2001-02 Distinguished speaker series
Erin Brockovich’s solo investigation of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Hinckley, California compressor station, established that countless people who lived in the area during the 1960's, 70's and 80's were devastated by the station's chromium 6 chemical leakage. Brockovich's discovery led to the largest ever direct action lawsuit of it's kind and resulted in the largest legal settlement in U.S. history paying out some $333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinckly residents. Her investigation was the subject of the hit movie “Erin Brockovich” for which Julia Roberts received an Oscar for best actress. Erin has received a number of awards for her work with the environment including: Consumer Advocate of the Year, Profile in Courage Award and the Presidential Award of Merit. She currently serves as director of environmental research at the law firm of Masry and Vititoe.
Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader will be the second DSS presenter. Nader has been considered the most prominent leader of the U.S. consumer protection movement. He founded the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, the Center for Auto Safety, and the Public Interest Research Group. He was also named by the L.A. Times as one of the 50 people who most influenced business this century. Nader’s topic will be “The American Duopoly.”
DR. MAYA ANGELOU
Internationally renowned author, poet, historian, conductor, actor, singer, songwriter, playwright, film director and civil rights activist are just a FEW of the titles that summarize the great Maya Angelou. Dr. Angelou began her career in drama and dance. Some of her honors include being appointed by three different Presidents for various responsibilities including serving on President Gerald Ford’s Bicentennial Commission, and serving on Jimmy Carter’s National Commission on the Observance of Women’s Year. She was also selected by President Bill Clinton to compose and recite a poem at his Presidential Inauguration Ceremony in 1992. Dr. Angelou’s awards include: a Grammy for best spoken word album in 1994 (“On the Pulse of Morning”); Ladies Home Journal “Woman of the Year” (1976) and Top 100 Most Influential Women (1983); Tony Award nomination (1970), Pulitzer Prize Nomination (1972). She also wrote and presented a poem at the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995 and was named UNICEF’s National Ambassador in 1996. In 1981 she was appointed to a lifetime position as the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University where she currently serves.
A prolific novelist, poet and screenplay writer, Alexie has been hailed as one of the best young writers of his generation. In June 1999, The New Yorker named him one of the top 20 writers for the 21st century. Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State. He has authored 8 books of poetry, several collections of short stories and numerous works for magazines. He wrote the screenplay and produced the feature film “Smoke Signals,” based on his book “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” The film captured the Audience Award and the Filmmaker’s Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. His first novel, “Reservation Blues,” was selected for Booklist’s Editors Choice Award for Fiction. In 1998 he published “Indian Killer,” which became a New York Times Notable Book. Alexie has also won the World Heavyweight Championship Poetry Bout three years in a row - 1998, 1999 and 2000. Upon the publication of his first collection of poetry “The Business of Fancydancing,” The New York Times Book Review described Alexie as “one of the major lyric voices or our time.” He is currently working on a screenplay adaptation of his novel “Reservation Blues.” In March, Alexie was featured on 60 Minutes II.
Updated: Thursday, August 19, 2004
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