Some of our past speakers

Christiane Amanpour

Chief Int. Correspondent, CNN

Christiane Amanpour is CNN's host of the nightly global affairs program “AMANPOUR” on CNN International, CNN Chief International Correspondent, and Global Affairs Anchor for ABC News.

Her illustrious career in journalism spans three decades. Amanpour has reported from every major world news event and hotspot, including Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, the Palestinian territories, Iran, Sudan, Israel, Pakistan, Somalia, Rwanda, the Balkans, Egypt, Libya, throughout Europe and the United States.

She has interviewed most of the world’s top leaders, including Iranian Presidents Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidents of Afghanistan and Sudan, Prime Ministers and Presidents of Israel and Presidents of the Palestinian Authority, as well as Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring.

Amanpour has earned every major television journalism award including an inaugural Television Academy Honor, nine News and Documentary Emmy® Awards, four George Foster Peabody Awards, two George Polk Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards, the Courage in Journalism Award, an Edward R. Murrow award, and a Giants of Broadcasting honor from the Library of American Broadcasting. She is a member of the board of directors for the Committee to Protect Journalists and a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), a citation bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II in 2007 for services to journalism.

Photo credit: Mark Hill/CNN

Contributor at the following sessions:


Sonia Nazario

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist

Sonia Nazario is an award-winning journalist whose stories have tackled some of this country’s most intractable problems -- hunger, drug addiction, immigration -- and have won some of the most prestigious journalism and book awards.

She is best known for "Enrique's Journey," her story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. Published as a series in the Los Angeles Times, "Enrique's Journey" won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2003. It was turned into a book by Random House and became a national bestseller.

Her recent humanitarian efforts to get lawyers for unaccompanied migrant children led to her selection as the 2015 Don and Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award recipient by the Advocates for Human Rights. She also was named a 2015 Champion of Children by First Focus and a 2015 Golden Door award winner by HIAS Pennsylvania. In 2016, the American Immigration Council gave her the American Heritage Award.

Also in 2016, the Houston Peace & Justice Center honored her with their National Peacemaker Award. Nazario, who grew up in Kansas and in Argentina, has written extensively from Latin America and about Latinos in the United States. She has been named among the most influential Latinos by Hispanic Business Magazine and a “trendsetter” by Hispanic Magazine. In 2012 Columbia Journalism Review named Nazario among “40 women who changed the media business in the past 40.”

She is a graduate of Williams College and has a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She has honorary doctorates from Mount St. Mary’s College and Whittier College. She began her career at the Wall Street Journal, and later joined the Los Angeles Times. She is now at work on her second book.

Contributor at the following sessions:


Ursula von der Leyen

Minister of Defence

Ursula von der Leyen is a German politician who has been the Minister of Defence since 2013, and is the first woman in German history to hold that office. A doctor by profession, she previously also served as the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs from 2009 to 2013 and as the Minister of Senior Citizens, Women and Youth from 2005 to 2009. She has sometimes been suggested as a possible future successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel due to personal loyalty to the Chancellor and her 'political instinct'.

In 2013, Ursula von der Leyen was appointed as Germany's first female defence minister. By placing a major party figure such as von der Leyen at the head of the Defence Ministry, Merkel was widely seen as reinvigorating the scandal-ridden ministry’s morale and prestige. Along with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, von der Leyen is one of only three ministers to remain with Merkel since she became chancellor in 2005.

Von der Leyen chairs the EPP Defence Ministers Meeting, which gathers EPP defence ministers ahead of meetings of the Council of the European Union.

Contributor at the following sessions:


Hollie McNish

Award-winning spoken word artist

Hollie Poetry (born Hollie McNish) is a British poet, author and spoken word artist. Born in Reading to Glaswegian parents, Hollie studied French and German at King's College, Cambridge, before earning a master's degree in Development Economics.Hollie won the UK Slam Poetry Competition in 2009 and went on to finish 3rd in the global Slam Du Monde contest. A collection of her poems, Papers was published by Greenwich Exchange in 2012. 

