Large group of students watching a lecture.
  • Benjamin Cooper
  • Memorial Lecture
The Benjamin Cooper Memorial Lecture was established in memory of Ben Cooper by his close friends David Goldberg ’98, Jennifer Miller ’98, Megan Palmer ’97, Jacob Remes ’98, Dan Sharfman ’97, and Jessica Wolland ’97. Ben, a rising senior at Georgetown Day School, was killed in a tragic accident on August 12, 1997. The Lecture Fund, endowed by the Cooper-Areen family, enables GDS to bring a renowned guest lecturer to the school each year to stimulate the kind of dialogue in which Ben loved to participate.
Each November, our guest lecturer speaks to High School students during an in-school assembly and then to the larger GDS community during an evening event. Please see our online calendar for this year's dates.

Past Speakers

Andrea Elliott (2023)

Journalist and author Andrea Elliott has documented the lives of poor Americans, Muslim immigrants, and other people on the margins of power. She is the first woman in history to win individual Pulitzer Prizes in both Journalism and Arts & Letters. Read about Andrea in our Georgetown Days profile. 

Ed Yong (2022)

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and science reporter for The Atlantic, Ed Yong, spoke on the fascinating research shared in his new book, An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us.

Jodi Kantor and Lulu Garcia-Navarro

New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jodi Kantor (left), who helped break the Harvey Weinstein scandal, in discussion with New York Times journalist Lulu Garcia-Navarro. 

The Legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2020)

Georgetown Day School invites you to the 23rd annual Benjamin Cooper Memorial Lecture and 75th Anniversary Speaker Series on the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Jacqueline Novogratz (2019)

Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen, which Fast Company named of the world's Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profits.

Ambassador Samantha Power (2018)

Ambassador Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh professor of the practice of global leadership and public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and professor of practice at Harvard Law School.

B. Gentry Lee (2017)

For the 20th Annual Benjamin Cooper Memorial Lecture, GDS is hosting a conversation with B. Gentry Lee, chief engineer for Solar System Exploration.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor (2016)

For the 19th Annual Benjamin Cooper Memorial Lecture, GDS is hosting a conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. 

Jose Antonio Vargas (2015)

For the 18th Annual Benjamin Cooper Memorial Lecture, GDS is hosting Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and renowned filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas.

Michele Norris (2014)

Michele is an American radio journalist and former host of the National Public Radio (NPR) evening news program All Things Considered. She was the first African American female host for NPR.

Ta-Nehisi Coates (2013)

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an author and former Correspondent with The Atlantic whose writing often focuses on the cultural, social, and political issues faced by African Americans. He has been honored with the George Polk Award for commentary in 2014, and the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2015.

Franklin Foer ’92, Jonathan Safran Foer ’95, and Joshua Foer ’00 (2012)

Franklin, Jonathan and Joshua are Georgetown Day School alumni and authors.

David Shipler (2011)

David is an author who won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction in 1987 for Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land. He is a former foreign correspondent of The New York Times.

Zainab Salbi (2010)

Zainab is an author, women's rights activist, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, and media commentator who is the founder and former CEO of Women for Women International.

Julian Bond (2009)

Julian was an American social activist and leader in the Civil Rights Movement, politician, professor, writer, and chairman of the NAACP.

John Hope Franklin (2007)

John was a noted historian, author, and professor emeritus. In 1995, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

James C. Scott (2006)

James is a Yale University Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology.

William McDonough (2005)

William McDonough is an architectural designer and author whose philosophy of “Cradle-to-Cradle Design” focuses on making industry work in holistic ways that are beneficial to the environment. He has been honored with the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development.

Sherman J. Alexie, Jr. (2004)

Sherman is an award-winning poet, writer, and filmmaker. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a Native American with ancestry of several tribes, growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

Senator George J. Mitchell (2003)

The senator is a lawyer, businessman, and politician. He served as a United States Senator from Maine from 1980 to 1995 and as Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995.

Anna Quindlen (2002)

Anna is a journalist and opinion columnist whose New York Times column, Public and Private, won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1992.

Elie Wiesel (2001)

Elie is a Romanian-born writer, professor, political activist, and Nobel Laureate.

Dr. Maya Angelou (2000)

Dr. Angelou was an acclaimed poet, author, educator, and civil-rights activist.

Dr. Harold Varmus (1999)

Dr. Varmus is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and the 14th Director of the National Cancer Institute, a post to which he was appointed by President Barack Obama.

Taylor Branch (1998)

Taylor is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author and historian best known for his award-winning trilogy of books chronicling the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and much of the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Meet the Team

Joyce DePass

Director of Community Relations

Correy Hudson

Director of Alumni Engagement