Social Activist, Writer, Public Speaker. Photography Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times/Redux.>
MEP, International Trade, TiSA Rapporteur
Writer, Broadcaster, Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker
Professor, Columbia University; Contributing Editor, Financial Times
MEP, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Monica Lewinsky is a public speaker, writer, contributor to Vanity Fair magazine and social activist in the battle against online harassment—advocating for a safer social media environment. She addresses such topics as survival, resilience, digital reputation and equality in both her public speaking and writing.
Lewinsky’s lens for these societal issues is focused by her myriad unique and profound experiences: working in government—both in the White House and the Pentagon; the investigation that resulted from her time in Washington, D.C.; involvement in media projects as both producer and subject; as an entrepreneur and designer; and lastly, in education. She graduated with a degree in psychology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and, living abroad for graduate school, earned a master’s degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
In 2014, after a decade long self-imposed retreat from public life, Lewinsky authored an essay titled “Shame and Survival” for Vanity Fair, in which she overlapped personal experiences and cultural observations regarding the shift towards, what Professor Nicholaus Mills calls, a “culture of humiliation” (June 2014). The acclaimed piece, which received over two million unique views online, was an entry point for her to begin a process she describes as “taking back my narrative and giving a purpose to my past.”
Lewinsky became known to the public in 1998, when it was revealed as part of a federal investigation that she had had an intimate relationship with then President Bill Clinton. Overnight, at just 24 years old, she went unwillingly from being an entirely private individual to a public figure on the global stage. Being at the center of a legal, political and media maelstrom nearly destroyed her; her survival, despite the odds, is a compelling and inspiring story.
The investigation unfolded against a backdrop of a changing media landscape with the advent of both competing 24-hour news networks and the internet. With the birth of social media in recent years, Lewinsky saw the increasing proliferation of the perpetuation of shame and humiliation online. As someone who had experienced both, on the widest scale and at a young age, she saw that she could participate in the public discourse about online harassment and work to affect change.
In October 2014, Lewinsky gave a speech about the internet’s reputation shredder at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, where she spoke from the perspective of being “patient zero,” having been the first person to have her reputation completely destroyed online. This well-received and widely watched speech launched her present-day speaking career.
In March 2015, she was a speaker at the annual TED Conference, the theme of which was “Truth and Dare.” Her speech, “The Price of Shame,” was viewed nearly 5 million times in the first month of release.
Lewinsky is looking for ways to use her experiences to help transform the culture of shame, as well as to let people who suffer at the hands of humiliation know that they are less alone. She is an authentic voice for anyone who has been marginalized and who has struggled to be seen for his or her true self.
On a personal note, Lewinsky is passionate about art (particularly that of contemporary artist Ed Ruscha), game for traveling to new places, loves to sing show tunes, frequents flea markets and doesn’t cook.
Viviane Reding is a key figure in Europe, completing three terms as a European commissioner. In 1999, having served 10 years in the Luxembourg Parliament and 10 years in the European Parliament, Reding became the European commissioner for education and culture and pushed through the Erasmus World Programme. In 2004, she became the commissioner for information society and media, winning a major battle against telecom companies by capping mobile roaming charges by seventy percent.
In 2010, she became first vice-president of the European commission responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship. She put in place a truly EU justice policy, launching a series of ground-breaking proposals in the field of civil, commercial, consumer and criminal law, thus creating the basis for a European area of justice, including major proposals in the field of consumer rights, women on boards, a common European sales law and the reform of the EU data protection rules
Reding has served as MEP from 1989-1999 and since 2014.
Jon Ronson is a gonzo journalist in the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson, but with the comic heart of Monty Python. An award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker, his unique brand of intellect and comic wit has been described by comedian Jon Stewart as “satirical investigation.”
He is a regular contributor to the BBC and NPR and he is the author of eight books, including the bestselling “The Psychopath Test,” “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” and the Amazon Kindle Single, “The Elephant in the Room: A Journey into the Trump Campaign and the Alt Right.” Ronson’s original screenplays include the critically acclaimed Netflix Original “Okja,” which he co-wrote with Bong-Joon Ho, and “Frank,” which he co-wrote with Peter Straughan. In July 2017, Ronson released an Audible Original audio series called “The Butterfly Effect,” which went straight to number one on the U.S. audio charts and has remained there ever since.
Fascinated by madness, strange behavior and the human mind, Ronson has spent his life exploring mysterious events and meeting extraordinary people. In “The Psychopath Test,” which The San Francisco Chronicle called “...no ordinary piece of investigative journalism,” he explores the concept of psychopathy and how we define sanity, insanity and eccentricity in our society and in ourselves. The book was adapted into a story for NPR's This American Life and is one of the show's most downloaded episodes of all time.
In “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” Jon investigates our obsession with social media and its sometimes disastrous impact on our lives and collective conscience. It’s a timely and humane account that has been selected by many communities and campuses as a community-wide read. NPR called the book “[a] big-hearted take on an important and timely topic.”
Simon Schama is the author of seventeen books and the writer-presenter of fifty documentaries on art, history and literature for BBC2. His art criticism for The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for criticism in 1996, his film on Bernini from “The Power of Art” won an Emmy in 2007, and his series on British history and “The American Future: A History” each earned Broadcast Critics Guild awards. He won the NCR nonfiction prize for “Citizens,” National Book Critics Circle award for “Rough Crossings,” and the WH Smith Literary Award for “Landscape and Memory.” This year he received the Premio Antonio Feltrinelli in historical sciences from the Accademia nazionale dei Lincei in Rome.
Schama writes on cooking and food for GQ, fashion for Harpers Bazaar and on everything else for the Financial Times. He curated the Government Art Collection show “Travelling Light” at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and has collaborated with Anselm Kiefer, John Virtue and Cecile B. Evans on contemporary art exhibitions and installations. His “The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words” was published in 2015 and the second volume, “When Words Fail,” will appear in 2017. In the autumn of 2016, “The Face of Britain,” a history of British portraiture, appeared as a five-part BBC television series, a book, and an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. He is currently working on “Civilisations,” a television history of world art.
Birgit Sippel is a member of the European Parliament and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). She became coordinator of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group in LIBE after her re-election in 2014.
In the LIBE committee, Sippel has been involved in privacy and data protection issues such as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme and Passenger Name Record data (PNR). She is also involved in the EU asylum policy, migration, and has supported the advancement of police and judicial cooperation at the EU level (Area of Freedom, Security and Justice) through adoption of directives on procedural safeguards.
Sippel also serves on the Delegation for Relations with the Mashreq countries and as a substitute member in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. Since 2017, she has been a member of the Special Committee on Terrorism.
Sippel’s political career began in 1982 when she joined the Socialist Youth of Germany, “Die Falken.” She joined the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) the same year, and was soon involved in the local party branch in Neheim. In 1983, she became a member of the German Industrial Union of Metalworkers (IG Metall), in which she served as employee representative. From 1994 to 2004, she served as a member of the city council of Arnsberg for the SPD. Apart from her commitment at the local level, Sippel was a member of the SPD's Federal Party Council from 1996 to 2010 and, since 2010, has been a member of the party's council and presidium in the federal state of North Rhine-Westfalia.