28th Annual New Year's Renaissance Weekend Convenes in Charleston

December 28, 2008

CHARLESTON, SC – December 27, 2008 – Renaissance Weekend, the non-partisan retreat founded in 1981 to build bridges among innovative leaders from diverse fields, begins tomorrow, December 28, 2008, and will bring 1,200 participants to Charleston, South Carolina, for 450 lectures, seminars, discussions, and performances concluding with their singing of Auld Lang Syne and God Bless America at the stroke of the new year.

The tradition was founded and is hosted by the former US Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, Philip Lader, who is chairman of WPP plc, the world’s largest advertising/media services company, and his wife, Linda Lader, a Fellow at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture and a director of various education and religious organizations.

For 28 years, Ambassador Lader said, Renaissance Weekend has continued to be a cross-generational conversation among accomplished individuals with widely divergent perspectives. Civility prevails; partisanship is frowned upon; and commercialism is banned.

Though strikingly different views of religion, politics, and every other field are represented, there is more light than heat, Lader added.

The meetings are likened to the reunion of an extended family of prominent leaders in business and finance, education, religion, law and medicine, government, the media, science and technology, sports, non-profits and the arts. This year’s gathering includes CEOs, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, artists and scientists, astronauts, athletes and university presidents, judges, journalists and diplomats, as well as government, non-profit, and religious leaders.

Among the New Year’s participants are:

  —  Director of US National Intelligence Michael McConnell
  —  Nobel laureates Robert Richardson, Bill Phillips, and Robert Curl
  —  Space Shuttle Discover Commander Mark Kelly
  —  former Under Secretary of State and Ogilvy & Mather chair Charlotte Beers
  —  Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel Howe
  —  former CIA officer Valerie Plame
  —  American Conservative Union chairman David Keene
  —  Columbia University Medical Center dean Lee Goldman
  —  National Cathedral dean Sam Lloyd
  —  former Chief of Staff to Barbara Bush Susan Porter Rose
  —  former Federal Reserve Board vice chairman Alan Blinder
  —  evangelists Leighton Ford and Tony Campolo
  —  JFK adviser Ted Sorensen
  —  conservative direct mail guru Richard Viguerie
  —  Rabbi Harold Kushner
  —  financial writer Andrew Tobias
  —  former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Shirley Jackson
  —  CIA counter-terrorism authority Hank Crumpton
  —  software designer Peter Norton
  —  MacArthur Prize-winning education professor Howard Gardner
  —  CBS News correspondent Rita Braver
  —  media venture capitalist Kay Koplovitz
  —  Society of Neuroscientists president Mickey Goldberg
  —  Yale and Princeton theologians Lamin Sanneh and Elaine Pagels
  —  SAS Institute co-founder John Sall
  —  Newsweek contributing editor Eleanor Clift
  —  Ohio State University president Gordon Gee
  —  NPR anchor Scott Simon
  —  former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Gillian Sorensen
  —  former US ambassador Joe Wilson
  —  award-winning nature photographer Frans Lanting
  —  linguistics author Deborah Tannen
  —  former US Senator and ambassador to China Jim Sasser
  —  Kanye West Entertainment president Miki Woodard
  —  open-source software pioneer Michael Tiemann
  —  former CNN Business anchor Myron Kandel
  —  Washington lawyers Bob Barnett and Thurgood Marshall

Programs cover a broad spectrum of public policy and personal issues, such as:

  —  Is It Still A Wonderful Life?,
  —  The Making of 44 — How the Presidential Race Was Won,
  —  Oh, Oh – The Spacecraft’s on Fire & the Urinal’s Backed Up,
  —  What Christians Don’t Understand about Islam,
  —  Prescriptions for Healthcare Reform,
  —  Could I Have Been Taken In by Bernie Madoff?,
  —  The History of Freedom,
  —  Why the New Gold Rush Is Green,
  —  Net Prophets & the Web They Weave,
  —  How Young People’s Brains Differ from Past Generations’,
  —  Is the American Way of Life Indestructible?,
  —  What Governor Palin’s Appeal Tells Us about America,
  —  The Screening of America,
  —  Books that Change Lives,
  —  How Seriously Stretched Is America’s Military?,
  —  What deTocqueville & Dante Would Tell Barack about Governing,
  —  Consequences of Mumbai
  —  How President Obama Can Reverse America’s Estrangement from the World,
  —  Spirituality Amidst Turbulence,
  —  Why More Education Spending Brings Only Mixed Results,
  —  Miracles of Microfinance,
  —  Can We Fix Government’s Capacity to Avoid & Respond to Crises?,
  —  What Will the Next Century Treasure from Contemporary Culture?
  —  What Bush Got Right,
  —  Will Shrinking Newspapers Still Be Strong Enough to Combat Corruption?

  —  Where Should Your Money Be Now?,
  —  What’s the GOP’s Road Back?,
  —  Even Saints Have Dark Nights, and
  —  Redwhiteandbluenecks – Will the Capulets & Montagues Now Lay Down Their Swords to Get Us Through the Nation’s Perilous Times

The New Year’s gathering, designed to be the largest, is traditionally held in the Laders’ hometown. Additional Renaissance Weekends in 2009 are scheduled in Tucson on President’s Day, Jackson Hole on July 4th, and Monterey Bay on Labor Day.

Each Renaissance Weekend, with equally distinguished participants, seeks to build bridges across traditional divides of religion and politics, geography and generations, religions and philosophies, Mrs. Lader explained.

Renaissance Weekend celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2005 with past participants Gerald R. Ford and Bill Clinton as co-chairmen. More than a dozen past candidates for US president have attended Renaissance Weekends, and six nominees for President-elect Obama’s Cabinet are Renaissance veterans.