Originally broadcast at 1:00 p.m. ET Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
Heather McGhee has devoted her life to the focus of our Week Three theme: The Ethical Foundations of a Fully Functioning Society. Heather designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America, and her most recent book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together will appropriately inform her lecture. Her 2020 TED talk, “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone” reached over 1 million views in just two months online, and she has since launched two original podcasts on the economy and on how to create cross-racial solidarity in challenging times.
For nearly two decades, Heather helped to build the non-partisan "think and do" tank Demos, serving four years as president. As an executive, she transformed Demos on multiple levels. Under her leadership, Demos expanded to include arguing before the Supreme Court to protect voting rights in January 2018 and helping to win pro-voter reforms in five states over two years, providing expert testimony to Congressional committees. These efforts included a Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 2017, and also led the research campaigns behind successful wage increases for low paid workers on federal contracts, as well as at McDonalds, Walmart, and other chain retailers.
A strong coalition-builder and trusted cross-movement leader, Heather deepened Demos’ influence through new networks and collaborations inside and outside the Beltway.
An influential voice in the media and an NBC contributor, Heather regularly appears on NBC’s Meet the Press and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Deadline White House, and All In. Her conversation on a C-SPAN program in 2016 with a white man who asked for her help to overcome his racial prejudice went viral, receiving more than 10 million views and sparking wide media coverage that included a New York Times op-ed, a New Yorker piece, and a CNN town hall.
Heather has shared her opinions, writing, and research in all the major news outlets, and she is a sought-after public speaker, having been a featured speaker at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit in October 2017. The recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, she has deep political experience, and serves as chair of the board of Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, and also on the boards of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Open Society Foundations’ US Programs.
Heather McGhee holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. For more information, please visit www.heathermcghee.com and follow Heather on Twitter: @hmcghee and Instagram and Facebook: @HeatherCMcGhee .
About Chautauqua Institution: Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution's mission.