9/3/14: Charles Brock


Charles Brock, Founder/Director of the Institute on the American Dream at Penn State Erie; Emeritus Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford.

Topic: Holy Warrior Presidents

Location: President’s Hall, The Penn Stater.

Introduction / Moderator: Eric Barron / Katie O’Toole.

Reverend Charles Brock, an Erie native, is an Emeritus Fellow, Chaplain, and Director of Ministerial Education, Mansfield College, Oxford, UK, where he taught for 35 years. He currently serves as the Director of the Institute on the American Dream at Penn State Behrend, where he teaches for the politics and religion departments. Rev. Brock is acting minister of The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Girard, PA and he is a Founding Member of the JES. Rev. Brock will serve as the Director of the Brock Institute for Mega Issues Education at the Jefferson Educational Society.

9/23/14: Harry Carson

HarryCarson1Harry Carson, NFL Hall of Fame Linebacker

Topic: Captain for Life

Location: Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn

Introduction / Moderator: Nicholas Jones / Patty Satalia

Harry Carson is a lecturer and motivational speaker to groups that range from juvenile and prison inmates to high school scholars, from college athletes to corporate executives and political leaders.

Carson’s 13-year stint with the New York Football Giants is one of the longest tenures in club history. The indestructible former linebacker served as Team Captain for 10 of his 13 seasons including the 1986 season when the Giants defeated the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI. Rated the #1 “Inside Linebacker” in NFL history according to Pro Football Weekly, Carson was named to the All-Rookie Team after his first NFL season.

Subsequently, during his NFL career, he was named to the All-NFL Team 7 times, the All-NFC Team 8 times, and NFC Linebacker of the Year twice. He once made an amazing 25 tackles in a Monday Night Football Game against the Green Bay Packers. With performances like that he was selected by his peers to play in the NFC-AFC Pro Bowl 9 times and he is among the top 250 players to ever play professional football with his 2006 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Currently Carson serves as Executive Director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organization representing National Football League minority non-player personnel dedicated to creating greater racial diversity within the National Football League.

Carson is President of Harry Carson Inc. a Sports Consulting and Promotions Company. HCI consults with media outlets, educational sources and corporations on sports as well as non-sports related issues. Harry Carson Inc. provides expert television, radio, print media and internet commentary on sports matters. His company is also a provider of former professional athletes to schools and corporations that deliver motivational and inspirational sports theme presentations.

He is affiliated with many organizations and is involved with numerous charities such as The Miami Project to cure paralysis, The United Way, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Literacy Council of New Jersey, Habitat for Humanity, The Tomorrow’s Children Fund, MANetc, Inc. and Autism Speaks.

Harry has served as an Advisor to the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and is a member of the Brain Injury Association’s Sports Injury Prevention Council. Former Governor Christine Whitman appointed Mr. Carson as a member of the New Jersey Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain Injury. He has established himself as an authority and internationally recognized speaker on Concussions in Sports. The author of two books, Point of Attack (1985) and Captain for Life (2011) highlight his personal experiences with concussions and other injuries from playing the game of football.

Harry Carson has also been an advocate toward the plight of his National Football League brethren. He used his Hall of Fame induction speech as an opportunity to highlight the problems of pensions and benefits of retired players.

This event is cosponsored by Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics:


10/21/14: Bernard Kerik

IMG_6751Bernard Kerik, Former Commissioner of the New York City Police Department

Topic: The Urgent Need for Criminal Justice and Prison Reform in America

Location: President’s Hall, The Penn Stater

Introduction / Moderator:  Blannie Bowen / Patty Satalia

As someone that once ran two of the largest law enforcement organizations in the United Sates, Mr. Kerik’s prosecution and incarceration have given him a very unique and one of a kind perspective of the U.S. criminal justice system that no one with his experience has ever had. There are no surveys or reports to read, tours to take, or crystal balls to loo into to see what he has seen.

Hear why for nearly two decades Supreme Court Justices, U.S. Attorneys General, the American Bar Association (ABA), former state and federal prosecutors and judges, and members of Congress have expressed their concerns about the injustices within our criminal justice systems and why many have called the U.S. sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums draconian – citing sentences that are too long and punishments too severe. Mr. Kerik knows how the system is supposed to work and what it is supposed to accomplish. Hear his personal observations from the inside- looking out, and his recommendations for a system that he says is in dire need of repair.

