• politics

Politics & Society Speakers

Lavin’s politics and society speakers are chosen for their ability to cut through spin, bridge the left-right divide, and deliver informed, comprehensive commentary: what are the political trends, how do they affect your industry, and what’s next?

Politics & Society
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Yaël Eisenstat

Former National Security Official | Former Facebook Elections Integrity Head | Berggruen Institute Future of Democracy Fellow | Anti-Defamation League VP

Over the last two decades, Yaël Eisenstat has been a CIA Officer, a U.S. Diplomat, and a special advisor to Vice President Biden. Noticing that more and more Americans were having a hard time finding common ground, she switched her focus from counter-extremism overseas to the dangers back at home—starting with Silicon Valley. Eisenstat’s national security expertise landed her at Facebook, where she had the opportunity to work inside a company playing a major role in one of the biggest threats to our democracy.  Today, Eisenstat helps us navigate the choppy intersection of ethics, technology, society, and politics to create a better future. 
Jonathan Metzl

Physician | Director, Department of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University | Author of Dying of Whiteness

Can racial resentment have an impact on public health? In his explosive book Dying of Whiteness, psychiatrist, sociologist, and award-winning author Jonathan Metzl revealed how right-wing policies, rooted in white supremacy, have had destructive, often fatal consequences on our well-being. As the lopsided effects of the pandemic once again illuminate our inequities, he steers us toward a path of empathy, cooperation, and better health for all. Insightful and provocative, Metzl’s talks are a sorely needed intervention for a society confronting its biases and rebuilding anew.  
Garrett M. Graff

9/11 Expert and Author of The Only Plane in the Sky

One of America’s most distinguished journalists, Garrett M. Graff is a voice of reason within the clamor of hysterical headlines. Graff’s unparalleled instinct for truth makes him the speaker for audiences looking to understand how politics impact business and commerce, from the changing domains of cybersecurity, to the social and economic events that shape our technology.  
Stephen Marche

Novelist and Culture Writer | Author of The Next Civil War

No matter your political leaning, most of us can see America is barreling toward a catastrophe of one kind or another. In The Next Civil War, acclaimed author and journalist Stephen Marche takes a divided nation and vividly breaks down the many threats looming before it—so that we may ensure they never happen. A stunning piece of speculative non-fiction, this book is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of its people, its land, and its democracy.
Jay Van Bavel

Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU | Author of The Power of Us

One of our amazing qualities as human beings is our ability to work together—yet that doesn’t mean it always comes easily to us. Jay Van Bavel is an NYU Professor who studies the psychology and neuroscience behind group identity, team performance, and cooperation. What are the forces that bind us together or keep us apart? And what happens when we can’t agree on a shared vision of reality? Van Bavel explains how our perceptions—social, political, religious—influence the way we see the world and relate to one another.
David Wallace-Wells

Author of the bestseller The Uninhabitable Earth | New York Times columnist

The future is being transformed by climate change, faster and more dramatically than we realized. In his critically-hailed instant New York Times bestseller The Uninhabitable Planet, David Wallace-Wells tells the epic story of our time. He asks key questions—how will the map of global power shift as coastlines are redrawn?—and reminds us that everything is within our control, so long as we resist complacency. 
Andrew Marantz

New Yorker Writer | Author of Antisocial

Social media has hijacked the global conversation. We face an informational crisis that is radicalizing youth, sowing confusion, and shaking democracy to its core. For his book, Antisocial, Andrew Marantz spent four years with the two groups who increasingly control the internet: the founders of social media platforms, and the trolls and conspiracists who use them to advance their toxic agendas. With clarity and courage, Marantz shares how we got into this mess—and how we can get out.
Marc L. Busch

Expert on International Trade Policy and Law | Renowned International Trade Policy Professor

Global trade and the looming “trade wars” are making headlines. But where are we really headed, and why? Marc L. Busch—Georgetown professor, scholar, and consultant—is the expertly unflappable speaker on all things trade; a vital interpreter of the global market.
Emily Bazelon

Author of New York Times Bestselling Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration

Emily Bazelon sheds vital light on the enormous and oft-misused power of the American judicial system in shaping our society. Her crucial research—as explored in both her talks and forthcoming book, Charged—provide a bracing investigation of a criminal justice system with unchecked power, and the remarkable efforts being made to address and reform the national crisis that mass incarceration represents. 
Robb Willer

Prof. of Social Psychology & Organizational Behavior at Stanford | Director of the Polarization and Social Change Lab

Our current political climate hasn’t been this polarized since the Civil War, says social psychologist and speaker Robb Willer. An antidote to this hyper-polarization is Willer’s technique of “moral reframing.” Willer’s brilliant, timely talks provide both the wisdom and tools needed to challenge polarization at a time when we need it more than ever.
Jared Diamond

Pulitzer Prize Winning Author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse, and Upheaval

Jared Diamond is the epitome of a celebrity scientist—a Pulitzer Prize Winner, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and one of the world’s Top 10 Public Intellectuals (Foreign Policy). Now, he reveals a brilliant new theory of how and why some nations recover from traumatic crisis and others don’t—and how we as individuals can learn from this.
Kimberley Motley

