Dan Brown

Dan Brown is the author of numerous #1 bestselling novels, including The Da Vinci Code, which has become one of the best selling novels of all time as well as the subject of intellectual debate among readers and scholars. Brown’s novels are published in 56 languages around the world with over 200 million copies in print.

In 2005, Brown was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine, whose editors credited him with “keeping the publishing industry afloat; renewed interest in Leonardo da Vinci and early Christian history; spiking tourism to Paris and Rome; a growing membership in secret societies; the ire of Cardinals in Rome; eight books denying the claims of the novel and seven guides to read along with it; a flood of historical thrillers; and a major motion picture franchise.”

The son of a mathematics teacher and a church organist, Brown was raised on a prep school campus where he developed a fascination with the paradoxical interplay between science and religion. These themes eventually formed the backdrop for his books. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he later returned to teach English before focusing his attention full time to writing. He lives in New England with his yellow lab, Winston.

Brown’s latest novel, Origin, explores two of the fundamental questions of humankind: Where do we come from? Where are we going?

Linda Greenhouse

Linda Greenhouse is a senior research scholar at Yale Law School where, following a long career at The New York Times, she has taught since 2009. She was the newspaper’s Supreme Court correspondent for nearly 30 years, winning a Pulitzer Prize and other major journalism awards for her coverage of the Court. She continues to write regularly for the Times opinion pages and other publications.

In her extracurricular life, she has served since 2017 as president of the American Philosophical Society, the country’s oldest learned society, to which she was elected in 2001. In 2005, the society awarded her its Henry Allen Moe Prize for writing in jurisprudence and the humanities.

She is a former member of the Harvard University Board of Overseers (2009-2015); of the national board of the American Constitution Society (2010-2016); and the Senate of Phi Beta Kappa (2009-2021). She currently serves on the Council of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is one of two non-lawyers elected to honorary membership in the American Law Institute, which awarded her the Henry Friendly Medal in 2002. She has received 13 honorary degrees.

Among her publications are Becoming Justice Blackmun, a biography of the Justice; Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling (with Reva B. Siegel); The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction; The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right (with Michael Graetz), Just a Journalist, a memoir; and most recently Justice on the Brink: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months that Transformed the Supreme Court. She is a graduate of Radcliffe College (Harvard) and earned a Master of Studies in Law Degree from Yale Law School, which in 2007 awarded her the Yale Law School Alumni Association Award of Merit.

Nikolas Bowie

Nikolas Bowie is an assistant professor of law at Harvard Law School. He is a historian who teaches courses in federal constitutional law, state constitutional law, and local government law. His research focuses on critical legal histories of democracy in the United States.

Professor Bowie was the 2021 recipient of the Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence from the graduating class at Harvard Law School. His scholarship has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, Law and History Review, the Stanford Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal. He has also written essays for The New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, and other publications.

In addition to teaching and writing, Professor Bowie litigates criminal and civil appeals. He is on the boards of the ACLU of Massachusetts, Lawyers for Civil Rights, MassVote, and People's Parity Project. He is also an avid marathoner. Professor Bowie received a BA in history from Yale and a JD and PhD in history from Harvard. He clerked for Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the US Supreme Court.

Ayad Akhtar

Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright. His work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Akhtar is the author of Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown & Co.), which The Washington Post called “a tour de force” and The New York Times called “a beautiful novel…that had echoes of The Great Gatsby and that circles, with pointed intellect, the possibilities and limitations of American life.” His first novel, American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.), was published in over 20 languages.

As a playwright, he has written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (NYTW; Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier, and Evening Standard nominations).

Among other honors, Akhtar is the recipient of the Steinberg Playwrighting Award, the Nestroy Award, the Erwin Piscator Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. Additionally, Ayad is a Board Trustee at New York Theatre Workshop, and PEN America, where he serves as President. In 2021, Akhtar was named the New York State Author, succeeding Colson Whitehead, by the New York State Writers Institute.

Susan Choi

Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lammy Award. Her fifth novel, Trust Exercise, won the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction. Her first book for children, Camp Tiger, was also published in 2019. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, she teaches fiction writing at Yale and lives in Brooklyn.

