Presidential Lecture Series Past Speakers



  • Gwendolyn Oxenham, the author of “Finding the Game,” Meredith’s 2013 Summer Reading Program selection. Oxenham spent three years playing and filming pickup soccer games in 25 countries. Her resulting film and book capture the many ways soccer enriches life around the world.


  • Bernice Sandler, a leader in efforts to support women's equality in education and the workforce. Sandler played a major role in the development and passage of Title IX and other laws prohibiting sex discrimination in education, and has been called the "godmother of Title IX" by The New York Times. Title IX is the federal legislation that prohibits educational institutions from discriminating against students or employees on the basis of sex.
  • Jeannette Walls, journalist and best-selling author of “The Glass Castle,” Meredith’s 2012 Summer Reading Program selection


  • Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook marketing executive and founder of Zuckerberg Media.
  • Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of  "Enrique's Journey," Meredith's Summer Reading Program selection for 2011.


  • Twyla Tharp, choreographer and director, winner of two Emmys and one Tony Award, presented the 2011 Woman of Achievement Lecture titled "The Creative Habit."
  • Maureen Hartford, Meredith's first woman president, discussed "Critical Thinking in Women's Education," as part of the College's 2011 Founders' Day observance.
  • Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of Meredith's 2010 Summer Reading Program selection, "Half the Sky: From Oppression to Opportunity for Women Worldwide."


  • Frank Warren, founder and curator of the PostSecret Project
  • Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, the most syndicated columnist in the United States.
  • Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Former chief of protocol and former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary (Bush Administration).


  • John Passacantando, former executive director of Greenpeace, co-founder of Ozone Action.
  • Jeff Corwin, Emmy winner, global conservationist of endangered species and ecosystems.
  • Celine Cousteau, international project coordinator of Ocean Futures Society Educational ambassador and oceanaut, member of the famed Cousteau family of ocean explorers.


  • Anne Fadiman, author, essayist, editor and teacher, author of "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” the 2007-08 Meredith College Summer Reading Program selection.
  • Michael Beschloss, award-winning presidential historian, author of nine books, and Emmy-award winning NBC News Presidential Historian.
  • Nancy Pelosi, first woman to serve as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, represented California’s Eighth District in the House of Representatives since 1987.
  • Judy Woodruff, broadcast journalist for more than three decades at CNN, NBC and PBS. Woodruff attended Meredith College from 1964-66 before earning her bachelor’s degree at Duke University.


  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian, commentator and author of "No Ordinary Time," the 2006-07 Meredith College Summer Reading Program selection. Author of five bestsellers.
  • Sarah Weddington, attorney, women's rights activist, lead attorney in Roe V. Wade.
  • Phyllis Trible, Meredith College alumna and internationally known Biblical scholar and author. Professor of biblical studies at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.


  • Rory Kennedy, Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker and producer of numerous social issue documentaries including “Pandemic: Facing AIDS.”
  • Nicolas de Torrente, U.S. Executive Director, Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) 
  • William McDonough, sustainable design leader, author, founder and principal of William McDonough & Partners and of Architecture and Community Design.

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