Expert on Middle East to Keynote Model Arab League Conference

James Phillips, Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at The Heritage Foundation, will deliver the keynote address at the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (ARMAL) conference, which will be held November 6 – 8 at Hollins University.

Phillips will speak at the Opening Plenary session on Friday, November 6, at 5:30 p.m. in Hollins’ Dana Science Building. His appearance is made possible by a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation.

Hollins Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch, coordinator for this year’s ARMAL conference, said Phillips is one of Washington’s foremost experts on the Middle East and the author of dozens of papers and hundreds of op-eds and blog posts on the Arabic-speaking world.

“Phillips will speak about the failure of socialism in the Arab world, and make suggestions for dealing with the aftermath of the Arab Spring. He’ll provide a fascinating perspective on the region for the delegates,” Lynch said.

Model Arab League is the flagship student leadership development program sponsored by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR). ARMAL brings together college and high school students from the Appalachia Region to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners. Students act as representatives from Arabic-speaking countries ranging from Morocco to Iraq. At this year’s conference, they will discuss political, economic, social, and environmental issues, as well as the future of the Palestinian people and the vital matter of relations with the State of Israel.

In addition to Hollins, students from Converse College, Fairmont State University, Jacksonville State University, and Washington and Jefferson College are participating, as are local students from Roanoke Catholic High School and William Byrd High School.

ARMAL is one of 22 Model Arab League conferences sponsored each year by NCUSAR. The conference opening session is free and open to the public.

Jane Goodall Tells a Hollins Audience Why She Still Has Hope for Our Planet

She may have turned 81 earlier this month, but Jane Goodall still spends 300 days a year traveling the world on a mission to educate people of all ages about Earth’s environmental crises and the many threats to humans and animals alike.

“I’m finding young people who don’t have much hope for the future, who have become apathetic, depressed, and angry. They say, ‘You older generations have compromised our future and there’s nothing we can do about it.’

“Maybe its wishful thinking, some biologists will tell you it’s too late to change the way things are going, we just have to adapt to a world that’s getting worse and worse. But I think there’s a window of time where we can bring about change.”

The noted primatologist and conservationist brought her message of hope to Hollins University on April 20 and spoke before an audience that filled both the Hollins Theatre and duPont Chapel, where her address was simulcast. The event was sponsored by the university’s Distinguished Speakers Fund.

Goodall began her one-hour-and-twelve-minute address with captivating stories of growing up in London during World War II and her mother’s invaluable role in “the making of a little scientist: curiosity, deciding to find out for yourself, asking questions, learning patience. A different type of mother might have crushed that. I might not be standing here today. She supported my love of animals throughout my childhood, and she helped me find books about animals because she thought it would help me to learn quicker.”

Two books in particular had a profound impact on Goodall: Doctor Doolittle (“The first book I actually owned. I still have it. I pretended to my friends that I could actually understand the birds, the cats, the dogs. I interpreted their sounds.”) and Tarzan of the Apes, which “began my dream. I would grow up, go to Africa, live with animals, and write books about them. Everybody laughed at me – I was just a girl. Those careers, those adventures, were for boys. But my mother supported this dream. What she said to me is what I say to young people around the world, whether they are rich or poor, whichever country they live in: If you have a dream, she said, you must be prepared to work very hard. You must take advantage of opportunity. You must never give up.”

When she was 23, Goodall’s dream began coming to fruition. She got a job in Nairobi, Kenya, and subsequently met the famed anthropologist and paleontologist Louis Leakey. She impressed Leakey with her extensive knowledge of animals in Africa and convinced him she was the person he was seeking to live with and study the chimpanzee in what is now Tanzania. He secured funding to support six months of research, but as Goodall explained, there was another obstacle to overcome.

“Tanzania was still part of the British Empire, and British authorities were not prepared to give permission to this young girl to go out into this potentially dangerous forest with potentially dangerous animals. Nobody really knew anything about chimpanzees except they’re much stronger than us. Leakey never gave up and in the end the authorities said, ‘She can come, but she has to have a companion.’ Who came with me? That same amazing mother.”

At that time, it was widely thought that only humans made and used tools. Goodall’s observation that chimpanzees were also proficient with tools caught the attention of the National Geographic Society, which offered to continue funding her research. This set the stage for decades of ground-breaking work in studying chimpanzees’ complex social structure, research that earned her worldwide acclaim.

