Christ School Speaker Series

Previous Guests

Ann Compton
Spring 2016

Ann Compton joined ABC News in 1973. Only weeks after the Watergate scandal came to an end in 1974, Compton became the first woman assigned to cover the White House on a full-time basis by a network television news organization, and she was one of the youngest to receive the assignment. In addressing her retirement from ABC News after 41 years President Obama paid tribute to Compton saying, "Ann Compton, everybody here knows, is not only the consummate professional but is also just a pleasure to get to know."

Jaki Shelton Green
Winter 2016

North Carolina poet Jaki Shelton Green gave a reading in Pingree Auditorium on Sunday, January 17, 2016 as part of Christ School’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Week activities. Green is the author of Breath of the Song: New and Selected Poems (2005), singing a tree into dance (2003), Conjure Blues: Poems (1996), Swiss Time (1990), Dead on Arrival (1983), and Mask (1981). She was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2014 and served as the North Carolina Piedmont Laureate in 2009. Green is the recipient of several awards for poetic achievement, among them the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2003 – the most prestigious award offered by the state for accomplishments in science, literature, fine arts, and public service.

She has conducted poetry workshops and given readings throughout the US, Europe, the Caribbean Islands, Central America, and South America. Currently, Green serves as the writer-in-residence at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

David Gergen
Spring 2015

A trusted advisor to four presidents and to both political parties, David Gergen offers a bipartisan analysis of the Obama Administration, a divided Congress and what today’s headlines mean for the future of America. Author of Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton and an upcoming book on presidential transitions, he offers an inside glimpse into the corridors of power and the leadership challenges presidents face.

Inky Johnson
Spring 2015

Inky always dreamed of playing professional sports, but his future was dramatically altered when he suffered a life-threatening injury. Inky Johnson's story is about a life filled with faith and perseverance in the face of uncertainty and change. Inky has a master’s degree in sports psychology from the University of Tennessee and devotes much of his time to mentoring athletes and underprivileged youth. He lives with his family in Atlanta, Georgia.

Taylor Mali
Fall 2014

Taylor Mali is an educator, teacher advocate and performance poet - one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement and one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.” He is a four-time National Poetry Slam champion and the author of three books, most recently, “What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World.”

Jaed Coffin
Fall 2014

Jaed Muncharoen Coffin is the author of A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants (Da Capo/Perseus), a memoir which chronicles his experience as a Buddhist monk in his mother’s native village in Thailand.

Jaed has spoken widely at universities and colleges where his book is taught as a common text in multicultural curriculum initiatives. Recently, Jaed has served as the 2009 William Sloane Fellow at Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the 2009-10 Wilson Fellow in Creative Writing at Deerfield Academy, and the 2008 Resident Fellow at the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska. Jaed currently lives and writes in Portland, Maine, and is on the nonfiction faculty at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA.

Jaed's visit as this year's Godwin-Hauser Resident Author was made possible through an endowment seeded by Col. William Hauser ’50 and the author Gail Godwin, who spent time on this campus as she wrote a book about an all-boys boarding school. The Godwin-Hauser Visiting Writer Program celebrates writing, reading, and the connections we make through literature.

Cheryl Johnson
Spring 2014

Cheryl Johnson visited Christ School as a guest speaker for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Week 2014. She was born in the Mississippi Delta when the Southern United States was still heavily practicing segregation. At 14, she was one of the first African Americans to enact the Supreme Court’s ruling on Brown vs. the Board of Education. This paved the way to desegregate South Panola High School. She graduated from South Panola High in 1969 and went on to attend Howard University and California State University.

In 2009 Ms. Johnson received her first invitation to a high school reunion, forty years after graduating. She looked for someone who could document her and her classmates' experiences as some of the first African Americans to have integrated with the previously all-white school. Ms. Johnson found Dr. Lee Anne Bell, the Director of Education at Barnard College. Dr. Bell accompanied Ms. Johnson to the reunion, where they filmed the documentary “40 Years Later: Now Can We Talk?

