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May 20, 2023

Dr. Cornel West, affectionately known to many as Brother West, is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. West teaches on the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as courses in Philosophy of Religion, African American Critical Thought, and a wide range of subjects—including but by no means limited to, the classics, philosophy, politics, cultural theory, literature, and music. He has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.—a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

Dr. West is the former Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.

He has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at nineteenth and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.

Dr. West has partnered with to provide teachings on several influential courses including a class with Pharrell Williams on Empathy,  MasterClass’s first-ever multi-instructor class on Black History, Black Freedom & Black Love, as well as Dr. West’s standalone class on Philosophy. Visit and click on the MasterClass banner to learn more.


Ifeoma Ike, Esq. is an award-winning advocate, writer and policy advisor focused on designing solutions to address disparities. A graduate of CUNY Law School, Ike embodies the motto “law in service of human needs,” and has dedicated most of her career to advancing equity in spaces where marginalized lives dare to exist and live fully.

Some of the efforts Ike has co-engineered include Just Leadership USA and Mass Bail Out NYC; as well as the formation of three congressional caucuses: Caucus on Black Men and Boys; Caucus on Black Women and Girls; and the recently-launched Caucus on Black Innovation. A movement lawyer, Ike has been a policy advisor regarding human rights violations in Haiti, mistreatment of Afro-Columbians and non-consent medical practices on the continent of Africa. Ike was part of the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee following the murder of unarmed Black teenager, Mike Brown, Jr. During the Flint water crisis, Ike supported local organizers’ development of policy and civic responses. Understanding the role policy plays in the everyday lives of communities, Ike has co-drafted several pieces of legislation, including the federal End Racial Profiling Act and Reparations Bill (HR40).

As COVID-19 exposed old and new disparities, Ike’s social impact firm, Pink Cornrows, co-created sustainable solutions that included serving as policy advisors to the National Birth Equity Collaborative, leading the equity framework for the Rockefeller Foundation’s multi-city vaccination effort, and conducting research exploring the relationship between the pandemic and gun violence. Pink Cornrows also launched COVID While Black, a research and culture project centering the lived experiences of Black lives and the continued failures of our healthcare system, as well as honoring those who have transitioned. The team also continued offering their annual Black Policy Lab, which centers collaborative policy creation, skills sharing and joy.

Ike’s prior experience includes serving as New York City’s Executive Deputy Director of the Young Men’s Initiative, being a Senior Policy Advocate with the Innocence Project, providing counsel to the US. House Judiciary Committee, and being a researcher with the American Bar Association. Ike has also been an adjunct at Lehman College and a media contributor to MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NewsOne, HuffPost and Cosmopolitan.

As the first Black board member of the Women’s Prison Association, Ike and other board members led the internal culture shift to better meet the needs of Black and brown women impacted by the criminal legal system. In 2021, Ike became the first member of New York City’s Conflict of Interest Board to be appointed by the Office of the Public Advocate.

Ike holds a LL.M. with highest honors from The George Washington School of Law and J.D. from CUNY School of Law, where she specialized in mediation and conflict resolution. Ike earned her M.A. and B.A. in Communication Theory and Research as a Storer Scholar at West Virginia University.

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May 2, 2023

Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, M.D. is a board-certified physician psychiatrist, a Clinical Assistant Professor at George Washington University. She is a women’s mental health specialist and a New York Times Contributor.

In her book, Real Self-Care: Crystals, Cleanses and Bubble Baths Not Included, Dr. Lakshmin reckons with a “wellness” industry that’s built to sell products. She argues women are largely targeted by these get-well-quick schemes. In their place, she focuses on tangible psychological tools to manage difficult emotions, set boundaries, make choices aligned with one’s values, and develop mental health literacy.

She will discuss the shortcomings of pop-“wellness” and offer real, scientifically-backed tools and strategies for wellbeing informed by cultural practices from around the world.

