KentPresents Ideas Festival 2015-2018

Thank you to everyone who joined us!

From 2015 through 2018, KentPresents brought 250 luminaries to the Litchfield Hills in northwestern Connecticut to share ideas in virtually every field. This highly acclaimed ideas festival was a place for hundreds of guests to meet, mingle and dine with diplomats, artists, scientists, authors and more.

We wish to thank the Kent School, speakers, attendees, staff and community members who participated in KentPresents for the vital role you all played over the last four years in making our festival a success.

Ideas work best when shared.

2018 Speakers

2018 Speakers

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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, Nobel Laureate, Professor, 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
One of the best--if not THE best--that I've ever attended…And I got to meet a lot of interesting people, including some of my heroes. - Jerry Coyne, Evolutionary biologist, Prof. Emeritus, U of Chicago
I absolutely loved the conference. I learned so much. - Wynton Marsalis, World-renowned trumpeter, bandleader and composer
Every session I went to was smart, enlightening and fun. - Lesley Stahl, 60 Minutes, CBS News Correspondant
I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same after this weekend. It was mind-bending. - Ken Washington, VP Research and Advanced Engineering, CTO Ford Motors
It was a marvelous event...The lineup was incredible; the talks were fantastic - Robert Lang, One of the world's leading masters of origami

KentPresents Speakers 2015 - 2018


Nicholas Burns - Prof. at Harvard Kennedy School, Former Amb. to NATO, Greece
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
Elizabeth Economy - Council on Foreign Relations
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
Robert Hormats - Former Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
Hussein Ibish- Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute
Robert Kaiser - Former managing editor of The Washington Post
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
Mark Lippert -Former Ambassador to South Korea
William Luers - Director, The Iran Project, former Ambassador To Czechoslovakia and Venezuela
Hussein Majali - former Interior Minister, Jordan and General
Jessica Mathews- Former President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Jack Matlock - former US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union
John Micklethwait - Editor-in-chief Bloomberg News, former editor Economist
William Perry - former US Secretary of Defense
Thomas Pickering - former US Ambassador to Russia, India, UN, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan
John Pomfret - Former Washington Post bureau chief in Beijing
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
Lesley Stahl – 60 Minutes, News Correspondent
Kathleen Stephens - Former Ambassador to South Korea
William Taubman – Professor of History, Amherst College
Frances Townsend - President,Counter Extremism Project, former Homeland Security Advisor, CNN Commentator
Jose Viera - former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cuba
Frank Wisner – Career Ambassador
Peter Zwack - Former U.S. Senior Defense Official and Attaché to the Russian Federation


Kurt Andersen – Studio 360 Host, Author
Jared Bernstein - Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Preet Bharara – Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
Lisa Bloom – Civil Rights Attorney
Charles Blow - op-ed Columnist, New York Times, author of "Fire Shut Up in My Bones"
Jess Bravin - Supreme Court Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal
Carol Burris – Executive Director, Network Public Education
Eric Cantor - Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Moelis & Company and former House Majority Leader
Rebecca Carroll- Author, Producer of Special Projects on Race, WNYC
Kristen Clarke - President and Executive Director, Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Charlie Cook - Editor and Publisher of the Cook Political Report
Tyler Cowen - Professor of Economics at George Mason University
Stephanie Cutter- Political Consultant, Partner at Precision Strategies
Ronald Daniels- President of The Johns Hopkins University
Dan Doctoroff – CEO Sidewalk Labs
Matthew Dowd - Political consultant, ABC News political analyst
Marjory Fischer – Title IX Coordinator, Columbia University
James Forman, Jr. - Professor of Law at Yale
Eddie Glaude Jr. - Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton
Mark Gorenberg - Founder and Managing Director of Zetta Venture Partners
Janet Gornick - Prof. Graduate Center of CUNY, income inequality expert
Ryan Goodman - Professor of Law at NYU School of Law
Nick Gourevitch- Partner and Managing Director, Global Strategy Group
Danielle Gray - former Asst. to President Obama and Cabinet Secretary, Partner at O'Melveny and Myers
Douglas Harris – Professor of Economics, Tulane University
Margot Hirsch – President, Smart Tech Challenges Foundation
Samuel Issacharoff - Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law
Hakeem Jeffries - DemocraticCongressman, New York's 8thDistrict
Jeh Johnson – Former Secretary of Homeland Security
Robert Jones – Exoneree, Innocence Project
Jay Kriegel - Senior Adviser of the Related Companies, formerly Chief of Staff, NYC Mayer John V. Lindsay
Paul Krugman - Distinguished Professor of Economics at CUNY Graduate Center, Nobel Laureate, Op-ed Columnist, New York Times
Lawrence Kudlow - Commentator, economic analyst and columnist
Mitch Landrieu - Former Mayor of New Orleans
Tom Loveless- Senior Fellow, Brown Center on Education Policy, Brookings Institute
Roger McNamee – Investor, Social Media Activist
Nina Morrison – Senior Staff Attorney, Innocence Project
Trevor Morrison - Dean, NYU School of Law
Sarah Moser – Professor of Geography, McGill University
Chris Murphy - Democratic Senator from Connecticut
Charles Murray - American Enterprise Institute Fellow, columnist and pundit
Neha Narula – Digital Currency, MIT
Cal Newport – Professor of Computer Science, Georgetown University
Soledad O'Brien - Journalist and news anchor
David Osborne - Senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, author
Steve Pearlstein - Business and Economics columnist, Washington Post
John Pfaff - Professor of Law at Fordham University
Amanda Ripley - Investigative journalist and author
Ed Rollins - Reagan campaign manager and consultant
Paul Romer - Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank
Michael S. Roth- President of Wesleyan University
Laurie Simmons - photographer and filmmaker
Greg Speed- President, America Votes
Bret Stephens – The New York Times
Andrew Stern - former President of the Service Employees International Union, author of "Raising the Floor"
Kai Stinchcombe – CEO, True Link Financial
Valerie Strauss - Washington Post Education Writer
Jeffrey Toobin - Staff writer the New Yorker
Cyrus Vance - District Attorney of New York County
Jeffrey Wall - former Asst. to the Solicitor General, Co-Head of the Sullivan & Cromwell Applegate Litigation Practice
Darren Walker - President, Ford Foundation
Laura Walker - President and CEO, New York Public Radio
Faye Wattleton - formerly youngest, first woman and first African-American president, Planned Parenthood
Robert Zimmer– President, University of Chicago
James Zirin - Op-ed columnist


