John Sexton, Chair President of New York University became the 15th president of New York University in 2002, building on his key role in providing that institution with an international focus and vibrant links to the academic community around the world. As Dean of the School of Law for 14 years, he established and expanded a unique Global Law School initiative, as well as a broad array of advanced interdisciplinary colloquia for students. He crafted joint faculty appointments with other NYU schools, and developed incentives for graduates to pursue careers in the public interest. President Sexton graduated magna cum laude from the Harvard Law School in 1979. Having served as a Law Clerk to the late US Chief Justice Warren Burger, he is a scholar of the Supreme Court, the federal court system, and the First Amendment, with a special concentration on issues affecting church and state. He spent 10 years as Special Master Supervising Pretrial Proceedings in the high profile litigation surrounding the groundwater pollution of Love Canal, New York. He joined NYU as a professor of law in 1981, teaching Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Religion and Law. In addition to writing numerous book chapters, articles, testimonies and Supreme Court briefs, President Sexton wrote a book on civil procedure that is the most widely used legal text on any subject, forming part of the curriculum for some two-thirds of the law students in the United States. He has also written books on managing the federal court system, jury instructions, and a non-lawyer's guide to the Constitution.
Michael J. Critelli, Chief Executive Officer, Pitney Bowes graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a bachelor’s in communications and political science, before earning a JD cum laude from Harvard University. He has spent 25 years at Pitney Bowes in key capacities: Vice Chairman, President—Financial Services, Secretary and General Counsel, and Chief Personnel Officer. Since becoming Chairman in 1997, he has been instrumental in leading the $900 billion mailing industry’s efforts to articulate and promote its interests. Under Critelli’s leadership, Pitney Bowes has been honored repeatedly as a humane, ethical workplace: “Top 25 Companies for Executive Women”— Working Woman magazine; “100 Best Corporate Citizens”—Business Ethics magazine; “Green Lights Partner of the Year”—US Environmental Protection Agency; to name a few. Critelli has given advice on postal reform to the US House of Representatives and Senate, as well as to the President’s Commission on the Postal Service and the US Postal Service Transformation Plan, and has been awarded four US patents for mailing technology. In addition, he currently serves as chairman of the board for three non-profit organizations: the National Urban League Board of Trustees, the Connecticut Regional Institute for the 21st century, and Boston University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Board. Critelli will be award the Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa.
Denmark West, President, Digital Media, BET, leads the company’s expanding portfolio of digital brands, including BET.com, BET Mobile, BET on Demand and BET’s digital download offerings, and oversees the development and implementation of the company’s global digital strategy. Prior to joining BET Networks, West had served as Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations, Global Digital Media, for MTV Networks since January 2007. He worked directly with the President of Global Digital Media and helped to oversee all overall digital operations for the company and coordinated e-commerce and digital marketing across MTVN’s properties. West also led the team focused on strategic partnerships with large traditional software, hardware and network infrastructure companies such as Adobe, and was the primary leader in driving search initiatives, including the company’s partnership with and implementation of Yahoo!’s search marketing services. Before that, West was Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, where he was a key driver behind MTVN’s movement into the multiplatform consumer environment. In this role, West aided in the development of key strategies including approaches to social media, games and digital music. He also led evaluation, drove execution and spearheaded the integration of several digital acquisitions. West has a proven track record of formulating winning strategies, investments and partnerships throughout his career, and has managed transactions public and private equity investments, acquisitions and divestitures and joint venture creation. Prior to joining MTV Networks, he most recently held the title of Chief of Staff for the Windows Client Division at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Wash. In that position, West supported both the head of the Windows Client Business Group and its CFO, and played central roles in the analysis of investment opportunities and long range planning development. During a Microsoft tenure spanning over six years, West held a number of positions in which he helped to drive numerous strategic initiatives, investments and partnerships to help the company expand into, and grow within, new consumer avenues. These sectors included console gaming, digital media, e-commerce, wireless data and interactive TV. Before joining Microsoft, West worked in Distressed Securities trading in the Fixed Income Division at Goldman, Sachs and Co. Prior to his time at Goldman, West worked in investment banking focused on entertainment, communications and technology for Brenner Securities Corporation and Smith Barney. He received both an AB and an MBA from Harvard University.
