Opening Keynote Session
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
4:00 – 5:45 p.m.
G. Willow Wilson, Comics Writer, Novelist, Journalist
G. Willow Wilson is a gifted author whose writing explores, across multiple genres, the most pressing issues of our time. An American convert to Islam, Willow lives today in both Egypt and the United States. Her articles, graphic novels, and books reflect her extraordinary cross-cultural experiences with remarkable originality and courage.
In 2014 Marvel Comics released "Ms. Marvel," the first-ever American comic book series to feature a Muslim superhero. Wilson is the creator and writer of this groundbreaking series which features Kamala Khan, a young female superhero unlike anything the comic book world has ever known. The first issue of "Ms. Marvel" has been met with much enthusiasm and gone back to reprint six times.
Willow began her writing career at the age of 17 as a freelance music critic for Boston’s Weekly Dig magazine. Since then, she’s written the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series Air and Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice and the graphic novel Cairo. In a field typically dominated by male novelists, Willow stands out no less than the strong female characters she creates. Her first novel, Alif the Unseen, won the prestigious World Fantasy Prize in 2014, and was previously a New York Times Notable Book and a contender for the Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction).
In her early twenties Willow moved to Egypt where she spent several years working as a journalist. She was the first westerner to be granted a private interview with Sheikh Ali Gomaa after his promotion to the position of Grand Mufti of Egypt. Her articles about the Middle East and modern Islam have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly and the Canada National Post. Willow’s memoir about life in Egypt during the waning years of the Mubarak regime, The Butterfly Mosque, was named a Seattle Times Best Book of 2010 and has served as a common read for communities and campuses across the country.
Middle Keynote Session
Thursday, March 26, 2015
4:15 – 5:30 p.m.
Jad Abumrad, Radio Host and Producer
Jad Abumrad is the host and creator of Radiolab, a public radio program broadcast on 437 stations across the nation and downloaded more than 4 million times a month as a podcast.
Jad Abumrad did most of his growing up in Tennessee, before studying creative writing and music composition at Oberlin College in Ohio. Following graduation, Abumrad wrote music for films, and reported and produced documentaries for a variety of local and national public radio programs. In 2002, Abumrad began tinkering with an idea for a new kind of radio program, an open-ended radio “laboratory.” Radiolab has since evolved into one of public radio’s most popular programs. Abumrad hosts the program with Robert Krulwich and also serves as its lead producer, composer and managing editor.
Abumrad employs his dual backgrounds as composer and journalist to create what’s been called “a new aesthetic” in broadcast journalism. He orchestrates dialogue, music, interviews and sound effects into compelling documentaries that draw listeners into investigations of otherwise intimidating topics, such as the nature of numbers, the evolution of altruism, or the legal foundation for the war on terror.
In 2011, Radiolab was awarded the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award and Abumrad was honored as a MacArthur Fellow (also known as the Genius Grant).The MacArthur Foundation website says: “Abumrad is inspiring boundless curiosity within a new generation of listeners and experimenting with sound to find ever more effective and entertaining ways to explain ideas and tell a story.”
Closing Keynote Session
Saturday, March 28, 2015
11:00 a.m. – 12: 15 p.m.
Lawrence Lessig, Academic and Political Activist
Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and founder of Rootstrikers, a network of activists leading the fight against government corruption. He has authored numerous books, including Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Our Congress—and a Plan to Stop It, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Free Culture, and Remix.
Lessig serves on the Boards of Creative Commons, AXA Research Fund and iCommons.org, and on the Advisory Boards of the Sunlight Foundation, the Better Future Project, and Democracy Café. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries.
Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale. As Professor at Stanford Law School, Lessig founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.