They speak volumes

The guest lecturers in the New Jersey Speakers Series are fine ones to talk.   


The New Jersey Speakers Series at NJPAC always has an answer for the just-suppose question, “Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party?”


Presented by Fairleigh Dickinson University, the New Jersey Speakers Series is composed of seven talks held on Thursday evenings, featuring leaders from the realms of world affairs, politics, media, arts and entertainment, and history. Each season, from October to April, series subscribers get to feast on the words of some of the most engaging thinkers of our time.


So going back to the original question, take a look at who’s on the latest guest list.


For the third season (2016-17), the lineup includes Ehud Barak, John Cleese, Gen. (Ret.) Martin Dempsey, Ted Koppel, Jon Meacham and Rita Moreno. In addition, three high-profile journalists and activists share the stage for an especially relevant discussion of “Racism in America.”


Each program is scheduled from 8 to 9:30pm and concludes in a Q&A with questions submitted by the audience. Tickets cannot be purchased to lectures individually, however; subscriptions are sold for the entire series only. This guarantees your seat in Prudential Hall for when the house is full.


In previous years, audiences learned where Diana Nyad found inspiration for her swim from Havana to Key West and how Frank Abagnale conned airlines into believing he was a pilot. Just a few of the other pacesetters included newsman Dan Rather, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.


“The series enables us to extend our reach and bring voices of inspiration and enlightenment to the community,” says Rick Reiss, Senior Vice President for University Advancement at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for our audiences to get to know these wonderful personalities as they share their unique stories with us. And it’s always gratifying to see our subscribers’ reactions to a speaker.


“One subscriber wrote, after last season’s lecture with Diana Nyad, ‘It was very exciting to hear, first person, an experience that only one individual in the whole world has ever had, and right from that person’s mouth – live!’”


Here are some details about the upcoming programs. Whether they focus on the nation’s current issues or their personal lifework, these sought-after speakers are out to make you laugh, ponder and discuss.


Rita Moreno
Oscar-winning actress, singer and dancer
October 6

Her latest project is the Latino remake of the sitcom One Day at a Time and her stage career began at the age of 13 in Broadway’s Skydrift with Eli Wallach. Beloved as Anita in West Side Story, Rita Moreno has enjoyed a nearly 70-year career in acting and recording. She is one of only eight living performers who has won the EGOT grand slam: Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar and Tony awards.


Ehud Barak
Former Prime Minister of Israel
October 27

A global statesman, Ehud Barak is one of the most recognized names in Israeli politics. In addition to serving Israel as its 10th Prime Minister, he was Chief of General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces and Minister of Defense.


“Racism in America”
Panel discussion
December 1

Three much-awarded thought leaders on social issues discuss one of the country’s most crucial topics. Panelists include journalist Michele Norris, former co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered and author of The Grace of Silence: A Memoir, about how America talks about race; Wall Street Journal columnist and Fox News commentator Jason Riley, author of Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed and Let Them In, about U.S. immigration policies; and trial attorney Morris Dees, civil rights activist and founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center with Julian Bond and Joseph Levin.


John Cleese
Co-Founder of Monty Python
January 26

Oscar nominee John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda) is the creator of a unique comedic style, evidenced by the legendary Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers. His talent for integrating humor with psychology and education led him to create Video Arts, the world’s largest provider of business training programs.


Gen. Martin E. Dempsey
Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
February 23

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey retired after 41 years of military service. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was the senior officer in the armed forces and military advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the President. In 2015, TIME magazine named him among the “100 Most Influential Leaders in the World.”


Ted Koppel
Broadcast journalist, former anchor of Nightline
March 23

Ted Koppel embodies the term “eyewitness to history.” Working as a journalist and broadcaster for more than a half-century, this award-winning newsman is known for his 26-year tenure on Nightline and later the Discovery network, BBC America, NBC’s Rock Center and CBS’ Sunday Morning. His most recent bestseller is Lights Out, which examines America’s preparedness for cyber catastrophes.


Jon Meacham
Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian
April 20

A historian and contributing editor at TIME and regular guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Jon Meacham is a skilled raconteur with deep knowledge of politics, religion and current affairs. He is the former editor of Newsweek and the bestselling author of Franklin and Winston and biographies of Presidents George W. Bush, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.


To subscribe to the New Jersey Speakers Series, click here or call 1-888-GO-NJPAC.


Sept. 8, 2016