Goodall said she became an environmental activist after attending a conference in Chicago in the mid-80s with other chimpanzee researchers. “We had a session on conservation, which was shocking. All across Africa, chimpanzees were losing their habitats, their numbers were plummeting, forests were being destroyed. Since October 1986 I haven’t been more than three weeks consecutively in any one place.” She dedicated herself to “learning more and more about all these terrifying things we are doing to the planet. Many people don’t know. We don’t know the extent to which we are polluting this planet. We don’t know the extent to which industrial, agricultural, and household chemicals are being washed down into the streams and rivers and finally ending up in the oceans. We don’t realize the extent of human population growth.”

Even though she wonders, “How is it that the most intellectual creature that has ever walked on the planet is destroying its only home?”, Goodall offered five reasons why she still believes the challenges Earth faces can be addressed:

  • Roots & Shoots. This youth program, which Goodall launched in Tanzania in 1991, began with 12 students from nine different high schools. Today, Roots & Shoots is in 113 countries and consists of almost 100,000 groups encompassing pre-schoolers to university students. Their only mandate is to pursue projects that help people, animals, the environment, or any combination of the three. “From the beginning, Roots & Shoots groups have decided for themselves what to do,” Goodall explained. “These young people have the most amazing ideas. Once they know the problems and we empower them to take action, they roll up their sleeves and get out there. There are hundreds of problems in the world today, and all the places I go, there are groups of children wanting to solve them.”
  • The Human Brain. “We’ve done some pretty bad things with our brain, but we shouldn’t be in the mess we’re in. You know what we’re capable of doing,” Goodall said, citing breakthroughs in technology. “The problem, I think, is a disconnect between the human brain and the human heart. That can lead to serious problems. I truly believe that only when head and heart live in harmony can we reach our true human potential. And our potential is huge.”
  • Nature’s Resilience. “We can utterly destroy a place. But with a lot of hard work, it can be restored.” Goodall described the transformation that occurred in the region surrounding Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park. “The land around Gombe was bare hills. It was clear there were more people living there than the land could support. The land was over-farmed and infertile. The people were struggling to survive.” Fifteen years after introducing a community-centered conservation program, Goodall said those hills were green once again, and the chimpanzees native to the area had three times more forest for their habitat than when the project began.
  • Social Media. “I was in a climate march in New York last September with 400,000 people,” Goodall recalled. “Only 100,000 were expected. All around me were people with their iPads, iPhones. They were on Twitter and Facebook and they were telling their friends to come. And you could see them coming. Ten years ago, we might get a couple of hundred people coming to a march or demonstration or signing a petition. But now, you have hundreds of thousands by using social media. Of course it can be used for bad ends, but it’s also an incredibly powerful tool to make the world a better place, and it’s increasingly being used that way.”
  • “The Indomitable Human Spirit.” “You matter as an individual. You can make a difference. You can succeed even when it appears fate is against you,” Goodall implored. “Every single one of us in this room has this magical potential within us. We have to learn to let it free, let it fly, have faith in it, and not give up. When that starts to happen, the world will change.”

For more information about Goodall’s work and the Jane Goodall Institute, visit

Social Entrepreneur Nancy Lublin to Keynote 2015 Career Connection Conference CEO Nancy Lublin, named by Fortune magazine as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” will deliver the keynote address at Hollins University’s 2015 Career Connection Conference (C3) on October 19.

Lublin’s approach to business, teens, and technology has transcended the not-for-profit world. Under her leadership, is currently among the largest youth organizations in America, leveraging Facebook, texting, and Twitter to engage more than 3.6 million teens in its campaigns. Considered an expert in digital marketing, youth culture, and change management, Lublin was named one of 2014’s Social Entrepreneurs of the Year by The Schwab Foundation, and Fast Company called her one of the “most creative people in business.”

Lublin is the author of  Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business and has been featured on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, and CNN, and in People, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist.

Each fall, C3 brings Hollins students and alumnae together for an array of panels, workshops, presentations, and networking opportunities. Alumnae share how they translated their liberal arts education into satisfying careers and also provide tips, tools, and tricks of the trade to land that first job. Approximately 75 alumnae participated in the 2014 C3 event.

