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Enjoy lunch and/or dinner while listening to authors speak about their works. These books are ideal for common reading programs ad first-year experience courses. Participants will receive complimentary copies of each title. Participation in the author meals is free, but re-registration is required. Participants will receive a ticket during conference check-in; you can register for these events during conference registration.

Authors' Dinner: Sunday, October 25, 6:00 p.m.
Sponsored by:

Warren Berger
- Innovation expert Warren Berger is a longtime journalist with the New York Times, Wired, and Fast Company and the author of six books, including the international bestseller A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. He shows how innovators and dynamic companies harness the power of inquiry—one of the most effective forces for igniting change in business and life. He has studied hundreds of the worlds leading innovators, red-hot start ups, designers, and creative thinkers to analyze how they ask game-changing questions, solve problems, and create new possibilities. Learn more at at

Warren Berger shows that one of the most powerful forces for igniting change in business and in our daily lives is a simple, under-appreciated tool—one that has been available to us since childhood. Questioning—deeply, imaginatively, "beautifully”—can help us identify and solve problems, come up with game-changing ideas, and pursue fresh opportunities. So why are we often reluctant to ask "Why?” As Berger shows, the most creative, successful people tend to be expert questioners. They’ve mastered the art of inquiry, raising questions no one else is asking—and finding powerful answers. The author takes us inside red-hot businesses like Google, Netflix, IDEO, and Airbnb to show how questioning is baked into their organizational DNA. He also shares inspiring stories of artists, teachers, entrepreneurs, and social activists who changed their lives and the world around them—by starting with a "beautiful question.” A More Beautiful Question outlines a practical Why / What If / How system of inquiry that can guide you through the process of innovative questioning—helping you find imaginative, powerful answers to your own "beautiful questions.”

Zak Ebrahim- Based on his own remarkable journey through a childhood where terrorism was all he knew, Zak Ebrahim shows that hate is always a choice—but so is tolerance.Ebrahim was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 24, 1983, the son of an Egyptian industrial engineer and an American school teacher. When Ebrahim was seven, his father shot and killed the founder of the Jewish Defense League, Rabbi Meir Kahane. From behind bars his father, El-Sayyid Nosair, co-masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. In one of his infamous video messages, Osama bin Laden urged the world to "Remember El-Sayed Nosair.”

Ebrahim’s extraordinary storyThe Terrorist's Son, an ALA/YALSA Alex Award winner, is a behind-the-scenes memoir of an American boy raised amongst hatred. After his father’s incarceration, his family moved often attempting to hide their identities from those who knew of Ebrahim’s father. As the perpetual new kid in class, he faced constant teasing and exclusion. His radicalized father and uncles modeled fanatical beliefs, yet to Ebrahim something never felt right. To the shy, awkward boy, something about the hateful feelings just felt unnatural. In this book, Ebrahim dispels the myth that terrorism is a foregone conclusion for people trained to hate. Zak now dedicates his life to speaking out against terrorism and spreading his message of peace and nonviolence.

Aspen Matis - On her second night at college, Aspen Matis was raped by a fellow student. Dealing with a problem that has sadly become all too common on college campuses around the country, she stumbled through her freshman year. At its end, she made a bold decision: she would seek healing in the freedom of the wild, on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail leading from Mexico to Canada. In Girl in the Woods, her grippingly honest and inspiring memoir, Aspen recounts her journey from shattered girl to self-reliant woman, and how she found hope and healing in nature.

Ross Ritchell - Ross Ritchell is a former soldier in a United States Special Operations Command direct-action team conducting classified operations in the Middle East. Upon his discharge, he enrolled at Northwestern University, where he earned an MFA. He lives with his family in Illinois.

The Knife is a powerful, dark, and morally provocative debut novel about a U.S. Special Forces unit operating in the Middle East, written by a former soldier in a United States Special Operations Command direct-action team. As scenes of horseshoes and horseplay cut to dim Ambien-soaked trips in helicopters and beyond, Ritchell’s story takes us deep beneath the testosterone-laced patter into the lonelier, more ambivalent world of military life in the Middle East. The result is a fast-paced journey into darkness; a quintessential novel of the American wars of the twenty-first century.

Dan-el Padilla Peralta - Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, DAN-EL PADILLA PERALTA came to the United States with his family at the age of four. He received his BA summa cum laude from Princeton University, where he was chosen salutatorian of the class of 2006. He received his MPhil from the University of Oxford and his PhD in classics from Stanford University. He is currently a Mellon Research Fellow at Columbia University.

