Past Speakers

Past Speakers


2009-2010 School Year


Steven Berlin JohnsonSteven Berlin Johnson

Author and Social Critic

Steven Johnson is the best-selling author of six books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience. His writings have influenced everything from the way political campaigns use the Internet, to cutting-edge ideas in urban planning, to the battle against 21st-century terrorism.

Steven's most recent book The Invention of Air tells the story of Joseph Priestly, the Founding Fathers, and how innovative ideas emerge and spread in society and drive historical change. Like his award-winning previous book, The Ghost Map, The Invention of Air uses a surprising historical and biographical narrative to discuss ideas that have profoundly shaped our modern world.  

Steven has also co-created three influential web sites: the pioneering online magazine FEED, the Webby-Award-winning community site,, and most recently the hyperlocal media site 

Both social critic and technologist, Steven has a genius for mapping the future-for predicting and explaining the real-world impact of cutting-edge developments in science, technology and media. 

Steven is a contributing editor to Wired magazine and is the 2009 Hearst New Media Professional-in-Residence at The Journalism School, Columbia University. He lectures widely on technological, scientific, and cultural issues.

Steven has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and many other periodicals. He's appeared on many high-profile television programs, including: The Charlie Rose Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He blogs at

Leigh Bureau is the source of Steven Berlin Johnson's biography.  Please visit the site for more information on this speaker.

2008-2009 School Year

KostigenThomas Kostigen
Best-Selling Author, Editor & Columnist

Thomas Kostigen has traveled the world-from the deserts of the Middle East to the slums of India; from polluted cities in China to the jungles of Borneo; from the Arctic Circle to the Amazon; as well as many other environmental hot spots-to investigate the effect of man on the planet. Kostigen is The New York Times best-selling coauthor of The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time. His new book, You Are Here: The Surprising Link Between What We Do and What That Does to the Planet was published in September 2008.

Kostigen writes the "Better Planet" column and blog for Discover Magazine, as well as the "Ethics Monitor" column for Dow Jones MarketWatch. He has spent almost two decades exploring issues related to global warming, the environment, social issues, and governmental policies.

At the podium, Kostigen employs images from his world travels to powerfully demonstrate the impact of our actions. He takes people to the frontlines of the most environmentally significant places on Earth and explains how everyday actions matter. Bringing the audience with him on his adventures to exotic locales, he provides "Wow!" factoids and empowering messages, as well as highlights the opportunities-for sustainability, profitability and natural resource efficiency. In a program that imparts an understanding of here-and-now issues, Kostigen educates audiences on the importance of their actions and leaves them emboldened to make changes in their businesses and their lives.

An advocate of corporate social responsibility, Kostigen regularly works with CERES (corporate environmental responsibility), Coop America, Liberty Hill, The Social Investment Forum, and other organizations that aim to shift social and environmental awareness through changes in habits and policies.

Kostigen has appeared on Today, Entertainment Tonight, Character Road Trip, The Daily Green, SPRIG, The Lazy Environmentalist, Good Company, Westwood One Radio Networks, and CBS Radio. He was recently asked by the State of California to serve as an environmental expert for a series of Public Service Announcements and video campaigns that will air throughout the state.


AlexakisArt Alexakis
Songwriter and Lead Singer of Everclear

Art Alexakis, of Everclear, has sold millions of records, but his success comes only after a turbulent youth that included abandonment, abuse and serious drug addiction (as a teen, he saw both his girlfriend and his brother die from drug overdoses). Informed by this dark chapter in his life, Alexakis has written bitingly raw but hopeful songs with a uniquely American point of view. Today, he is one of rock's more politically active stars, engaging youth to take action for their future; a future he almost did not live to see.

Even among his rock star peers, Art Alexakis stands out as a funny and disarmingly honest speaker; his campus talks reverberate with the same sense of community that Everclear bring to their concerts. Alexakis sings, and talks about his unforgettable life: he once tried to commit suicide by jumping into the Santa Monica pier (an experience that turned into his biggest hit), and, at the age of 22, he nearly died of a drug overdose. But, picking up a guitar, and writing songs, he managed to turn his life around. He also speaks on the power of music and the role it plays in connecting politics and youth, especially during this historic 2008 election.

Alexakis's band, Everclear, has released several acclaimed albums, including Sparkle and Fade, Scenes From an American Movie, Vols. 1 and 2, and Welcome to The Drama Club. On television, he has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and Politically Incorrect. In the political arena, he has used his prominence to testify before Congress, in support of the "Compassion for Children and Child Support Enforcement Act." And during the last Presidential election, he covered Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land."

2007-2008 School Year


Jerry Greenfield Jerry Greenfield

October 29, 2007

Jerry Greenfield and his business partner Ben Cohen helped turn a storefront venture into a $300 million ice cream empire.  But he is also famous for the way the business was built - an environment where social responsibility and creative management were strengths rather than weaknesses.  Mr. Greenfield generously spent hours with Doane University students in classes, at dinner, and even sitting down to be interviewed by the students who would introduce him later that evening - all before the lecture even began.  As if his "rousing tribute to America's entrepreneurial spirit", as it is often called, wasn't enough, he brought enough coupons for everyone who attended the lecture to have a free pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream of their choice.  Mr. Greenfield currently holds the title with his former company of Co-Founder and serves as the president of the charitable Ben & Jerry's Foundation.  He's also a "Joy Pooh-Bah Emeritus," sometimes consulting for the Joy Gang, a group of Ben & Jerry's employees dedicated to bringing more joy into the workplace through fun activities.    