David W. Blight

David W. Blight is Sterling Professor of History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He previously taught at North Central College in Illinois, Harvard University, and Amherst College. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom; American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory; and annotated editions of Douglass’s first two autobiographies. He has worked on Douglass much of his professional life, and been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, among others. He writes frequently for the popular press, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, and many other journals. His lecture course on the Civil War and Reconstruction Era at Yale is on the internet at oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-119. Blight has always been a teacher first. At the beginning of his career, he spent seven years as a high school history teacher in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Blight maintains a website, including information about public lectures, books, articles and interviews at davidwblight.com.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University.

Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates’s most recent books are Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow and The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song. He has also produced and hosted more than 20 documentary films, most recently The Black Church on PBS and Black Art: In the Absence of Light for HBO. Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy and genetics series, is now in its eighth season on PBS.

Elizabeth Kolbert

Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and journalist Elizabeth Kolbert traveled from Alaska to Greenland, and visited top scientists, to get to the heart of the debate over global warming. Her book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, a book about mass extinctions that weaves intellectual and natural history with reporting in the field began as an article in The New Yorker. It was a New York Times 2014 Top Ten Best Book of the Year and is number one on The Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of all time. The Sixth Extinction also won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle awards for the best books of 2014. In 2019 it was the chosen book for the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago program, and was also named as one of Slate’s 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years. Her next book, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, was a national bestseller and was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Time, Esquire, Smithsonian Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal. It was also recommended by President Obama and Bill Gates.

Growing out of a groundbreaking three-part series in The New Yorker (which won the 2006 National Magazine Award in the category Public Interest), Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change brings the environment into the consciousness of the American people and asks what, if anything, can be done, and how we can save our planet.

Elizabeth Kolbert’s stories have also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and Mother Jones, and have been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and The Best American Political Writing. She edited The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009. A collection of her work, The Prophet of Love and Other Tales of Power and Deceit, was published in 2004. Prior to joining the staff of The New Yorker, Kolbert was a political reporter for The New York Times.

Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Men Who United the States, The Map That Changed the World, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Land, all of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006, Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He resides in western Massachusetts.

Admiral Harry Harris, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Admiral Harris served as the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from July 2018 to January 2021.

He served 40 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy, retiring on June 1, 2018. He joined the State Department 3 days later. From May 2015 to May 2018, he commanded U.S. Pacific Command, now known as the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. He is the first Asian American to hold 4-star rank in the U.S. Navy and the first to head USPACOM. Previously, he commanded U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. 6th Fleet, Striking and Support Forces NATO, Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1, and Patrol Squadron 46. He participated in Operations Attain Document (Libya 1986), Desert Shield/Storm, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Willing Spirit (Colombian hostage recovery 2008), and Odyssey Dawn (Libya 2011). A Naval Flight Officer, he has flown over 4400 hours, including over 400 combat hours.

From 2011 to 2013, Harris served as the direct representative of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. He traveled to over 80 countries with the Secretary and participated in most of the Secretary’s meetings with foreign leaders. Designated as the U.S. Roadmap Monitor for the Mid-East Peace Process (Oslo Accords), he travelled monthly to Israel to meet with Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders to assess conditions on the ground.

Harris' personal decorations include the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, the CIA's Agency Seal Medal, the CIA's Ambassador's Award, and numerous military awards. He received the Republic of Korea’s Tong-il Order of National Security Merit and the Gwanghwa Order of Diplomatic Service Merit; Japan's Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun; the Order of Australia; and France's Legion of Honor.He has also been decorated by the governments of Mongolia, the Philippines, and Singapore. Nationally recognized for his work as a champion of diversity, he was awarded the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University in 2021.

Harris was born in Japan, reared in Tennessee and Florida, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978 where he was a varsity fencer. Awarded master’s degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, he did post-graduate studies at Oxford University and completed the Seminar 21 fellowship at MIT. He is a a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Council of American Ambassadors.

Admiral Harris is married to Bruni Bradley, herself a career Naval officer.