past event

2021 Socrates Benefit Dinner

We were delighted to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Socrates Program for Emerging Leaders and celebrate together at the Annual Socrates Benefit Dinner in Aspen, Colorado. This benefit, co-chaired by Terri Broussard Williams and Lemuel Williams, began with a conversation featuring the evening’s special guests, former US senators Heidi Heitkamp and Jeff Flake, followed by a private dinner where we honored the program’s Founders, Laura and Gary Lauder.

For more information about Socrates, please visit the Socrates Program page.

About the Honorees:

Laura Lauder is a social entrepreneur and venture philanthropist, focused on Signature Initiatives she has designed and launched. She co-founded the Center for Media and Democracy in Israel in 2019. She founded DeLeT: Day School Teaching through Leadership in 2000 and co-founded the Jewish Teen Funders Network’s Foundation Board Incubator in 2012. Laura and her daughter, Eliana, created the Gap Year program at Duke University in 2018. With her husband Gary, she co-founded the Socrates Program of the Aspen Institute in 1996, bringing over 7,000 young leaders together to focus on the most difficult issues of the day. Laura is the Immediate Past Chair of the Endowment Committee and a member of the Endowment Executive Committee at the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of San Francisco and is on the Advisory Board of Service Year Alliance. She serves on the Social Finance Board in Boston.

Laura is active with the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO/WPO) and is a fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is an avid cyclist and won a bronze medal in the Maccabi Games in 2009. She is also a political junkie, though she has no plans to run for political office. She and Gary live in Silicon Valley and have two children.

Gary Lauder is the Managing Director of Lauder Partners LLC, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm investing primarily in information technologies. He has been a venture capitalist since 1985, investing in over 140 private companies, and is an observer or member of about 7 of their boards. He serves on the Advisory Board of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the Advisory Council of the Aspen Institute Science & Society Program, and the Board of Governors of Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. In the 1980’s, he worked at the venture firms of Aetna, Jacobs & Ramo Technology Ventures, as well as Wolfensohn Associates. He holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania; a BS in Economics from the Wharton School; and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

He is the co-creator of the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Society with Laura, his wife, and is a member of the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellowship Program. From time to time, he publicly advocates on subjects that are important, but misunderstood, primarily: 1) preserving and improving our patent system for the benefit of tech entrepreneurs who innovate in fields where patent protection matters, and 2) improving decision-making on transportation to alleviate traffic congestion. He is co-inventor of 16 patents, has spoken at over 150 industry forums, and, since 1992, has published several articles about the future of telecommunications and computing…that he still stands by.

About the Event Speakers:

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp served as the first female senator elected from North Dakota from 2013 – 2019.

During her six years in the U.S. Senate, Senator Heitkamp quickly became a proven leader who worked across the aisle to fight for North Dakotans. She personally showed that if senators work together, it can lead to real solutions. Throughout her time in the Senate, Heidi prioritized improving the lives of Indigenous people and working families, stopping human trafficking; guaranteeing affordable health care; addressing childhood trauma; eliminating unnecessary regulation; and securing an energy policy that keeps cost low but achieves climate goals. Providing equal economic opportunity to Rural America continues to be her lifelong pursuit.

Senator Heitkamp previously served as North Dakota’s Attorney General, and elected state Tax Commissioner. She serves on numerous boards including The McCain Institute, The Howard Buffett Foundation, Renew Democracy Initiative and The German Marshall Fund. She is the founder and Chair of the One Country Project, an organization focused on addressing the needs and concerns of rural America. Senator Heitkamp is also a visiting Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and serves as a contributor to both CNBC and ABC News.

After serving six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Jeff Flake was elected to the United States  Senate, where he served for six years. While in the Senate, Senator Flake chaired the Subcommittee on  Privacy, Technology & the Law. He also chaired the Africa Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee,  where he passed landmark legislation on wildlife trafficking and democratic governance. 

Prior to entering Congress, Senator Flake served as executive director of the Goldwater Institute in Arizona.  He also directed the Foundation for Democracy in Namibia during that nation’s transition to  independence.  Senator Flake holds degrees in International Relations and Political Science from Brigham Young University. 

Known for his ability to work across the political aisle, Senator Flake was the lead House Republican in the  successful effort to prohibit spending earmarks, and the lead Senate Republican in the successful effort to  restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. 

Senator Flake is currently a contributor at CNN. He has guest lectured at Princeton, Yale and Stanford, and was a Resident Fellow at Harvard University. Senator Flake lectures at the Marriott School of Business at  Brigham Young University, as well as at Arizona State University.

Event information
Sat Jul 17, 2021
Aspen Institute Campus
Aspen, Colorado