2006-2007 School Year


September 7, 2006

Anthony Rapp is best known for originating the role of Mark Cohen in the Tony Award-wining rock opera, Rent. A musical about Bohemians in the East Village of New York City, Rent explores the struggle with life, love and AIDS, and the impacts they have on America. He shared an OBIE Award with the rest of the cast for his performance. Rapp has written a book about his experiences with Rent as well as his personal struggle with losing his mother to cancer, titled, Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical "Rent."



MTV News Correspondent, October 10, 2006

"They're Doing What? Politics, Cool and the Youth Vote". Called "the face of current events to millions of young adults," Gideon Yago has spent six years as a writer and correspondent for MTV News and a contributor to CBS News. Yago was a Columbia University student when he appeared on MTV as a winning contestant on Idiot Savant, a pop-culture game show. A few years later, when MTV recruited for its "Choose or Lose" campaign to educate young voters, he was among college students chosen to report on the election. After Choose or Lose, Yago remained an MTV News correspondent.


WNBA Player and Olympian, December 4, 2006

"Dedication and Determination:  The Keys to Success".  Since the birth of the Women's National Basketball Association in 1997, Sheryl Swoopes has stormed onto the sports scene as one of the nation's most skilled and impressive athletes. She's earned many respected accolades during her career, including two Olympic gold medals and 2002's WNBA MVP award, and she became the first female athlete to receive a shoe endorsement from Nike-the Air Swoopes.  



Teacher, Lecturer, and Diversity Trainer, February 15

Elliott is the adaptor of the Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes discrimination experiment. The sensitizing exercise, in which participants are labeled inferior or superior based on the color of their eyes, began in a third-grade classroom in all-white, all-Christian Riceville, Iowa, immediately after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It has been repeated with dramatic results with children and adults throughout the country.  


Founder, Philadelphia Department of Recreation, April 17

Ellis founded the P.D.R. (Philadelphia Department of Recreation) Swim Team, based at the Marcus Foster Recreation Center in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia, in 1971. Today, it is the city's nationally recognized competitive swim team, the nation's best predominately African-American team, and has become a model for urban swim programs around the country. Jim Ellis' story is testimony to the power of dreams and their ability to inspire and transform human life. His story is the subject of the film, Pride, starring Terrence Howard, released on March 23, 2007.

2005-2006 School Year

  • Herman Cain, Chairman of the Board of Godfather's Pizza, serves on the Boards of Directors for Whirlpool Corporation, Aquila, Inc., Reader's Digest Association, Inc., and Hallmark Cards Incorporated; "Leadership is Common Sense" 
  • Mark Zupan, civil engineer, member of the USA Paralympics quad rugby team, professional quad rugby player; "Murderball: Smashing Stereotypes One Hit at a Time"
  • Maisa and Marina; Palestinian and Jewish Israeli graduate students; "Maisa and Marina: Unlikely Partners in Peace"
  • Derrick Ashong, actor, entrepreneur, founder of ASAFO Productions, writer; "Killing Cool: Igniting the Soul of Society" 
  • Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, Lt. Col. (ret), US Army, founder of Educational Achievement Services, Inc.; "Servant leadership: A New Call to Duty"

2004-05 School Year

  • Stephen Shames, award winning photographer and photo essayist
  • Rabbi Harold Kushner, best-selling author, "Living a Life That Matters."
  • Bruce Brown, motivational sports speaker, "NAIA Champions of Character." Positive character and actions.
  • Soledad O'Brien, CNN's American Morning Co-host, "Diversity:  On TV, Behind the Scenes and In Our Lives."

2003-04 School Year

  • Fire Chief Richard Picciotto, New York Fire Station Chief; "Last Man Down: A Fireman's Story" first hand account of 9/11 and humanity
  • Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and author; "Importance of Voting and Finding Passion and Meaning in Your Work"
  • Morris Dees, civil rights lawyer and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center; "Activism for the Underprivileged"
  • Doug Lansky, noted travel expert and author; topic: budget travel and tips
  • Sarah Weddington, nationally known attorney and spokesperson on public issues; "Some Leaders are Born Women"

2002-03 School Year

  • Justice Alan Page, Minnesota 's first African-American Supreme Court Justice; topic: service to community and leadership
  • Sgt. Matt Eversmann, military hero "Black Hawk Down: Lessons Learned." Service, leadership and patriotism.
  • Alvah Simon, explorer and author; topic: survival and bravery
  • Danny Glover, actor; topic: literacy
  • Ron Gustafson, motivational speaker; topic: overcoming life's obstacles

2001-02 School Year

  • Jeff Corwin, TV personality; topic; wildlife, ecology and conservation issues
  • Susan O'Malley, president, Washington Sports and Entertainment; topic: business and leadership
  • Dr. Drew Pinsky, co-host of MTV's Loveline and author; topic: healthy relationships and youth culture

2000-01 School Year

  • James Earl Jones, actor; topic: overcoming childhood obstacles

1999-00 School Year

  • Madame Jehan Sadat, former first lady of Egypt ; "A Sense of Peace"
  • Dr. David Smith, founder of the Human Genome Program; topic: DNA studies and biochemistry
  • Dr. Keith Devlin, author and mathematician; "Life By the Numbers" - how math shapes our lives
  • Dr. Kary Mullis, Noble Prize Chemist, topic: innovations in science

1998-99 School Year

  • Major General Perry Smith, author; topic: leadership and Ethics
  • Phil Jackson, former Chicago Bulls coach; topic: vision and keys to leadership