31st Anniversary Renaissance Weekend Convenes for New Year's in Charleston

December 28, 2011

CHARLESTON, SC – December 27, 2011 – Renaissance Weekend, the non-partisan retreat founded in 1981 to build bridges among innovative leaders from diverse fields, tomorrow brings 1,200 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 31 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 31-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:

  •     DARPA Director Regina Dugan
  •     NASA Administrator, 4-time Space Shuttle pilot & Former US Marine Corps General Charles Bolden
  •     Economics Nobel Laureate Roger Myerson
  •     Obama Administration Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske
  •     American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene
  •     Behavioral economist & best-selling author Dan Ariely
  •     Former US Comptroller-General David Walker    
  •     Immediate Past Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright and former US Army Special Operations Commander General Frank Akers
  •     CARE International President Helene Gayle
  •     US Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood
  •     Skoll Global Threats Fund President Lawrence Brilliant
  •     Former Texas Rangers President, and US Ambassador to Japan and Australia, Tom Schieffer
  •     US Civil Air Patrol Commander General Amy Carter
  •     Passages Author Gail Sheehy
  •     Evangelist Leighton Ford & former National Cathedral Dean Samuel Lloyd
  •     Conservative direct mail guru Richard Viguerie
  •     Former Astronaut Barbara Morgan
  •     Financial writer Andrew Tobias
  •     Emmy-winning NPR Host Scott Simon
  •     MacArthur Prize-winners Howard Gardner & Olufunmilayo Olopade
  •     CNN Political Commentator Roland Martin
  •     Emmy-winning Pixar Animation inventor Rob Cook
  •     US Pension Benefit Guaranty Fund Chairman Josh Gotbaum
  •     Yale theologian Lamin Sanneh
  •     Sex therapist Ruth Westheimer
  •     Matterhorn & What It Means to Go to War Author Karl Marlantes
  •     SAS Institute Co-Founder John Sall
  •     Rennsylaer Polytechnic Institute President, & former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair, Shirley Jackson
  •     Political Commentator Eleanor Clift
  •     You Just Don’t Understand & Talking 9-5 Author Deborah Tannen
  •     Former CNN Business anchor Myron Kandel
  •     US Senate Candidate, & former Congressman, Chris Shays and 6 current US Congressmen
  •     New Yorker Columnist Hendrik Hertzberg
  •     African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Bill Deveaux
  •     MIT media sociologist Sherry Turkle
  •     Norton Utilities developer & arts patron Peter Norton
  •     University of Virginia Business School Dean Robert Bruner
  •     Conservation ecologist Stuart Pimm
  •     Washington’s Most Quoted Pundit/American Enterprise Institute Fellow Norm Ornstein
  •     Spiritual Author Barbara Bradford Taylor
  •     Former UN Assistant Secretary-General Gillian Sorensen
  •     Archie Comics Owner/CEO Nancy Silberkleit
  •     American Council on Education, & former UNC System, President Molly Broad
  •     Emmy-winning Daily Show writer Kevin Bleyer
  •     Disciples of Christ/Christian Church National President Sharon Watkins
  •     Princeton Astrophysicist David Spergel

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

    Restoring the Middle Class
    The Arab Autumn
    New Rules for the New Economy:  The Return of Get Rich Slow
    Who Do We Turn to in an Age of Volatility?
    The Science of Romantic Attraction
    Does a Dysfunctional Political Culture Ordain Decline?
    What Makes a Hero?
    The Military in Popular Culture
    The Stuff that Defines Us
    What We Learned from Steve (Jobs)
    The Afghanistan & Iraq Americans Don’t Know
    Hold the Schnapps:  Whither Europe?
    iBelieve:  God in the Digital Age
    How the Future Works:  2011’s Scientific Breakthroughs  
    Books that Change Lives
    What Would a Martian Think (of 2011’s Films & New TV Shows)?
    BIG Data & the Era of Super-crunchers
    Teaching a New Generation to Be Altruistic
    What’s Working in Classrooms?
    The Trustworthy Company:  Risk Management & Corporate Governance
    Branding’s New Rules of Media Engagement
    Atticus Finch, Where Are You?
    Coping with FOMO (The Fear of Missing Out)
    The Populist Tea-Party/Occupy-Wall-Street Danger Zone

The New Year’s gathering is designed to be the largest of four annual Renaissance Weekends, with 2012 sessions scheduled for Santa Monica on Presidents’ Day
, Monterey Bay on July 4th, and Aspen on Labor Day.

Each Renaissance Weekend over these past 31 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 18 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.