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Spring Headliners Announced!

Valerie Jarrett, Nikki Haley, the Rev. William Barber, Roz Pelles and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

February 2020 – The final three Drew headlining speaker events are set.

As part of the Drew Forum speaker series, Drew will welcome Valerie Jarrett, former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, on March 11, and Nikki Haley, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, on April 2.

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II T’03, Rosalyn Pelles, JD, Vice President of Repairers of the Breach and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a spiritual writer and speaker, will also come to Drew on April 16 in coordination with the Drew Theological School.

These speakers come on the heels of the NPR Politics Podcast’s live recording at Drew in January and General John Kelly‘s recent appearance at the Mayo Performing Arts Center.

Valerie Jarrett – March 11

As the longest-serving senior advisor to President Obama, Jarrett oversaw the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls.

In her roles, Jarrett advocated for equality for all Americans, specifically focusing on the economic and political empowerment for women in the U.S. and around the world, as well as the American middle class. Jarrett worked to improve American businesses and the economy at large through equal pay, an increased minimum wage, affordable healthcare and paid leave, among other reform efforts.

After leaving the White House, Jarrett wrote a New York Times best-selling book, Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward in 2019.

Jarrett, now a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School and senior advisor to the Obama Foundation, will deliver a keynote speech, participate in a moderated Q&A and take questions from the audience.

Tickets and Info

Nikki Haley – April 2

Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (2017-19), is this season’s Thomas H. Kean Visiting Lecturer, joining previous Kean lecturers Joe Biden and Ron Chernow. Haley will discuss international diplomacy, foreign policy and her time at the U.N.—topics integral to Drew’s long-standing NYC Semester on the United Nations. Following her remarks, Haley will participate in a Q&A with President MaryAnn Baenninger.

As the 29th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Haley negotiated over $1.3 billion in savings, including adjusting UN peacekeeping missions to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

She also led negotiations resulting in sanctions against North Korea’s weapons program; championed human rights in the face of oppressive governments; and vetoed a resolution criticizing the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Prior to her ambassadorship and position as a member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet and National Security Council, Haley was elected as the first female and first minority Governor of South Carolina in 2010 and was reelected in 2014.

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The Rev. Dr. William Barber, Roz Pelles, JD, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove – April 16

In coordination with Drew Theological School, the Rev. Barber, fellow Repairers of the Breach executive Roz Pelles and writer/speaker Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove will close out the headlining speaker season on April 16.

The Rev. Barber will deliver a noontime sermon in Drew’s Craig Chapel before an evening panel discussion and Q&A with Pelles and Wilson-Hartgrove. The trio will discuss why addressing poverty is the most urgent moral issue of our age.

The Rev. Barber, who earned a doctor of ministry from Drew Theological School, last appeared on campus as the university’s 2017 Commencement Sesquicentennial Speaker.

Barber is currently the president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, an organization focused on addressing moral concerns, fairness and the common good in society. He is also co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, a member of the National NAACP Board of Directors, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, NC, and 2018 MacArthur Fellow.

Pelles serves as Repairers of the Breach’s vice president and concurrently serves as a senior strategic advisor for the Poor People’s Campaign. Her 50-plus years as a civil and worker’s rights activist includes roles with the North Carolina NAACP, the Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department of the AFL-CIO labor union and the National Rainbow Coalition.

Wilson-Hartgrove spoke at Drew in 2018 in an intensive course of public theology and activism. He is the director of the School for Conversion and founded the Rutba House in Durham, NC, in 2003. Along with Barber and Pelles, Wilson-Hartgrove is a leader with the Poor People’s Campaign in addition to the Red Letter Christian movement. His writings include co-authoring the book The Third Reconstruction: The Story of Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of New Justice Movement with Barber.

Tickets and Info


Earlier this season, the Drew Forum welcomed renowned educator and scholar Cathy N. Davidson and Senator Jeff Flake to campus.

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