Aspen Institute has partnered with Unfinished—a new media platform and network of impact organizations— to produce Unfinished Live, a series of four interactive shows that will bring together a diversity of voices through interviews, art, videos, stories, and performances.
On October 27 at 7pm ET / 4pm PT, comedian and cultural critic Baratunde Thurston kicked off Unfinished Live with our first episode on Economy & Justice. An hour of dynamic discussions, curated films, audience interaction and an exploration of big questions including speakers such as Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, founder of PolicyLink Angela Glover Blackwell, Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, and filmmaker and activist Abigail Disney.
Secretary Julián Castro
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Julián Castro served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama from 2014-2017. Before that, he was Mayor of his native San Antonio, Texas — the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city at the time. In 2012, he gave a rousing keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, during which he described the American Dream as a relay to be passed from generation to generation. In October 2018, Little, Brown published Castro’s memoir, An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream. Secretary Castro launched People First Future in May to help elect bold, progressive candidates whose campaigns are focused on improving the lives of all people they hope to represent.
Filmmaker, Fork Films
Abigail E. Disney advocates for real changes to the way capitalism operates in today’s world. She has worked for thirty years with programs for low-income families, women’s rights, and global poverty. She is an Emmy-Winning Documentary Filmmaker and co-founder of Fork Films, a nonfiction media production company, which produces the weekly podcast “All Ears,” where host Abigail Disney interviews bold, solutions-oriented thinkers from the front lines of America’s urgent inequality and race crises. She is also the Chair and Co-Founder of Level Forward, a new breed storytelling company focused on systemic change through creative excellence, balancing financial and social returns. She also created the nonprofit Peace is Loud, which uses storytelling to advance social movements and the Daphne Foundation, which supports organizations working for a more equitable, fair and peaceful New York City.
President, Ford Foundation
Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, a $13 billion international social justice philanthropy. He is a member of Governor Cuomo’s Reimagining New York Commission and co-chair of NYC Census 2020. He chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy. Under his leadership, the Ford Foundation became the first non-profit in US history to issue a $1 billion designated social bond in US capital markets for proceeds to strengthen and stabilize non-profit organizations in the wake of COVID-19. Before joining Ford, Darren was vice president at Rockefeller Foundation, overseeing global and domestic programs. In the 1990s, he was COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, Harlem’s largest community development organization. Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren was a member of the first Head Start class in 1965 and received BA, BS, and JD degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. He has been included on numerous leadership lists: Time’s annual 100 Most Influential People, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Ebony’s Power 100, and Out magazine’s Power 50.
President & CEO, PayPal
As President and CEO of PayPal, Dan Schulman is focused on transforming financial services and e-commerce to improve the financial health of billions of people around the world. With extensive experience in payments and mobile technology, Dan is leading PayPal to reimagine how people move and manage money, and how merchants and consumers interact and transact. Under Dan’s leadership, PayPal was named one of the top companies on JUST Capital’s and Forbes’ JUST 100 list and as a Fortune Change the World company for its work to tackle the biggest challenges facing society today.
Dan has been recognized as one of Fortune’s top 20 Businesspersons of the Year and he is the recipient of the 2017 Brennan Legacy Award, given in recognition of his contributions to social justice. Prior to PayPal, Dan served in leadership roles at American Express, Sprint Nextel Corporation, Priceline Group, and AT&T. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and currently co-chairs the World Economic Forum’s Steering Committee to promote global financial inclusion. Dan earned a BA from Middlebury College and an MBA from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business. He is also an avid mixed martial arts practitioner.
Angela Glover Blackwell
Founder in Residence, PolicyLink
Angela Glover Blackwell founded PolicyLink in 1999 with a mission of advancing racial and economic equity for all. Through her work, Blackwell has helped to grow and define a national equity movement focused on innovating and improving public policy with a wide range of partners to ensure access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color. She is also the host of the Radical Imagination podcast.
Blackwell serves on numerous boards, including the Children’s Defense Fund, the W. Haywood Burns Institute, the U.S. Water Alliance, Pitzer College, and FSG. She also advises the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve as one of 15 members of its Community Advisory Council. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University, and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
CEO, JUST Capital
Martin Whittaker is the founding CEO of JUST Capital, a nonprofit dedicated to building an economy that works for all Americans by helping companies improve how they serve all their stakeholders. He is also a cofounder and board member of the CREO Syndicate, a board member of the Carbon Disclosure Project U.S., and an advisor to Mission Driven Capital Partners.
Martin has spent 25 years in the ESG investing world, and has held executive roles at MissionPoint Capital Partners, SwissRe, and Innovest Strategic Value Investors, Inc.
He received a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, an MBA from the University of London, an M.S. from McGill University, and a B.S. from the University of St. Andrews.
Martin was recently named to the 2020 NACD Directorship 100 list of the most influential people on corporate governance and to Business Insider’s 100 People Transforming Business.
Senior Writer, The New York Times
David Leonhardt is a senior writer at The New York Times who writes its flagship daily newsletter, The Morning. He has previously been an op-ed columnist at The Times, its Washington bureau chief, a staff writer for The Times Magazine and the head of the 2020 Project, which helped plan the future of the newsroom. In 2011, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. He is a third-generation native of New York. He has served on the jury of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
Series hosted by
Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. He’s the executive producer and host of two podcasts: How To Citizen with Baratunde and We’re Having A Moment which CNET called “the most important podcast of 2020.” He’s also the creator / host of the weekly pandemic show, Live On Lockdown. In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time”. Right now, the writer, activist and comedian is using his powerful voice to help people understand this revolutionary moment with his unique blend of insight, humor, and empathy.
With an ancestry that includes a great-grandfather who taught himself to read, a grandmother who was the first black employee at the U.S. Supreme Court building, a computer-programming mother who took over radio stations in the name of the black liberation struggle, and an older sister who teaches yoga at her donation-based studio in Lansing, Michigan , Baratunde has long been taught to question authority and forge his own path. It helps that he was raised in Washington, D.C. under crackhead Mayor Marion Barry.
Baratunde’s mind, forged by his mother’s lessons and polished by a philosophy degree from Harvard, has found expression in the pages of Fast Company and the New York Times, the screens of HBO, Comedy Central, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, the sound waves of NPR and podcasts such as Pivot, WTF, and Hello, Monday.
He has hosted shows and stories on NatGeo and Discovery’s Science Channel and earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for hosting the Spotify/Mic series, Clarify. Baratunde is also an in-demand public speaker and live events host for organizations ranging from Google to criminal justice reform non-profits such as JustLeadershipUSA.
Far from simply appearing in media, Baratunde has also helped define its future. In 2006 he co-founded Jack & Jill Politics, a black political blog whose coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention has been archived by the Library of Congress. From 2007 to 2012, he helped bring one of America’s finest journalistic institutions into the future, serving as Director of Digital for The Onion then did something similar as Supervising Producer for digital expansion at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has served as an advisor to the Data & Society Research Institute and a director’s fellow at the MIT Media Lab.
Baratunde is a rare leader who sits at the intersection of race, technology, and democracy and seamlessly integrates past, present and future.