Speakers Announced for 8th Annual Washington Ideas Forum, Presented by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan - CIA Director John Brennan - Secretaries Burwell, Foxx, Johnson, Perez, Vilsack - NIAID Director Anthony Fauci - National Museum of African American History and Culture Director Lonnie Bunch - GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt - Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Plus Harvard and Georgetown Presidents Drew Gilpin Faust & John J. DeGioia in conversation with The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates

Washington, D.C. (September 9, 2016)—The eighth annual Washington Ideas Forum, presented by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute, returns to Washington, D.C. as part of a week of citywide events. The marquee Forum, to be held September 28-29 at the Harman Center for the Arts, is the cornerstone of this year’s expanded Washington Ideas Week.   Featured speakers include leading newsmakers on politics and policy, defense and national security, race and justice, culture and society, education, tech, and healthcare.

Credentials for all media, including outside camera crews, are available upon request.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, CIA Director John Brennan, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson are among the national newsmakers slated speak at the Harman Center. Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust and Georgetown University president John J. DeGioia will join The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates to talk about the role slavery played in the history of America’s most prominent academic institutions.

Among the speakers joining the Washington Ideas Forum and other events across the week:
(*Subject to change; additional speakers and a schedule will be shared in the coming weeks**)

Government, Politics & Policy:

  • Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan
  • CIA Director John Brennan
  • U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson
  • U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell
  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
  • U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez
  • U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
  • Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), United States Congress
  • Stuart Stevens, Partner, Strategic Partners and Media and Chief Strategist, Romney 2012
  • Stephanie Cutter, Partner, Precision Strategies and Deputy Campaign Manager, Obama 2012
  • General Pervez Musharraf, Former President, Pakistan

Race and Justice:

  • Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director, National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Ezra Edelman, Filmmaker, O.J. Made in America
  • John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University
  • Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University
  • Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice

Culture and Society:

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Author, Americanah
  • David Chang, Chef and Owner, Momofuku restaurant group  
  • John Krafcik, CEO, Google’s Self-Driving Car Project
  • Whitney Wolfe, CEO and Founder, Bumble

Business and Economy:

  • Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE
  • Robert Rubin, former U.S. Treasury Secretary and Co-Chairman of Council on Foreign Relations
  • Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist and Professor, Columbia University
  • David Rubenstein, Philanthropist and co-CEO, The Carlyle Group


  • Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • Jeffrey Bluestone, CEO, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
  • William Dalton, CEO, M2Gen at the Moffitt Cancer Center

Among the journalist moderators across the week are: The Atlantic’s Ross Andersen, Ron Brownstein, Steve Clemons, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jeffrey Goldberg, James Fallows, Alex Wagner, and Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson.

In addition to the Forum on September 28 & 29, surrounding events across Washington Ideas Week include an evening event at Sixth and I with Ta-Nehisi Coates, a debate night watch party with James Fallows, a conversation at the residence of the French ambassador to the U.S. with Steve Clemons, the American premiere of the documentary film “Inside Charlie Hebdo” at the Newseum, roundtables, plus behind the scenes tours of some of the District’s iconic institutions. A full schedule for the week is below.

For credentials for Washington Ideas Week events, members of the media should contact The Atlantic’s Sydney Simon (ssimon@theatlantic.com; 202-266-7338). Tickets for the public are available for purchase here.

Comcast NBCUniversal, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are Presenting Level underwriters of Washington Ideas Forum. American Federation of Teachers is a Supporting Level underwriter. Allstate, Design Foundry and PayPal are Contributing Level underwriters.

Presented by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute
**All Timing Denoted in EST**

Monday, September 26:

  • 8:30-11:30AM: Healthy Cities, Healthy Towns: An Atlantic Forum (Newseum)

  • 7:30-10:30PM: Presidential Debate Watch Party (Hamilton Live)

  • 6:30- 8:30PM: Kalorama Conversation (French Ambassador’s Residence): As part of an on-going series of evening conversations, The Atlantic and the French Embassy will convene a discussion on the political and social implications of the middle class crisis in both the U.S. and in Europe.

Tuesday, September 27:

Wednesday, September 28:

Thursday, September 29:


About The Atlantic:
Founded in 1857 and today one of the fastest growing media platforms in the industry, The Atlantic has throughout its history championed the power of big ideas and continues to shape global debate across print, digital, events, and video platforms. With its award-winning digital presence TheAtlantic.com and CityLab.com on cities around the world, The Atlantic is a multimedia forum on the most critical issues of our times—from politics, business, urban affairs, and the economy, to technology, arts, and culture. The Atlantic is the 2016 Magazine of the Year.

The Atlantic is the flagship property of Washington, D.C.-based publisher Atlantic Media. Its president is Bob Cohn. Margaret Low is president of The Atlantic’s events division, AtlanticLIVE, which produces more than 100 events each year on an array of consequential topics for audiences around the world.

About the Aspen Institute:
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

Media Relations Contacts:
Sydney Simon
The Atlantic
(202) 266-7338 | ssimon@theatlantic.com

Douglas Farrar
The Aspen Institute
(202) 736-3848 | douglas.farrar@aspeninstitute.org