Caroline Kennedy will headline Judson's 2019 World Leaders Forum in Schaumburg
Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. ambassador to Japan and the only surviving child of former President John F. Kennedy, will headline Judson University's 2019 World Leaders Forum on Oct. 8, officials announced Thursday.
The forum, previously held in the spring on Judson's Elgin campus, this year will be held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. Officials at the Christian liberal arts and sciences university changed the timing and venue this year to accommodate the forum's growing popularity and make it more widely accessible.
Judson President Gene Crume said the event has outgrown the on-campus Herrick Chapel, which seats roughly 525 people. The Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center offers 250 additional seats.
Past forums have drawn attendees from throughout the suburban area. They featured several former world leaders, including former President George W. Bush, former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Queen Noor of Jordan.
Crume said the decision to move the World Leaders Forum out of Elgin was made easier by the fact that its offshoot, World Leaders Forum Inspirational Series, will remain on campus. An announcement regarding the latter will be made next week.
"Elgin is our home. We want to bring the best programming we can to Elgin," Crume said. "The fact that we have the two events gives a little more freedom to do that."
Another change in the format is that Kennedy will be interviewed by Eric Metaxas, a nationally syndicated radio host and founder and host of "Socrates in the City," an acclaimed series of conversations on "life, God and other small topics." Metaxas is a senior fellow and lecturer at large at King's College in New York City. He will air the interview with Kennedy on his show at a later date.
"In our conversation with Eric Metaxas and his team, increasing the market accessibility was really important," said Crume, adding that he hopes Metaxas will continue to serve as the forum's moderator for several years. "We do like to continue to provide a new experience for guests and people that want to be a part of the World Leaders Forum. It's a very intriguing format that has worked in New York and Dallas, and we hope will work in Chicago."
Crume said the interaction between the conservative cultural commentator Metaxas and the progressive Democrat Kennedy should further Judson's vision of "finding points of commonality" among people of opposing views.
In the same vein, the 2018 forum was jointly headlined by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former presidential candidate Howard Dean.
"It should be a very meaningful conversation that fits the heart of the World Leaders Forum," said Crume.
He said it will be "an important discussion about values, political courage and service."
Metaxas said he once ran into Kennedy at New York City's LaGuardia Airport and found her to be "gracious" and he has "always admired her poise, living her life in the public eye."
"She's an iconic figure," Metaxas said. "Socrates in the City is not a 'gotcha' type of interview format. There's humor of course, but basically, I look to get to know a person in the interview, and in the course of doing that, untold stories and insights come out. You could say they are 'aha' moments -- the interviews are meant to be fun, entertaining, stimulating, thought-provoking -- and a little reminiscent of a day when the term 'click-bait' did not exist."
The goal of the World Leaders Forum is to offer Judson students and the greater Chicago area an opportunity to be inspired by significant thought leaders. It serves as Judson's signature fundraising event with proceeds supporting the Judson Leadership Scholars program, innovative entrepreneurial activities, ongoing forum operations and the higher education of youth in foster care.
A VIP reception with Kennedy and Metaxas will precede the program at 5 p.m. with the event beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets for the program and VIP reception are available to the public starting April 1. For ticketing and sponsorship information, visit WorldLeadersForum.info.