Hawa Abdi, M.D., operates a refugee hospital and camp serving nearly 100,000 people, primarily women and children, in war-ravaged Somalia, a country that most charities refuse to enter.
Abdi came to international prominence in May 2010 for standing up to hundreds of Islamist militants who tried to take control of her camp. When she and hundreds of women dared to protest the militants' occupation, the gunmen backed down, and even submitted to Abdi's demand for a written apology.
Abdi and her daughters, Deeqo Mohamed and Amina Mohamed, also doctors, were named three of Glamour's Women of the Year in 2010. "Their unwavering fortitude in the face of insurmountable obstacles is a testament to the warrior spirit of women," said Somalia-born cosmetics executive Iman. The Glamour piece called Abdi "equal parts Mother Teresa and Rambo."
Abdi and her daughters also operate the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, which aims to ensure continued health care for Somali refugees and the people of East Africa. Abdi, whose camp began as a one-room clinic in 1983, holds degrees in gynecological medicine and law.
Contemporary and historical religion's most prolific author, Karen Armstrong is a highly sought-after lecturer around the world, and is called upon by governments, universities, and church and secular organizations alike to educate about the world's religions and to inform regarding their place in the modern world. A former Roman Catholic nun, she was educated at Oxford and has taught at London University and London's Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism.
Her writings include A History of God: From Abraham to the Present, the 4000 Year Quest for God; Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths; The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Islam: A Short History; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions; and Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time. She has been honored around the world especially as a bridge-builder between the Abrahamic Faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Her most recent works are A History of the Bible, The Case for God, and 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life.
One of the 2008 winners of the TED Prize, chosen for her world-changing work and continuing potential to inspire others to do something great for the world, in November of 2009 the TED community helped Armstrong to launch her Charter for Compassion to help to restore the Golden Rule as the central global religious doctrine.
Stanley Fish is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and Law at Florida International University in Miami. A well-known public intellectual, he writes frequently on the politics of the university and maintains a New York Times blog where he comments regularly on the humanities, education, law and society.
He is the author of numerous books and articles, including How Milton Works; Is There a Text in This Class? Interpretive Communities and the Sources of Authority; The Trouble With Principle; Professional Correctness: Literary Studies and Political Change; There's No Such Thing as Free Speech: And It's a Good Thing, Too; and Save the World on Your Own Time. His essays and articles have appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Harper's Magazine, Esquire and The Atlantic.
Fish is dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Previously, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and Duke University. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and earned his master's and doctoral degrees from Yale.
John Hamre was elected president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in January 2000. Before joining CSIS, he served as the 26th U.S. deputy secretary of defense.
Under Hamre's leadership, CSIS's Global Health Policy Center formed in 2009 its Commission on Smart Global Health Policy, operating from the premise that investments in health, while benefiting people first, advance a wide-range of foreign policy, security, economic and development interests. CSIS assembled the new commission in response to the 2007 Smart Power Commission, whose final report put a special focus on global health, making the case for public health investments as the leading edge of U.S. development programs and for improving the U.S. image abroad.
Hamre served as under secretary of defense (comptroller) from 1993 to 1997. Before serving in the Department of Defense, he worked for 10 years as a professional staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. From 1978 to 1984, Hamre served in the Congressional Budget Office, where he became its deputy assistant director for national security and international affairs.
Hamre received his doctorate from the School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University, where his studies focused on international politics and economics and U.S. foreign policy. He earned his bachelor's degree from Augustana College, emphasizing political science and economics, and also studied as a Rockefeller fellow at Harvard Divinity School.
Kati Marton, an award-winning former NPR and ABC News correspondent, is the author of Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History, a New York Times bestseller, as well as Wallenberg, The Polk Conspiracy, A Death in Jerusalem, and a novel, An American Woman.
Rabbi David Saperstein
David Saperstein is a rabbi, lawyer, and Jewish community leader. He has served as the director and chief legal counsel at the Union for Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center for more than 30 years. Saperstein succeeded Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch as leader of the Washington D.C.-based political lobbying arm of the North American Reform movement. There, he advocates on a broad range of social justice issues. He directs a staff who provide extensive legislative and programmatic materials to synagogues, federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils nationwide, coordinating social action education programs that train nearly 3,000 Jewish adults, youth, rabbinic and lay leaders each year.
Also an attorney, Rabbi Saperstein teaches advanced seminars in both First Amendment church-state law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law Center. He currently co-chairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, and serves on the boards of the NAACP, LCCHR and People For the American Way. In 1999, Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University. He taught at Harvard University and the University of Michigan before joining the faculty at Brown in 1969.
Wood is the author of The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, which won the Bancroft Prize and the John H. Dunning Prize in 1970, and The Radicalism of the American Revolution, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize in 1993. The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin (2004) was awarded the Julia Ward Howe Prize by the Boston Authors Club in 2005. His latest books are Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History and Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815.
Wood reviews in The New York Review of Books and The New Republic and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He received his bachelor's degree from Tufts University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Wood previously lectured at Chautauqua in 2009, in a week on "The History of Liberty."
Robin Wright is a journalist and foreign policy analyst. Since October 2010, she has been a joint senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. During her fellowship, she will work on two books, Jihad Against the Jihad and The Iran Primer, the latter of which is about the thinkers and trends that will define the future of the Islamic world over the next decade.
Wright has reported from more than a 140 countries on six continents for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Sunday Times of London, CBS News and the Christian Science Monitor. Her foreign tours include the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and several years as a roving foreign correspondent. Wright has covered a dozen wars and several revolutions and most recently covered U.S. foreign policy for the Washington Post.
Among her many awards, Wright has received the U.N. Correspondent's Gold Medal, the National Magazine Award for reportage from Iran in The New Yorker, and the Overseas Press Club Award for "best reporting in any medium requiring exceptional courage and initiative" for coverage of African wars. She has also been the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. Wright has been a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Brookings Institution, Yale University, Duke University, Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. She lectures extensively around the United States and has appeared on programs on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and PBS.
Wright's books include The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran, Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam, Flashpoints: Promise and Peril in a New World and In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade. She received both her master's and bachelor's degrees from the University of Michigan.