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Walter Isaacson is the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. He has been the Chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine. He is the author of Einstein: His Life and Universe, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003), and Kissinger: A Biography (1992) and is the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (1986).
Most recently Isaacson published the highly anticipated and only authorized biography – Steve Jobs. Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors and colleagues. Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
Isaacson was born on May 20, 1952, in New Orleans. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He began his career at the Sunday Times of London and then the New Orleans Times-Picayune/States-Item. He joined TIME magazine in 1978 and served as a political correspondent, national editor and editor of new media before becoming the magazine's 14th managing editor in 1996. He became Chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, and then president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in 2003. He is the chairman of the board of Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates to teach in underserved communities. He was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other international broadcasts of the United States. He is vice-chair of Partners for a New Beginning, a public-private group tasked with forging ties between the United States and the Muslim world. He is on the board of United Airlines, Tulane University, and the Overseers of Harvard University. From 2005- 2007, after Hurricane Katrina, he was the vice-chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority.
At the podium, Isaacson brings a combination of wit, history, drama, and humanity to the stories of Jobs, Einstein and Franklin, and their contributions to the world. His presentations are informed by a deep knowledge of history and its significance to the news of the day.
He lives with his wife and daughter in Washington, DC.
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Dr. Robert M. Gates served as the 22nd Secretary of Defense (2006-2011) and is the only Secretary of Defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly-elected President. President Barack Obama is the eighth president Gates has served. He previously served under President George W. Bush.
On Gates' last day in office, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.
Before becoming Secretary of Defense in 2006, Gates was the president of Texas A&M University, the nation's seventh largest university. Prior to assuming the Texas A&M presidency, on August 1, 2002, he served as interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001.
Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as intelligence professional. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, The White House, serving four presidents of both political parties.
Gates served as director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. He is the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to director. He served as deputy director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser at the White House from January 20, 1989, until November 6, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush.
Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has three times received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.
He is the author of the memoir, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insiders Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, published in 1996.
Until becoming Secretary of Defense, Gates served as chairman of the Independent Trustees of The Fidelity Funds, the nation's largest mutual fund company, and on the board of directors of NACCO Industries, Inc., Brinker International, Inc. and Parker Drilling Company, Inc.
Gates has also served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the American Council on Education, the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges and the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. He has also been president of the National Eagle Scout Association.
A native of Kansas, Gates received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, his master's degree in history from Indiana University and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. Gates was installed as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary, beginning in February 2012. He is the first William and Mary alumnus in the modern era to serve as Chancellor of the College.
In 1967, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S Air Force and served as an intelligence officer at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
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Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., had a childhood dream of becoming a physician. Growing up in a
single parent home and being challenged by dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper and low
self-esteem appeared to preclude the realization of that dream, until his mother, with only a third grade
education, challenged her sons to strive for excellence. Young Ben persevered, and today is a
full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School
of Medicine, where he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center
for over a quarter of a century. He became the inaugural recipient of a professorship dedicated in
his name in May, 2008 and is now the Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D. and Dr. Evelyn Spiro, R.N.
Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery.
Some career highlights include the first and only successful separation of craniopagus (Siamese)
twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, the first completely successful separation of type-2
vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa, and the first successful placement of an
intrauterine shunt for a hydrocephalic twin. Although he has been involved in many newsworthy
operations, he feels that every case is noteworthy—deserving of maximum attention. He is
interested in all aspects of pediatric neurosurgery, and has a special interest in trigeminal neuralgia
(a severe facial pain condition) in adults.
Carson holds more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees and has received literally hundreds of
awards and citations. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the
Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Science, the Horatio Alger Society of Distinguished
Americans and many other prestigious organizations. He sits on the board of directors of numerous
organizations, including Kellogg Company, Costco Wholesale Corporation, the Academy of
Achievement, and is an Emeritus Fellow of the Yale Corporation, the governing body of Yale
University. He was appointed in 2004 by President George W. Bush to serve on the President's
Council on Bioethics. He is a highly regarded motivational speaker who has addressed various
audiences from school systems and civic groups to corporations and the President's National Prayer
In 2001, Carson was named by CNN and TIME magazine as one of the nation's 20 foremost
physicians and scientists. That same year, he was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89
"Living Legends" on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. He is also the recipient of the 2006
Spingarn Medal which is the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP. In February 2008, Carson was
presented with the Ford's Theatre Lincoln Medal by President Bush at the White House. In June,
2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the President, which is the highest
civilian honor in the land. Carson was recognized in November, 2008 by U.S. News & World Report
and Harvard's Center for Public Leadership, as one of "America's Best Leaders." On February 7,
2009, the award-winning movie entitled Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, starring Cuban
Gooding, Jr. as Carson, premiered on TNT and is based on his memoir.
Carson is president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of
all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. The Fund is currently
operating in 45 states and the District of Columbia, having awarded more than $ 4.5 million dollars to
more than 4500 scholars. The program also establishes Carson Reading Rooms to encourage
young students and their families to discover the pleasure to be found in books and to recognize the
true power of learning. Carson is also the co-founder of Angels of the OR under the auspices of the
Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr. M.D. true power of learning. Carson is also the co-founder of Angels of the OR under the auspices of the Baltimore Community Foundation, which provides grant to assist neurosurgery patients with expenses not covered by insurance.