11/6/14: Robert D. Braun

Bobby Braun Official PortraitRobert D. Braun, David and Andrew Lewis Professor of Space Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Topic: Our Generation’s Space Race

Location: Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn

Introduction / Moderator:  Nicholas Jones / Katie O’Toole

Dr. Robert D. Braun serves as the David and Andrew Lewis Professor of Space Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He leads an active research and educational program focused on the design of advanced flight systems and technologies for planetary exploration.He is also the Founding Director of the Georgia Tech Center for Space Technology and Research, an interdisciplinary research organization which organizes, integrates and facilitates the growth of Georgia Tech’s space science and space technology research activities.He has previously served as a leader and senior manager for several engineering organizations at NASA. In 2010 and 2011, he served as the first NASA Chief Technologist in more than a decade. In this capacity, he was the senior Agency executive for technology and innovation policy and programs and was responsible for creating the NASA Space Technology programs. As NASA Chief Technologist, he worked to move NASA’s organizational culture towards one that values technology development and high-risk, high-reward research, directing and managing the activities of approximately 40 technical staff at NASA HQ, 960 full-time equivalent civil servants across the Agency, and over 2500 personnel in industry and academia. From 1989 to 2003, he served on the technical staff of the NASA Langley Research Center. In 2012, Dr. Braun co-founded Terminal Velocity Aerospace, a small-business focused on the development of a suite of re-entry devices to improve orbital debris hazard prediction and promote space utilization. Dr. Braun received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State in 1987, M.S. in Astronautics from the George Washington University in 1989, and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University in 1996. He is the principle author or co-author of over 250 technical publications in the fields of atmospheric flight dynamics, planetary exploration, multidisciplinary design optimization, and systems engineering. He lives on a small farm in Newnan, Georgia with his wife Karen and is the proud father of Zack, Allie and Jessica Braun.

11/13/14: Margaret Atwood

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Margaret Atwood, Award-winning Writer and Environmental Activist

Topic: Genre and Gender

Location: Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn

Introduction / Moderator: Michael Bérubé / Patty Satalia

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa, and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master’s degree from Radcliffe College.

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Her newest novel, MaddAddam (2013), is the final volume in a three-book series that began with the Man-Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009). The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short fiction) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.

Ms. Atwood will visit Penn State on November 12-13, 2014. She will receive the IAH Medal for Distinguished Achievement at the State Theatre on November 12 at 7 pm, and will offer a Penn State Forum talk the following day, at the Nittany Lion Inn at noon. The Medal Ceremony is free and open to the public.

12/4/14: General C. Robert Kehler


C. Robert Kehler, General, USAF (retired); Former Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska

Topic:National Security in the 21st Century”

Location: Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn

Introduction / Moderator:  Eric Barron / Katie O’Toole

Gen. C. Robert “Bob” Kehler is the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. He provides the President and Secretary of Defense with a broad range of strategic capabilities and options for the joint warfighter through several diverse mission areas, including combating weapons of mass destruction, integrated missile defense, ISR, and global strike. He is responsible for the plans and operations for all U.S. forces conducting strategic deterrence and DoD space and cyberspace operations. He has commanded at the squadron, group, wing and major command levels and has a broad range of operational tours in ICBM, space launch, space control, space and missile warning operations.

General Kehler entered the Air Force in 1975 as a distinguished graduate of the Pennsylvania State University Air Force R.O.T.C. program. He commanded a Minuteman ICBM operations squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo., the Air Force’s largest ICBM operations group at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB, Colo., Air Force Space Command, and America’s ICBM force before its transition from Air Force Space Command to Air Force Global Strike Command in December 2009.

General Kehler’s staff assignments include tours with the Air Staff, Strategic Air Command headquarters and Air Force Space Command. He was also assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force’s Office of Legislative Liaison, where he was the point man on Capitol Hill for matters regarding the President’s ICBM Modernization Program. As Director of the National Security Space Office, General Kehler integrated the activities of a number of space organizations on behalf of the Under Secretary of the Air Force and Director, National Reconnaissance Office. He has also served as Deputy Director of Operations, Air Force Space Command, and as Deputy Commander, U.S. Strategic Command.

12/9/14: George Packer

Packer, George (c) Guillermo Riveros (for THE UNWINDING)THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT

George Packer, Staff Writer for The New Yorker

Topic: The Unwinding – America Today: A collapsing, changing nation

Location: President’s Hall, The Penn Stater

Introduction / Moderator: Blannie Bowen / Katie O’Toole

George Packer is the author of New York Times bestseller and National Book Award winner The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. The New York Times called the book “Steinbeckian in the best sense of that term . . . [Packer has] written something close to a nonfiction masterpiece.”

Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker, for which his articles have won three Overseas Press Club awards. He has published four other works of non-fiction: The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq; Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade; Blood of the Liberals; and The Village of Waiting. He is also the author of two novels, The Half Man and Central Square, and a play, Betrayed. He is the editor of The Fight Is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World, and of a two-volume edition of George Orwell’s essays. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

This John W. Oswald Lecture is co-sponsored by:

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1/13/15: Cathy Willis Spraetz

Cathy 2Cathy Willis Spraetz, President and CEO of Chimp Haven

Topic: Chimpanzees in Captivity: From Research to Retirement

Location: President’s Hall, The Penn Stater

Introduction / Moderator: Eric Barron / Patty Satalia

Cathy Willis Spraetz currently serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana. Prior to coming to Chimp Haven, Willis Spraetz, an Atlanta native, served several nonprofit organizations in Georgia over two decades as their CEO, focusing primarily in the area of disabilities, as well as domestic violence. While the organizations she served were focused on human services, she draws many parallels to those she served in the past and the chimpanzees who now garner her love and attention.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies with a concentration in Nonprofit Administration from Georgia State University. She is a scholarship recipient of the 2005 Harvard Business School’s Strategic Initiatives in Nonprofit Management.