A number of Hollie's YouTube videos have gone viral and her account currently has over 3.9 million views. McNish's first album, Versus, was released in September 2014 under the pseudonym Hollie Poetry, she was the first poet to record an album at Abbey Road Studios.

Contributor at the following sessions:


Hans Rosling

Professor of global health

Hans Rosling is professor of International Health at Karolinska Institutet, the medical university in Stockholm, Sweden. When working as a young doctor in Mozambique he discovered a previously unrecognized paralytic disease that his research team named Konzo.

His 20 years of research on global health concerned the character of the links between economy and health in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He has been adviser to WHO and UNICEF, co-founded Médecines sans Frontiers in Sweden and started new courses and published a textbook on Global Health.

He is a member of the International Group of the Swedish Academy of Science and of the Global Agenda Network of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. He co-founded Gapminder Foundation (www.gapminder.org) with son and daughterin- law.

Gapminder promotes a fact based world view by converting the international statistics into moving, interactive, understandable and enjoyable graphics. This was first done by developing the Trendalyzer software that Google acquired in 2007. Using animations of global trends, Hans Rosling lectures about past and contemporary economic, social and environmental changes in the world and he produces thematic videos using the same technique.

His award-winning lectures on global trends have been labeled “humorous, yet deadly serious” and many in the audience realize their own world view is lagging many decades.

Hans Rosling’s 5 points on global trends are:


  1. There are no longer two types of countries in the world, the old division into industrialized and developing countries has been replaced by 192 countries on a continuum of socio-economic development.
  2. Many Asian countries are now improving twice as fast as Europe ever did.
  3. A new gap may form between 5 billion people moving towards healthy lives with education, cell phones, electricity, washing machines and health service and more than 1 billion people stuck in the vicious circle of absolute poverty and disease.
  4. So far all progress towards health and wealth has been achieved at the price of increased CO2 emission that drives the imminent climate crisis.
  5. There are reasons for optimism regarding the future of the world because the world is so poorly governed at present. Hence we have enormous opportunities to improve the life of all humans by turning our already converging world into an equal, secure, sustainable and free place to live in.




Contributor at the following sessions:


Sarah Kendzior


I am a writer. I am best known for my critical take on the “prestige economy”, my reporting on St. Louis, my coverage of the 2016 election, and my academic research on authoritarian states in Central Asia. My essay collection, The View From Flyover Country, was published in 2015.

I am currently an op-ed columnist for the Globe and Mail, where I focus on US politics. I also am the US correspondent for the Dutch news outlet De Correspondent. Previously I was an op-ed columnist for Al Jazeera English, where I wrote about exploitation, particularly in higher education, the diminishing opportunities of America’s youth, andgentrification. I have also covered internet privacy, political repression, and how the mediashape public perception.  My April 2013 article “The wrong kind of Caucasian” is the most popular AJE op-ed of all time.

I have also written for POLITICO, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Quartz, Slate, The Atlantic, Medium, Radio Free Europe, Opinio Juris, Alternet, HRDCVR, POLITICO Europe, The Chicago Tribune, Blue Nation Review,Alive Magazine, Ethnography Matters, Registan.net, The Common Reader, The New York Daily News, La Stampa, The Brooklyn Quarterly, The Diplomat, World Politics Review andThe New York Times.

In August 2013, Foreign Policy named me one of “the 100 people you should be following on Twitter to make sense of global events”. In October 2013, St. Louis Magazine profiledme as one of 15 inspirational people under 35 in St. Louis. In September 2014, The Riverfront Times named me the best online journalist in St. Louis.

In addition to working as a journalist, I am a researcher and consultant. I have a PhD in anthropology from Washington University in Saint Louis and an MA in Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University. Most of my work focuses on the authoritarian states of the former Soviet Union and how the internet affects political mobilization, self-expression, and trust.

My research has been published in American Ethnologist, Problems of Post-Communism, Central Asian Survey, Demokratizatsiya, Nationalities Papers, Social Analysis, and the Journal of Communication. I am a program associate for the Central Asia Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and a research associate at the Russian, East European and Eurasian Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I am frequently interviewed by the media and have been a guest on NPR, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, CBC News, BBC World Service, Citizen Radio, FOX, HuffPost Live and other broadcast outlets, as well as an invited speaker at academic conferences and forums on foreign policy, education and technology. I am a recurring guest on the Chicago radio showThis Is Hell and on the Mark Sutcliffe radio show in Canada.

