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Public Policy Lecture Series

In 2008, MCLA announced the establishment of the Public Policy lecture series, making public policy forums an ongoing part of the College's long-term speaker offerings, in complement to MCLA's major in political science and public policy.  The series is made possible through the generosity of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust.

View list of past Public Policy Lecture speakers. 

2014 Michael S. and Kitty Dukakis Public Policy Lecture

Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Founder of and
Undocumented Immigrant

Thursday, November 13, 2014, 7 p.m.

MCLA Church Street Center, Eleanor Furst Roberts Auditorium  

A journalist for over a decade writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country, Jose Antonio Vargas' personal journey contends with some of the most fascinating stories he's covered, living a double life since he was 16 years old.

After being born and reared in the Philippines, his mother, wanting to give her son a better life, sent him to live with his grandparents in Silicon Valley in 1993.

Vargas loved his new homeland and immersed himself in American culture, spoke the language perfectly, studied hard in school and loved writing for the school paper. However, at 16 years old when applying for his Learner's permit at the DMV, he discovered his green card was a fake, which was later confirmed by his grandfather. Vargas then realized he needed to continue hiding his true identity to avoid deportation and be able to pursue his American dream - a career in journalism.

And succeed he did. Vargas wrote a widely circulated profile of Mark Zuckerberg for The New Yorker. He also served as a senior contributing editor at the Huffington Post, where he launched the Technology and College sections and created the Technology as Anthropology blog, which focuses on tech's impact on people and how they behave. He covered the tech and video game culture, HIV/AIDS, and the 2008 presidential campaign for the Washington Post, and was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. His 2006 series on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C. inspired a feature-length documentary -- The Other City -- which he co-produced and wrote. The documentary premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival and aired on Showtime. In 2007, the daily journal Politico named him one of the 50 Politicos To Watch.

He's written for daily newspapers (Philadelphia Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle) and national magazines (Rolling Stone and New York) and has appeared on CNN, ABC News and PBS NewsHour. He taught "Storytelling 2.0" at Georgetown University and served on the advisory board for the Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, housed at American University.

However despite all his achievements, the dark shadow of Vargas' true identity continued to haunt him, as he frequently lied to friends and colleagues, avoided close relationships so no one would ask too many questions, and didn't travel abroad due to his illegal passport. Finally in the summer of 2011, 18 years after arriving in America he decided he was done running. Vargas exposed his story in his groundbreaking essay, "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant," for the New York Times Magazine, stunning the media and political circles and attracting world-wide coverage.

Today Vargas runs Define American, a non-profit organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration. He is a very proud alumnus of Mountain View High School and San Francisco State University, loves jazz, can't get enough of Ben & Jerry's and worships at the altars of Altman, Almodovar, Didion, Baldwin and Orwell.

He lives in New York City.



2015 Spring Public Policy Lecture

Cheryl JacquesCheryl Jacques

Former Massachusetts State Senator and National Speaker on Gay Civil Rights and Politics 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 7 p.m.

MCLA Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation, auditorium

Cheryl Jacques has written and spoken nationally on issues of diversity, civil rights and politics.

She is a seasoned advocate and leader in politics, social justice and LGBT equality.  Elected to the Massachusetts State Senate at the relatively young age of 29 in a traditionally conservative district, Jacques' unique brand of leadership was embraced across a spectrum of ideologies - allowing her to work on both sides of the aisle for important changes on behalf of her constituents.  After serving 12 years in the Massachusetts State Senate, Jacques took the helm of the nation's largest gay civil rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

As a State Senator, Jacques was a leading advocate on civil rights, consumer protection, criminal justice and victim's rights.  Her successful leadership of a bi-partisan coalition of legislators in defeating the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in Massachusetts blocked the conservative movement's effort to overturn the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's landmark decision legalizing same sex marriage.  The Massachusetts' marriage decision helped pave the way for successful passage of marriage equality in more than 10 states and Washington, D.C.  As President and Executive Director of the Human Rights Campaign, Jacques led HRC through the successful defeat of the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment.  Under her leadership, HRC experienced significant growth in fundraising and membership, including a record $30M budget and a membership that exceeded 600,000. She vastly increased the organization's internal and external diversity and established a strong national presence with record media coverage.

Before her six terms in the State Senate, Jacques served as an Assistant District Attorney and an Assistant Attorney General in the Trial Bureau of the Attorney General's Office.  For over twenty years she has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at a number of colleges and universities including Suffolk University Law School and The George Washington University Graduate School of Public Management.  Jacques has also served on many national, state and local boards. 

Cheryl Jacques appears frequently as a commentator on such shows as the CBS Evening News,  NBC Nightly News, ABC's World News Tonight, The O'Reilly Factor, CrossFire, ABC's Good Morning America, Nightline, Fox News, CNN, NPR and many other television and radio broadcasts. 

Jacques lives with her spouse Jennifer, the executive director of the Family Equality Council - the nation's largest organization dedicated exclusively to advocating on behalf of gay parents and their children.  They live in MA where they are raising their three boys Tim, Tom and Matthew.  

Past speakers of the Public Policy Lecture Series (view photos):

2014: Gloria Steinem

2013: Irshad Manji

2012: Zainab Salbi

2010-2011: Vandana Shiva; James Carville and Mary Matalin

2009-2010: Paul Rusesabagina; Lisa Cortes, Jonathan Kozol, and Carole Simpson

2008-2009: Bob Woodward; David Plouffe 


Past speakers of the Michael S. and Kitty Dukakis Public Policy Lecture:

2013: Ambassador Andrew Young

2012: Senator George J. Mitchell

2011: Dr. Robert M. Gates