Hollins Alumna and One of America’s Most Dynamic Pastors to Speak at 173rd Commencement

Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale ’75, founding and senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia, will be the guest speaker at Hollins University’s 173rd Commencement Exercises, which will be held Sunday, May 24, at 10 a.m. on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

A number of accomplishments highlight Hale’s distinguished 36-year career in the ministry. In 2004, she established Elah Pastoral Ministries, Inc., a mentoring program that assists in the spiritual as well as practical development of pastors and para-church leaders. The following year, she convened her first Women in Ministry conference, which develops, coaches, and mentors Christian women in ministry for the 21st century. She is a contributing writer for Power in the Pulpit II: How America’s Most Effective Black Preachers Prepare Their Sermons, and Feasting on the Gospels, a preaching resource series. In 2010, she authored her first book, I’m a Piece of Work: Sisters Shaped by God. Ray of Hope Christian Church has been cited in the book, Excellent Protestant Congregations: Guide to Best Places and Practices.

Hale has been recognized nationally and internationally for her leadership, integrity, and compassion. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. She has been honored by the National Urban League and is a recipient of the inaugural “Women of Power” award. In July 2012, she received the Preston Taylor Living Legacy Award at the 22nd Biennial Session of the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The following November, Ebony magazine named her one of the Power 100, a yearly compilation of the most influential African Americans in the country.

In addition to earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hollins, Hale holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University and a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary.

Hale presently serves on the Hollins University Board of Trustees and the Board of Visitors at Duke Divinity School. She is chairperson of the Board of Directors at both Beulah Heights University and City of Hope Ministries, Inc. She is also secretary for the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference.


Hollins to Celebrate a “Banquet of the Mind” in 2012-13

COKIE ROBERTSHollins University is featuring an array of renowned writers, scholars, and commentators as part of  ”Banquet of the Mind,” a series of special events occurring throughout the 2012-13 academic year.

The theme for this year’s programming is based on a famous quote from Homer’s The Odyssey: “Discourse, the sweeter banquet of the mind.”

The following are among the highlights of the 2012-13 events calendar:

  • Acclaimed author Ann Patchett presents a lecture and reading on Tuesday, September 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hollins Theatre. Patchett’s novels include the New York Times best-selling Run; The Patron Saint of Liars, which was a New York Times notable book of the year; Taft, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize; and Bel Canto, which received the PEN/Faulkner Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Of her most recent work, State of Wonder, NPR said, “If you’re looking for an escape that doesn’t abandon literary elegance, this is it,” while the New York Times called it “generous, fearless, and startlingly wise.” Hollins chose State of Wonder as this year’s common summer reading for the university’s incoming first-year students.
  • Hollins commemorates the 50th anniversary of the university’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter with UCLA Distinguished Professor of Geography and Professor of Italian John Agnew on Wednesday, September 26 at 7 p.m. in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center’s Niederer Auditorium. In his lecture, “Immigration Rules and Citizenship: How Immigration Rules Relate to Different Conceptions of Nationality Around the World,” Agnew lays out a framework for understanding immigration “management” and illustrates it with case studies from Italy, South Korea, Mexico, and the United States.
  • ABC News and NPR political analyst Cokie Roberts (pictured above) comes to Hollins on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, to speak at 7:30 p.m. in Hollins Theatre. In her more than 40 years in broadcasting, Roberts has won numerous awards, including three Emmys. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting. In 2008 the Library of Congress named her a “Living Legend,” one of the very few Americans to have attained that honor. Roberts’ book, We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters, an account of women’s roles and relationships throughout American history, was a number one best-seller.
  • Sarah Vowell, the best-selling author of six nonfiction books on American history and culture, delivers a talk on Thursday, March 28, 2013, at 7 p.m. in the Hollins Theatre. Vowell was a contributing editor for Public Radio International’s This American Life from 1996-2008 and is a frequent guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Late Show with David Letterman. She was the voice of teen superhero Violet Parr in the Academy Award-winning animated film, The Incredibles. Vowell has been a columnist for, Time, and  San Francisco Weekly, and writes occasional essays for the opinion page of the New York Times.

