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James Comey, Gloria Steinem, and Dave Barry among lineup for 2018-19 Philadelphia Speakers Series

Philadelphia Speakers Series

The 2018-19 season will offer seven evenings of thought-provoking conversation.

The Philadelphia Speakers Series today announced that James Comey, Gloria Steinem,Jeb Bush and Dave Barry are among the distinguished personalities coming to Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts during the 2018/2019 season, setting the stage for another year of record-setting attendance.Presented by Widener University and featuring some of today’s most celebrated, influential and sometimes controversial characters, the 2018-2019 Series will offer a total of seven evenings of thought-provoking perspectives and lively intellectual entertainment. The complete list of presenters, in order of appearance, follows. 

Oct. 1, 2018: James Comey - The 2018-2019 series will kick off withwhat’s sure to be a fascinating presentation by Comey, whowas appointed Deputy US Attorney General by President George W. Bush; appointed FBI Director in 2013 by President Obama; and, ultimately, fired in 2017 by President Trump amidst political storms regarding the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Comey’s firing and public statements led, in part, to the appointment of a special investigator, Robert Mueller. 

Oct. 22, 2018: Lisa Genova -  A neuroscientist who received her Ph.D. from Harvard, Genova will take the stage to engage the audience with an insightful discussion about the human brain and neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, and what we can do to prevent them. She has written several books, including the best-selling novel Still Alice, which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. 

Nov. 12, 2018: Gloria Steinem: Attendees will get a first-hand perspective from journalist and political activist Gloria Steinem, an internationally recognized icon of the women’s liberation movement. Steinem, who was a columnist for New York magazine and co-founded Ms. magazine in 1972, has also helped launch many organizations to advocate for women’s issues, including the Women’s Media Center.

Jan. 28, 2019: Jeb Bush - Florida’s only two-term Republican governor, Jeb Bush, served in that position from 1999-2007 and returned to the political spotlight in 2016, as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Bush serves as Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national nonprofit organization he founded to transform education in America. His presentation will draw on his storied political, professional and personal life. 

Feb. 25, 2019: Bryan Stevenson - As founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson has challenged bias in the criminal justice system and helped achieve court decisions that prohibit sentencing children under the age of 18 to death or life imprisonment without parole. Audience members will appreciate his impassioned thoughts on this important topic and reflections on his memoir, Just Mercy, which was featured as one of Time magazine’s “10 Best Books of Nonfiction” in 2014. 

March 18, 2019: Ian Bremmer – Founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research firm, Bremmer will share insights from his years of providing analysis and expertise to diplomats and heads of state on how political developments and national security dynamics impact financial markets across the globe. He is regularly featured on CNN and the BBC and is a foreign affairs columnist for Time

April 29, 2019: Dave Barry – Wrapping up on what is sure to be a humorous note, the 2018-2019 series will conclude with an evening with Dave Barry who, for more than twenty years, wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for The Miami Herald and has won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. He has also written numerous books on humor and parody including his most recent bestseller, Best. State. Ever. 

“We are honored to once again be presenting some of the most recognized leaders in the areas of politics, journalism, healthcare and social justice as part of the Philadelphia Speakers Series,” said Widener President Dr. Julie E. Wollman. “Widener is committed to developing the leaders of tomorrow, and we believe that hearing from, and engaging with, diverse, dynamic leaders who are shaping our world today can help to build on the unique skills being instilled in our students at Widener’s Oskin Leadership Institute and enrich the lives of others in attendance at these memorable evenings.” 

Tickets for the 2018-2019 Philadelphia Speakers Series are available now by visiting or by calling 215-893-1955. As in years past, the series is sold by subscription, with subscribers guaranteed admission to hear all seven dynamic speakers. Subscriptions for the entire series range from $295 - $535. All presentations will begin at 8 p.m. and each includes a spirited Q&A period during which the speaker addresses questions from the audience. 

Presented by Widener University, the Philadelphia Speakers Series is sponsored by WHYY-FM 90.9 and the Haverford Trust Company.  For more information about the 2018-2019 Philadelphia Speakers Series, visit