Dr. Lakshmin serves on the Board of Directors for the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance –a national non-profit dedicated to further maternal mental health policy – and the Editorial Advisory Board of Clinical Psychiatry News. She is the founder and CEO of Gemma, the first digital education platform dedicated exclusively to women’s mental health, centering inclusion and impact. She is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, (How Can I Make the Holidays Less Exhausting), her writing has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar (Naomi Osaka and the Cost of Saying No), and she’s frequently in the media for example WNYC (The Realities of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Today), among other outlets.


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April 18, 2023

Elliot Ackerman is both a former Marine and White House Fellow. He served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. He is the New York Times-bestselling author of multiple books, including his most recent: The Fifth Act: America’s End in Afghanistan.

He will speak about what we should all have learned from America’s 20 years in Afghanistan.

Ackerman’s books have been nominated for the National Book Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal in both fiction and non-fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. A contributing writer for The Atlantic, Ackerman’s writing often appears in Esquire, The New Yorker, and TIME Magazine and his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Travel Writing.

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March 28, 2023

Ari Shapiro is the award-winning co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered. He has covered wars in Iraq, Ukraine, and Israel, and he has filed stories from dozens of countries. He is out with a new memoir titled The Best Strangers in the World. It tells some of the stories of what he has learned reporting from and working with people in every corner of the globe. He will share some of those stories at the Westminster Town Hall Forum.

Before joining the All Things Considered host team in 2015, he was NPR’s international correspondent based in London. He was previously NPR’s White House Correspondent during the Obama presidency; he embedded with the 2012 presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney; and he was NPR’s Justice Correspondent for five years during the George W. Bush administration. Some of his awards include the Silver Gavel, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize.

Shapiro is also a frequent guest singer with the “little orchestra” Pink Martini, from his hometown of Portland, Oregon. He has recorded on four of the band’s albums, singing in English, Hebrew, Ladino, Spanish, Arabic and Armenian.

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October 5, 2022

Healing our divides starts at home. Building community and serving others is a pathway to better understanding and deeper appreciation across our divides.

That’s the message of Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. He will speak to how we each of us serving others and the greater good can start healing our divisions.

Jonathan Reckford has served as CEO of Habitat for Humanity International since 2005. Local Habitat organizations served more than 4.2 million people last year in all 50 states and in more than 70 countries.

Prior to leading Habitat, he served as executive pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina. Before that, he spent much of his career in the for-profit sector, including executive and managerial positions at Marriott, The Walt Disney Co., and Best Buy.

He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Urban Steering Committee for the World Economic Forum.

Named the most influential nonprofit leader in America in 2017 by The NonProfit Times, he is the author of Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World.




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October 25, 2022

Politically, the division between rural and urban parts of the United States looks stark. But the story of rural American politics is not so simple, according to Lisa Pruitt. Metro-centric political leaders, media, and academics must better understand rural communities if we wish to heal this divide.

Pruitt’s roots in rural America go back five generations. She believes politicians make a grave mistake writing off rural places and communities. She argues against conflating rurality with whiteness. At the same time, she pushes for a more nuanced understanding of rural and working-class whites, especially in the era of Trump.

Lisa Pruitt is the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law at the University of California Davis. Before joining the King Hall faculty in 1999, Pruitt worked abroad for almost a decade in settings ranging from international organizations to private practice. She worked with lawyers in more than 30 countries, negotiating cultural conflicts in various arenas, from intellectual property rights to rape as a war crime.

In 2004, she established a new sub-discipline in legal scholarship—one that explored rural-urban difference in relation to how people engage law and the state. She has since brought a ruralist lens to myriad legal topics, among them abortion access, substance abuse, termination of parental rights, domestic violence, access to justice, health and human services, and indigent defense.

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November 22, 2022

Eric H. Holder, Jr. made history in 2009 when President Obama appointed him as attorney general, the first African American to hold that position. During his tenure, he championed hallmark legislation on voting rights, immigration law, national security, and same-sex marriage.

Since leaving office, he has continued his pursuit of for civil rights. His highly anticipated first book, Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote-A History, a Crisis, a Plan (May 2022), co-authored with Sam Koppelman, is a dramatic history of the vote in America and an urgent summons to protect and perfect our democracy.

He will be in conversation with moderator Tim Hart-Andersen about the book. They will discuss the central role voting rights must play in helping heal our nation.

