Keynote and Big Idea Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Erik Larson

Monday, May 19, 10:15 a.m.–12 noon

Erik Larson is a master of narrative nonfiction. His vividly written, bestselling books have won several awards and been published worldwide. His most recent book is In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, a vivid portrait of the American ambassador and his family in Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign. Larson’s The Devil in the White City intertwines the stories of the Chicago 1893 World’s Fair and one of America’s worst serial killers. It remained on the New York Times bestseller list for a combined total of over three years, won an Edgar Award for nonfiction crime writing and was nominated for the National Book Award. Among his other books are Thunderstruck, Isaac’s Storm, Lethal Passage and The Naked Consumer. He has written articles for The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Yorker and other publications and has taught nonfiction writing at San Francisco State, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars and the University of Oregon. 

Big Idea Speakers

David Fleming

Tuesday, May 20, 1:45–3 p.m.

David Fleming, director of National Museums Liverpool (NML), will discuss how modern museums around the world have evolved to become more engaged with audiences, more socially aware and more political.

Fleming became director of NML in 2001, overseeing a major modernization that has transformed the institution into a leading example of inclusivity. NML audiences have more than quadrupled during that time, rising from around 700,000 to more than 3.2 million per year. He has been responsible for the creation of two new museums in Liverpool: the Museum of Liverpool and the International Slavery Museum.

Fleming is a former president and current vice president of the UK Museums Association. He has served on several government committees and task forces, sits on a number of boards and governing bodies, and is a visiting professor of museum studies at Liverpool Hope University, UK, and special advisor to the Museum of Democracy, Rosario, Argentina. He has published extensively and has lectured worldwide on museum management and leadership, city history museums, social inclusion, human rights and politics.

Denis Hayes

Tuesday, May 20, 3:15–4:30 p.m.

While he is a seasoned veteran of many legislative, cultural and courtroom battles over the years—and the author of numerous books and articles—Denis Hayes is probably best known for serving as national coordinator of the first Earth Day when he was 25. During the Carter years, Hayes directed the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; during the Reagan years, he was a professor of engineering and human ecology at Stanford University. A Time magazine “Hero of the Planet,” Hayes has received the John Muir Award, the Rachel Carson Medal and a National Jefferson Award. At the Bullitt Foundation, he leads an effort to mold the American Pacific Northwest into a global model of sustainability, applying ecological principles to the design of “human ecosystems.” To “walk its talk,” the foundation recently completed the world’s greenest office building (see