Sarah Hurwitz

Sarah Hurwitz was a White House speechwriter from 2009 to 2017, starting out as a senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama and then serving as chief speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama.  Sarah worked with Mrs. Obama to craft widely-acclaimed addresses and traveled with her across America and to five continents.  Sarah also worked on policy issues affecting young women and girls as a senior advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Before working at the White House, Sarah was chief speechwriter for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential primary campaign; senior speechwriter for President Obama’s 2008 campaign; deputy chief speechwriter for Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign; deputy chief speechwriter for General Wesley Clark’s primary campaign; and a speechwriter for Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.  Sarah was also a lawyer at the Washington, DC office of WilmerHale. 

Sarah is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.  She was a spring 2017 Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, and she is currently working on a book about Judaism.

 What Would Michelle Obama Do? Politico

Michelle Obama's Speechwriter On Words And Leadership: Interview with Sarah Hurwitz, Radio Boston


Michelle Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.



Katherine Boo

Katherine Boo is a staff writer for New Yorker magazine whose writing bears witness to the lives of the impoverished. Her book Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity tells the stories of slumdwellers living at the edge of a Mumbai airport, where "Only a coconut-tree-lined thoroughfare separated the slum from the entrance to the international terminal." 

A highly decorated investigative journalist, Boo has won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and a MacArthur Genius Award. Her book Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity has won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, as well as prizes from PEN, the New York Public Library and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Excerpt: Behind the Beautiful Forevers, NPR

Q&A with Katherine Boo



Katherine Boo chats with Stephen Colbert about poverty in India and the United States.


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Michele Norris

Michele Norris is a radio journalist and former host of All Things Considered, NPR's "most listened-to, afternoon drive-time, news radio program in the country." Norris left NPR to expand her work on The Race Card Project, a Peabody Award winning archive of six word essays sent in from all over the world that seeks to "provide a window into America’s private conversations about race and cultural identity." 

Michele Norris' Search For Her Family's Hidden Past, NPR

Two Officers, Black And White, On Walking The '63 March Beat, NPR



The Race Card Project: A Dramatic Performance



Franklin Sirmans

Franklin Sirmans is the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), and he wants to reimagine the role of the museum in its community. According to Sirmans, in the past 20 years, "the museum has become even more of a place of community and a place where we look for education — it offers programmes for people from ages three to the end. It’s a place where people learn and see each other and have conversations and eat and dance and listen to music."

In addition to his position at the Pérez Art Museum, Sirmans has served as the Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and as a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. He has also independently mounted exhibitions at museums across the world, including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Comune di Milano in Italy and the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich.

Franklin Sirmans and the Future of the Pérez Art Museum, Art News

At Perez Art Museum Miami, 1 million visitors and counting, Miami Herald


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Grant Oliphant is president of The Heinz Endowments. He rejoined the foundation in June 2014, after serving as president and chief executive officer of The Pittsburgh Foundation for six years. For nearly two decades, Grant held several senior management posts with Heinz family foundations, including vice president for programs and planning at the Endowments, his position before taking over the helm at The Pittsburgh Foundation in 2008. He also served as press secretary to the late U.S. Sen. John Heinz from 1988 until the senator’s death in 1991.

Grant was The Pittsburgh Foundation’s fourth head in its 66-year history and led a major transformation in the organization’s engagement of key constituents, its efficient stewardship of its assets, and the development of ground-breaking initiatives to enhance services for donors and maximize grantmaking impact in the regional community


Grant Oliphant at TEDxPittsburgh