Isaac D. Castillo, Learning and Evaluation Director, Latin American Youth Center has over ten years experience managing research and evaluation projects including both primary and secondary research and evaluation on effective methods to improve the lives of youth, improving the quality of education provided to our nation’s high school students. He has completed evaluations for the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the State of Georgia’s Southeast Regional Mental Health, Developmental Disorders, and Addictive Diseases Office, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Youth Violence Prevention / Youth Development Initiative. Isaac also worked on an evaluation for the National Science Foundation project focused on improving science and mathematics education at the kindergarten through twelfth grade levels and also on successful superintendent practices to increase student achievement as part of a study for the American Association of School Administrators. He worked closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health to gain a larger understanding of how states deal with public health issues that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority populations such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, homicide, suicide, and unintentional injuries.
Lawrence J. La Sala Associate General Counsel for Textron Inc. graduated cum laude with a BA from Amherst College and cum laude with a JD from Fordham University. Larry clerked for the Hon. Alfred J. Lechner, Jr., U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. In the early 1990s, he was admitted to both the New York and New Jersey bar associations. From 1993-2002, he worked on commercial litigation at the law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP. His current responsibilities include Commercial and Products Liability Litigation, legal and risk mitigation advice to many of Textron’s businesses, and counsel to the Company’s enterprise IT group.
Charles J. Morton, Jr. Partner, Venable LLP co-chairs Venable's Business Transaction Practice and the firm's Junior Capital / Mezzanine Practice Group, which he founded. He has a national practice representing entrepreneurs and the people who invest in them which includes representing clients in mergers and acquisitions, negotiating financing agreements, including subordinated loan transactions, second lien loans and related equity investments. He regularly acts on behalf of private equity groups. He has been recognized repeatedly as one of five top M&A lawyers in Maryland by Maryland Super Lawyers and has been Martindale-Hubbell AV Peer Rated since 2000. Mr. Morton currently serves as Immediate Past-President of the Maryland Chapter of the Association of Corporate Growth, as a Board Member of the Technology Development Corporation of Maryland (TEDCO), the Baltimore Urban Debate League and as General Counsel to the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. He teaches an undergraduate course in the entrepreneurship program at Johns Hopkins University focused on tech transfer. He helps to manage more than $100 million dollars through his service to two different university related endowments. Mr. Morton holds, or has held, leadership roles in the American Bar Association, the Maryland State Bar Association and the Bar Association of Baltimore City.
Shanara Reid-Brinkley Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburg focuses her scholarly research on African American culture and public argumentation, with a research program specializing in public argument and performance, cultural studies, and Black Feminist Theory. Reid-Brinkley has a specific research interest in black popular culture, including hip hop politics, culture, and activism. As the incoming Director of Debate, Reid-Brinkley is responsible for the competitive arm of the William Pitt Debating Union, recruiting students from around the country to participate in the University’s long history of successful competition. Her current scholarship focuses on the interaction between black culture and rhetorical practice and social conflict within high school and college policy debate.
Lauri Sawyer, Associate, Jones Day has a broad-based federal and state commercial litigation and arbitration practice. Lauri has litigated complex cases involving a variety of claims, including financial products, shareholders and securities claims, insurance coverage, and executive compensation. Lauri has extensive experience in the international arena, having participated in foreign court proceedings and appeals, as well as worldwide discovery and enforcement efforts. Prior to joining Jones Day, she prosecuted several significant bilateral investment treaty disputes on behalf of foreign investors.She has successfully prosecuted and defended actions in federal court and before the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau. Moreover, Lauri has advised a number of clients on marketing strategies, product launches, and compliance issues. Lauri is strongly committed to pro bono service, especially for clients with domestic relations and immigration issues. She is involved in several pro bono organizations and was recognized for her service in 2001 with the inMotion Commitment to Justice Award. In addition, she serves on several advisory and nonprofit boards.