UNDOCUMENTED: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League - An undocumented immigrant’s journey from a New York City homeless shelter to the top of his Princeton class. From Collegiate, Dan-el went to Princeton, where he thrived, and where he made the momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian’s traditional address in Latin at his commencement. Undocumented is a classic story of the triumph of the human spirit. It also is the perfect cri de coeur for the debate on comprehensive immigration reform.

Authors' Luncheon: Monday, October 26, 12:00 p.m.
Sponsored By:

Liz Carlisle - Liz Carlisle holds a BA from Harvard University and a PhD in geography from the University of California at Berkeley. Carlisle is also a country music singer-songwriter who has opened shows for Travis Tritt, LeAnn Rimes, and Sugarland. She currently lives in Berkeley, California.

A protégé of Michael Pollan shares the story of a little known group of renegade farmers who defied corporate agribusiness by launching a unique sustainable farm-to-table food movement. From the heart of Big Sky Country comes Lentil Underground, the inspiring story of a handful of colorful pioneers who have successfully bucked the chemically-based food chain and the entrenched power of agribusiness’s one percent, by stubbornly banding together. Journalist and native Montanan Liz Carlisle weaves an eye-opening and richly reported narrative that will be welcomed by everyone concerned with the future of American agriculture and natural food in an increasingly uncertain world.

Joshua Davis - Joshua Davis is a contributing editor at Wired and a cofounder of Epic magazine. He lives in San Francisco with his family.

Spare Parts tells the story of four undocumented Latino students from an underfunded Phoenix public high school who enter a college-level robot-building competition—and win. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much—but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot. And build a robot they did. They were going up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, including a team from MIT backed by a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The Phoenix teenagers had scraped together less than $1,000 and built their robot out of scavenged parts. This was never a level competition—and yet, against all odds . . . they won! But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story—which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement—will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan. Joshua Davis’s Spare Parts is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country—even as the country tried to kick them out.

Jeff Hobbs- Jeff Hobbs graduated with a BA in English language and literature from Yale University in 2002, where he was awarded the Willets and Meeker prizes for his writing. When Hobbs arrived at Yale, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, and the subject of Hobbs’ heartfelt, and riveting biography, Robert Peace. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner, renders the life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark, NJ for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets—and of one’s own nature—when he returns home.

Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, "fronting” in Yale, and at home.

Through an honest depiction of Robert’s relationships— with his incarcerated father, with his struggling single mother, with his teachers and friends and fellow drug dealers—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about reaching one’s greatest potential and taking responsibility for your family no matter the cost. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all the story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and unforgettable.

Kennedy Odede & Jessica Posner - Kennedy Odede is one of Africa’s best-known community organizers and social entrepreneurs. He was raised in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa, and started the Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) movement, which quickly became the largest grassroots organization in the slum. Jessica Posner is the co-founder and COO of Shining Hope for Communities. She is a nationally recognized social entrepreneur and activist, and splits her time between Nairobi and New York City.

Find Me Unafraid tells the uncommon love story between two uncommon people whose collaboration sparked a successful movement to transform the lives of vulnerable girls and the urban poor. Kennedy Odede grew up in Kibera, the notoriously horrific slum in Nairobi, teaching himself to read with old newspapers. When an American volunteer gave him the work of Mandela, Garvey, and King, teenaged Kennedy decided he was going to change his community. He bought a soccer ball and started a youth empowerment group he called Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). In 2007, Wesleyan undergraduate Jessica Posner spent a semester abroad in Kenya working with SHOFCO. Though it was unheard of for a white person, she decided to live in Kibera with Kennedy, and they fell in love. Jess and Kennedy founded Kibera’s first tuition-free school for girls, a large, bright blue building, which stands as a bastion of hope in what once felt like a hopeless place. And they are just getting started..

Claude Steele - Claude Steele is the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at UC Berkeley. He is the author of numerous published articles and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Whistling Vivaldi, How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do - Claude M. Steele, who has been called "one of the few great social psychologists,” offers a vivid first-person account of the research that supports his groundbreaking conclusions on stereotypes and identity. He sheds new light on American social phenomena from racial and gender gaps in test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men, and lays out a plan for mitigating these "stereotype threats” and reshaping American identities.

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