The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Reimagining Higher Education in Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history. Not only that, but this crisis is exacerbating pre-existing education disparities for many of the most vulnerable students. How are higher education institutions carrying on with teaching during this socio-economic, cultural and health crisis, and what do we know about the future of education?


Luckily, The Lavin Agency’s Education Speakers are here to highlight up-to-the-minute innovations within the education sector. As schools develop innovative approaches in support of education and distance learning solutions, these experts are on the frontline of the current challenges facing our students and educators. 


With more and more diverse and disadvantaged students accepted into elite colleges, Assistant Professor at Harvard and author of The Privileged Poor, Anthony Jack explores how poor students are often failed by the top schools that admit them. In fascinating and critical talks, he details how class divides on campus create barriers to academic success—and shares what schools can do in-step with their COVID-19 strategies to truly level the playing field.


In his illuminating talks, leading expert in the psychology of persistence David Yeager goes beyond typical “student success” programs, and instead takes a social-psychological perspective during a crisis, asking: what does it look and feel like to worry about whether you belong? David shows us a framework for engaging in continuous improvement of the psychological environment that supports student persistence during the pandemic.


In a constantly shifting educational landscape, who gets to thrive, and what are the deciding factors? New York Times bestselling author Paul Tough makes a mind-changing inquiry into modern higher education. Will colleges provide real opportunity for young people to improve their prospects and social mobility during the pandemic? In talks drawn from his years of research, Paul challenges the status quo, revealing how higher education and social mobility really work, and what we can do to make it more equitable for all.


Learn more about The Lavin Agency’s Education Speakers.


Angela Duckworth Honored as One of Eight Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf honored eight women as this year’s Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania, each recognized for their “extraordinary service and contributions to the Commonwealth.” Among them was the New York Times bestselling author of Grit Angela Duckworth

Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania began in 1948 as a way to honor the notable achievements of women in their professional careers and/or voluntary service. Angela Duckworth is one of the eight recognized in 2019. She is the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit that provides science-based advice to parents and teachers. Duckworth also teaches psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is a Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor, as well as the faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change for Good Initiative.


“Tom and I are proud to honor these incredible women for their profound contributions to the people and communities of Pennsylvania. Our commonwealth is a better place because of their selfless dedication and hard work, and we cannot thank them enough,” said First Lady Frances Wolf, in a ceremony at the Governor’s Residence.

Governor Wolf said, “They make us all PA Proud, and we are honored to name them as Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania.”


To book speaker Angela Duckworth for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Paul Tough Talks to PBS’ Amanpour & Co., on Education Inequality and His New Book, The Years That Matter Most

Bestselling author Paul Tough sat down with Michel Martin on PBS to discuss how inequality and its widespread effects have come to define higher education. His most recent book, The Years That Matter Most explores this phenomenon in heartbreaking detail.

Today's American students a jaw-dropping $1.5 trillion in student loans—making the average per student nearly $30,000: a daunting amount for almost anyone. For his book The Years That Matter Most, Paul Tough dedicated himself to spending time with students from all socioeconmic walks of life to uncover what their common challenges are—and what the personal, institutional and financial factors are that lead to a successful post-secondary life.


“I think our choice to make higher education scarce, is a choice,” said Tough to PBS’ Michel Martin.  “At other moments in American history we've chosen differently. And other countries right now are choosing differently.”

With appearances on the likes of Soledad O'Brien, PBS NewsHour, and Chicago Tonight; and with a feature in September’s Education issue of The New York Times Magazine, Tough’s work on this timely topic is set to add a valuable voice to one of the most vital discussions of our times—and provide a voice for those students who may not otherwise be able to advocate for themselves and their futures.


To book speaker Paul Tough, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau today. 

The Years That Matter Most—A New Book By New York Times Bestseller Paul Tough—Is Out Today

Who gets into college, who doesn’t, and why does it matter? Based on six years of reporting, education speaker Paul Tough’s hotly-anticipated new book explores how social mobility affects higher education—and what this means for America’s future generations.


In The Years That Matter Most, Tough shares true stories of students trying to find their way through the application process and into college, to paint a larger picture of the ways privilege affects higher education. For generations, college has been the single best way for young Americans to improve their station in life. But now, there are plenty of signs now that the system isn’t what it used to be. Why doesn’t higher education work the way it used to, and what does this mean for the country’s youth—and the nation at large?


Taking readers from Ivy Leagues to community colleges and everywhere in between, Tough explores whether the American post-secondary system is designed to protect the privileged and leave everyone else behind—or, if a college education today can still provide opportunity to youth seeking to improve their station in life. Called “a powerful reckoning with just how far we’ve allowed reality to drift from our ideals” by The New York Times, and “vividly written” and “utterly lucid” by This American Life host Ira Glass, The Years That Matter Most challenges the status quo, revealing how privilege actually affects access to higher education, and what we can do to make it more equitable for all.