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December 8, 2022

It’s easy to overlook the underlying strategic forces of war, to see it solely as a series of errors, accidents, and emotions gone awry. It’s also easy to forget that war shouldn’t happen—and most of the time it doesn’t.

Chris Blattman is an internationally renowned expert on violence and peacebuilding. His new best-selling book, Why We Fight draws on decades of economics, political science, psychology, and real-world interventions to lay out the root causes and remedies for war.

He will speak about his book and its central premise: violence is not the norm. He’ll explain there are only five reasons why conflict wins over compromise; and how peacemakers turn the tides through tinkering, not transformation.

Chris Blattman is the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at The University of Chicago’s Pearson Institute and Harris School of Public Policy, he coleads the Development Economics Center and directs the Obama Foundation Scholars program. His work on violence, crime, and poverty has been widely covered by The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, Financial TimesForbesSlateVox, and NPR. He is an economist and political scientist who studies violence, crime, and underdevelopment.

Much of Dr. Blattman’s work designs and tests solutions to violence. These include: cognitive behavior therapy and employment programs for the highest-risk men; mediation and negotiation strategies for post-conflict societies; and ways that cities can tackle gang violence and criminal rule. He also studies programs to tackle extreme poverty, including cash transfers to the poorest. He has worked mainly in Colombia, Liberia, Uganda, and Ethiopia.



Attendees will be able to purchase Why We Fight onsite with a local bookseller. Before the event, you can also purchase a hard copy of the book online for a 30% discount. Please note that the book will ship the day after the event and may take up to 1-2 weeks after the event. Alternatively, attendees can purchase an e-book or hard copy in advance with their normal bookseller, including Amazon.

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May 24, 2022

In the two years since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, what has changed in America?

For our second annual Arc Toward Justice program, we are honored to have two of the country’s best journalists helping us reflect on where we are in the pursuit of racial justice and where they see us heading.

Michele Norris and Yamiche Alcindor have both covered and seen firsthand how the international racial reckoning sparked by George Floyd’s death has impacted our culture, politics, and media.

The two will be in conversation together at a special Westminster Town Hall Forum program co-sponsored by the Minneapolis Foundation. The Arc Toward Justice is an opportunity to take stock of where we have come since George Floyd’s death and where we still need to go.

Minnesota native Michele Norris is well-known as the longtime host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. As an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, she breaks down commonly held beliefs and attitudes on race, diversity and bias. She is also the creator of the Peabody Award-winning initiative, “The Race Card Project,” which fosters conversation among individuals about their differences.

Yamiche Alcindor is anchor and moderator of PBS’ Washington Week. She is also the Washington correspondent for NBC News covering the Biden administration, the impact of federal policies on communities and issues at the intersection of race, culture and politics. Before joining NBC, she was public broadcasting’s White House correspondent for the national news flagship The PBS NewsHour.

This unique engagement will be a chance to hear Ms. Norris and Ms. Alcindor in conversation with one another, reflecting on what they have covered as journalists and seen themselves in the past two years. The program will also include a time for conversation sparked by audience questions, moderated by Chanda Smith Baker, Chief Impact Officer and Senior Vice President of the Minneapolis Foundation.

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May 10, 2022

Today’s headlines (as well as most of American history) are filled with fights over voting restrictions versus expanding citizens’ rights to the ballot box. What if instead, the United States instituted an election process where every citizen has the right to vote—but also the duty to vote, a requirement to participate in our national choices?

That’s what co-authors E.J. Dionne and Miles Rapoport argue for in their new book, In 100% Democracy:  The Case for Universal Voting. Twenty-six countries around the world require participation. If Americans are required to pay taxes and serve on juries, why not ask—or require—every American to vote?

Dionne and Rapoport will speak at the Westminster Town Hall Forum on their argument that voting in civic elections should be required in the United States. They will also answer questions from the audience.

E.J. Dionne is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, university professor at Georgetown University, and visiting professor at Harvard University. He is the author of Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country.

Miles Rapoport is the Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. He formerly served in the Connecticut state legislature and as Connecticut’s secretary of the state. He also served as president of Demos and of Common Cause.