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Wake Forest is pleased to welcome guest speakers who share insights and offer examples for students to emulate. By collaborating with other departments, co-sponsoring speaker visits and providing multiple opportunities to engage these exemplars, the Program for Leadership and Character seeks to support other campus initiatives and maximize student access and speaker impact.

Past co-sponsored speakers include:

  • Brahm Ahmadi – food justice advocate, co-founder of People’s Grocery and People’s Community Market
  • Robbie Bach – former chief Xbox officer and president of Microsoft’s Entertainment, Devices Division, author of “XBox Revisited”
  • John Bowlin – Robert L. Stuart Professor of Philosophy and Christian Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary and author of “Tolerance among the Virtues”
  • Tarana Burke – social justice activist and founder of #MeToo
  • Teju Cole – writer, photographer, Harvard professor and photography critic at the New York Times Magazine
  • Renée Elise Goldsberry – Tony and Grammy Award-winning star of the Broadway musical “Hamilton”
  • Wilson S. Hoyle III (’89) – managing director and head of CAPTRUST Advisor Group
  • Julie Kohner – founder and CEO of Voices of the Generations, Inc., daughter of Holocaust survivor
  • Kyle Korver – NBA all-star, author of essay “Privileged” in The Player’s Tribune
  • Kiese Laymon – author of “Heavy: An American Memoir,” Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi
  • Larissa Macfarquhar and Deogratias Niyizonkiza – a writer at the New Yorker and author of “Strangers Drowning,” and a medical student in Burundi during the ethnic civil war between the Hutus and the Tutsis who was the subject of Tracy Kidder’s “Strength in What Remains”
  • Gina McCarthy and Lee Thomas – former EPA Administrator, president and CEO of Natural Resources Defense Council and former EPA Administrator, former president and COO of Georgia-Pacific Corporation
  • Chris Paul (’07) – NBA All-Star, President of the NBA Players Association and Wake Forest alumnus
  • Lian Ryan Hume – First Arab-Israeli Rhodes Scholar, executive board member of Mabat
  • Margot Lee Shetterly – writer, researcher and entrepreneur, known for her bestselling book, “Hidden Figures”
  • Jeffrey Stout – emeritus professor of religion at Princeton University, former President of the American Academy of Religion
  • Bill Taylor – founding editor of Fast Company, Wake Forest parent
  • Krista Tippett – founder and CEO of The On Being Project, author of “Becoming Wise”
  • Katharine Wilkinson – environmental advocate, author and senior writer of “Drawdown”
“The most valuable aspect of these discussions was getting to know new people who enjoy and appreciate thinking about the types of topics we discussed. It was encouraging to be part of a setting that encouraged intentional thinking about how we live our lives. It was also encouraging to hear that other people struggle with some of the same things I wrestle with.” Student in the Leadership and Character Discussion Group