The 2017 KentPresents Ideas Festival

The exciting new Ideas Festival...Meet and mingle with scores of top leaders in dozens of fields...Three days of intellectual and cultural stimulation...and fun.

KentPresents, America's influential new Ideas Festival, is now open for registration. At last year's inaugural event, 87 speakers gathered with over 300 attendees for three days of panels, discussions, conversations, debates and exchanges of ideas. It was quite a program.

This year's KentPresents, July 27-29 in Kent, Connecticut, will have a similar format. Accomplished presenters, challenging topics and stimulating sessions -- all in an idyllic New England setting. Over the three days, you'll bump into the speakers in myriad informal settings – receptions, meals, strolling around campus. At no other ideas festival will you have a chance to interact so closely with so many luminaries in so intimate a setting.

In our previous two years, the 134 speakers have included Nobel Laureates and winners of numberous prizes – Pulitzer, MacArthur, Tony, Emmy, Peabody, National Book Award and Presidential Medals. (See list below.) The 2017 speaker roster is now in active preparation. Their names will be posted on this website, starting shortly, and updated over the coming months.

Topics will include art, economics, education, energy, environment, food, global risks, health care, homeland security, intelligence, literature, national affairs, performing arts, politics, the racial divide, the Supreme Court, science, technology, women's issues… and more. Some of the 40-plus topics are listed below.

Once again, we anticipate a full house this year. If you're considering attending, now would be a good time to register.

Register for KentPresents 2017
Last year's speakers

Speakers at KentPresents 2016

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It was a spectacular event, and I was honored to be a part of it. - Andrew Solomon, Author, Speaker, Prof. Clinical Psychology, Columbia
The entire event was so brilliantly conceived. - Harold Varmus, Nobel Laureate, fmr Director National Cancer Institute
Just a quick note to tell you how much damn fun KentPresents was. The sessions, the conversations, the food, the wine, the gorgeous setting. - Joe Nocera, Columnist, The New York Times
Amazing... I have been to several pretty special events over the years, but this really was one of the very best. - Frances Arnold, Prof. Chem. Engineering & Bioengineering, Caltech
The “ideas,” so eloquently, passionately, and powerfully presented by a group of speakers who knew what they were talking about. - David Nasaw, Prof of History, Graduate Center CUNY
Phenomenal. I’ve attended lots of conferences, but none so seamlessly executed. - Faye Wattleton, former president, Planned Parenthood
What a dazzling three days, with one great panel after another! It was an honor and a pleasure to have been part of it. - Pepe Karmel, Associate Prof. of Art History, NYU
The quality of discussion at KentPresents was overall superior…an intimate and special atmosphere. - Sir Richard Dearlove, retired chief, Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)
The KentPresents roster of speakers was the most accomplished and knowledgeable that I have ever come across. - David Yaun, Vice President, Communications, IBM
Congratulations … A very large achievement, I say as someone who's been at every Aspen Ideas Festival since they began. - Corby Kummer, Senior Editor of Atlantic Monthly
The festival was a great success. - David Baltimore, Nobel Laureate, Former President, Caltech
Everything was perfect. The people who spoke were brilliant, and those who asked questions were no less intelligent and amazingly observant. - André Aciman, Distinguished Professor, Graduate Center CUNY

(subject to change)


China – Friend or Foe?
Europe – Whole or Broken?
Middle East Mess – Iran/Saudi Arabia/Israel/Palestine/ISIS/Syria
The Immigration Crisis - Toward a Solution That's Fair and Secure
North Korea – How Crazy are They?
Russia – Threat, Opportunity…or Both?
The U.S. in a New World


Cybersecurity and Intelligence – Competing in the War of the Future
Economic Growth – New Paradigms
Economic Security – Is Globalization Dying?
Income Inequality Under Trump
K12 Education – Improving U.S. Competitiveness
K12 Education – Solutions for Urban Education
How Different Will TrumpCare Be?
Race in America – Policing and Incarceration
Where is the Supreme Court Headed?
The Environmental Outlook Under Trump
Women's Issues in a Trumpian World


Trump at Six Months – A Report Card
Democrats – The Road Back
Republicans – Is the Establishment Dead?
21st Century Voting Reform


Disruptive Technologies Ahead - Topics in Preparation
Science That Will Change the World - Topics in Preparation


Food -- Topics in Preparation
Prominent Authors -- Topics in Preparation
Musical Theater -- Performance in Preparation
Performing Arts -- Topics in Preparation
Visual Arts – Topics in Preparation


