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Civic Engagement Speakers


Most of the world’s population lives in cities, with more people migrating to urban centers every day. Our civic engagement speakers are using technology, psychology, science, and art to figure out how we can build happier, more sustainable places to live.


Civic Engagement
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Eric Klinenberg

Author of Palaces for the People and Going Solo

The future of cities and democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on social infrastructure. Drawing on his new book, Palaces for the People, renowned sociologist and bestselling author Eric Klinenberg shows that when social infrastructure is robust, people are more likely to build ties with friends and neighbors and to invest in their communities. 

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Naomi Klein

Author of On Fire, No Is Not Enough, This Changes Everything, The Shock Doctrine, & No Logo

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, columnist, and the #1 international bestselling author of seminal books The Shock Doctrine and No Logo. In her book This Changes Everything, and in powerful new talks, she exposes the myths of the climate debate.  
LaToya Ruby Frazier

Award-Winning Photographer | Associate Professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago | MacArthur Genius

For LaToya Ruby Frazier, art is a weapon—a catalyst for social justice. Her photographs and videos document today’s America: post-industrial cities riven by poverty, racism, healthcare inequality, and environmental toxicity. Bridging the personal with the social, her gorgeous work amplifies the voices of the vulnerable and transforms our sense of place and self.  
Raj Chetty

Economist and MacArthur Genius studying economic inequality

Raj Chetty studies some of the core issues of American society—equality, education, and government policy—through the powerful lens of economics. Chetty has received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and is currently Professor of Economics at Stanford University. 
Anthony Wilson-Smith

CEO of Historica Canada | Former Editor-in-Chief at MacLean's

Not only is Anthony Wilson-Smith the President and Chief Executive Officer of Historica Canada—known for their iconic Heritage Minutes—he also has a storied, award-winning career in journalism that’s led him to report in more than 35 countries. Much of his career as a journalist was spent with Maclean’s, including serving as Editor-in Chief. 
Bryant Terry

Author of Black Food | James Beard Leadership Award Winner | Founder of 4 Color Books

Chef, food justice activist, and critically-acclaimed author Bryant Terry has spent the past 15 years working to build a more just and sustainable food system. Using cooking as a tool to illuminate the intersections between poverty, structural racism, and food insecurity, he imparts the wisdom of a food movement with an inspiring vision of the future.  
Deborah Fallows

Co-author of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America

Writer Deborah Fallows has turned her careful observations and beautiful prose to the small towns and industries that shape the United States. In her New York Times bestseller Our Towns, Fallows documents a five-year journey across the country, profiling the grassroots re-invention rarely covered in the mainstream media.  
James Fallows

National Correspondent for The Atlantic | National Book Award Winner | Co-Author of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America

James Fallows is one of the world’s most respected journalists—an intrepid, yet sensitive investigator of his world and others. In his talks, Fallows shares the stories of grassroots innovators—detailing the growth and optimism not usually covered by mainstream media.  
Andrea Elliott

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-Winning New York Times Journalist | Author of Invisible Child

Investigative journalist Andrea Elliott puts a human face to a wide array of topics, from child poverty to Muslim life in America. Her series on homelessness (soon to be a book) won the George Polk Award, and prompted the City of New York to remove more than 400 children from substandard shelters. 
Shachi Kurl

Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute

Where are we heading—culturally, politically, economically? As the Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute, Shachi Kurl asks important questions and reveals what we really think about them. She takes what she calls a “kitchen-table approach” when talking about today’s most vital issues.  
Bill Strickland

An Extraordinary Business and Community Leader

Bill Strickland created an empire by stoking genius in those who believed they had nothing. The Founder and Chairman of Manchester Bidwell—an arts and training center with a $10 million annual budget—Strickland fuels hope, generates jobs, and empowers underprivileged citizens to become experts in any field. With his company tied with Apple for most Harvard Business Review case studies (four), Strickland confidently shows us how to pursue social restoration and profit with a conscience.
Candy Chang

Urban Space Artist Behind the "Before I Die" Walls

World-renowned artist and urban designer Candy Chang engages communities to share everything from their greatest hopes to their deepest anxieties in public. In her captivating and intimate talks, she demystifies the creative process, inspires personal reflection, and provokes new ideas for community and well-being.  
Charles Montgomery

Urban Design Consultant, Award-Winning Journalist, & Author of Happy City

How can we be happier in cities? Charles Montgomery looks for answers at the intersection of urban design and the new science of happiness. In psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics, and in cityscapes from Disneyland to Dubai, he explores the link between the ways we design our cities and the ways we think, feel, and act.  
Susan Pinker

Psychologist and Author of The Village Effect and The Sexual Paradox

Psychologist and award-winning author Susan Pinker is a seasoned observer of modern communication and social contact. Whether writing on gender differences, as in The Sexual Paradox, or on why face-to-face contact should be a priority, as in The Village Effect, Pinker’s evidence-based insights help us improve the ways we work, play, and relate to each other.