International Human Rights Lawyer | Author of Lawless | TED Speaker

Kimberley Motley is the only foreign litigator working in Afghanistan. Armed with an unwavering determination and a passion for justice, she navigates the country’s punitive and capricious legal system with unprecedented success. In keynotes, she talks about the global human rights economy, and how and why we should all pay attention to—and take full advantage of—the rule of law.  
Danielle Wood

Director of MIT’s Space Enabled Research Lab | Assistant Prof. of Media Arts and Sciences

Danielle Wood is taking on the imperative task of using space technology to save Earth. Director of MIT’s cutting-edge Space Enabled Research Lab, Wood uses tools that typically orbit us to advance social good on our home planet. In her talks, Wood shows us how to harness the most complex, cosmic technologies to address the here and now.
Kwame Anthony Appiah

One of America's Leading Public Intellectuals

When it comes to the most pressing social issues of the day, Kwame Anthony Appiah is a touchstone of reason and inclusivity. Asking—and answering—probing questions on morality, ethnicity, and religion as “The Ethicist” for The New York Times Magazine, Appiah is a fearless, lucid arbiter.
Raj Chetty

Economist and MacArthur Genius studying economic inequality

Raj Chetty studies some of the core issues of American society—equality, education, and government policy—through the powerful lens of economics. Chetty has received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and is currently Professor of Economics at Stanford University. 
Annie Lowrey

Author of Give People Money | Contributing Editor at The Atlantic

How is the economy adapting to profound technological advances, such as AI and automation? How are these forces, and many others, redefining the nature of work, the potential of business, even society itself?


James Robinson

Famed Economist and Political Scientist | Co-Author of Why Nations Fail

James Robinson—the co-author of the hard-hitting book, Why Nations Fail—knows why some countries are richer, healthier, and more prosperous than others. In his keynotes, Robinson delves into real-world examples that contrast success and failure among various nations. To thrive economically, a nation needs a strong government, clear incentives for investment, powerful institutions and sound infrastructure.  
Derek Thompson

Host of Plain English | Bestselling Author of Hit Makers | Staff Writer at The Atlantic

As Senior Editor at The Atlantic, Derek Thompson writes on economics and politics, media and money in America today—and always with an expert sense of what’s important. Whether he’s analyzing labor markets, entertainment, or government—or changes in generational spending and voting habits—Thompson offers sophisticated takes that people actually want to read. 
John Ibbitson

Award-winning Journalist and #1 Bestselling Author of Empty Planet

A smaller population has the potential to disrupt our world—for the better—says veteran journalist John Ibbitson. Upending decades of conventional wisdom on the future of population growth, Ibbitson’s talks offer a realistic and in-depth study of demographic shifts—with a hopeful plan for how we can change its shape if we choose to.
George Packer

Bestselling Author of The Unwinding and Last Best Hope | The Atlantic Staff Writer

No one understands the diverse, vibrant, and conflicted American tapestry quite like George Packer. A sterling journalist and National Book Award-winning author, Packer’s New York Times bestselling book, The Unwinding, and now Our Man, offer sweeping analyses of America through the lens of political figures and landmark historical moments. 
Naomi Klein

Author of On Fire, No Is Not Enough, This Changes Everything, The Shock Doctrine, & No Logo

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, columnist, and the #1 international bestselling author of seminal books The Shock Doctrine and No Logo. In her book This Changes Everything, and in powerful new talks, she exposes the myths of the climate debate. 
David Rohde

Online News Director, The New Yorker | Two-Time Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

As News Director of NewYorker.com, David Rohde is at the helm of online news coverage at one of the country’s most respected magazines—a bastion of fact-checked journalism in an era of ‘fake news.’ A two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former war correspondent, Rohde wrestles every day with fairness, facts, online propaganda, and how to respond to the polarization bankrupting our politics. 
Anthony Wilson-Smith

CEO of Historica Canada | Former Editor-in-Chief at MacLean's

Not only is Anthony Wilson-Smith the President and Chief Executive Officer of Historica Canada—known for their iconic Heritage Minutes—he also has a storied, award-winning career in journalism that’s led him to report in more than 35 countries. Much of his career as a journalist was spent with Maclean’s, including serving as Editor-in Chief.
Yascha Mounk

Author of The Great Experiment and The People vs. Democracy | Contributing Editor at The Atlantic | Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins professior, Atlantic magazine contributing editor, and author of The People vs. Democracy—Yascha Mounk conducts engaging, hopeful and incredibly informative talks, explaining exactly how we got here and what we can do to fix it.
Graeme Wood

Staff Writer at The Atlantic | Award-winning author of The Way of the Strangers | Journalist in residence at Yale University

“What ISIS Really Wants.” That’s the title of Graeme Wood’s viral Atlantic cover story, which was the most-read piece on the Internet in 2015. Its influence on how we understand extremism and radicalization cannot be understated. In keynotes, and in his acclaimed book The Way of the Strangers, Wood gives a far-reaching account of the strategy, psychology, and theology driving the Islamic State.
Matt Taibbi

New York Times bestselling author of Hate, Inc., Insane Clown President and The Divide | Rolling Stone Writer

One of the smartest—and funniest—chroniclers of the rise of Trump, growing inequality, and Wall Street excess, Matt Taibbi is also the author of four New York Times bestsellers. In talks, as in his award-winning column for Rolling Stone, Taibbi paints an alarming portrait of politics, media, and culture, providing a way forward against our most urgent crises. 
Shachi Kurl

Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute

Where are we heading—culturally, politically, economically? As the Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute, Shachi Kurl asks important questions and reveals what we really think about them. In clear language, she gets to the heart of major shifts, offers practical takeaways, and shows us why it all matters.


