RCLA TOWN HALL 2020 Lecture Series Speakers Announced

General John Kelly, Annie Leibovitz and Rick Steves Among Notable Speakers at RCLA TOWN HALL 2020 Lecture Series

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, photojournalist Annie Leibovitz and travel guru Rick Steves are among the distinguished speakers who will appear at the 2020 Ringling College Library Association TOWN HALL Lecture Series.

“From leadership and politics to medicine and the arts, our renowned speakers will enlighten, instruct and entertain attendees in our 40th anniversary season,” said Committee Chair, Ollie Johnson, TOWN HALL 2020 which is presented by the Ringling College Library Association (RCLA) in Sarasota.

Subscription tickets for RCLA members for the 2020 series will go on sale in on June 1st, according to Stephanie Grosskreutz, RCLA executive director.  “We look forward to celebrating 40 years of bringing influencers from the world stage to our stage in Sarasota,” she said. “Next year will also mark the 45th anniversary of the establishment of our Ringling College Library Association.”

Since launching the annual lecture series in 1981, RCLA has made more than $11 million in gifts and commitments for student scholarships and the support of the Alfred R. Goldstein Library, which opened in 2017 at the Ringling College of Art and Design.  “Our TOWN HALL Lecture Series and the continuing support of our members make it possible for talented students with limited financial means to attend Ringling, while supporting the ongoing needs of our library,” Grosskreutz said.

RCLA’S 2020 TOWN HALL Lecture Series will begin on Monday, January 27, with a talk by Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general who served as President Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security and White House Chief of Staff, a position he held until January 2019.  In a distinguished career spanning nearly five decades of service to his country, Kelly served in a wide range of positions, including leading the Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, and the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, a position he held until January 2016.

On Tuesday, February 11, RCLA attendees will enjoy a tour of the travel world from Steves, the host of the popular public television series Rick Steves’ Europe, and best-selling author of more than 50 European travel books. By encouraging Americans to travel as “temporary locals,” he helps them connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.  Steves also hosts a weekly public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves, with a broader approach to travel everywhere.

Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman will be the featured speaker on Monday, February 17. Now a senior fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Sherman recently stepped down as undersecretary of state for political affairs after four years overseeing every region of the world, dealing with every major opportunity and crisis, and leading the U.S. negotiating team to a successful conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal. In recognition of her many diplomatic accomplishments, she was awarded the National Security Medal by President Barack Obama.

On Monday, March 23, renowned neuroscientist, Lisa Genova, will focus on neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, autism, Huntington’s disease, and ALS.   Genova graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in biopsychology and holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University.  She is the New York Times bestselling author of “Still Alice,” “Left Neglected,” “Love Anthony,” and several other books.  Through fiction, she is dedicated to describing the journeys of those affected by neurological diseases, thereby educating, demystifying, and inspiring support for care and scientific research.

Celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz will wrap up the 2020 series on Tuesday, April 7, with a talk on her long career in journalism and the arts. A former chief photographer for Rolling Stone, her pictures have appeared regularly on magazine covers since the 1970s.  As an astute documentarian of the social landscape, she developed a large body of work at Vanity Fair, and later at Vogue, including portraits of actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes, and political and business figures, as well as fashion photographs.

All lectures will be presented at Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, 777 North Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Morning lectures begin at 10:30 a.m. and evening talks begin at 7:30 p.m.