The film explores the impact of racial integration through dialogue with the alumni from Ms. Johnson's 1969 class. The graduates engaged in honest discourse about their memories of desegregation.

Dr. Chris Howard
Spring 2014

Dr. Chris Howard visited Christ School as a guest speaker for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Week 2014. He is the President of Hampden-Sydney College and one of the youngest college presidents in the United States. He is also Chairman of the Impact Young Lives Foundation and was previously Vice President for Strategic & Leadership Initiatives at the University of Oklahoma and a manager with General Electric’s elite Corporate Initiatives Group. A Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, he holds an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School, and is a Rhodes Scholar.

Dr. Howard left students with sage advice for succeeding in college: “You have to be resilient, and have a sense of agency. You cannot outsource your education, you must own it.” He also explained that students perform best when they are intellectually curious, and “professors love students who love to learn.”

Wiley Cash
Fall 2013

Dr. Wiley Cash, the New York Times best-selling author of A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy, served as Christ School's second Godwin-Hauser Visiting Writer for the week of September 30 - October 4, 2013.

Dr. Cash is a North Carolina native and graduate of UNC-Asheville. After completing his undergraduate degree in our western North Carolina mountains, Cash migrated to the steamy flats of Louisiana where he earned his PhD at the University of Louisiana - Lafayette. His work is influenced by Southern Literature icons such as William Faulkner, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Flannery O'Connor.

His first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list and has earned numerous prestigious awards since its hardback publication in 2012. This Dark Road to Mercy, Dr. Cash’s second novel, was released in January 2014.

J. Tom Morgan
Fall 2013

J. Tom Morgan returned to Christ School in the fall of 2013 for his second guest speech. J. Tom is the former district attorney of DeKalb County, and now an attorney in private practice. He uses his knowledge of law to guide adolescents into safe use of social media and the internet. On this occasion he brought copies of his book, Ignorance Is No Defense: A Teenager’s Guide to Georgia Law, to Christ School with him. To date, J. Tom Morgan has spoken with thousands of adolescents and most major private schools throughout the Southeast, instructing teenagers on how to stay safe online.

Kirk Bloodsworth
Fall 2013

Mr. Bloodsworth founded the Postconviction DNA Testing Program. With the introduction of the Innocence Protection Act of 2003, the Kirk Bloodsworth Postconviction DNA Testing Program was enacted, which also provided funding for testing under the act. Kirk Bloodsworth’s real story is about perseverance, forgiveness, and conversion, which he shared with students during his speech at St. Joseph’s Chapel. He taught the importance of educating oneself, self-advocacy, determination during struggle, and forgiveness.

Dr. Iavarone
Fall 2012

On November 29, 2012, Dr. Antonio Iavarone, a nationally recognized specialist on brain tumors from the Department of Neurology and Institute for Cancer Genetics, visited Christ School to speak with our students. Dr. Iavarone's discoveries in cancer research center on the role of proteins and networks that drive phenotypic states in brain cells. His latest research shows that some cases of glioblastomas (the most common and aggressive form of primary brain cancer) are caused by the fusion of two adjacent genes. In subsequent lab studies, targeting this protein slowed the growth of glioblastoma in mice - positive news for cancer patients across the globe.

Beverly Perdue
Fall 2012

Governor of North Carolina Beverly Perdue visited Christ School to discuss many national as well as state concerns, especially the paramount importance of education and advancement to college. Prompted by student questions, Governor Perdue addressed the significant issues of the national deficit and the polarization of political parties in America. Governor Perdue is North Carolina's first female governor, and she has a pronounced focus on building and transforming businesses and education across the state. Governor Perdue raised public school teacher salaries from 43rd to 21st in the nation, while also enforcing a tobacco-free policy in all 115 school systems. Her focus on reducing business costs in order to help create jobs earned North Carolina the No. 3 rank for "Best State for Business" by Forbes magazine, as well as the No. 1 rank for "Best Business Climate" by Site Selection magazine.

