Aspen Ideas Festival Remarks


The Aspen Ideas Festival is one of my favorite events of the year. The extraordinary beauty of the Aspen landscape combines with the brilliant leaders and thinkers organized by the Aspen Institute. Below are a few of my favorite sessions. The entire conference is enlightening and inspirational while examining the issues of our day and how to deal with our future. Here is an opportunity for you to hear some of these exciting presentations I thoroughly enjoyed.

First, ‘Good by Design’ How Social Entrepreneurs Accelerate Possibility. Four extraordinary young people talking about the organizations they have founded. They are all Skoll Scholars saving the world with a text line to stop suicides, child sex abuse, and more. This you should not miss!

The opening session is always wonderful. There were many speakers. Jeffery Goldburg, the Editor in Chief of the Atlantic kept us laughing for 20 minutes. The wonderful Inaugural poet David Blanco read an extraordinary poem, and David Brooks the New York Times columnist, has established a community of “Weavers”. These are community leaders across America who are solving problems on a local level and are becoming super heroes.


‘(Re) Building a Good Society’ with Walter Isaacson and Daniel Porterfield. These two men are incredible thinkers, writers, and leaders. Daniel currently heads the Aspen Institute and Walter left a few years ago. They talk about many subjects including the importance of integrity in our institutions and the fact that globalization has left so many behind.

‘My Life is Awesome so Why Can’t I Enjoy it?’ with Laurie Santos

Laurie Santos is the most popular university Professor in America. 1,000 students line up to take her class. What subject does she teach- Happiness! Everyone I know should definitely watch this session. It will help you keep smiling!

‘A Path Forward on Economic Policy’

They have practical solutions for today’s economic situation. If you are interested in economics don’t miss this presentation! Bob Rubin is amazing!

‘Fostering Educational Excellence on a Global Scale’ with Jackie Bezos and Wendy Kopp

Jackie Bezos, Jeff Bezos mother, has started a movement called “Vroom”. It has to do with building a child’s brain from an infant. Wendy Kopp founded “Teach for America”, one of the great nonprofits that takes college student and puts them in under performing schools-giving them the opportunity to give back. Listen to these wonderful women and their latest plans.

The Internet Era: How Connectivity is Reshaping the World with Ramesh Srinivasan, Karan Bhatia, Tara Westover and others.

Ramesh Srinivasan is a fantastic professor at UCLA and Tara Westover was raised in a survivalist household and managed to make her way to the university having only been home schooled. They weigh in on our modern world and how we are all affected by the internet.

‘Are we headed to war with Iran’ with William Burns

William Burns is an outstanding diplomat that has served five presidents. His wisdom is terrific. This session will wake you up.

‘Can Political Innovation Break up Partisan Gridlock and save our Democracy?’ with Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter.

This is was one of the MOST FASCINATING of all the subjects. She explains in detail what the problems are in our political system and its terrible dysfunction. She has designed a new system for our elections!

The Closing Session is always the best attended! It combines both session 1 and 2 and it takes place in the big music tent. Last Wednesday, the surprise guest was Mark Zuckerburg, it began with the rapper Common, his motto is “Let Love Have the Last Word”. Listen to them both!

Thank you to all the wonderful staff and volunteers of the Aspen Institute for giving me an experience of a lifetime.


Joyce Rey
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