past event

2020 Socrates Virtual Benefit Event

We hope you enjoyed the Virtual Socrates Benefit Event. While we were unable to come together physically this year, we were excited to assemble our esteemed participants, alumni, and supporters online to continue the Socrates Program’s legacy of convening leaders who address the most critical problems facing the world today. In times of global crisis, gathering our community of participants and scholars has become more crucial than ever, and we are honored to have celebrated with all of you.

This event supports the Socrates Program, and greatly contributes to the program’s ability to convene the highest-caliber participants on the most important topics of the day by providing scholarships to individuals from all sectors and backgrounds. Co-Chaired by Laura and Gary Lauder and Terri Broussard Williams and Lemuel Williams, the event honored Clare Muñana, President of Ancora Associates, Inc. and the Blue Foundation, for her role in guiding the Socrates Program as an Aspen Institute Trustee and Chair of the International Committee.

Our online benefit event program included a dynamic conversation between our featured speaker, Ben Smith, media columnist for the New York Times, and Vivian Schiller, Executive Director of Aspen Digital, on the state of democracy in the digital age, especially in this moment of global pandemic, increased nationalism, and rampant misinformation. To re-watch this special program and conversation, please click here.

For more information about Socrates, please visit the Socrates Program page or feel free to look over the 2019 Socrates Program Annual Report.

Photos from 2019 Benefit Dinner

About the Honoree:

Clare Muñana is President of Ancora Associates, Inc. and the Blue Foundation. She has performed domestic and international engagements for not-for-profit, and public and private sector clients in the U.S., Europe, Africa and Latin America. Ms. Muñana is currently consulting in the criminal justice field with projects focused on reducing recidivism at the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons and with the Justice System Restart Initiative. Ms. Muñana served as Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education for over ten years. She is a Trustee and Chair of the International Committee of the Aspen Institute. She is a Board member of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Middle East Investment Initiative, After School Matters, the Civic Federation, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. Ms. Muñana is a recipient of the New Leaders for New Schools Leadership Award, the Schaffner Award for Excellence from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the Chicago United Business Leaders of Color Award, the Connecting Cultures Award from Changing Worlds, the Sor Juana Woman of Achievement Award from the National Museum of Mexican Art, as well as the Corporate Leadership Award from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The French government also named her a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.  She holds a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from Boston College, a MA in International Economics and Politics, with honors, from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) – Johns Hopkins University, and MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She also earned a Certificate in French Civilization and Language from the Sorbonne in Paris.

About the Speaker:

Ben Smith is the media columnist for The New York Times. He joined The New York Times in 2020 after eight years as founding editor in chief of BuzzFeed News. Before that, he covered politics for Politico, The New York Daily News, The New York Observer and The New York Sun.


Vivian Schiller is a longtime executive at the intersection of journalism, media and technology. She recently joined the Aspen Institute in a new position heading up programs across media, technology and cybersecurity.

Over the last 30 years, Vivian has held executive roles at some of the most respected media organization in the world. Those include: President and CEO of NPR; Global Chair of News at Twitter; General Manager of; Chief Digital Office of NBC News; chief of the Discovery Times Channel, a joint venture of The New York Times and Discovery Communications; and head of CNN documentary and long form divisions. Documentaries and series produced under her auspices earned multiple honors, including three Peabody Awards, four Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, and dozens of Emmys.

Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and a Director of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian. She is also strategic advisor to Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

** Regarding COVID-19 impact on Aspen Institute events in the US **

We will host our Socrates Benefit Event virtually this year, as we are unable to safely host our guests in Aspen at this time. The health and safety of our staff and participants is our highest priority. As a non-profit organization, these events provide critical funding across the Aspen Institute. If you are unable to join us for this virtual event, we hope you will strongly consider continuing your support and make a fully tax-deductible gift. We are grateful the generosity of our valued supporters and look forward to when we can all gather physically in the future.

Event information
Sat Jul 11, 2020
6:00pm - 7:00pm MDT