Willis Spraetz serves on the NAPSA (North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance) Board of Directors. An avid animal lover, she finds it a special privilege to be chosen to lead Chimp Haven and values the ongoing opportunity to learn more about our magnificent relative, the chimpanzee, as well as to ensure they have a forever home in sanctuary. She has gained significant knowledge and insight into the overall management of chimpanzees and the history of these amazing animals in captivity.

In addition to her administrative tasks, most days you’ll find her exchanging a laugh, a pant hoot or other terms of endearment with the 163 residents who call Chimp Haven home.

1/23/15: Sarah Collins Rudolph and Tracy Snipe


Sarah Collins Rudolph, Fifth Girl and Survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombings and Tracy Snipe, Associate Professor of Political Science at Wright State University

Topic: Forgotten Girl, Forerunners to the Civil Rights Act & Voting Rights Act

Location: Ballroom, The Nittany Lion Inn

Introduction / Moderator: Eric Barron / Katie O’Toole

Sarah Collins Rudolph was the ‘fifth little girl’ inside the Ladies’ Lounge when a bomb detonated at the 16th Street Baptist Church more than fifty years ago on September 15, 1963. She tried valiantly to rescue her sister Addie Mae Collins who perished along with Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia “Morris” Wesley. Decades later Sarah received the Harmony Award from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) for demonstrating bravery at the time of this tragedy. Along with her sister Junie Collins Williams and Dr. Snipe, Mrs. Rudolph co-presented “Unsung Heroines, Untold Stories… of the Movement” at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity (NCORE) three years ago. Sarah has lectured at Faith &Politics’ 11th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage and the American Bar Association (Litigation Section) in St. Louis, MS. Missouri.

Tracy Snipe, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Wright State University, teaches a variety of classes including African-American Politics, Black Women and Politics, French Politics, and Politics in Film. He is the author of Arts and Politics in Senegal and has published in outlets such as The Annals and Diverse Magazine. Along with Mrs. Rudolph and Mrs. Williams, Dr. Snipe co-presented “A Tale of Two Sisters” at the University of Nebraska (Medical Center) as well as the Omaha and Lincoln campus. He is currently writing Sarah Collins Rudolph’s biography (which is tentatively titled The Fifth Girl) as well as Remembrances of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing.

*Cover photo courtesy of: NPR


2/11/15: Susan Russell

pianosusanrussell006_Susan Russell, Associate Professor of Theatre at Penn State; 2014-15 Penn State Laureate

Topic: Making Change Make Sense

Location: President’s Hall, The Penn Stater

Introduction / Moderator: Nicholas Jones / Patty Satalia

Susan Russell is an Associate Professor in the School of Theatre at The Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in literature/criticism, Playwriting, Feminist Theatre, and Musical Theatre History. In 2007 she graduated summa cum laude from the MA/PhD in Theatre Studies at Florida State University, and she received her BA in Theatre from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC in 1979. Between her education pursuits, she experienced a twenty-five year career as a professional actor on and off-Broadway as well as a career in regional theatre and opera companies across the country. While performing for five years in Phantom of the Opera, she was an artist/teacher for New York Offstage where she created, developed, and implemented workshops in musical theatre performance and acting for high-school and university students. Her plays Olympia (1998) and Present Perfect (1999) have been produced by Emerging Artists Theatre and Lincoln Center, Severe Clear was a semi-finalist in the 2006 O’Neill Theatre Center Playwriting Competition, and Ecoute: Pieces of Reynaldo Hahn completed a 40 city national tour in spring of 2010. At Penn State, Russell is the creator and Artistic Director of Cultural Conversations, the only university festival of its kind in the country. Cultural Conversations uses theatre, music, dance, and visual art to foster and promote dialogues about diversity, and the core programming of the festival is an in-school program called Body Language. A landmark program that has been utilized locally, nationally, and internationally, Body Language offers storytelling, playwriting, and performance as a way for young people to talk about the social issues that define young people in the twenty first century. She has written two books on Body Language, BODY LANGUAGE: REACHING OUT BY REACHING IN, and BODY LANGUAGE: STOP THE VIOLENCE, START THE CONVERSATIONS and these books are donated to any school or civic organization interested in empowering communities through civic dialogues. As a speaker, Russell has brought conversations about women’s leadership, creativity, storytelling, and education to local, national, and international audiences, and for her work with women’s leadership, Russell was awarded The Penn State Commission for Women’s Faculty Award in 2012, for her work with middle and high school students, she was selected for the 2013 Faces of Penn State campaign, and in 2014 Russell was appointed Penn State Laureate for 2014-2015. You can visit her website at www.culturalconversations.psu.edu