Writers Panel: Telling the Story
Thursday, May 30, 2019
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington DC, 20004
This year's Annual Conference will feature a moderated lunchtime discussion with authors of recent books related to international development. Many in the international development world have lived and traveled extensively, engaged with people from all parts of the world and in a broad range of situations, have encountered countless challenges, witnessed success and failure, and learned from it all. And some have been able to corral their experiences, insights, and ideas into books. Our panel of authors of recently published books will look at their varied experiences and stories. Lee Gutkind, the “godfather behind creative nonfiction,” will moderate the discussion with Amb. Rick Barton, author of Peace Works: America's Unifying Role in a Turbulent World, Alex Dehgan, author of the The Snow Leopard Project and other Adventures in Warzone Conservation, and Dr. Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.
Lee Gutkind, Editor Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Professor, Distinguished Writer in Residence, Arizona State University
Lee Gutkind, recognized by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” is the author or editor of more than 30 books and the founding and current editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and the largest literary journal to publish narrative/creative nonfiction exclusively. Gutkind has lectured to audiences from China to the Czech Republic, from Australia to Africa to Egypt, and in the U.S. at the National Press Club and the National Academy of Sciences. He has appeared on national radio and television shows including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Good Morning America, Talk of the Nation, and All Things Considered. He has worked with NPR as a consulting editor. Gutkind is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Arizona State University and a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society there. His book You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction, From Memoir to Literary Journalism to Everything in Between is “reminiscent of Stephen King’s fiction handbook On Writing … an accessible, indispensable nonfiction guidebook from an authority who knows his subject from cover to cover” (Kirkus Reviews).
Ambassador Rick Barton, Lecturer & Co-Director – Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University
Ambassador Rick Barton teaches at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, where he serves as a co-director of Princeton’s Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative and Ullman Fellowships. His 2018 book, Peace Works: America's Unifying Role in a Turbulent World, uses a mix of stories, history, and analysis to offer an affirmative approach to foreign affairs through concrete and attainable solutions. Barton started USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, and was America’s ambassador to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in New York, the UN’s Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva and the first Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations. He led conflict management initiatives in over 40 crisis zones across the globe, from Haiti, Iraq, Nigeria, Burma, Pakistan to Turkey. Published in The New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, The Boston Globe, and numerous other international outlets, Barton is a guest on news shows ranging from NPR to all of the major networks. He resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife of 43 years, Kit Lunney.
Alex Dehgan, CEO, Conservation X Labs, and former Afghanistan Country Director, Wildlife Conservation Society
Alex Dehgan is the CEO of Conservation X Labs, an innovation and technology startup focused on conservation. Alex is also the Chanler Innovator at Duke University and is a Professor of the Practice at Arizona State University. Alex most recently served as the Chief Scientist at the U.S. Agency for International Development, with rank of Assistant Administrator. Alex founded and headed the Office of Science and Technology, and created the vision for and helped launch the Global Development Lab, the Agency’s DARPA for Development, and was part of the founding team of USAID’s Policy Bureau Prior to USAID, Alex worked in multiple positions at the Dept. of State, including overseas service under the Coalition Provisional Authority, using science to support bilateral diplomacy. Alex was the founding country director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Afghanistan Program and helped create Afghanistan’s first national park. Alex is the author of the book, The Snow Leopard Project, which describes the effort. Alex holds a Ph.D in Evolutionary Biology from The University of Chicago.
Azar Nafisi is best known as the author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which electrified its readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. Earning high acclaim and an enthusiastic readership, Reading Lolita in Tehran is an incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny. The book has spent over 117 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Reading Lolita in Tehran has been translated in 32 languages, and has won diverse literary awards, including the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, Non-fiction Book of the Year Award from Booksense, the Frederic W. Ness Book Award, the Latifeh Yarsheter Book Award, the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle, and an achievement award from the American Immigration Law Foundation, as well as being a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Memoir. In 2006 she won a Persian Golden Lioness Award for literature, presented by the World Academy of Arts, Literature, and Media. In 2009 Reading Lolita in Tehran was named as one of the “100 Best Books of the Decade” by The Times (London).