Plenary Speakers

Plenary Speakers

Wednesday April 19, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Making the Impossible Possible

Bill Strickland

For thirty years, Bill Strickland has used his innovative arts and training centers to transform the lives of thousands of impoverished adults and teenagers. Bill Strickland has changed lives, restored our faith in ethical leadership, and reshaped the business of social change. As president and CEO of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation—an extraordinary jobs training center and community arts program—he and his staff work with corporations, community leaders, and schools to give disadvantaged kids and adults the opportunities they need to build a better future. (Centers are already running in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Grand Rapids, New Haven, Boston, and Buffalo; with many more in the planning stages, including international centers in Israel, London, and Japan.)

Recently, Strickland was named as one of the 25 members of the White House Council for Community Solutions by President Obama. And for years now, in front of enraptured audiences, this MacArthur Genius has shared his unshakable message of leadership, self-worth and the intrinsic ability in all of us to achieve remarkable transformation in our lives. He was also honored by the US Senate for his contribution to social innovation.

Strickland is also the author of Make the Impossible Possible, a recipient of The White House’s “Coming Up Taller” Award, and the founder of the Grammy-winning MCG Jazz, the most successful jazz subscription series in America.

Welcome: Mary Ellen Petrisko, President, WASC Senior College and University Commission; Reed Dasenbrock, Vice Chair, WASC Senior College and University Commission


Friday April 21, 11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Improving Improvement With Partnerships and a Nod to Science

Diana Chapman Walsh

Diana Chapman Walsh, Ph.D., President emerita of Wellesley College, led the college from 1993 through 2007. She currently serves on the governing boards of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (the Corporation and its Executive Committee), the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Mind and Life Institute.

She recently completed service on the boards of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which she chaired, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. She was a director of the State Street Corporation (1999-2007) and a trustee of Amherst College (1998-2010) and is now a trustee emerita. She is the recipient of eight honorary doctoral degrees, most recently from Amherst College (2013), Washington University in St. Louis (2014) and Rhodes College (2016).

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future at Clark University, Diana writes, speaks, and consults on higher education and leadership and the crisis of climate change.

Her term as president of Wellesley College (1993-2007) was marked by educational innovation, including a revision of the curriculum and expanded programs in global education, the humanities, internships and service learning, interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and religious and spiritual life. She evolved a distinctive style of reflective leadership rooted in a network of resilient partnerships and anchored in the belief that trustworthy leadership starts from within.