Special Events

Benjamin Cooper Memorial Lecture

About the Benjamin Cooper 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.

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Past Speakers

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  • 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.

    From 2013 to 2017, Power served as the 28th U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, as well as a member of President Obama’s cabinet. In this role, Power became the public face of U.S. opposition to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria, negotiated the toughest sanctions in a generation against North Korea, lobbied to secure the release of political prisoners, helped build new international law to cripple ISIL’s financial networks, and supported President Obama’s path-breaking actions to end the Ebola crisis.

    From 2009 to 2013, Power served on the National Security Council as special assistant to the president and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights, where she focused on issues including atrocity prevention, UN reform, LGBT and women’s rights, the protection of religious minorities, and the prevention of human trafficking.

    Before joining the U.S. government, Power was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School.

    Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and many other awards. Power is also author of the New York Times bestseller Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World (2008) and the editor, with Derek Chollet, of The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World (2011). She is currently completing a memoir, The Education of an Idealist, which will be published by Harper Collins in 2019. She began her career as a journalist, reporting from places such as Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe and has twice been named to Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list.

    Power earned a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She immigrated to the United States from Ireland at the age of 9 and today lives in Concord, Massachusetts with her husband Cass Sunstein and their two young children.
  • B. Gentry Lee (2017)

    B. Gentry Lee is chief engineer for the Solar System Exploration Directorate at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. In that position, Lee is responsible for the engineering integrity of all the robotic planetary missions managed by JPL for NASA, including the Curiosity rover mission to Mars, the Dawn mission to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres, the Juno mission to Jupiter, and the GRAIL missions to the Moon. Lee was the late Carl Sagan’s partner in the creation, design, development and implementation of the series Cosmos. In addition to his engineering work, Gentry Lee is a New York Times bestselling science fiction novelist.
  • Justice Sonia Sotomayor (2016)

    Sonia Maria Sotomayor is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving since August 2009. She has the distinction of being its first justice of Hispanic heritage, the first Latina, its third female justice, and its twelfth Roman Catholic justice.
  • Jose Antonio Vargas (2015)

    Jose is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and immigration rights activist.
  • 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 is a writer, journalist, and educator. He is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, where he writes about cultural, social and political issues, particularly as regards African Americans.
  • 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.
  • Greg Mortenson (2008)

    Greg is a humanitarian, writer, former mountaineer, and founder of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • 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 is a world-renowned architect and designer.
  • 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.


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