Admission to these programs is free and open to the public. For more information about all the ”Banquet of the Mind” events at Hollins, visit

What Happened to Washington? Cokie Roberts Shares Her Insights in Hollins Address

COKIE ROBERTSAs the daughter of two former members of Congress who has gone on to enjoy a celebrated career in journalism covering and analyzing politics in the nation’s capital, Cokie Roberts says there is one question she gets asked all the time: “What happened to make Washington as poisonous as it is?”

Roberts discussed why America is in the midst of “a very, very, very partisan and polarized time” before a capacity crowd at Hollins Theatre on January 29, drawing upon more than forty years in broadcasting that have included serving as the congressional correspondent at NPR for more than a decade and co-anchoring the weekly ABC News interview program, This Week. Currently she is a political commentator for ABC, providing analysis for all network news programming, and a contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition.

Roberts is the daughter of the late Hale Boggs, a Democratic congressman from Louisiana who was Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, and Lindy Boggs, who served in Congress from 1973 to 1991 and was subsequently appointed Ambassador to the Vatican by President Bill Clinton.

The Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame inductee cited several factors she believes have contributed to today’s dysfunctional political climate, beginning with the loss of the camaraderie that existed after World War II between Democratic and Republican members of Congress.

“These men literally were in the trenches together,” Roberts explained. “There was an enormous Republican class of 1946 followed by an enormous Democratic class of 1948, and they ran as the men who went and not the men who sent. They were self-conscious veterans, they had gone to war together, and there was shared sacrifice. No one really thought of the guy across the aisle as the enemy. They thought about the dictator across the sea as the enemy, and the Cold War kept that going for a good while.”

Roberts noted that members of Congress once brought their families with them to Washington to live, which helped foster close relationships regardless of party affiliation. She, the daughter of a Democratic leader, was best friends with the daughter of a Republican leader in Congress.

“That doesn’t happen anymore because the families aren’t here. Part of the reason is economic, but a huge reason for that is that Washington has been characterized as this evil place, ‘Sodom on the Potomac.’”

Roberts also took the media to task. “We give our microphones to the shrillest voices so they’ll come in and yell at each other, and it’s considered ‘good TV.’ And that’s just the mainstream media. We’re not even talking about the outlets that are all one way or all the other way and just fortify people’s views they already hold without hearing a contradictory thought.”

But one of the biggest problems according to Roberts is gerrymandering, a tactic that has been employed since the early nineteenth century but through technology is now being used to an unprecedented degree to place like-minded citizens in the same congressional district. “Members of Congress choose their voters rather than voters choosing their members of Congress. They never have to worry about a general election, so they never have to talk to somebody in the other party, they never have to compromise with somebody in the other party. All they worry about, for the Democrats on the left and the Republicans on the right, is that somebody is going to challenge them in a primary for not being pure enough, for not being left enough or right enough. The polarization just gets greater and greater and greater as a result.”

This situation perpetuates another obstacle to effective government, what Roberts called “the permanent campaign” where “somebody is always running, there’s always some outside group that’s ready to attack, or looking for someone else to support if they think that you have gone off orthodoxy from their perspective in any way.”

Roberts observed that in particular, “Republicans are very nervous about their future right now” because they are faring poorly with Hispanic, African American, and female voters and only continuing to draw solid support from white men, a shrinking demographic. But, she emphasized, “I have been around a very long time covering this, and the number of times I have seen a requiem sung for a political party is huge. It’s been both political parties at different times over the last several decades. But then they come back because they do pick the smart fights or because some leader comes forward that people respond to. Or, most likely, the other party screws up.

“So, I think it is very much still an alive-and-well two-party system, but it’s going through some throes of trying to understand where America is today and dealing with it.”

Roberts’ lecture was presented by Hollins’ Distinguished Speakers Series. In December 2001, the university received an anonymous gift to support bringing to campus leading national and international experts from a variety of fields. The goal of the Distinguished Speakers Series is to enlighten students, faculty, and the community at large, whether their interests lie in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, or fine arts.

Hollins’ Class of 2013 Encouraged at 171st Commencement, “What is Wrong with the World Can be Fixed.”

2013_commencementEducator and humanitarian Johnnetta Cole told graduates, “You must not only believe that change can happen, you must be instruments for that change,” during Hollins University’s 171st Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 19.