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
Christopher Buckley - Novelist, essayist, humorist, magazine editor
Jonathan Burnham - Senior Vice President and Publisher, HarperCollins
Joy Connolly - Provost and Senior Vice President at the Graduate Center, CUNY
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"
Adam Gopnik - Staff writer for The New Yorker
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
Charles C. Mann – Author
Safwan Masri - Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development, Columbia University
Edmund Morris - Biographer of Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and more
David Nasaw – Distinguished Professor 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


Colin Bailey - Director of the Morgan Library and Museum
Andrew Bergman - Screenwriter-director, including "Blazing Saddles, " "The Freshman," "The In-Laws"
Flora Biddle – Former President, Whitney Museum of American Art
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
Fiona Donovan – Teacher, Writer
John Doyle - Tony-winning Broadway director
Carroll Dunham -Contemporary American Painter
Oskar Eustis - Artistic Director, The Public Theater
Carter Foster - Curator of Drawing at the Whitney Museum of American Art
Jeffrey Fraenkel – Fraenkel Gallery
LaToya Ruby Frazier - Multi-media artist, MacArthur Fellow
Michael Govan - Director of LACMA
Agnes Gund - President emerita of the Museum of Modern Art
Nathalie de Gunzburg - Chairwoman of the Dia Art Foundation board
Eleanor Heartney - author and Contributing Editor to Art in America and Artpress
Marguerite Hoffman - Art Collector, Philanthropist and Civic Volunteer
Jennifer Homans - Founder and Director, Center for Ballet and the Arts, NYU
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"
Robert Lang – Origami Master
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
Wynton Marsalis – Jazz Musician, Educator
Richard Maltby, Jr. - Tony-winning, Broadway director and lyricist
Daniel Mendelsohn – Author, Critic
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
Annabelle Selldorf- Founder of Selldorf Architects
Shohei Shigematsu - Architect, Partner, OMA
Shahzia Sikander - Pakistani-American artist, works in drawing, painting, installations, performance and video, MacArthur Fellow
Xaviera Simmons - Artist
Elisabeth Sussman – Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art
Susan Taylor - Director of New Orleans Museum of Art
Ann Temkin - Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA
Gary Tinterow - Director, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Jack Viertel - SVP of Jujamcyn Theater
Sheena Wagstaff - Chair, Modern and Contemporary Art, Met Museum
Adam Weinberg - Director of the Whitney Museum
Deborah Willis - Chair, Department of Photography, NYU
David Yazbek - Emmy winner, Broadway composer and lyricist


Frances Arnold - Nobel Laureate, Prof. of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, Caltech
David Baltimore - Nobel Laureate, former Caltech President, one of the world's most influential biologists
Konstantin Batygin – Caltech Astrophysicist
James Bessen - Executive Director, Technology and Policy Research, Boston University School of Law
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
Sean Carroll – Caltech Cosmologist
Gilbert Castillo - Hyundai
Alta Charo – Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin
Jerry Coyne – Evolutionary Biologist
Joe DeSimone – CEO, Carbon Inc.
Luis Diaz – Memorial Sloane Kettering, Immunotherapy
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 Fruchterman - CEO, Benetech
Dario Gil - Vice President of Science and Solutions at IBM Research
Julia Greer – Professor, Caltech
Bill Gross - Founder, Idealab
Radley Horton- Associate Research Professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Walter Isaacson - President and CEO, Aspen Institute
Stefanie Joho – Patient Advocacy
Dina Katabi - Prof. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT, MacArthur Fellow
John Kelly - Senior Vice President, Cognitive Solutions and Research, IBM
Andrew Kolodny - Co- Director, Opioid Policy Research, Heller School, Brandeis University
Steve Koonin - Director of NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress, previously Energy Under Secretary
Regina LaBelle- Former Chief of Staff, Drug Czar, Obama Administration
Paul Marks - President Emeritus, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Andrew McAfee - principal research scientist at MIT, co-author of "The Second Machine Age"
Harold McGee – Food Writer, Author
Howard Morgan - Venture Capitalist
Michael Moritz - Venture Capitalist
Siddhartha Mukherjee - Author, "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer"
Richard Murray - Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Caltech
Gregory Petsko - Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College
Robert Piconi – CEO, Energy Vault
Arati Prabhakar – Former Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Gill Pratt - CEO, Toyota Research Institute
Marc Raibert - founder/CEO of Boston Dynamics, innovative robotics developer
Akshat Rathi – Journalist, specializing in science, energy and technology
Mark Reuss – EVP, General Motors
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
Scott Small - Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Columbia University
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 – Nobel Laureate,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
Gernot Wagner- Executive Director of Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program
Joe Walston – Wildlife Conservation Society
Ken Washington - Vice President, Research and Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Company
Gilbert Welch - Professor of Medicine at Dartmouth, author of "Less Medicine, More Health"
Caren Zucker– Journalist, Producer