Contributor at the following sessions:


Ece Temelkuran

Author and journalist

Ece Temelkuran is a Turkish author and journalist who has worked for a variety of news organisations including the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet and CNN International. She has worked as a journalist from Lebanon, Venezuela, Armenia and Tunisia. In 2012, she was fired from her job at the newspaper Miliyet because of her reporting of the Uludere massacre which left dozens of Kurdish children dead on Turkish-Iraqi border. She is a former fellow of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.  she has published 12 books, the most recent of which "Turkey: The Insane And The Melancholy" was published by Zed Books in 2016.

Contributor at the following sessions:


Nigel Farage

British politician

Nigel Paul Farage is a British politician, broadcaster and political analyst who was the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) from 2006 to 2009 and again from 2010 to 2016. Since 1999 he has been an MEP for South East England.

A prominent Eurosceptic in the UK, he has been noted for his sometimes controversial speeches in the European Parliament and has strongly criticised the euro currency. Farage was a founding member of UKIP, having left the Conservative Party in 1992 after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Farage was elected MEP for South East England in the 1999 European Parliament election. He was subsequently re-elected in 2004, 2009 and, most recently, at the 2014 European parliament election.

Although he was a member of the European Parliament, Farage campaigned to leave the EU as a key figurehead for the British exit from the EU in 2016. Polls on the day of the vote suggested defeat for the leave campaign, though they were successful with 52 per cent of the vote.

Contributor at the following sessions:


Baratunde Thurston

Comedian, writer, and cultural critic

Baratunde Thurston is a futurist comedian, writer, and cultural critic who helped re-launch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, co-founded Cultivated Wit and the About Race podcast, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. Baratunde is a highly sought-after public speaker, television personality, and thought leader who has been part of noteworthy institutions such as Fast Company, TED, the MIT Media Lab, The Onion, and the gentrification of Brooklyn, New York.

Contributor at the following sessions:


Khadija Ismayilova

Investigative journalist

Khadija Ismayilova is an Azerbaijani investigative journalist and radio host who is currently working for the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, until recently as the host of the daily debate show İşdən Sonra. She is a member of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. In December 2014, Khadija was arrested on charges of incitement to suicide, a charge widely criticized by human rights organizations as bogus. On 1 September 2015, Khadija was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison under charges of embezzlement and tax evasion. On 25 May 2016, the Azerbaijani supreme court ordered Khadija Ismayilova released on probation. 

Khadija was a speaker at News Xchange 2012 in Barcelona. Due to travel restrictions, Khadija is unable to be with us personally. However, her recorded interview, done specially for News Xchange by Deutsche Welle, will be be shared.

Contributor at the following sessions:


Matthew Boyle

Washington Political Editor, Breitbart News

Matthew Boyle joined Breitbart News in 2012 after doing critically acclaimed reporting on the “Fast and Furious” scandal, in which an operation intended to capture drug dealers in Mexico resulted in American-supplied weapons falling into the hands of drugs cartels. A fierce critic of the Washington mainstream media and career politicians, Boyle’s journalism has been personally praised by Donald Trump. He is described by Breitbart’s Executive Chairman and Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon as “one of the few reporters in Washington who isn’t afraid to ruffle the feathers of the establishment and relentlessly tell the stories grassroots conservatives care about.”

Contributor at the following sessions:


Gill Hicks

Survivor, London Bombings (2005)

Gill Hicks is considered to be one of the most thought provoking, powerful and life affirming speakers in Australia and the UK. She is globally known as a survivor of the London terrorist Bombings on July 7th, 2005.

She survived, but suffered severe and permanent injuries, losing both legs from just below the knee. 

Originally from Adelaide, Australia, Gill  lived in London from 1991 to 2012, when she returned to Australia to run her not for profit M.A.D. for Peace network and do her Public Speaking work. 

