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Philadelphia Speakers Series Announces 2017-18 Season

The Philadelphia Speakers Series, presented by Widener University, is preparing to welcome a stellar lineup of some of today’s most celebrated and influential personalities to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Officially kicking off on October 2, the Series will offer seven evenings of thought-provoking discussion, opening with a presentation by former British Prime Minister David Cameron. The complete list of presenters in order of appearance includes:

  • Oct. 2, 2017 - David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2010-2016)
  • Oct. 23, 2017 – Jeffrey Toobin, Supreme Court expert and esteemed legal analyst
  • Nov. 27, 2017 – Cokie Roberts, journalist and author
  • Jan. 22, 2018 – Robin Wright, Middle East expert, award-winning journalist and author
  • Feb. 26, 2018 – Rick Steves, author, television host and European travel guide
  • March 26, 2018 – Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House
  • April 16, 2018 – Paul Nicklen, award-winning National Geographic photographer


Tickets for the 2017-2018 Philadelphia Speakers Series are available now by visiting or by calling 215-893-1955. As in years past, the series is being sold by subscription only, with subscribers guaranteed admission to hear all seven dynamic speakers. Subscriptions for the entire series range from $285 - $525. All presentations will begin at 8 p.m. and each is followed by a spirited Q&A period during which the speaker addresses questions from the audience.

“Widener is a national model for leadership development. Our Oskin Leadership Institute develops skills and dispositions in our students that prepare them for future success,” Widener President Dr. Julie E. Wollman said. “The Philadelphia Speakers Series is another example of Widener’s commitment to advancing its mission of leadership by presenting these unique individuals, who have so much to teach us about leadership and professional success.”

The 2017-2018 Speakers Series will kick off with a presentation by David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. As the youngest British Prime Minister in two centuries, Cameron led a transformation of the U.K.’s economy through his work to remodel the Conservative Party with a modern, compassionate agenda. In 2016, Cameron resigned following the U.K. vote to leave the European Union.

Philadelphia Speakers Series announces lineup for 2017-2018 season

On Oct. 23, Jeffrey Toobin will take the stage at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Best known for his books, The Oath and The Nine, which chronicled the inner workings of the Supreme Court, Toobin began his career clerking for a federal judge and later served as an associate counsel to Lawrence Walsh during the Iran-Contra affair and Oliver North’s criminal trial. He has since provided legal analyses on high-profile cases for CNN and The New Yorker.  His book on the O.J. Simpson murder case was adapted as a television series, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and aired in 2016 as the first season of FX American Crime Story, winning numerous Emmy awards. 

In late November, the Philadelphia Speakers Series will welcome journalist and author Cokie Roberts. After serving as a congressional correspondent for more than a decade, Roberts is best known for her role as a senior news analyst for NPR. She is also a regular roundtable analyst on This Week with George Stephanopoulos and serves as a political commentator for ABC News. Roberts has also written a number of bestselling books.

The Speakers Series will continue in January 2018 with a presentation by Robin Wright. As a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International School for Scholars, Wright has received numerous awards for her reporting for The New Yorker and other publications. She is also the author of many books on the Middle East. The most recent of these books, titled Rock the Casbah, was named the best book on international affairs by the Overseas Press Club.

Rick Steves will grace the Speakers Series stage on Feb. 26, 2018. In addition to authoring numerous European travel guides, Steves is the host of the public television series Rick Steves’ Europe and a public radio show called Travel with Rick Steves. He advocates for independent travel, encouraging Americans to become “temporary locals” by visiting cozy villages away from popular tourist routes, in addition to seeing major cities.

In late March 2018, Philadelphia Speakers Series guests will get to hear from Newt Gingrich. A congressman from Georgia for 20 years, Gingrich served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995-1999. In 2012, he sought the presidential nomination for the Republican Party. Gingrich was also the co-author and architect of the Contract with America in 1994. A historian by training, Gingrich has remained active as a political consultant.

The 2017-2018 Philadelphia Speakers Series will conclude on April 16, as guests are entertained by Paul Nicklen. An award-winning National Geographic photographer, Nicklen uses his camera to reveal the nature of the changing polar regions due to climate change. His work also includes serving as an interpreter and translator of scientific information about environmental challenges. 

Presented by Widener University, the Philadelphia Speakers Series is sponsored by WHYY-FM 90.9, Haverford and the Haverford Trust Company.  

For more information about the 2017-2018 Philadelphia Speakers Series, visit

About Widener University

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises seven schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,