her childhood and from throughout her life. Her message of confronting your past and facing your fears resonates with audiences everywhere. Walls explains that we all have more in common than we think and our flaws are our greatest assets. Her story of triumph makes audiences walk away with a positive attitude towards the "demons" in their lives.
Editor at Marvel, Legendary Comics Publisher
7:30 p.m., Monday, October 27, 2014 | Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts
In the footsteps of celebrated comic book legend Stan Lee comes Bill Rosemann, who creates superhero stories and characters that resonate with audiences of all ages. Throughout his 20-plus year career in the industry, Rosemann has been a journalist, copywriter, script writer, “Your Man @ Marvel” blogger, marketing director, project manager and editor, a depth of experience that has allowed him to understand all sides of this colorful world.
From Marvel to DC Comics and back to House of Ideas, Rosemann has worked alongside the industry's top creators, while writing and editing titles starring famous characters such as Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Batman, Superman and the Avengers. Some of Rosemann’s work is being translated in to upcoming movies, including: Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: Winter Soldier. He now oversees Marvel Custom Solutions publications as well as monthly comics including Avengers Arena, which he describes as “The Hunger Games with superheroes.”
The comics that Rosemann creates present metaphors for all those who aspire to unleash their own extra-ordinary abilities. In 2012, Rosemann led a Marvel team that created the new hero "Blue Ear" -- in response to a mom who wrote that her son didn't want to wear his hearing aid to school because "superheroes don't wear hearing aids,” -- a testament to the ability of superheroes to touch lives and inspire change.
Inspirational and entertaining, Rosemann gives audiences a rare look inside the world of an iconic brand while dispensing insights into what we can learn from these larger-than-life characters to tap into our own super-human potential in career and life.
Topic: Marvel: Inside the World's Most Heroic Brand
What is the behind-the-scenes history of Marvel? Who are their top ten characters and how are their creators using them to comment on modern life? How can you be the hero of your own story? What lessons can you learn from Marvel's heroes and apply to your own situation? Campus speaker Bill Rosemann shares exclusive insider insights and inspirations from the iconic world of Marvel Comics that reveal how you can pursue your dreams and turn your passion into a career.
Humanitarian Relief Expert and Global Soap Project Founder
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 4, 2015 | Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts
Derreck Kayongo's journey from child refugee to fearless visionary is filled with moments of inspiration that make him one of the most popular — and authentic — speakers on the circuit today. From Africa to Atlanta with nothing but a dream and tenacity, Kayongo beat the odds, earned an education, became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and has served in leadership roles in some of the world's most respected NGOs since 1994. He has worked with the American Friends Service Committee as Program Director for the Southeast Peace Education program; joined Amnesty International as the Director of the Southeast Region; and currently serves as Senior Advocacy Coordinator for the Southeast region with CARE International. He is also a regular columnist with The Huffington Post.
In 2009, Kayongo and his wife Sarah started their own NGO, The Global Soap Project, which focuses on repurposing partially-used soap from hotels into new soap for needy populations, particularly in Africa. To date, The Global Soap Project produces 30,000 bars of soap per week with capacity to produce over a million bars annually and has been able to donate over half a million bars of soap to over 20 countries some of which include Afghanistan, Iraq, Swaziland, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Haiti, and Malawi. In 2013, The Global Soap Project earned an endorsement from the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Derreck's business acumen was able to attract big corporations like the Hilton Corp, UPS Corp and the Center for Disease Control onto his board because these businesses saw the value and brilliance that he brings to issues that face the poor around the world.
Kayongo has been recognized as a 2011 CNN HERO; won the Maxx Entrepreneurship award; received the Refugee Services Award; honored by Congressman John Lewis with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition; has been featured in more than 20 news stories and on TV programs such as Fox News and CNN. He is currently writing his autobiography. Derreck is a fantastic speaker on key issues that concern women empowerment and brilliant role in business, Social Entrepreneurship, Successful business practices in the 21st Century et al. His audiences span from Corporations to Universities, no audience is too small for Derreck for his passion goes to everything he puts his hands on.
Topic: From Homeless Refugee to Living the American Dream
The nobility and power of Derreck Kayongo's story and how he used it to arrive at his innovative Global Soap Project will leave audiences awe-inspired. Kayongo believes that not every bad experience in life has to end up horribly -- sometimes bad experiences happen so they lead us to a problem we need to solve or to our true calling in life. Drawing on the hardships of his refugee experience, Kayongo shares how he went on to manufacture a solution to a global problem, the life lessons he learned along the way, and how they apply to one's ability to stay relevant in today's market.
Former President of the American Civil Liberties Union
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2015 | Charles Johnson Theater
Nadine Strossen has written, lectured, and practiced extensively in the areas of constitutional law, civil liberties, and international human rights. From 1991 through 2008 she served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. Professor Strossen is currently a member of the ACLU’s National Advisory Council. When Strossen stepped down as ACLU President in 2008, three Supreme Court Justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and David Souter) participated in her farewell/tribute luncheon.
The National Law Journal twice named Strossen one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.” In 1996, Working Woman Magazine listed her among the “350 Women Who Changed the World 1976–1996.” In 1997, Upside Magazine included her in the “Elite 100: 100 Executives Leading The Digital Revolution.” In 1998, Vanity Fair included Strossen in “America’s 200 Most Influential Women.” In 1999, Ladies’ Home Journal included her in “America’s 100 Most Important Women.” In 2005, Strossen was honored by the University of Tulsa College of Law and the Tulsa Law Review, which made her scholarly work the subject of their Fifth Annual Legal Scholarship Symposium, entitled “Nadine Strossen: Scholar as Activist.”
Strossen has made thousands of public presentations before diverse audiences, including on more than 500 campuses and in many foreign countries. She has commented frequently on legal issues in the national media, having appeared on virtually every national news program. She has been a monthly columnist for two online publications and a weekly commentator on the Talk America Radio Network. In October 2001, Strossen made her professional theater debut as the guest star in Eve Ensler’s award-winning play, “The Vagina Monologues,” during a week-long run at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Strossen’s writings have been published in many scholarly and general interest publications (more than 300 published works). Her book, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights (Scribner, 1995), was named by the New York Times as a “Notable Book” of 1995. Her coauthored book, Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties (NYU Press, 1995), was named an “outstanding book” by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America.
In 1986, Strossen became one of the first three women to receive the U.S. Jaycees’ Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award; she was also the first American woman to win the Jaycees International’s The Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award. Strossen has received honorary Doctor of Law degrees from the University of Rhode Island, the University of Vermont, San Joaquin College of Law, Rocky Mountain College, the Massachusetts School of Law, and Mount Holyoke College. Other awards include: the Women of Distinction award from the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, the Media Institute’s Freedom of Speech Award, the Free Speech Coalition’s Freedom Isn’t Free Award, the National Council of Jewish Women’s Women Who Dared Award, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Albert D. Chernin Award, and the National Forensic League’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Strossen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Strossen graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College (1972) and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School (1975), where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Before becoming a law professor, she practiced law for nine years in Minneapolis (her hometown) and New York City.
Strossen is married to Eli M. Noam, a chaired professor in the Department of Economics and Finance at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and founding director of the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information. They have residences in Manhattan and New Milford, Connecticut.
Topic: Current Challenges to Civil Liberties
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen addresses the controversies of the moment. This speech is never the same twice, and is constantly updated to take account of both current developments and concerns about civil liberties, and the particular interests of any sponsor.