Gill's unique and compelling projects and initiatives, aimed at both deterring anyone from following the path of violent extremism and building sustainable models for peace, draw upon Gill’s previous roles within the Arts.  

An impressive career, pre the bombings, included being at the helm of some of the UK’s most prestigious and respected institutions – including Publishing Director of the architecture, design and contemporary culture magazine, Blueprint, Director of the Dangerous Minds design consultancy and Head Curator at the Design Council. 

It wasn’t until after the bombings that Gill decided to dedicate her life to being an advocate for peace. 

Contributor at the following sessions:


Jenna Russell

Investigative reporter, Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team

Jenna Russell is a reporter at the Boston Globe and a member of the Globe's investigative Spotlight Team. Her recent work on the six-part Spotlight series "The Desperate and the Dead" documented failures of the state's mental health care system and resulting tragic outcomes. Her examination of a decade of shootings by police in Massachusetts found that nearly half - 48 percent - involved a person suffering a mental health crisis.   

A longtime projects reporter for the Globe, Jenna produced the three-part series "Brave and Afraid", about one family's struggle to find mental health care for their son, in 2014. The project was recognized as a finalist for the Taylor Award for Fairness in Journalism by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. Previously, her reporting on the long-term effects of childhood bulling won a 2011 Dart Award, for excellence in coverage of trauma, from Columbia Journalism School. Jenna also worked on “68 Blocks: Life, Death, Hope,” the Globe's ground-breaking 2012 multimedia series based on a year-long immersion in one of Boston’s most violent neighborhoods, which won first place for journalistic innovation at the National Headliner Awards. Her work on another year-long series in 2011 – “Getting In: Inside Boston’s School Assignment Maze” – helped spur an overhaul of the city's system for assigning children to kindergarten. 

She is the co-author of two Globe books: Last Lion, a 2009 biography of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and a New York Times best seller, and Long Mile Home, about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which the Washington Post said "succeeds in every way." Her deadline reporting on the bombing was part of the staff effort that won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting in 2014. 

She is a graduate of Dartmouth College, a resident of Plymouth, Mass., and the mother of two daughters, ages 6 and 7. 

Contributor at the following sessions:


Yusuf Omar

Mobile Editor, Hindustan Times

Yusuf Omar is Mobile Editor at the Hindustan Times in India. He is currently building the world's largest mobile journalism team,  training 750 reporters to tell stories using their phones. 

Most recently, Yusuf was awarded at the world's first ever Snapchat awards - The Ghosties- for his use of social media for social good. 

Yusuf won the International Journalists' Network's Journalist of the Month  in September 2016, for his use of Snapchat to tell the stories of sexual abuse survivors in India — or rather, to allow them to tell their own stories through selfie journalism.

In 2015, Yusuf won Vodacom Journalist of the Year Editor's Choice, recognizing five years of mobile journalism and virtual reality stories in Africa. He has been named a ‘Top 20 Global Millennial To Watch In 2016’ by Cliff Central. 

At this year's Mobile Journalism Conference in Dublin, Yusuf won Mobile Journalist of the Year 2016. He has been researching Snapchat storytelling as #DukeMediaFellow in North Carolina, USA. 

Yusuf also recently graduated from the Thomson Foundation Media Convergence course in London. 

Omar's first forays in mobile journalism began in 2010, when he hitchhiked from South Africa to Syria with nothing but his smartphone and a small handheld camera to tell his story. Since then, he's used mobile technology to report from the frontlines of the Syrian war to the #ZumaMustFall protests in Johannesburg.

He was born in the UK, raised in Australia, studied in USA, worked in South Africa and currently lives in India. 

Contributor at the following sessions:


Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

President of Turkey

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the President of Turkey since 2014. He previously served as the Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014 and as the Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998.

He founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2001 and led it to three general election victories in 2002, 2007 and 2011 before standing down as leader upon his election as President in 2014.

Originating from an Islamist political background and as a self-described conservative democrat, his administration has overseen social conservative and liberal economic policies. His political agenda and ideals are often referred to as Erdoğanism.

Contributor at the following sessions:

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