Colleges welcome distinguished speakers, here’s the scorecard

Next weekend Claremont will show why it’s the City of PhDs with no less than seven graduations—five Saturday—on May 18 and 19. As the Colleges wrap up midterm exams this week, schools are announcing speakers for these commencement exercises.

The speaker lineup is as follows:

Pomona College

Sunday, May 19, 10 a.m. at Marston Quadrangle

Esther Brimmer, Pomona class of 1983, is a foreign policy expert who has held several positions in the U.S. Department of State. She was assistant secretary of state under Barack Obama as well as the assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs from 2009 through 2013, where she was responsible for the US diplomatic representation to United Nations locations and its agencies. She is currently the executive director and CEO of the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers.


Pitzer College

Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m. at Stephen L. Glass Commencement Plaza

Laverne Cox is a two-time Emmy-nominated actress best known for her work on Netflix show Orange is the New Black. She is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show and the first openly trans person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category. She won a Daytime Emmy Award in Outstanding Special Class Special as executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word, and is also a prominent LGBTQ advocate.


Harvey Mudd College

Sunday, May 19, 1:30 p.m. at Harvey S. Mudd Quadrangle

Sebastian Thrun is the CEO of Kitty Hawk, a personal aircraft company. He is also the founder of X, also known as Google X, which developed the Google Glass and self-driving cars. Thrun is the founder, chair, and president of Udacity, an online education company that offers both free and for-credit courses in programming, data science, business and more. Fast Company named him the fifth most creative person in business and Fortune listed him among the 50 smartest people in tech.


Scripps College

Saturday, May 18, 5 p.m. at Elm Tree Lawn

Poppy McDonald, Scripps class of 1997, is the president of USAFacts, a nonprofit, nonpartisan initiative that aims to make government data more accessible. She was previously the president and chief operating officer of PoliticoUSA, the publisher and president of the National Journal, the executive director of business development at Politico Pro, where she oversaw the launch of Politico’s first paid subscription model, and a partner at Gallup, Inc.


Claremont McKenna College

Saturday, May 18, 2 p.m. at Pritzlaff Field.

Arthur Brooks is the president of American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington DC. Mr. Brooks contributes to the Washington Post and the New York Times and has written two New York Times bestsellers, “The Conservative Heart” and “The Road to Freedom.” In the fall of 2019, Brooks will leave AEI to join the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School.


Claremont Graduate University

Saturday, May 18, 9 a.m. at Mudd Quadrangle

Acclaimed South African activist Bev Palesa Ditsie, the first African lesbian to ever address gay and lesbian rights before a United Nations conference, is the featured speaker at Claremont Graduate University’s 92nd commencement. More than 300 master’s and doctoral candidates will receive their degrees at this year’s ceremony. Honorary doctorates will be conferred on Ms. Ditsie; MacArthur Fellow Betsy Levy Paluck, who has tested strategies of conflict and violence resolution on the ground in Rwanda; and Laughlin McDonald, who has been at the center of major cases involving voter access and equality as the longtime director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.


Keck Graduate Institute

Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m. at the Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center

Peter Saltonstall is the president and chief executive officer of the National Organization for Rare Disorders, a nonprofit organization aiming to provide support for individuals with rare diseases. Saltonstall was the co-founder and CEO of SafeCare Systems, LLC, which developed one of the country’s first patient safety management systems. He also serves on a number of medical research oversight and advisory boards.


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