Robert Shrum, Senior Fellow, New York University a longtime political strategist and speechwriter, is currently a senior fellow at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service where he will pursue teaching, writing, and research. Mr. Shrum was Senior Advisor to the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004. The May, 2004, Atlantic Monthly described him as “the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party.” He has served as a Senior Adviser to the campaign of Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel, and to the British Labour Party in the 2001 Parliamentary campaign. At Georgetown, he was named the nation’s top college debater, and at Harvard he was the winner of the Ames Competition for the best appellate advocacy at the law school. Mr. Shrum has been a fellow of the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard University and has taught at Yale and Boston College. Mr. Shrum was the principal speechwriter to Senator George McGovern in the 1972 Democratic campaign for President. Subsequently, he served as the Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. Mr. Shrum served as Press Secretary to Senator Edward M. Kennedy from 1980 to 1984, and he was the Senator’s principal speechwriter during and after the 1980 presidential campaign. As a journalist, Mr. Shrum’s work appeared in New York Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among other publications. He was a columnist for the Microsoft on-line magazine Slate. He has written for both political and commercial television, including “The Emmy Awards,” “The American Film Institute Life Achievement Awards” on CBS, and the Emmy Award-winning and Peabody Award-winning “Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts” on CBS. Since 1985, Mr. Shrum has conceived and produced advertising (T.V., radio, print) for twenty-six winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for Governor; the Mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Dade County and San Francisco, and the Democratic Leader of the United States House of Representatives. In 1995, Mr. Shrum and his partner Tad Devine won first place in the American Association of Political Consultants “Pollie” Award, for producing the best sixty-second political commercial of 1994 (for Senator Edward Kennedy.) He won another for the best thirty-second ad of 1998 (for Senator John Edwards.) He won his first “Pollie” in 1986 for producing the best political TV ad of that election cycle (for Senator Alan Cranston). Mr. Shrum also worked with President Clinton on his State of the Union messages and as a consultant during the 1998 mid-term election. The political- and media-consulting firm of Shrum Devine Donilon, at which Shrum is the most senior of three partners, has also worked overseas—for Prime Minister Tony Blair, of Britain, Ehud Barak, of Israel, and the Presidents of Ireland, Colombia, and Bolivia.
Aaron Timmons, Director of Debate, Greenhill School is a truly inspirational speaker and lecturer. In his over twenty years of education he has created a dynasty of debate competition and a pursuit of excellence in each student he comes in contact with. Timmons is the only coach in the history of the National Forensic League National Tournament to have multiple winners in both Lincoln-Douglas and policy debate. Timmons is the former president of the Texas Forensic Association and a member of the National Forensic League Hall of Fame. He has been inducted into the Glenbrooks Blue, Green and Gold Society and is a key coach of the Barkley Forum for High Schools. He is a Board member for the National Debate Coaches Association and the Lincoln Douglas Education Project. Additionally, he was a member of the Wiley College Presidential Advisory Board convened by President Hayward Strickland to design the program model for their return to “Great Debaters” funded with a $1 million grant from Denzel Washington.
Will Baker CEO, IMPACT Coalition Will Baker is the Chief Executive Officer of the IMPACT Coalition, an educational development nonprofit organization. His work with IMPACT has received accolades in the NY Times, US News & World Report, the Nonprofit Times and the Christian Science Monitor. As head of Baker Consulting Services International, he has provided management consulting services to foundations, corporations, United Nation agencies and nearly one hundred nonprofit organizations. He is a Past President of the Committee of Religious Non-Governmental Organizations at the United Nations and serves as the Alternate UN Representative for the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF). Will was elected president of the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA), the largest intercollegiate organization sponsoring policy debate. He is a former Assembly District Leader for the 27th District in Queens. Mr. Baker teaches argumentation and debate at New York University in the Culture & Communication Department of the Steinhardt School of Education and coaches the NYU Cross Examination Debate Association team. He has been honored as the top intercollegiate debate coach in the country with the Don Brownlee Award for Excellence in Coaching (1999) and the Lucy Keele National Debate Tournament Award (2004). He was a finalist in the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World competition and is a past winner of the Paul Slappy Award for Diversity and the Barkley Forum Award for Distinguished Service. He is listed in the Marquis Who's Who in the World.