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2020 RCLA Town Hall Lecture Series lineup announced

Annie Leibovitz, John Kelly and Wendy Sherman are a few names on the list who will speak at the Van Wezel.

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  • | 1:00 p.m. April 11, 2019
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A former White House Chief of Staff, a travel guru and an award-winning photojournalist will all make appearances in Sarasota as part of the 2020 Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Lecture Series. 

The lecture series’ 40th anniversary lineup was announced Thursday morning and will again feature five speakers from a variety of fields. 

"From leadership and politics to medicine and the arts, our renowned speakers will enlighten, instruct and entertain attendees in our 40th anniversary season," said 2020 committee chair, Ollie Johnson, in a release. 

The lineup is comprised of John Kelly, Rick Steves, Wendy Sherman, Sam Quinones, Lisa Genova and Annie Leibovitz. 

“We look forward to celebrating 40 years of bringing influencers from the world stage to our stage in Sarasota,” said Stephanie Grosskreutz, RCLA executive director.

The 2020 season also marks the 45th anniversary of the Ringling College Library Association. Since launching the annual series, RCLA has made more than $11 million in gifts and commitments for student scholarships and support of the Alfred R. Goldstein Library. 

“Our Town Hall Lecture Series and the continuing support of our members make it possible for talented students with limited financial means to attend Ringling, while supporting the ongoing needs of our library,” Grosskreutz said.

Lectures will be presented twice, once at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. All lectures will be presented at Van Wezel Performing Arts Center.

Subscription tickets for RCLA members will gone on sale June 1. Those wishing to become an RCLA member and subscribe to the 2020 Town Hall Lecture Series can call 941-309-5100 or visit the RCLA website. 

John Kelly
John Kelly

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly

Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general, will kick off the series Jan. 27 He served as President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security and White House Chief of Staff until January 2019. 


Travel guru Rick Steves

Rick Steves
Rick Steves

On Feb. 11, audiences can hear from Steves, who, in addition to hosting the public TV series “Rick Steves’ Europe,” is a best-selling author of more than 50 European travel books. Steves urges travelers to break away from the tourist mold and become temporary locals. 

Ambassador Wendy Sherman

Wendy Sherman
Wendy Sherman

Also speaking in February is Sherman who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs, and led the U.S. negotiation team to a conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal. President Barack Obama awarded Sherman the National Security Medal. Sherman's lecture will be Feb. 17. 

Freelance journalist Sam Quinones

Sam Quinones
Sam Quinones

Quinones, a freelance journalist and three-time author, will speak March 2 about his experience traveling all over the U.S. to write "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic." Quinones, who worked with the Los Angeles Times for 10 years, has reported on immigration, gangs and drug trafficking.  

Neuroscientist Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova
Lisa Genova

Genova, a neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author, will give a lecture March 23 focused on neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,

traumatic brain injury and autism. Through fiction, Genova describes the journeys of those affected by neurological diseases. 

Photojournalist Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz

Rounding out the series on April 7 is former chief photographer for Rolling Stone, Leibovitz, who will shed light on her career in journalism and the arts. With

work featured in Vanity Fair and Vogue, Leibovitz developed a portfolio that includes fashion photography as well as portraits of actors, musicians, athletes and political figures. 



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