Tom Sleigh

Tom Sleigh is the author of ten books of poetry, including Army Cats, winner of the John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Space Walk which won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award. In addition, Far Side of the Earth won an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Dreamhouse was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and The Chain was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize. In 2018 a book of prose collecting his essays on refugees in the Middle East and Africa, The Land Between Two Rivers: Writing In An Age Of Refugees, was published simultaneously by Graywolf Press as a companion piece to House of Fact, House of Ruin, his latest book of poems. Widely anthologized, his poems and prose appear in The New Yorker, The Village Voice, and other literary magazines, as well as The Best of the Best American Poetry, The Best American Poetry, Best American Travel Writing, and The Pushcart Anthology. He is a Distinguished Professor in the MFA Program at Hunter College and lives in Brooklyn. During the last decade, he has also worked as a journalist in Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Kenya, Iraq, and Libya. 

Laura Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is the author of Something From the Oven, Perfection Salad,  Julia Child, and What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories. She was a columnist at The Real Paper (Boston) before beginning a 16-year run at Newsweek, where she covered food, women’s issues and the arts and won several journalism awards. Her essays, reviews and features have also appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Gourmet, Gastronomica, Slate and many other publications.  

Eileen McNamara

Eileen McNamara is the Director of the Journalism Program at Brandeis and the author of Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World, published in April 2018 by Simon & Schuster. A Professor of the Practice of Journalism since 2007, she was previously an award-winning reporter and columnist for The Boston Globe, where she won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary and contributed to the coverage of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston. Her writing continues to appear there and on Cognoscenti, the commentary pages of, Boston’s National Public Radio station. 

John Leland

John Leland is a reporter at The New York Times, where he wrote a yearlong series that became the basis for his NYT bestseller, Happiness Is a Choice You Make. He is the author of two previous books, Hip: The History and Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of “On the Road” (They’re Not What You Think). Before joining the Times, he was a senior editor at Newsweek, editor in chief of Details, a reporter at Newsday, and a writer and editor at Spin magazine.

Madeline Kunin

Madeleine Kunin served as the Governor of Vermont from 1985 to 1991. As a member of President Bill Clinton’s administration, she served as Deputy Secretary of Education of the United States from 1993 to 1997 and United States Ambassador to Switzerland from 1996 to 1999. Former Governor Kunin was Vermont’s first and, to date, only female governor and the first woman in U.S. history to be elected governor three times. During her tenure as Governor, she focused on the environment, education, and children’s issues. She appointed the first woman to the State Supreme Court and created the family court system. Former Ambassador Kunin is the author of Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead and Living a Political Life. Her new book, Coming of Age: My Journey Into the Eighties, takes a close and incisive look at what it is like to grow old. Former Ambassador Kunin is the recipient of numerous awards for work in the environment, education and human services, including the Dean’s Medal for Public Service from Columbia University, School of Journalism. Former Ambassador Kunin received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a Master of Science degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a Master of Arts degree from The University of Vermont, and numerous honorary degrees from over 15 different institutions.