Past Speakers | Springfield College


Emmy Award-winning journalist Jemele Hill presented the 10th annual Springfield College Arts and Humanities Speaker Series lecture on Thursday, Oct. 19.

Hill is co-founder of Lodge Freeway Media and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. She is well-known for her time at ESPN, where most recently, she is set to produce the ESPN documentary on former NFL quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick. Hill started her ESPN career in 2006, serving as a national columnist for, and making appearances on SportsCenter, First Take, Around the Horn, The Sports Reporters and Outside the Lines.


Anna Deavere Smith, famed playwright, actress, and educator. Smith is most recognizable as the National Security Advisor on NBC’s The West Wing and hospital administrator on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. Smith also appeared on the ABC hit series Black-ish and legal drama For the People. As part of her lectures, Smith used a unique approach and transformed herself on stage into an astonishing number of characters, discussing the “complex identities of America.”


Dr. Celine Gounder presented on the pandemic, and the intersection of public health with racial and economic equity and justice on September 30, 2021. She is an infectious disease expert, highly sought after for her guidance on the coronavirus, featured frequently on media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR, The New York Times, and more. Dr. Gounder, who was appointed to President American Diagnosis, a podcast on health and social justice, and Epidemic, a podcast about the coronavirus pandemic. 

Dr. Gounder is also a clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, where her responsibilities include caring for patients on the wards at Bellevue Hospital Center. She received her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from Princeton University, her master’s degree in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Washington.


New York Times bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi will be the keynote speaker on March 25, 2021.

Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. A contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News correspondent, he also is the 2020-21 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for the Advanced Study at Harvard University.

In 2019, Kendi authored the No. 1 New York Times bestselling book, How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a young adult remix of Stamped from the Beginning, co-authored with Jason Reynolds.

Most recently, Kendi authored the No. 1 Indie bestseller, Antiracist Baby, available as a board book and picture book for caretakers and little ones. 


Deep ocean explorer and environmentalist Fabien Cousteau and explorer and filmmaker Céline Cousteau, spoke at Springfield College on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, as part of the Springfield College Arts and Humanities Speaker Series. Fabien and Céline are the grandchildren of legendary explorer Jacque-Yves Cousteau. Their talk highlighted their commitment to fulfilling their family’s legacy of protecting and preserving the planet’s extensive and endangered marine inhabitants and habitats. Fabien stressed the need for bold and innovative thinking to progress conservation efforts worldwide. Céline used her global voyages to offer a thoughtful perspective on the connection of the environment to populations around the world and how this knowledge is vital to the future of each of us on the planet.



Springfield College hosted an evening with Jessie Close and her son, Calen Pick on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Their talk, titled “Inside the World of Mental Illness: From Stigma to Acceptance” was part of the Springfield College Arts and Humanities Speaker Series. They brought their personal experiences into the conversation about mental illness and their efforts to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding it. Jessie’s sister, actress and activist Glenn Close, co-founded Bring Change to Mind, after Jessie’s bipolar disorder diagnosis.



New York Times best-selling author, philanthropist, columnist, and sports reporter Mitch Albom spoke at Springfield College as part of the Springfield College Arts and Humanities Speaker Series on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Album spoke about his life’s work, including helping to rebuild Haiti’s future after a devastating earthquake in 2010. Albom is director of the Have Faith Haiti Mission, which supports poor and orphaned children in Port-au-Prince. 

An accomplished pianist and composer, Albom also authored Tuesdays with Morrie, which became an international phenomenon with more than 14 million copies sold. A columnist for The Detroit Free Press for more than 30 years, he was inducted into the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame in 2013.


Three-time Grammy Award-winning singer, activist, and humanitarian Angelique Kidjo spoke at Springfield College as part of the Springfield College Arts and Humanities Speaker Series on Oct. 13, 2016. Kidjo spoke about her life and emphasized the importance of being globally aware, traveling the world, learning other languages, and being aware of different cultures.


Springfield College hosted author, poet, and screenwriter Sherman Alexie on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. One of The New Yorker’s top 20 writers for the 21st century, Alexie connects readers around the world to the American Indian experience. Having grown up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington state, Alexie is known world-wide as a gifted orator, telling tales of contemporary American Indian life with razor sharp humor, unsettling candor, and biting wit.


Springfield College hosted paleoanthropologist, political advisor, and environmentalist Richard Leakey on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.  Leakey’s lecture titled, “An Evening with Richard Leakey: Exploring a Life of Discovery and Activism,” was part of the Springfield College Arts and Humanities Speaker Series. Son of Louis B. and Mary Leakey, Richard Leakey, with his wife Meave and daughter Louise, has worked toward a greater understanding of the origins and making of mankind.  They have been credited with some of the most significant fossil discoveries in history.