GLOBAL: Middle East, China, Cuba, Russia, Intelligence, Nuclear Proliferation

William Burns, President, Carnegie Endowment, Former Deputy Secretary of State, Amb. To Russia and Jordan

Richard Dearlove, OBE, former Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service

Leslie Gelb, former Pentagon and State official, think tank executive, Times correspondent

Christopher Hill, former US Ambassador to Iraq, South Korea, Poland and Macedonia

James Hoge, former editor of Foreign Affairs

Henry Kissinger, Nobel Laureate, former US Secretary of State

Michael Kramer, playwright, journalist, author

Joshua Landis, Director, Center of Middle East Studies, University of Oklahoma

William LeoGrande, Professor of Government, American University, Latin American expert

William Luers, Director, The Iran Project, former amb. To Czechoslovakia and Venezuela

Hussein Majali, former Interior Minister, Jordan and General

Jack Matlock, former US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union

William Perry, former US Secretary of Defense

Thomas Pickering, former US Ambassador to Russia, India, UN, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan

Chase Robinson, President, The Graduate Center, CUNY

J. Stapleton Roy, Founding Director Emeritus of the Kissinger Institute on China and ambassadorial assignments included Singapore, China, and Indonesia

David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, New York Times

Frances Townsend, President, Counter Extremism Project, former Homeland Security Advisor, CNN Commentator

Jose Viera, former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cuba

NATIONAL: Election 2016, Supreme Court, Women's Issues, Universal Basic Income

Eric Cantor, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Moelis & Company and former House Majority Leader

Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director, Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of the Cook Political Report

Mark Gorenberg, Founder and Managing Director of Zetta Venture Partners

Janet Gornick, Prof. Graduate Center of CUNY, income inequality expert

Danielle Gray, former Asst. to President Obama and Cabinet Secretary, Partner at O'Melveny and Myers

Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Congressman, New York's 8th District

Steve Koonin, Director of NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress, previously Energy Under Secretary

Jay Kriegel, Senior Adviser of the Related Companies, formerly Chief of Staff, NYC Mayer John V. Lindsay

Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate, Op-ed Columnist, New York Times

Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans

Trevor Morrison, Dean, NYU School of Law

Charles Murray, American Enterprise Institute Fellow, columnist and pundit

Soledad O'Brien, Journalist and news anchor

Steve Pearlstein, Business and Economics columnist, Washington Post

Ed Rollins, Conservative campaign manager and consultant

Laurie Simmons, photographer and filmmaker

Andrew Stern, former President of the Service Employees International Union, author of "Raising the Floor"

Jeffrey Toobin, Staff writer the New Yorker

Cyrus Vance, District Attorney of New York City

Jeffrey Wall, former Asst. to the Solicitor General, Co-Head of the Sullivan & Cromwell Applegate Litigation Practice

Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

Faye Wattleton, formerly youngest, first woman and first African-American president, Planned Parenthood

James Zirin, Op-ed columnist

HUMANITIES and LEISURE: Literature, Sports, Food

André Aciman, distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of CUNY

James Atlas, Author of numerous books, magazine editor and writer

David Benedict, Biographer of Stephen Sondheim

Charles Blow, op-ed Columnist, New York Times, author of "Fire Shut Up in My Bones"

Christopher Buckley, Novelist, essayist, humorist, magazine editor

Jonathan Burnham, Senior Vice President and Publisher, HarperCollins

Frank Delaney, former BBC correspondent, bestselling author, leading Joyce scholar

Judith Dobrzynski, Journalist

John Donvan, Newscaster for ABC News, Host and Moderator for Intelligence2 Debates, author of "In a Different Key: The Story of Autism"

Sylvia Jukes Morris, Biographer of Clare Boothe Luce and more

Dan Kevles, Professor of History, Yale University

Corby Kummer, Senior Editor of The Atlantic and restaurant critic

Lewis Lapham, Founder, Lapham's Quarterly

Nick Lemann, Staff writer, The New Yorker

Edmund Morris, Biographer of Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and more

David Nasaw, Prof. of History, CUNY Graduate Center

Joe Nocera, sports columnist New York Times, author of "Indentures: The Epic

Scandal of the NCAA"

Adam Platt, Food Critic, New York Magazine

Michael Pollan, food writer, author of the classic "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and recently, "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation"

