The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

Nathan Wolfe, Our Best Hope to Stop the Next Epidemic, Makes the TIME 100

Nathan Wolfe, a sort of Indiana Jones of virus hunting, has been named to the TIME 100, an annual list of the world’s most influential people. A scientist and TED speaker, Wolfe finds, tracks, and helps contain the next viral outbreak—the next AIDS—before it tips over from the animal to human population and spreads. (Most of the big deadly viruses, from Ebola to swine flu, were found in animals before they jumped to humans.) Working at the front lines of the new virological war, Wolfe monitors locations in China and Malaysia, and travels often to rural Africa, where wild animals coexist with humans. Recently profiled in The New Yorker’s Worldchanger’s issue and named, in 2009, to Rolling Stone’s list of Change Agents, Nathan Wolfe, according to TIME, does “dangerous and dirty work” and he remains “our best hope to stop the next great epidemic before it starts.”

Read more about keynote speaker Nathan Wolfe

Patti Smith, the Godmother of Punk, Makes the TIME 100

Patti Smith, one of the most singular American artists of our generation,
has been named to the TIME 100, an annual list of the most influential people in the world. Patti first captured — or, more accurately, demanded — the world’s attention with 1975’s Horses, an emotionally raw, visceral, and still-smoldering mixture of poetry and punk rock that remains one of the seminal albums of all time. Last year, she won the National Book Award for Just Kids, her memoir about finding her artistic voice in New York City in the 1960s and 70s. The book was both a celebration of a nascent artistic scene and her lifelong friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

The best part about the TIME 100 — besides the fact that Patti shares honors with everyone from Barack Obama to Bruno Mars — is that the entries are written by like-minded artists and peers. In Patti’s case, R.E.M. singer and superfan Michael Stipe was called in. (Patti sung the somber-angelic chorus to R.E.M.’s “E-Bow the Letter” in 1996.) Here’s Michael Stipe:

In 2011 we face a new era of sweeping changes combating an even deeper cynicism and intolerance. With Just Kids, her memoir of her friendship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti, 64, reminds us that innocence, utopian ideals, beauty and revolt are enlightenment's guiding stars in the human journey. Her book recalls, without blinking or faltering, a collective memory — one that guides us through the present and into the future.

Read more about keynote speaker Patti Smith

Social Entrepreneur Speaker Bill Strickland Joins White House Council for Community Solutions

For the past three decades, speaker Bill Strickland has been transforming the lives of thousands of adults and teenagers through his innovative jobs training and education centers. Last seen in the public education documentary Waiting for Superman, Bill has just been chosen as one of the 25 members of the White House Council for Community Solutions. The Council, according to a White House statement, “will provide advice to the President on the best ways to mobilize citizens, nonprofits, businesses and government to work more effectively together to solve specific community needs.” President Obama added, “These impressive men and women have dedicated their lives and careers to civic engagement and social innovation.”

Strickland’s work perfectly aligns with the Council’s mission: from extreme poverty, he converted a ramshackle building in a poor Pittsburgh neighborhood into an award-winning job and arts center that works closely with corporations to help provide adults and youth with the skills — and the hope — they need to become successful workers, and people. As Bill tells audiences in his typically understated but enthralling talks, “Give people the tools they need, treat them with respect, and they will perform miraculous deeds.” Bill has been a Lavin speaker for over ten years now, and it’s always great to see his work continue to register with increasingly bigger audiences.

Photo of Bill Strickland via ArchitectsofPeace.org

Read more about keynote speaker Bill Strickland


Daron Acemoglu is the 88th Most Influential Thinker on the Planet

MIT economist Daron Acemoglu has been named to Foreign Policy’s list of 100 Global Thinkers, for “showing that freedom is about more than markets.” In their write-up, the FP editors stop just short of saying he will one day win a Nobel — a not unlikely outcome given that he’s already won the John Bates Clark medal for top economist in the world under 40. (Basically, a ridiculously high proportion of Clark medal winners — Krugman, Stiglitz, etc. — eventually go on to add a Nobel to their repertoire.) Daron also has a new book out next year, Why Nations Fail, in which he posits an entirely new theory on why some countries are rich while others remain desperately poor. The reasons, he tells us, may not be what you’d expect.

From FP’s Global Thinkers:

Some Nobel Prize selections are a genuine surprise. The same won’t be true if Daron Acemoglu, already at age 43 one of the world’s 20 most cited economists, eventually takes the award. Born in Turkey and educated at the London School of Economics, Acemoglu quickly made a name for himself with papers and monographs that examined how economic incentives align with political life. His specialty is the analysis of the political conditions under which markets thrive—namely, democracy. It’s a theme Acemoglu has explored in a steady stream of academic papers, textbooks, and op-eds—work that so impressed his peers that he won the John Bates Clark medal in 2005, given annually to an outstanding economist under age 40.