Digital 2021 Aspen Ideas Festival to Explore “American Futures,” June 27-July 1

June 2, 2021

Speaker line-up includes Elizabeth Alexander, Mary Barra, Chris Krebs, Yo-Yo Ma, Neal Katyal, Diana Trujillo, and more

Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute

Aspen, CO & Washington, DC, June 2, 2021
–The Aspen Ideas Festival today announced the initial speaker line-up for the 2021 festival, which will run from Sunday, June 27 to Thursday, July 1. Festival programming will primarily consist of online conversations and interactive sessions, while a limited number of discussions will be recorded in-person in Aspen, CO. The entire festival will be free to access online and available to everyone.

Members of the media are invited to register here.

Reflecting the unique current cultural and historical inflection point in U.S. society, the Festival will coalesce broadly under the theme of “American Futures,” exploring issues ranging from democracy to science, the USA’s role on the world stage, and inequality.

Speakers include poet, writer and president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Elizabeth Alexander, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Senior Brookings Institute fellow Shadi Hamid, Supreme Court lawyer Neal Katyal, Aspen Digital Commission on Information Disorder co-chair Chris Krebs, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Carlyle Group co-CEO David Rubenstein, NASA aerospace engineer Diana Trujillo, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Metabiota founder and chairman of the board Nathan Wolfe; and Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd.

The full list of speakers announced today is available here. Additional speakers and the full agenda will be shared in the coming weeks. Journalist moderators and interviewers participating include MSNBC’s Joshua Johnson, The Atlantic’s Jeff Goldberg, and Fast Company’s Stephanie Mehta. 

A number of speakers and moderators will be present in Aspen, CO, to participate in sessions that will be recorded at the Aspen Institute’s campus in front of a limited audience. Festival content will include moderated discussions, interviews, interactive sessions, and performances.

Now in its 17th year, the Aspen Ideas Festival will return to a full slate of on-the-ground programming in Aspen, CO, in 2022. Last year, the Festival went entirely online during the pandemic and reached some 40,000 people directly, with many more engaging on social media and through press coverage. Aspen Ideas: Health, which typically opens the festival, took place this year from April 27-29.

The 2021 Aspen Ideas Festival is generously supported by Allstate, IBM, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Mount Sinai Health System, PayPal, Verizon, the Walton Family Foundation, and YouTube as Presenting Underwriters, and Prudential and the Rise Fund as Supporting Underwriters.

Editor’s Note: Press who would like more information about the Aspen Ideas Festival or request permission to use content, please contact Jon Purves: Follow @aspenideas on Twitter and Instagram, and join the conversation with #AspenIdeas.


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

This press release was updated 6/7/21 to reflect the current speaker line-up.

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