Centennial Speakers Series

Throughout the year, we welcome a group of extraordinary authors, artists, and thought leaders as members of the Centennial Speaker Series. The series is designed to expose students to ideas and entertainment that will provoke thought and stretch their understanding on a range of real-world topics and issues. These guests provide our students with an opportunity to connect what they learn about in class with the outside world, and affords them an opportunity to experience life outside of Hun- even without stepping foot off campus. Past speakers have included congressmen, ocean explorers, professors, YouTube stars, performers, and poets. 

Upcoming Centennial Speakers Series Events

Recent Speakers

Angélique Kidjo

Grammy award-winning singer, activist, and humanitarian Angélique Kidjo electrifies audiences around the world with the strength of her voice, the power of her words, and the intensity of her performance. One of The Guardian's 100 most inspiring women in the world, Ms. Kidjo speaks out for human rights and female empowerment as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and through op-eds for CNN and The New York Times.

Ms. Kidjo comes from the West African country of Benin. Logozo, her breakthrough album, hit #1 on the Billboard World Music Charts. She topped Billboard again in 2014 with her Grammy-winning album, Eve. Ms. Kidjo has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and Philip Glass, and has been personally requested to perform by President Barack Obama.

Ms. Kidjo has worked with UNICEF, raising awareness for such causes as gender equality, education, and conservation. She founded The Batonga Foundation in 2007, which provides secondary education to girls across Africa and empowers the female leaders of tomorrow. 

Grammy award-winning singer, activist, and humanitarian Angélique Kidjo electrifies audiences around the world with the strength of her voice, the power of her words, and the intensity of her performance. One of The Guardian's 100 most inspiring women in the world, Ms. Kidjo speaks out for human rights and female empowerment as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and through op-eds for CNN and The New York Times.

Ms. Kidjo comes from the West African country of Benin. Logozo, her breakthrough album, hit #1 on the Billboard World Music Charts. She topped Billboard again in 2014 with her Grammy-winning album, Eve. Ms. Kidjo has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and Philip Glass, and has been personally requested to perform by President Barack Obama.

Ms. Kidjo has worked with UNICEF, raising awareness for such causes as gender equality, education, and conservation. She founded The Batonga Foundation in 2007, which provides secondary education to girls across Africa and empowers the female leaders of tomorrow. 

Congressman John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon and one of the key figures of the American civil rights movement. He is also the author of March, a graphic novel trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. It is a vivid first-hand account of Congressman Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in his personal story, it also reflects the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. 

“Congressman John Lewis has been a resounding moral voice in the quest for equality for more than 50 years, and I’m so pleased that he is sharing his memories of the Civil Rights Movement with America’s young leaders. In March, he brings a whole new generation with him across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, from a past of clenched fists into a future of outstretched hands.” - President Bill Clinton

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon and one of the key figures of the American civil rights movement. He is also the author of March, a graphic novel trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. It is a vivid first-hand account of Congressman Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in his personal story, it also reflects the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. 

“Congressman John Lewis has been a resounding moral voice in the quest for equality for more than 50 years, and I’m so pleased that he is sharing his memories of the Civil Rights Movement with America’s young leaders. In March, he brings a whole new generation with him across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, from a past of clenched fists into a future of outstretched hands.” - President Bill Clinton

Nina Tandon

Nina Tandon is CEO and co-founder of EpiBone, the world’s first company growing living human bones for skeletal reconstruction. She works on growing artificial hearts and bones that can be put into the body, and studies the new frontier of biotech: homes, textiles, and video games made of cells. She is a TED Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union. She has a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from the Cooper Union, a Master’s in Bioelectrical Engineering from MIT, a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, and an MBA from Columbia University. Her PhD research focused on studying electrical signaling in the context of tissue engineering, and has worked with cardiac, skin, bone, and neural tissue.

Nina Tandon is CEO and co-founder of EpiBone, the world’s first company growing living human bones for skeletal reconstruction. She works on growing artificial hearts and bones that can be put into the body, and studies the new frontier of biotech: homes, textiles, and video games made of cells. She is a TED Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union. She has a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from the Cooper Union, a Master’s in Bioelectrical Engineering from MIT, a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, and an MBA from Columbia University. Her PhD research focused on studying electrical signaling in the context of tissue engineering, and has worked with cardiac, skin, bone, and neural tissue.

Casey Neistat

Casey Owen Neistat is a YouTube personality, filmmaker, and vlogger with 11.5 million subscribers.

In 2003 Casey Neistat and his brother Van created a watchdog video called “iPod’s Dirty Secret,” highlighting the device’s 18-month battery life. The brothers documented their customer service calls, during which they learned that the only available option was to buy a new iPod. The video went viral, and Mr. Neistat became a star.

Today, his videos earn upwards of 24 million views, each. People magazine wrote, “There’s an adventurer in all of us. But if you’re stuck at home, you can always live vicariously through Casey Neistat.”

Mr. Neistat launched a mobile app in July of 2015 called Beme. He made headlines in November of 2016 when the app and the team behind were acquired by CNN

Casey Owen Neistat is a YouTube personality, filmmaker, and vlogger with 11.5 million subscribers.

In 2003 Casey Neistat and his brother Van created a watchdog video called “iPod’s Dirty Secret,” highlighting the device’s 18-month battery life. The brothers documented their customer service calls, during which they learned that the only available option was to buy a new iPod. The video went viral, and Mr. Neistat became a star.

Today, his videos earn upwards of 24 million views, each. People magazine wrote, “There’s an adventurer in all of us. But if you’re stuck at home, you can always live vicariously through Casey Neistat.”

Mr. Neistat launched a mobile app in July of 2015 called Beme. He made headlines in November of 2016 when the app and the team behind were acquired by CNN

Dan Harris

Dan Harris is co-anchor of both Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America on ABC News. He is also the author of 10% Happier, a #1 New York Times bestselling book about a fidgety, skeptical news anchor who stumbles upon mediation.

After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Mr. Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Mr. Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had both propelled him through the ranks of a hyper-competitive business and also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.

Dan Harris is co-anchor of both Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America on ABC News. He is also the author of 10% Happier, a #1 New York Times bestselling book about a fidgety, skeptical news anchor who stumbles upon mediation.

After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Mr. Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Mr. Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had both propelled him through the ranks of a hyper-competitive business and also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.

Black Violin

Black Violin is a musical duo from Florida that blends Classical influences with Hip Hop. Kev Marcus and Wil B have spent the last ten years working to encourage and empower people of all ages, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds to find what connects us, rather than shine a light on what divides us. They use their talent as string musicians to spread a message that challenges the world’s view of what it means to rise above labels, be daring enough to follow your passion and most of all, be true to yourself.

“As black men living in America, we understand challenges and we also understand the power of ‘I can’t’, yet we decide to live by and promote the power of ‘I can.” 

Black Violin has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Wu-Tang Clan, and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. As producers, they have worked with Kanye West, Tom Petty, Lupe Fiasco, and Aerosmith.

Black Violin is a musical duo from Florida that blends Classical influences with Hip Hop. Kev Marcus and Wil B have spent the last ten years working to encourage and empower people of all ages, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds to find what connects us, rather than shine a light on what divides us. They use their talent as string musicians to spread a message that challenges the world’s view of what it means to rise above labels, be daring enough to follow your passion and most of all, be true to yourself.

“As black men living in America, we understand challenges and we also understand the power of ‘I can’t’, yet we decide to live by and promote the power of ‘I can.” 

Black Violin has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Wu-Tang Clan, and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. As producers, they have worked with Kanye West, Tom Petty, Lupe Fiasco, and Aerosmith.