Peter Coyote, Elliot Gerson, Brian Greene, John Holdren, David Katz, Lawrence Lessig, Sandra Day O'Connor, Shelby Steele and Damian Woetze share their big ideas at the opening to the 2008 Aspen Ideas Festival.
Peter Coyote is an American actor and author, co-founder of the Diggers, and veteran of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Coyote is the author of "The Rainman's Third Cure," and "Sleeping Where I Lie."
Elliot Gerson is an executive vice president at the Aspen Institute, responsible for its Policy Programs, its Public Programs and its relations with international partners.
Brian Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and is widely recognized for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in superstring theory, including the co-discoveries of mirror symmetry and topology change. Professor Greene is co-director of Columbia’s Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and with producer Tracy Day, he is co-founder of the World Science Festival.
John P. Holdren
Dr. John P. Holdren is Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
David L. Katz MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP is a nationally renowned authority on nutrition, weight control, and the prevention of chronic disease.
He is an Associate Professor (adjunct) of Public Health Practice, and formerly the Director of Medical Studies in Public Health, at the Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Katz directs the Yale Prevention Research Center which he co-founded in 1998.
Lawrence Lessig is one of our most respected voices on the legal, political, and cultural implications of digital technology. Currently the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, Lessig founded Creative Commons in 2001 to reboot our antiquated copyright system. He is also the director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the founder of Rootstrikers, an activist network working to reduce the influence of money in politics. In 2000, as a professor at Stanford, he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society. Lessig is the author of numerous books, including Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace; The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World; Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy; and Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Association, he has received numerous honors and was named one of the world’s “Top 50 Visionaries” by Scientific American.
Dalia Mogahed is a senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. With John L. Esposito, Ph.D., she is coauthor of the forthcoming book Who Speaks for Islam? Listening to the Voices of a Billion Muslims.
Mogahed provides leadership, strategic direction, and consultation on the collection and analysis of Gallup's unprecedented surveying of more than one billion Muslims worldwide. She also leads the curriculum development of an executive course on findings from the Gallup Poll of the Muslim World.
Prior to joining Gallup, Mogahed was the founder and director of a cross-cultural consulting practice in the United States, which offered workshops, training programs, and one-to-one coaching on diversity and cultural understanding. Mogahed's clients included school districts, colleges and universities, law enforcement agencies, and community service organizations, as well as local and national media outlets.
Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor is a retired Associate Justice. She was born in El Paso, Texas, March 26, 1930. She received her B.A. and LL.B. from Stanford University.
She served as Deputy County Attorney of San Mateo County, California from 1952-1953 and as a civilian attorney for Quartermaster Market Center, Frankfurt, Germany from 1954-1957.
From 1958-1960, she practiced law in Maryvale, Arizona, and served as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona from 1965-1969. She was appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969 and was subsequently reelected to two two-year terms. In 1975 she was elected Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court and served until 1979, when she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
President Reagan nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat September 25, 1981. Justice O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court on January 31, 2006.
Shelby Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He specializes in the study of race relations, multiculturalism, and affirmative action. He was appointed a Hoover fellow in 1994.
Steele has written widely on race in American society and the consequences of contemporary social programs on race relations.
In 2006, Steele received the Bradley Prize for his contributions to the study of race in America. In 2004, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal. Steele is the author of White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era and most recently A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win.
Damian Woetzel was a Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet and frequently performed internationally as a guest star and visiting artist with numerous companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, until his retirement from the stage in 2008. Woetzel currently serves as the Director of Arts Programs for the Aspen Institute, the Artistic Director of the Vail International Dance Festival, and as the Founding Director of the Jerome Robbins New Essential Works Program. Woetzel is also active as a director and producer outside these roles. Among his recent projects, Woetzel produced and directed an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center for the World Science Festival, directed the first performance of the White House Dance Series, which took place in the East Room of the White House and was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, and co-produced the tribute to legendary ballerina Natalia Makarova as part of the 35th annual Kennedy Center Honors in December 2012. Woetzel also works with Yo-Yo Ma on his Silk Road Connect program in the New York City Public Schools, and has twice directed culminating year-end performances; at the Museum of Natural History in 2010, and for the Central Park SummerStage series in 2011. Woetzel was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities by President Obama in 2009. In July 2012, Woetzel was honored with the inaugural Gene Kelly Legacy Award - an award jointly created by the Dizzy Feet Foundation and the Estate of Gene Kelly in honor of the 100th anniversary of Kelly's birth - for his contributions to the arts as a ballet star and director of dance and music performances.