30th Anniversary Renaissance Weekend Convenes for New Year's in Charleston

January 2, 2011

CHARLESTON, SC – December 27, 2010 – Renaissance Weekend, the non-partisan retreat founded in 1981 to build bridges among innovative leaders from diverse fields, tomorrow brings 1,100 participants to Charleston, South Carolina, for 500 lectures, seminars, discussions, and performances concluding with their traditional 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.

For 30 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, media, science, 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, medicine, government, the media, science, 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. 

The preponderance of participants have attended regularly throughout Renaissance’s 30-year history.  In response to three decades of Renaissance ideas and challenges, hundreds of participants entered public service, started businesses, founded non-profit organizations, and established private foundations.  Also, more than a dozen marriages resulted from couples meeting at these Weekends.

The discussions’ breadth is illustrated by this partial list of this New Year’s participants:

    * Physics Nobel laureate Bill Phillips
    * Former Bush Administration Interior Secretary, US Senator & Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne
    * Former Clinton Administration Interior Secretary & Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt
    * Obama Administration Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowski
    * Former Clinton Administration Education Secretary & South Carolina Governor Richard Riley
    * Space Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly & Astronaut Joan Higginbotham
    * Former Top Afghanistan CIA Agent & US Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism Hank Crumpler
    * Internet Guru Esther Dyson
    * Ohio State University President Gordon Gee and Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow
    * American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene
    * (500) Days of Summer & Pink Panther screenwriter Scott Neustadter
    * US Civil Air Patrol Commander-General Amy Courter
    * Former Australian Treasury Secretary John Dawkins
    * Tiananmen Square revolt leader & hedge fund manager Li Lu
    * First Lady Barbara Bush’s former Chief of Staff, Susan Porter Rose
    * Passages author Gail Sheehy
    * Evangelists Tony Campolo & Leighton Ford
    * HIV Virus discoverer & biologist Flossie Wong-Stahl
    * Hedge fund managers Samuel Gottesman, Peter Kellner & Jeff Weber
    * Conservative direct mail guru Richard Viguerie
    * Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalists Charles Savage & Alex Jones
    * Financial writer Andrew Tobias
    * Fair Game protagonists Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent, and Ambassador Joe Wilson
    * Snapfish founder Bala Parsatharathy
    * Financial Services Roundtable President, & former Dallas Mayor & GOP Congressman, Steve Bartlett
    * Emmy-winning NPR host Scott Simon
    * MacArthur Prize-winning education professor Howard Gardner
    * Former Congressman, NBA Player, Olympian & Rhodes Scholar Tom McMillen
    * Web pioneers/entrepreneurs Michael Tiemann, Brad Horowitz, Ben Nelson, Jordan Mendelson
    * CNN Political Commentator Roland Martin
    * 20th Century Fox Executive Producers Steven Puri & Lauren Neustadter
    * US Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund Chairman Josh Gotbaum
    * Yale and Princeton theologians Lamin Sanneh and Elaine Pagels
    * Sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer
    * SAS Institute Co-Founder John Sall
    * Newsweek contributing editor, & TV commentator, Eleanor Clift
    * You Just Don’t Understand & Talking 9-5 author Deborah Tannen
    * Former CNN Business anchor Myron Kandel
    * African Methodist Episcopal bishops Vashti McKenzie & Bill Deveaux
    * MIT media sociologist Sherry Turkle
    * Economics historian John Steele Gordon
    * Norton Utilities developer & arts patron Peter Norton
    * Conservation ecologist Stuart Pimm
    * Washington’s Most Quoted Pundit & American Enterprise Institute Scholar Norm Ornstein
    * Former UN Assistant Secretary-General Gillian Sorensen
    * American Council on Education, & former UNC System, President, Molly Broad
    * God’s Politics’ author Jim Wallis
    * US Congressmen Rush Holt & Gabby Giffords
    * Emmy-winning Daily Show writer Kevin Bleyer
    * Fortune Cookie Chronicles author Jenny 8 Lee
    * Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge

The New Year’s Weekend’s 500 programs address a broad spectrum of public policy and personal issues, such as:

    * Restoring the American Dream
    * Irrationality:  Why We Do the Things We Do
    * What Christians Don’t Understand about Islam
    * How Galaxies Form & Evolve
    * Energy Futures
    * Innovation 2.0:  How’s Innovation Itself Changing?
    * The Well-Furnished Mind
    * Taking Mad Men Digital
    * Living (Well) till 100
    * Gordon Gekko’s Back:  What Constitutes Greed Today?
    * The State of American Politics
    * How the Future Works:  Breakthroughs in Science & Technology
    * Reinventing Hollywood
    * Sex & the Seasoned Woman
    * The Wisdom of History
    * Modernizing America’s National Security
    * What Teachers & Parents Want from Our Schools
    * The Post-PC, Post-Internet World
    * Social Entrepreneurs & Non-profit Leaders, Serving the World
    * Making Sense of the Wine List
    * Autism & Cognitive Neuroscience
    * The Future of Faith
    * How Safe Are We?
    * Converting Economic Uncertainty into Investment Opportunities
    * The Coarsening of American Culture
    * Is Estrogen the New Ritali
    * The Practical Practice of Politics
    * Chronicles of Philanthropy
    * Is Friend, the Noun, Now Meaningless When Friending Is a Verb?

The New Year’s gathering is designed to be the largest of four annual Renaissance Weekends, with 2011 sessions scheduled for Laguna Niguel, California, on Presidents’ Day; Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on July 4th; and Monterey Bay, California, on Labor Day.

Each Renaissance Weekend over these past 30 years has sought, with equally distinguished participants, to build bridges across traditional divides of religion, politics, and philosophies, generations, geography and personal backgrounds, Mrs. Lader, a Presbyterian minister, explained.

Past participants have regularly included former US Presidents Gerald R. Ford and Bill Clinton, as well as more than a dozen past candidates for President and scores of Cabinet members, Governors, & US Senators, Nobel laureates and MacArthur Genius Award-, Pulitzer Prize-, Oscar- and Emmy-winners, Olympic champions and astronauts, best-selling authors, celebrated CEOs and investment managers, Internet pioneers and entrepreneurs, and leaders in education, non-profits, social services, law and medicine.  Illustrative lists of past participants, the history of the programs, information about the founders, and other details may be found at www.RenaissanceWeekend.org.