Hollins conferred 156 bachelor’s degrees and 61 master’s degrees during the ceremony, which commenced under cloudy skies on the university’s historic Front Quadrangle and persevered despite a steady shower that began roughly an hour into the program.

Cole, this year’s guest speaker, has enjoyed a distinguished career as an anthropologist, author, teacher, and college leader, during which she has been committed to achieving the goals of racial and gender equality. She made history in 1987 when she became the first African American woman to serve as president of Spelman College, a post she held for ten years. She then returned to teaching, spending three years as Emory University’s Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women’s Studies, and African American Studies. In 2002, she was appointed president of Bennett College for Women, where she founded the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute, whose mission is to create, communicate, and continuously support the case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace through education, training, research, and publications. Currently, she is director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, the only national museum in the United States dedicated to the collection, exhibition, conservation, and study of the arts of Africa.

Cole reminded the class of 2013, “Here at Hollins University you have received a quality education. That means you have come to better understand the world, and you understand your responsibility to whatever you can to help make our world a better place.” She emphasized “the power of community service to transform lives and strengthen communities” and urged graduates to “act on the basic principle that doing for others is just the rent you must pay for your room on Earth.”

Cole cited Martin Luther King, Jr., and his philosophy on service (“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve”), and concluded with Sojourner Truth’s message to a gathering of 19th century suffragettes (“…if one woman, one day in a garden, could get the world turned upside down, then it seems to me that all the women in here can get it right side up again”).

“We are counting on you,” she told the graduates, “to be the kind of leaders that will help get the world right side up again.”

Following Cole’s address, Thomas Barron, chair of Hollins’ Board of Trustees, awarded her the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of her personal and career accomplishments.

Four graduating seniors were honored during the ceremony for their academic achievements. Cara Jean Bailey, Jaclyn June Donnelly, Courtney Kathleen Flerlage, and Kailen Marie Kinsey each received the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence. Bailey, Donnelly, and Flerlage tied for the highest grade point average among this year’s graduates, which Kinsey had the second highest academic standing in the class of 2013.

The following awards were also presented at this year’s commencement:

  • The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, recognizes members of the campus community who have shown by daily living those qualities that evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women. This year’s honorees are senior Melissa Amanda Jane Wilson and Celia McCormick, director of the Horizon program.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award, established by the late Mrs. William A. Anderson in memory of her mother, is presented to the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins. Bethany O’Neil is this year’s recipient.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, honoring a member of the class of 1911, recognizes a junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is pre-eminent in character. Senior Kelsey DeForest was presented this year’s award.
  • The Hollins University Teaching Award, supported by an endowment established by Mary Bernhardt Decker ’58 and her late husband, James DeWitt Becker, honors secondary school teachers who have devoted their lives to preparing students to achieve and excel in a higher education setting. Each year, Hollins seniors are invited to nominate the teachers who inspired them or contributed significantly to their intellectual and personal growth. This year’s winner, nominated by two graduating seniors, Elizabeth Hatcher and Molly Meador, is Tim Sauls, MALS ’09, English teacher and chair of the English department at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke County.

“Orange is the New Black” Star Laverne Cox Comes to Hollins for Sold-Out Appearance

A sold-out Hollins Theatre welcomed critically acclaimed actress and transgender advocate Laverne Cox to campus on Sunday, September 28.

The star of the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black talked about the importance of moving beyond gender expectations to live more authentically.

Cox is the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show. She plays Sophia Burset, an incarcerated African American transgender woman whom Time magazine named the fourth most influential fictional character of 2013.

In July, Cox was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, thus becoming the first transgender actress to receive an Emmy nomination.

Cox won Best Supporting Actress at the 2013 Massachusetts Independent Film Festival for her work in the acclaimed film Musical Chairs. Her other acting credits include the television series Law and Order, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Bored to Death, as well as the independent films Carla and The Exhibitionists.

Cox’s insights have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NPR, HLN, and VH1. She was named one of Out magazine’s “Out 100,” one of the country’s top 50 trans icons by The Huffington Post, and one of Metro Source magazine’s “55 People We Love.” Her critical writings have appeared in The Advocate and The Huffington Post.

Cox’s appearance at Hollins was sponsored by the Hollins Activity Board and the Darci Ellis Godhard Fund for Social Justice.

