Fall 2019 Speaker Series


The Springfield Public Forum announced its 2019 Fall speaker series with a diverse and inspirational lineup that includes an Emmy nominee, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the investigative journalist who inspired the highly acclaimed “The 1619 Project” by the New York Times magazine.

This year’s speakers include a group of actors, authors and journalists, including Chris Sullivan, Jamie Tworkowski, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Paul Tough and Jodi Kantor. MGM Springfield is the season presenting sponsor for the fall program and is also hosting paid dinners with exclusive access to the speakers after each of the talks, except for the Sept. 28 event on mental health. Those interested can sign up for the dinner’s at the Forum’s website.

Sullivan recently garnered an Emmy nomination for playing “Toby” on the hit NBC show “This Is Us.” Kantor is one of the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters for The New York Times who broke the news of sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein and helped spark the #MeToo movement. Hannah-Jones, is the investigative reporter behind the sold-out 1619 project, which reexamines the impact slavery had on the founding of the nation.

All of this year’s talks will be held at Springfield’s Symphony Hall and are free to the public.

Sullivan and Jamie Tworkowski, who runs the nonprofit “To Write Love on Her Arms,” will host a talk about mental health at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28. Their talk entitled, “You Make Today Better: A Candid Conversation on Mental Health,” will include conversations about self-care, recovery and hope. They also will be available to speak with attendees after the talk. The cooperating colleges of Greater Springfield – American International College, Bay Path University, Elms College, Holyoke Community College, Springfield College, Springfield Technical Community College, Westfield State and Western New England – are sponsoring the event.

Hannah-Jones’ talk, “The Problem We All Live With” focuses on the achievement gap and is part of a 2-part “Spotlight on Education” series – along with an appearance by Paul Tough on Nov. 5 – that is sponsored by Platinum sponsor MassMutual, with additional funding provided by Mass Humanities. A reporter covering racial injustice, Hannah-Jones has written about school re-segregation across the country and housing discrimination. Her talk is at 6 p.m. Oct. 23.

Tough, a contributor to The New York Times Magazine and This American Life, will lead a talk on Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. called “The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us,” based on his most recent book. Tough has written about how the current education system disproportionately benefits wealthy students, while depriving students from more modest backgrounds similar opportunities.

Kantor’s talk, entitled “She Said: Breaking the Story that Helped Ignite #MeToo,” is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Nov. 18. Kantor plans to share the Times’ investigation, the implications it had for the #MeToo movement and how society moves forward. Her new book describes the journeys of those who spoke up about misconduct. The event is sponsored by MassLive, the premiere media sponsor of the fall series. MassLive Vice President of Content Ed Kubosiak Jr. is the Springfield Public Forum’s current president.

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