J. Tom Morgan
Fall 2012

Since releasing his book, Ignorance Is No Defense: A Teenager’s Guide to Georgia Law, in November 2007, J.Tom Morgan has spoken with thousands of teenagers and parents in the Southeast. As the former district attorney of DeKalb County, and now an attorney in private practice, J.Tom has first-hand knowledge of law in the Southeast and how teenagers in a modern world must approach the internet and social media in regards to their safety.

Professor Ron Rash
Fall 2012

Professor Ron Rash's roots sink deep into the soil of the Appalachian Mountains where his family settled more than 250 years ago. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb University and Clemson University. In 1994, he published his first book, a collection of short stories titled The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth. Since then, Rash has published four collections of poetry, three short story collections and five novels: One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, The World Made Straight, Serena, and The Cove. Rash has won numerous awards including the Sherwood Anderson Prize for developing writers, the Frank O’Connor Award for his short story collection Burning Bright, and the prestigious O. Henry Prize for ‘Speckled Trout.’ His novel, Serena, is being made into a major motion picture. Rash currently serves as the John Parris Professor of Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University.

Jean Kilbourne
Fall 2011

Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. A frequent guest on radio and television programs, including “The Today Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, she is the author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel and So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. The prize-winning films based on her lectures include Killing Us Softly, Spin the Bottle, and Slim Hopes.

Charlene Schiff
Fall 2011

Charlene Schiff, born December 16, 1929 in Horochow, Poland, is a Holocaust survivor. After becoming separated from her family, she spent two years of her childhood living in the forests near Horochow. She speaks publicly as part of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Memory Project.

Louis Zamperini
Fall 2011

Louis Zamperini is the 93-year old man whose gripping story is told in Unbroken, the most recent novel by best-selling author Laura Hillenbrand. Zamperini, a native Californian, was a record-breaking distance runner who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin when World War II began. Unbroken tells how Zamperini served in the Pacific during World War II and survived 25 months in Japanese POW camps before returning home in 1945.

H. Ross Perot, Sr.
Spring 2011

H. Ross Perot Sr. is a businessman, soldier, entrepreneur, philanthropist, presidential candidate, and patriot. Mr. Perot spoke on his humble upbringing in Texarkana, Texas, his days at the U.S. Naval Academy, IBM, EDS, and on general topics such as leadership, his principles of success, and the importance of service to others. He shared his philosophy of hard work, honesty, integrity, square-dealing, and compassion and presented each student with his own copy of Mr. Perot's book My Life & The Principles for Success, which was written for his own son as he prepared to graduate from college.

Katherine Koestner
Spring 2011

Katherine Koestner is a national expert on student safety and technology issues who has lectured at more than 1500 schools over the last 15 years. She has appeared on the cover of TIME, on Oprah, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, Larry King Live, and Entertainment Tonight.

Wes Moore
Fall 2010

Wes Moore is a Rhodes Scholar and a combat veteran of Afghanistan. As a White House Fellow, he worked as a special assistant to Secretary Condoleezza Rice at the State Department. He was a featured speaker at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, one of Ebony magazine’s Top 30 Leaders Under 30 (2007), and most recently, was named one of the top young business leaders in New York by Crain’s New York Business.

Billy Packer
Spring 2010

Billy Packer is a recipient of the North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year Award and a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Personality/Analyst. A legendary sportscaster, Packer was the lead analyst on the CBS sports tv team for more than 27 years and broadcast the Final Four for more than 34 years.

Paul Rusesabagina
Spring 2009

Paul Rusesabagina is the real life hero of the acclaimed film Hotel Rwanda. Rusesabagina saved the lives of more than 1200 people during the Rwandan genocide and has been honored internationally for his heroism. He authored An Ordinary Man and founded the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation which works to prevent future genocides and raise awareness of the need for a new truth and reconciliation process in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

Marcus Luttrell
Spring 2008

Marcus Luttrell, a decorated Navy SEAL, served in Baghdad and in Afghanistan. Luttrell was awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism in 2006 by President George W. Bush. His best-selling book Lone Survivor remembers the sacrifice his fallen comrades made during the single largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history: Operation Redwing in Afghanistan.
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