Judith Shulevitz, Science editor, The New Republic, columnist

Dinitia Smith, author and filmmaker

Andrew Solomon, Professor at Columbia, writer

Judith Thurman, author, National Book Award winner

Jane Whitney, former television correspondent, anchor and host

Ekow Yankah, Professor of Law, Cardozo School of Law

THE ARTS: Visual Arts, Performing Arts

Colin Bailey, Director of the Morgan Library and Museum

Andrew Bergman, Screenwriter-director, including "Blazing Saddles, " "The Freshman," "The In-Laws"

Bonnie Burnham, President, World Monuments Fund

Thomas Campbell, Director and CEO, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Amy Cappellazzo, Art Adviser, Sotheby's

P. Carl, Co-Artistic Director, ArtsEmerson and Director/Co-founder of HowlRound

Ted Chapin, President, Rodgers & Hammerstein

John Doyle, Tony-winning Broadway director

Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, The Public Theater

Carter Foster, Curator of Drawing at the Whitney Museum of American Art

LaToya Ruby Frazier, Multi-media artist, MacArthur Fellow

Michael Govan, Director of LACMA

Eleanor Heartney, author and Contributing Editor to Art in America and Artpress

Pepe Karmel, Associate Professor of art history at NYU, author of "Picasso and the Invention of Cubism"

Katya Kazakina, art writer, Bloomberg
Dodie Kazanjian, art writer, Vogue, curator, Gallery Met

Michael Korie, Librettist and lyricist for many musicals and operas including "Grey Gardens" and "Far from Heaven"

Julian Lethbridge, painter and drawer focused on abstract art

Christopher Lew, Associate Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art

Sarah Lewis, Professor of Art History and Architecture & African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Adam Lindemann, contemporary art collector, art writer

Adam Lowe, Founder, Factum Arte

Richard Maltby, Jr. Tony-winning, Broadway director and lyricist

Francis Naumann, Independent scholar, curator and art dealer

Richard Olcott, Partner, Ennead Architects

Lonny Price, Broadway director, actor and writer; director of "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill"

Rachel Rose, video artist

Scott Rothkopf, Chief Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art

Kevin Salatino, Director of the Art Collections at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California

Jerry Saltz, Senior art critic, New York Magazine

Dana Schutz, artist, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award 2010

Shahzia Sikander, Pakistani-American artist, works in drawing, painting, installations, performance and video, MacArthur Fellow

Xaviera Simmons, Artist

Susan Taylor, Director of New Orleans Museum of Art

Gary Tinterow, Director, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Jack Viertel, SVP of Jujamcyn Theaters

Deborah Willis, Chair, Department of Photography, NYU

David Yazbek, Emmy winner, Broadway composer and lyricist


Frances Arnold, Prof. of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, Caltech

David Baltimore, Nobel Laureate, former Caltech President, one of the world's most influential biologists

Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog, environmentalist, pro-nuclear power, de-extinction leader

Aaron Carroll, Vice Chair of Health Policy, Indian Univ., creator Healthcare Triage, Incidental Economist

Gilbert Castillo, Hyundai

Charles Elachi, Director NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, pioneer and leader in planetary exploration

Scott Fraser, USC Provost Professor, Keck School of Medicine and the Viterbi School of Engineering

Jim Fructhterman, CEO, Benetech

Bill Gross, Founder, Idealab

Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, Aspen Institute

Dina Katabi, Prof. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT, MacArthur Fellow

John Kelly, Senior Vice President, Cognitive Solutions and Research, IBM

Paul Marks, President Emeritus, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT, co-author of "The Second Machine Age"

Howard Morgan, Venture Capitalist

Michael Moritz, Venture Capitalist

Siddhartha Mukherjee, Author, "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer"

Arati Prabhakar, Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Gill Pratt, CEO, Toyota Research Institute

Marc Raibert, founder/CEO of Boston Dynamics, innovative robotics developer

Carlos Riva, CEO Poseidon Water

Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley

Gavin Schmidt, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Michael Shellenberger, environmental policy leader, co-founder of Breakthrough Institute

J.B. Straubel, Co-founder, Tesla

Alex Taylor, Senior Editor-at-large (ret.), Fortune magazine, has covered the auto industry for more than 30 years

Scott Tinker, Director of Bureau of Economic Geology, State Geologist of Texas

Kip Thorne, Caltech's Feynman Professor, helped confirm Einstein's 100-year-old gravitational wave theory

Harold Varmus, Lewis Thomas University Professor at Weill Cornell, Nobel Laureate

Ken Washington, Vice President, Research and Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Company

Gilbert Welch, Professor of Medicine at Dartmouth, author of "Less Medicine, More Health"