His five books, Gifted Hands, THINK BIG, The Big Picture, Take the Risk: Learning to Identify,
Choose and Live with Acceptable Risk and America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This
Nation Great (January 2012) provide inspiration and insight for leading a successful life. Carson has
been married for over 30 years to his wife, Candy, and is the father of three sons. And yes, his
mother, Sonya Carson, who made all this possible, is alive and living in Maryland.
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Mark Kelly is an American astronaut, retired US Navy Captain, best selling-author, prostate cancer survivor, and an experienced naval aviator who flew combat missions during the Gulf War. The winner of many awards, including the Legion of Merit, two Defense Superior Service Medals and two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Kelly was selected as an astronaut in 1996. He flew his first of four missions in 2001 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, the same space shuttle that he commanded on its final flight in May 2011. He has also commanded Space Shuttle Discovery and is one of only two individuals who have visited the International Space Station on four different occasions.
Already a celebrated American, Kelly became the center of international attention after the January 2011 assassination attempt on his wife, former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In their best-selling memoir, Gabby, the couple shares their story of hope and resilience with the world. The inspirational memoir has topped multiple best-seller lists, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon. Kelly and Giffords have captivated the nation with their story, appearing in an exclusive Diane Sawyer interview, and on Nightline and The Daily Show, among others, and have appeared on the covers of People and USA Today. Named on of the Esquire's 2011 "Americans of the Year," Kelly was also featured on the cover of and profiled in the magazine.
Kelly's identical twin brother, Scott, is also an astronaut who served as commander of both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. They share the distinction of being the only siblings who have traveled in space.
With 6,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircraft, 375 aircraft carrier landings, 39 combat missions and more than 50 days in space, Astronaut Mark Kelly is one of our country's most experienced pilots.
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Tom Brokaw has spent his entire distinguished journalism career with NBC News beginning in 1966
in the Los Angeles bureau where he covered Ronald Reagan's first run for public office, the rise of
the Sixties counter culture, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and the 1968 presidential campaign.
From Los Angeles, Brokaw went to Washington as the White House correspondent during
Watergate and as the principal back up for John Chancellor as anchor of NBC Nightly News. Next
stop: New York and TODAY followed by his appointment as anchor and managing editor of NBC
Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. He took over Meet the Press for the 2008 campaign when his close friend and colleague Tim Russert died.
He has an impressive list of firsts, including the first interview with Mikhail Gorbachev; the first
network report on human rights abuses in Tibet accompanied by an exclusive interview with the Dali
Lama; the only American network anchor to report from Berlin the night the Berlin wall came down.
In 1998 Brokaw published his first book, The Greatest Generation, one of the most popular
non-fiction books of the 20th century. He followed that with five other books, including BOOM! Voices
Of The Sixties and, most recently, The Time Of Our Lives.
He is also a popular essayist for publications ranging from The New York Times to Rolling Stone and
a wide assortment of other periodicals and newspapers. Brokaw has won every major award in his craft, including Peabody, Duponts, Emmys and lifetime achievement recognition.
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Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. The organization seeks to prove that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined with large doses of business acumen, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of the poor. Its investments focus on delivering affordable, critical goods and services — like health, water, housing, and energy — through innovative, market-oriented approaches. A powerful, inspirational voice for global change, she speaks frequently at international conferences, including the Clinton Global Initiative and TED.
For her work with Acumen, Novogratz was named to Forbes magazine's inaugural "Impact 30" list of top social entrepreneurs in 2011, and she was named a TIME magazine "Responsibility Pioneer" for her work in changing the world for the better. In 2009, she was honored with the CASE Leadership in Social Entrepreneurship Award. The Daily Beast also named her one of the "25 Smartest People of the Decade" and Foreign Policy recognized her as one of the world's "Top 100 Global Thinkers."
Her best-selling memoir, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, was featured as part of Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers program, and chronicles her quest to understand poverty and challenges readers to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink their engagement with the world.
Founded in 2011, the key to Acumen's success is "patient capital." Acumen uses philanthropic capital to make disciplined investments — loans or equity, not grants — that yield both financial and social returns. Acumen currently manages more than $73 million of approved investments in 65 breakthrough enterprises throughout the world, which are all focused on delivering health, water, housing, energy, agricultural inputs and services to the poor — so that they can make decisions and choices for themselves and unleash their full human potential. The organization also includes the Acumen Fund Fellows Program, focused on building the next generation of business leaders with an understanding of global issues and poverty. Acumen has offices in New York, Pakistan, India, and Kenya.
Novogratz serves on the advisory boards of Stanford Graduate School of Business, MIT's Legatum Center, and Innovations Journal published by MIT Press. She serves on the Aspen Institute Board of Trustees and as a member of two World Economic Forum Global Agenda Councils, on Social Entrepreneurship and on Water. She is also an Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow and a Synergos Institute Senior Fellow.
Prior to founding the Acumen Fund, Novogratz founded and directed The Philanthropy Workshop and The Next Generation Leadership programs at the Rockefeller Foundation. She also founded Duterimbere, a micro-finance institution in Rwanda. She began her career in international banking with Chase Manhattan Bank. Novogratz earned an MBA from Stanford and a bachelor's degree in economics/international relations from the University of Virginia. She speaks Spanish and French and has a working knowledge of Swahili.
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