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Speaker Information

March 13 Greater Issues Keynote Speaker, Rick Atkinson

Rick Atkinson’s most recent best-seller, “The Guns at Last Light: The War in Europe, 1944-1945”, which was the final volume of his Liberation Trilogy, was released in 2013. The Trilogy is a narrative history of the U.S. military’s role in the liberation of Europe in World War II. The first volume, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942 - 1943, received the Pulitzer Prize and was acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal as “the best World War II battle narrative since Cornelius Ryan’s classics, The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far.”

Atkinson served as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and senior editor for 25 years at the Washington Post. His most recent assignments include covering the 101st Airborne during the invasion of Iraq, and writing about roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007. His many awards for his books and reporting include the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for history; the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting; and the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for public service, awarded to the Washington Post for a series of investigative articles directed and edited by Atkinson. He earned the 1989 George Polk Award for national reporting, the 2003 Society for Military History Distinguished Book Award, the 2007 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defence, and the 2010 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. Atkinson has served as the Gen. Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College, where he remains an adjunct faculty member. His address is co-sponsored by the Department of History and made possible by the financial support of the Henry and Jenny Johnson Endowment for Historical Studies and through a grant from The Mills B. Lane Memorial Foundation.










March 14 Core Values Keynote Speaker, Bonnie St. John 

NBC Nightly News called her, "One of the five most inspiring women in America." She has been featured in national and international media including: TODAY, CNN, CBS Morning News, NBC News, PBS, NPR and The New York Times, as well as People, “O” and Essence magazines. Bonnie St. John will be the keynote speaker on the second day of the symposium.

Despite having her right leg amputated at age five, St. John became the first African-American ever to win Olympic or Paralympic medals in ski racing, taking home a silver and two bronze medals in downhill events at the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria. St. John was quoted on millions of Starbucks coffee cups and was honored at the White House by President George W. Bush. Her successes include a career as a best-selling author, television and radio personality, and business owner. She is also the single mother of a teenage daughter. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in 1986, and won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, earning a (Masters of Letters) in economics. Upon her return to the U.S., St. John was appointed as director for Human Capital Issues on the White House National Economic Council by President Bill Clinton. St. John will be the symposium’s closing event keynote speaker.