Eric Klinenberg

Author of Palaces for the People and Going Solo

The future of cities and democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on social infrastructure. Drawing on his new book, Palaces for the People, renowned sociologist and bestselling author Eric Klinenberg shows that when social infrastructure is robust, people are more likely to build ties with friends and neighbors and to invest in their communities.
James Fallows

National Correspondent for The Atlantic | National Book Award Winner | Co-Author of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America

James Fallows is one of the world’s most respected journalists—an intrepid, yet sensitive investigator of his world and others, honored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as an elected member for his 50-year career. In his talks, Fallows shares the stories of grassroots innovators—detailing the growth and optimism not usually covered by mainstream media.  
Ian Bremmer

Creator of the Wall Street Global Political Risk Index

Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm. In 1998, Bremmer founded Eurasia Group with just $25,000. Today, the company has offices in New York, Washington, and London, as well as a network of experts and resources around the world. 
Chuck Klosterman

Renowned Cultural Critic | Author of 12 Books, Including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

Pop culture, in all its distracting glitz, isn’t just entertainment. It is culture—American culture. And our most insightful guide is Chuck Klosterman. In his bestselling, culture-defining books, he’s pinned down modern America like no one else. And in fun, funny talks, he not only cuts to the bone of our media-saturated moment, but makes it the site of our shared, unlikely commonality.
Suki Kim

New York Times bestselling author of Without You, There Is No Us, Expert on North Korea

Suki Kim is one of the only writers to ever go undercover in North Korea. An award-winning novelist, Kim’s obsession with the country led her to pursue journalistic assignments there beginning in 2002. Her work sheds new light on a place that has been, for the past 70 years, completely shrouded from the eyes of the world. 
Adam Segal

Director of Cyberspace and Digital Policy at Council on Foreign Relations

Adam Segal is a cybersecurity expert who is at the forefront of this burgeoning field. In his talks and in his new book, The Hacked World Order, he provides meaningful answers to urgent questions about hacking, cyberwar, and surveillance. What’s happening with our data? How can we protect ourselves? And what are the real, imminent cyber threats that exist in our post-Snowden world? 
Lewis MacKenzie

One of the World’s Most Respected Military Heroes

When it comes to being a leader, few people—anywhere in the world—can approach the level of experience and credibility that military hero Major-General (ret’d) Lewis MacKenzie has reached. MacKenzie distills four decades of experience into ten practical and enduring lessons that will enhance anyone’s leadership style.  
Molly Crabapple

Award-Winning Artist and Journalist | Author of Brothers of the Gun

Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer whose work has been described as “God’s own circus posters,” by Rolling Stone. Unabashedly political, she worked with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to create a moving and beautiful short film about the Green New Deal. Crabapple’s art and talks engage injustice, subversiveness, and rebellion.   
Rick Mercer

Host of The Rick Mercer Report for 15 years | Author of Talking to Canadians and Rick Mercer Final Report

Rick Mercer chronicles, satirizes, and ultimately celebrates all that is great and irreverent about this country. A #1 bestselling author, Governor General’s Award-winner for  Lifetime Artistic Achievement, and “Canada’s Unofficial Opposition,” Mercer is a political satirist who knows exactly what matters to regular Canadians and what makes them laugh. 
Diane Francis

Bestselling Author and Editor-at-Large at The National Post

Creating a robust agenda for the development of emerging tech isn’t a frill, but a necessity in the 21st century. An award-winning, bestselling author and futurist, Diane Francis argues for a more effective innovation policy and cultural shift—to build the vibrant venture capitalist infrastructure we need, and to help Canadian entrepreneurs create world-beating companies at home. 
Steven Pinker

One of the World's Top Public Intellectuals | Author of Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters | Harvard Professor

Steven Pinker asks the big questions about human progress—and sets out, in public, to answer them. In 2018’s Enlightenment Now, Pinker argues that, despite the headlines, the world is getting better, not worse. In optimistic keynotes, full of sharp wit, common sense, and dazzling argumentation, Pinker makes the case for reason, science, and humanism.  
Deborah Fallows

Co-author of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America

Writer Deborah Fallows has turned her careful observations and beautiful prose to the small towns and industries that shape the United States. In her New York Times bestseller Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, Fallows documents a five-year journey across the country, profiling the grassroots re-invention rarely covered in the mainstream media.