Sen. Mark Warner Talks with Hollins Students about Debt, Entrepreneurship, and Learning from Failure

warnerFielding a wide range of questions, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) engaged via Skype with students from the Hollins business department’s Ethical Leadership class on April 30.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Business Kari Munro welcomed Warner, who reminded students, “I was a business guy longer than I’ve been a politician.” He spoke of starting two businesses after completing his undergraduate and law school education that “failed miserably” – one in energy and the other in real estate – before achieving success in the cellular telephone industry and as a venture capitalist who invested in high-tech companies.

Warner went on to serve as Governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006. He has been a member of the U.S. Senate for the past five years, where he said “the single issue I’ve been most obsessed with is how we deal with our national debt, which is 17 trillion dollars.” He noted that the issue has a profound effect on college students because “if we don’t have a budget deal we’ll rapidly squeeze the ability of your government to make any kind of investments in education, infrastructure, or research, which is just a bad business plan.”

Warner added that Congress owed it to the women in the class “to leave them a balance sheet where you can still get things done.”

Students then queried Warner about what he learned from his business failures (“You shouldn’t be afraid to fail, people’s lives are generally improved by failure if they can learn from the experience.”); how his college years influenced his career path (“The one thing I wish I would have done in college is more writing.”); and dealing with conflicts between ethical principles and the law (“There’s no better time than college to simulate these situations and wrestle with them. You’re going to confront these kinds of choices in any walk of life.”)

A question about the Pay It Forward program in Oregon, which has been proposed as an alternative to student loans in that state, prompted Warner to talk about the explosion of student debt nationally. While he said he would “want to look at the Oregon program a little more, see what kind of track record it gets” before advocating it in Virginia, he touted a federal program that bases loan repayment on income. “I am looking at how we might expand that program. I want to make sure young people have the opportunity to try to be entrepreneurs. If I had $50,000 debt from college I’m not sure I would have taken that second or third chance, or even that first chance.

“As I travel around Virginia, I get more questions about student debt than Obamacare. If we don’t get ahead of this, it’s going to be the next fiscal crisis. Right now in America, there’s more student debt than credit card debt.”

Warner concluded the twenty-minute session by urging the students to participate in the democratic process. “This is your country every bit as much as it is mine. Your voices have got to be heard. The thing our country needs now are rational people of goodwill in both political parties. If you guys don’t vote, if you guys don’t get involved, we leave too many of the decisions to the outliers. That’s not healthy if we’re going to make sure our country is still the kind of place where everybody gets [a] fair shot.”

From Hollins to Hollywood: Alumna Who Heads Top Entertainment Company to Speak at 172nd Commencement

goldsmithveinEllen Goldsmith-Vein ’84, whose talents as an entertainment manager and producer have established her as one of Hollywood’s most powerful women, will be the guest speaker at Hollins University’s 172nd Commencement Exercises, which will be held Sunday, May 25 at 10 a.m. on the school’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Goldsmith-Vein is the owner and CEO of The Gotham Group, which represents 500 of the most creative minds in show business. Among the top writers, directors, and producers on their client list are David Gordon Green (The Sitter, Pineapple Express, Snow Angels); Danny Strong (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Hunger Games); Steve Buscemi; Henry Selick (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas); Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents); Brian Percival (Downton Abbey, The Book Thief); and Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory, Parks & Recreation).

Goldsmith-Vein and The Gotham Group have also produced a prestigious slate of film and television projects, a list that most recently includes Camp X-Ray with Kristen Stewart, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival; Life of Crime, an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel Switch starring Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins; The Maze Runner, based on the highly successful Young Adult novels by James Dashner; and Go With Me, featuring Anthony Hopkins and Sam Worthington.

As the only woman to own her own entertainment management agency completely, Goldsmith-Vein was the first talent manager ever featured on the cover of the “Power 100” special issue of The Hollywood Reporter in 2006. She has been nominated for a primetime Emmy Award and won an Annie Award in 2008. Girls, Inc., a national nonprofit youth organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, honored Goldsmith-Vein for her work and contribution to the arts. In 2013, Hollins President Nancy Gray presented her with the university’s Distinguished Alumnae Award.

The Hollywood Reporter published a profile of Goldsmith-Vein as part of their “Women in Entertainment: Power 100” in 2011.