Highlander Discovery Institute Inaugural Event

“Exploring the Nexus of Politics and Society”

Thursday, September 19, 2019
7 p.m.
Preston Hall, Bondurant Auditorium

About the September 19, 2019 Inaugural Event

Join us for an evening of lively and engaging dialogue surrounding politics and society in today’s modern times.  This panel of nationally renowned commentators will represent varying political viewpoints and encourage a fearless exploration of knowledge and perspectives in an inclusive and supportive environment.


Katie Couric

Katie Couric, Moderator
Award-winning journalist and founder of Katie Couric Media

Katie Couric (@katiecouric) is an award-winning journalist, Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) co-founder, and New York Times best-selling author. Since launching, more than $603 million has been pledged to support SU2C’s innovative cancer research programs.

She is also founder of Katie Couric Media (KCM), which is actively involved in developing and producing a range of scripted and non-scripted projects.  The female driven company is also working with brands that are aligned with its goal of creating premium content about socially relevant issues.

Couric's documentaries include: America Inside Out with Katie Couric, a six-part series for National Geographic; Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric, for National Geographic; Under the Gun, which aired on EPIX; and Fed Up, available on iTunes, Amazon and YouTube.

Couric joined CBS as the first woman to solo anchor an evening newscast after a 15-year run as co-anchor of NBC’s Today Show.

Her numerous awards include a duPont-Columbia, Peabody, two Edward R. Murrows, a Walter Cronkite Award, and multiple Emmys.



Donna Brazile

Donna Brazile, Panelist
Veteran political strategist, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee and FOX News contributor

Donna Brazile Biography

Veteran political strategist Donna Brazile is the former interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the author of the New York Times bestseller Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House and the 2004 best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics.  She is a co-author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics, which won the 2019 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction.

Ms. Brazile has devoted her life to working for progressive change, responsible governance, and the advancement of all people in a society that is fair and equitable.  Brazile first got involved in politics at the age of nine when she worked to elect a City Council candidate who had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood; the candidate won, the playground was built, and a lifelong passion for political progress was ignited. Brazile has worked on every major presidential campaign since 1976 and in 2000 Ms. Brazile became the first African American woman to serve as the manager of a major party presidential campaign, running the campaign of former Vice President Al Gore.

Ms. Brazile loves working with young people, encouraging them to vote, to run for office, and to work within the system to strengthen it. She has lectured at over 200 colleges and universities across the country on such topics as “Inspiring Civility in American Politics,” “Race Relations in the Age of Obama,” “Why Diversity Matters,” and “Women in American Politics.” In 2013, Ms. Brazile was appointed by President Obama to serve on the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She is also the proud recipient of more than ten honorary doctorate degrees from major colleges and universities, including her alma mater Louisiana State University. In October 2017, Ms. Brazile was the recipient of the W.E.B Du Bois Medal, Harvard’s highest honor in African American studies.  Brazile has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University since 2002 and spent the fall of 2017 serving as a Joan Shorenstein fellow in Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.  Howard University has appointed Ms. Brazile as the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy for two consecutive academic years.  In this capacity, she is responsible for developing and hosting a lecture series to engage the Howard community on several subjects, including politics, voting, criminal justice reform and civility.

O, The Oprah Magazine chose Ms. Brazile as one of its 20 “remarkable visionaries” for the magazine’s first-ever O Power List. In addition, she was named among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine, Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement. In 2016, Ms. Brazile was awarded Wonk of the Year from the Kennedy Political Union at American University.  In March 2018, Black Enterprise awarded Ms. Brazile with the Barbara Graves Legacy Award.

Ms. Brazile has worked passionately on behalf of her beloved hometown of New Orleans. In the aftermath of the two catastrophic hurricanes that devastated the Gulf region, Ms. Brazile was appointed by former Governor Kathleen Blanco to serve on the Louisiana Recovery Board to work for the rebuilding of the state and to advocate for the Gulf recovery on the national stage. Ms. Brazile was also appointed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to serve on the Tricentennial Commission.

Ms. Brazile is a contributor to Fox News and was formerly a contributor to ABC News and CNN.  Ms. Brazile was the recipient of a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Program, Good Morning America (2016-2017) in connection with her work with ABC.  She has also been a syndicated newspaper columnist for Universal U’Click and a prolific writer with articles appearing in nearly every major newspaper in the nation. She moonlights as an actress and is especially honored to have made three cameo appearances on CBS’s The Good Wife, and two cameo appearances on Netflix’s series House of Cards. She most recently appeared on BET's Being Mary Jane. Ask her and she’ll tell you that acting, after all, is the key to success in politics.

Ms. Brazile is the founder and director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, DC.

Ana Navarro

Ana Navarro, Panelist
Political commentator on CNN and co-host on ABC’s, ‘The View’

Ana Navarro Biography

Ana Navarro is a political strategist and commentator.

Born in Nicaragua, she immigrated to the United States in 1980 at 8 years of age.

She is a Republican commentator with expertise on Latin American, Florida and Hispanic issues.

She also has vast expertise in supporting losing, but principled, Republican candidates. She was the National Hispanic Co-Chair for John McCain’s 2008 Presidential Campaign. She has advised numerous Federal and State campaigns in Florida and nationally.

She is one of the leading Hispanic (long-suffering) Republican political voices in the United States. She is a political commentator on CNN and Telemundo and a Co-host on ABC’s, “The View”. She is known for her honest and blunt commentary and speaking truth to power.

She lives in Miami, FL with her high-maintenance Hispanic husband. She has no children, and her house plants tend to die. She has no hobbies or activities, requiring significant attention span or physical exertion.


About the Highlander Discovery Institute

Radford University’s Highlander Discovery Institute was established by President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., to provide the campus and the community with the opportunity to experience new ideas and ways of thinking, specifically in the areas of teaching, research, and service.

Following the President’s announcement, the Highlander Discovery Institute Steering Committee was formed.  The Steering Committee provides leadership and guidance regarding the selection and invitation of world renowned speakers to visit Radford University.  The Steering Committee is co-chaired by Dr. Tim Channell, Professor of Music Business and Department Chair of Music, and Dr. Angela Joyner, Executive Director of the Center for Career and Talent Development.