Most Recent Forums
November 16, 2021
The Honorable John R. Tunheim has served for 25 years as United States District Judge in the District of Minnesota and has served as Chief Judge since 2015. He has devoted much of his judicial career to helping develop the rule of law in new democracies, including drafting the Kosovo Constitution and advising over 40 countries on judicial independence. He will speak at the Forum on the role of the judiciary in America and the steps the court is taking to engage in civics education through its new Justice and Democracy Centers.
October 26, 2021
LaTosha Brown is the Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter, Black Voters Matter Fund and Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute; three initiatives designed to boost Black voter registration and turnout, as well as increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. She will join us to talk about bridging grassroots activism into political power, as well as voter suppression efforts launched throughout the South since the 2020 election.
October 4, 2021
Dr. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun leads the Digital Democracies Institute at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Her upcoming book, Discriminating Data, delves into how social media platforms are designed to make us hate one another across political, racial, and class lines. She will speak at the Forum on how the internet and algorithms have undermined democracy and how they could be used in the pursuit of racial and social justice.
NOTE: This Forum will be presented in a virtual hybrid format. Dr. Chun will not be physically at Westminster. Instead, she will speak live from Canada which we will project in the Westminster Sanctuary. She will take questions from the live Westminster audience. This will all be available to watch on the Forum’s website and Facebook.
September 21, 2021
José Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. In 2011, The New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. He is the author of the best-selling memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen and will speak at the Forum about democracy, belonging, and what citizenship really means.
May 25, 2021
Angela Harrelson & Paris Stevens
On the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, we will hear from two people with a connection to George Floyd and his legacy. Angela Harrelson and Paris Stevens are the aunt and cousin of George Floyd. After the passing of his mother, Floyd moved to Minneapolis three years ago to be closer to Harrelson and to build a new life. Before her nephew’s death, she felt people didn’t want to talk about racism, even in progressive cities like Minneapolis. “What happened to George changed people’s hearts,” she said; got them talking about the history of not just police brutality, but also the very inequities in education, employment, and housing her family has faced.
May 18, 2021
Deborah Archer was elected in 2021 as the eighth President of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and is the first person of color to lead that organization in its over 100-year history. She is a Professor of Clinical Law at the New York University School of Law as well as faculty director of the Law School’s Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law. She was previously an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU, and the international law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. On two separate occasions she chaired the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the nation’s oldest and largest police oversight agency.
May 11, 2021
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III serves as Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. For two decades, he has preached a Black theology that unapologetically calls attention to the problems of mass incarceration, environmental justice, and economic inequality. Dr. Moss led the team that came up with the “My Life Matters” curriculum, including the viral video “Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival,” created in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police. Dr. Moss was named to the inaugural Root 100, as an African-American leader who is making extraordinary contributions.
May 4, 2021
Jelani Cobb is an award-winning writer for The New Yorker on issues of race, history, justice, and politics. His recent documentary with FRONTLINE, Policing the Police 2020 examines the enormous complexities and realities of race and policing in America. A previous iteration of that investigation in 2016 earned Cobb the Walter Bernstein Award from the Writer’s Guild of America. He is also the author of Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic, and The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays.
April 20, 2021
Walter Isaacson is a professor of history at Tulane. He has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of Time. He is well known for his biographies Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs.
Isaacson is out with a new book, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race. In it he profiles Dr. Jennifer Doudna, the scientist behind the gene-editing technology CRISPR, a tool that makes it possible to edit DNA the way one might edit a letter in a word processor.
CRISPR offers nearly limitless potential, and deep moral questions. It could allow us to make humans less susceptible to viruses, heading off another COVID-19 like pandemic. Yet it also opens the door to parents selecting certain traits for their children like higher IQ, enhanced height or increased strengthen, before they are even born.
The book is also the story of Dr. Doudna and her journey to the cutting edge of scientific research. From an early age, she was driven to understand how nature works. In sixth grade, her dad gave her a paperback copy of The Double Helix, a dramatic retelling of the competition to decipher the structure of DNA. She was hooked, and even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would and ended up changing the world in the process.
March 23, 2021
Barbara Coombs Lee is president emerita/senior adviser of Compassion & Choice, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit focused on expanded choices for patients at the end of life. In her most recent book, Finish Strong: Putting YOUR Priorities First at Life’s End, Lee offers a guide for a more patient-driven healthcare system, particularly at end of life, based on her 50 years of firsthand experience in nursing, medicine, law, public policy and advocacy.
Lee’s journey began with 25 years as a nurse and physician-assistant, often caring for terminally-ill patients. Through years as a private attorney, a healthcare executive, and as staff at the Oregon State Legislature, she advocated for more patient choice and agency at the end of their lives.
In 1994 she co-authored the Oregon Death with Dignity Act and served as spokesperson through two statewide campaigns to get it passed. Oregon approved the measure in 2008, making it only the second state to permit aid in dying. She kept working, including defending legal challenges against aid in dying in Montana, and helping pass the California End of Life Option Act in 2015.
Lee studied literature at Vassar College, nursing at Cornell University, and earned advanced degrees in law and medicine from the University of Washington and Lewis & Clark College. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar.