Special Invitation to the Texas Tribune Festival for Harvard Alums!

If you are in Austin later this week, check out the Texas Tribune Festival!

Fellow alum, Sewell Chan '98, is organizing a great event with many Harvard connections (see below).  While the event takes place in downtown Austin, we want to let you know about the Texas Tribune Festival in case you happen to be in Austin later in the week (it runs from Thursday, September 21 to Saturday, September 23).  As the Tribune editor in chief, Sewell Chan is offering fellow Harvard alums a discount code (Friends And Family) to save $100 off tickets.  There are also separate discounts for educators, students and government / nonprofit employees (click HERE to view all tickets!)  On Saturday, they also have a totally free open congress program.


Esther Olivrez

Harvard University Club of Houston


Harvard alums will be speaking on almost every subject imaginable.

Starting with politics (natch)… U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, JD ’95, will make the case for why he should be elected to a third term, in conversation with my colleague Patrick Svitek. U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego ’02 will explain why Arizonans should oust Krysten Sinema and elect him instead. The House Minority Whip, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, MPA ’97, will describe trying to govern when your party is in the minority. New York Times reporter Nicholas Nehamas ’11 will lead a panel on how Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida (JD ’05) thinks — and whether he's got a shot at beating Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. 

Harvard's most famous Texas twins — U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, JD ’00, and former HUD secretary Julián Castro, JD ’00 — will talk about their family's legacy with their mother, civil rights activist Rosie Castro.

Leah Litman ’06, a legal scholar at the University of Michigan, will analyze what the Supreme Court is likely to do — and not do — in the coming term. 

John Bridgeland ’82, a former George W. Bush adviser who now leads More Perfect, a nonpartisan group engaging institutions and Americans to protect our democracy, will talk about domestic policy with Neera Tanden, Melody Barnes and the Tribune's CEO, Sonal Shah.  

Jeffrey Toobin ’82, JD ’86, whose new book is about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, will talk about the persistent threats from far-right extremism.  Jocelyn Benson, JD ’04, who has faced death threats in her role as Michigan secretary of state, will talk about keeping elections free, fair — and safe. 

Two episodes of the “Talking Feds” will be recorded live, featuring guests including Juliette Kayyem ’91, an expert on national security; Elie Honig, JD ’00, the senior legal analyst for CNN; and Harry Litman ’80, a former U.S. attorney,  

Global issues, including technology and climate, are other major themes.


U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss ’10, a Massachusetts Democrat and an ex-Marine, will discuss the Russia-Ukraine war as part of a panel moderated by author and journalist Garrett M. Graff ’03.  

The head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Jen Easterly, will discuss digital threats with Bobby Chesney, JD ’97, the dean of the UT Austin School of Law.  Duke law professor Nita Farahany, ALM ’07, will discuss the opportunities — and challenges — posed by AI.  

Andrew Dessler, PhD ’94, a top climate scientist at Texas A&M, will tell us what Texas’ second-hottest summer means for our future. Joseph Wender, JD ’08, who helps oversee the American Rescue Plan for the Treasury Department, will talk about the many parts of America where broadband is too slow or unavailable. 

You'll also have a chance to meet numerous journalists. Bill Kristol '73 will talk about The Bulwark, his conservative, fact- and reporting-based news publication. (Trump is not a fan.) Former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker ’79 will discuss civil rights, Black Power, and the legacy of the 1960s with other authors. John Palfrey ’94, a former Harvard law professor who now leads the MacArthur Foundation, will discuss its exciting new effort to help save local journalism

Speaking of local… We've got plenty of Harvard alums talking Texas. 

Former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros, MPA ’73, will discuss his hometown of San Antonio, where he served as mayor in the 1980s, on a panel with Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores, EdM ’98. Harris County Commissioner Lesley Briones ’02  will discuss what preemption means for Texas counties. Joyce Wilson, MPA ’89, chair of the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority, will talk about transportation and mobility in Texas. 

Newly re-elected Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson ’98 will discuss his vision for his second term.  Ruth J. Simmons, PhD ’73, a former president of Smith College, Brown University and Prairie View A&M, will talk about the future of higher education after the Supreme Court's ruling against affirmative action. She'll also sign copies of her luminous new memoir, “Up Home."

A final theme is faith. New York Times columnist David French, JD ’94, will discuss the future of the evangelical movement with Russell Moore, editor in chief of Christianity Today. Sadaf Jaffer, PhD ’15, a New Jersey state lawmaker, will discuss new threats to American Muslims.