Read an excerpt of The Years That Matter Most here.


To book speaker Paul Tough, contact his exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency.


Grit Speaker Lauren Eskreis-Winkler Investigates the Motivational Benefits of Advice-Giving

Common wisdom would suggest that offering advice to those who are struggling is helpful to them. But findings from the University of Pennsylvania suggest the opposite is true. In fact, it is the actually person dispensing the advice who is benefiting most. Lauren Eskreis-Winkler reveals the surprising insights from her new study.

Wharton post-doctoral researcher Lauren Eskreis-Winkler led her team in conducting an intervention with 2,000 high school students. The studythe first major project from Penn’s Behavior Change for Good initiativewas published with co-authors and fellow Lavin speakers Katherine Milkman and Angela Duckworth. The work was executed by Duckworth’s non-profit organization Character Lab.


Eskreis-Winkler revealed that, in her previous work with Duckworth, she was impressed by the motivational strategies kids were already using. “A million times a day, people problem-solve big and small ways to motivate themselves and, in some cases, do so very effectively,” she said. “The current intervention is that insight in a bottle. We figured, instead of telling kids about the latest science of motivation, what if we let them motivate themselves? As opposed to having kids receive advice, the intervention asks kids to give it.”


In the experiment, half of the students were designated “advice-givers,” and were asked to provide motivational guidance to other halfthe control groupvia an online survey. “The activity was designed […] to make them feel like bona fide advisors, people who have useful information to share,” explained Eskreis-Winkler.


At the end of the academic quarter, the advice-giving group earned higher grades than the control group, but remarkably, all 2,000 participating students appeared to benefit from the experiment. When asked how the research could be applied to schools, Eskreis-Winkler replied, “I hope this experiment catalyzes a paradigm shift in the way teachers, coaches, supervisors, and parents motivate others. If somebody we know is struggling, our intuition is to give that person help, to position him or her as a recipient. But our work shows there is benefit in doing the exact opposite. Our results point to the underappreciated, underutilized motivational power of giving.” 


You can read the full interview here


To book Lauren Eskreis-Winkler, or another Education Speaker, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Admission Isn’t Acceptance: Anthony Jack Reveals the Plight of Low-Income Kids at Ivy League Schools in The Privileged Poor

Even though the Ivy League has opened their doors to a more diverse student body, less privileged students still struggle. Drawing from his own experiences, as well as dozens of interviews with undergraduates at one of America’s most prestigious colleges, Anthony Jack’s The Privileged Poor (out now) reveals what happens to students who don’t have the background, family support or cultural capital to navigate elite colleges. 

University policies and campus culture needs to change in order to truly welcome and encourage a diverse student body, and in talks like the one below, Jack provides concrete advice to help reduce the hidden disadvantages we can’t afford to ignore. 


Anthony Jack at the Harvard Graduate School of Education


To book Anthony Jack for your next event contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau. 

How Can We Create an Open, Practical Dialogue Around Consent on Campus? Vanessa Grigoriadis Draws Clear Lines

Questions about power, consent, and assault on college campus have sparked difficult—but necessary—conversations. In this #MeToo moment, how do we engage in practical dialogue? New speaker Vanessa Grigoriadis embedded herself in colleges across America, conducting interviews with the survivors, the accused, the parents, the professors, and the administrators. The results, reported on in her bestselling book Blurred Lines, are stunning.

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“With rigorous reporting, brilliant observations and a rare absence of bias, Grigoriadis has written a fascinating and moreover an important book about a complex, controversial phenomenon. Blurred Lines is poised to become the definitive work about sex, consent, and campus life in our era.”

— Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects Of Discussion.

As Grigoriadis discusses in her incisive keynotes, a cultural revolution is taking place, and college students are leading the charge. As a speaker, Grigoriadis tackles the complex social and political issue of assault on campus with the impartial wisdom drawn from her scores of far-reaching interviews. She asks: How can we help survivors move on? How do we address the accused? How might we involve parents, who are often at a distance? What about school administrators, who are responsible for all these students, while also legally bound by the red tape that holds administrations together? 

Grigoriadis’ talks cut through the often sensational and useless media noise that values “hot takes” over constructive, meaningful dialogue. On stage, she offers objective and sensitive accounts of how this new sexual revolution can cue widespread, concrete social change on college campuses and beyond. 

To find out more about speaker Vanessa Grigoriadis, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.