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Thursday 11 April 2013

Reta Jo Lewis
Diplomacy and Statecraft: Leading, Leveraging and Engaging Global Communities

Few people combine as deep an understanding of the White House, the private sector and the US's international partner organisations as our first speaker.

Appointed the Secretary of State's Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs in 2010, Reta Jo Lewis is tasked with building relationships between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. state and local officials and their foreign counterparts around the world.

Special Representative Lewis was previously a partner at an international law firm, Director of Business Outreach for the Obama-Biden Transition Project, and Vice President and Counselor to the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to those roles, she acted in the Clinton White House as Special Assistant to the President for Political Affairs, and co-ordinated the White House task force on the 1996 Atlanta Olympic and Paralympic Games and the 1994 Soccer World Cup. While a lawyer, she was principal liaison to the U.S. Government for the city of Denver’s hosting of the 1997 G-8 Summit and Summit of African Leaders that preceded the G-8, and directed the eight-city U.S. tour of ANC leader Nelson Mandela.

She is currently President of Executive Women in Government, holds a M.S.A.J. from American University, and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law.

Photo of Reta Jo Lewis

BoomTown!

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Thursday 18 April 2013

John Rashford
People and Plants: the African Baobab Tree in the Americas

The Baobab was made famous in the West by Saint-Exupery's "Little Prince," whose planet was too tiny to support the tree's enormous trunks.

Long regarded as a mystical provider in African communities, the fruit, leaves and seeds of this giant are now being eyed by producers as the world's newest superfood. But Africa's most famous tree was actually introduced to this side of the Atlantic some three hundred years ago.

Ethnobotanist and College of Charleston anthropology Professor John Rashford will review the introduction, distribution and uses of the species in the Americas in the post-Columbian period, and in particular, the reasons people have given for planting the tree.

Professor Rashford hails originally from Jamaica. With a B.A, from Friends World College, an M.A and Ph.D. from The Graduate School, City University of New York, he has traveled the world investigating "Plants and landscapes, plants and religion, plants and medicine, plants and poisons, plants and material culture such as home-building," but he continues to find material to pique his interest on around the College of Charleston campus, where he has been a much-loved professor since 1982.

Photo of John Rashford

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Thursday 2 May 2013

Dave H. and Reba W. Williams
Prints: Fact and Fiction

The Williams have spent thirty years collecting, studying and, through the Print Research Foundation, enabling others to study prints by American artists.

In 2009, their collection of more than 5,000 works was acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Ranging from the etching revival to Pop art, American modernists to depression-era and Works Project Administration (WPA) prints, the collection spanning roughly 1875–1975 was "among the largest and finest private collections of American prints in the world".

They continue to own and acquire rare prints, but have now turned to writing—Dave Williams, about print collecting and Reba White Williams, mystery novels set in the art world.

Both graduates of Harvard Business School, Reba Williams studied art history at Hunter College and earned her doctorate from The Graduate Center at the City University of New York.

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Tuesday 7 May 2013

John Kennedy
Matsukaze and the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra

John Kennedy is a leader in bringing adventurous, contemporary music stunningly to life for musicians and audiences.

As Resident Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities at the Spoleto Festival USA, the American premieres to take place under his baton include the operas Faustus, the Last Night by Pascal Dusapin (2007), Proserpina by Wolfgang Rihm (2010), Emilie by Kaija Saariaho (2011), and Kepler by Philip Glass (2012).

This year, he conducts Matsukaze, by leading Japanese composer, Toshio Hosokawa. Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung praised it as "an unforgettable total work of art", and the New York Times as a triumph for contemporary opera. Drawing on elements of the Noh theatre tradition, Matsukaze confronts man's relationship with nature and fate in an ethereal and (per London’s Financial Times) "compellingly beautiful" musical language.

A prolific composer, conductor, Artistic Director of Santa Fe New Music since 2001, and of New York's Essential Music from 1988–2001, John Kennedy will also talk about the importance of the Spoleto Festival orchestra to the entire program of the festival.

Photo of John Kennedy

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Thursday 9 May 2013

Leslie G. Bowman
Thomas Jefferson Today: From Monticello to a Global Legacy

America’s "first foodie" (according to Michelle Obama) and the man who reminds us, across the centuries, that the pursuit of happiness is a right, not a luxury, Thomas Jefferson today travels further than he ever could in his lifetime. As President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., which owns and operates Monticello, Leslie Greene Bowman crosses the globe to speak about his legacy.

Before Monticello, she was executive director of Winterthur, the nation's greatest museum of American decorative arts. She spent the first half of her career as a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, finishing as head curator of decorative arts as well as assistant director of exhibition programs. There she also enjoyed academic appointments with both USC and UCLA, where she taught American decorative arts history.

She is the author of American Arts & Crafts: Virtue in Design, and co-author of American Rococo, 1750–1775: Elegance in Ornament, each amplifying scholarship on important eras in American art history.

Leslie has served at the highest levels of the museum field, both as an accreditation commissioner for the American Association of Museums and a board member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. From 1993–2010, she served by Presidential appointment on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. She is currently a Trustee on the Board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Photo of Leslie G. Bowman

Charleston Library Society: The South's oldest cultural institution, founded 1748