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Commencement Speakers & Honorary Degree Recipients

Majora Carter, Urban Revitalization Strategist and Peabody Award-winning Radio Broadcaster 

Commencement Speaker & Honorary Degree Recipient, Saturday May 3

Majora Carter is an internationally renowned urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award-winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation and successful implementation of numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training and placement systems. After establishing several local and national organizations to carry on that work, Carter built on this foundation with innovative ventures and insights into urban economic developments designed to help move Americans out of poverty.

Carter’s long list of awards and honorary degrees includes accolades from groups as diverse as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, Goldman Sachs, as well as a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship. Her 2006 TED talk was one of the first six videos to launch their groundbreaking website.

Lois Quam, Executive Director of Global Health Initiative, U. S. State Department

Commencement Speaker & Honorary Degree Recipient, Saturday May 3

Ms. Lois Quam serves as the Chief Operating Officer at The Nature Conservancy. She was the Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative (GHI), reporting directly to former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The GHI was created by President Obama to “save lives today, and strengthen health systems to build stronger nations tomorrow.” Appointed by Gov. Rudy Perpich in 1989 to chair the Minnesota Health Care Access Commission, later passed, providing health care to tens of thousands of Minnesotans, and the nation’s lowest uninsured rate at that time. She went on to serve as senior advisor to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s task force on health care reform.

Quam served as president and CEO of the Public and Senior Markets segment at UnitedHealth Group, a $30 billion division overseeing Medicare and Medicaid-based businesses.  In 2009, she was co-founder and president of Tysvar, LLC, a Minnesota-based New Green Economy (NGE) and health care reform incubator dedicated to universal health care and bringing scale to the NGE. She also served as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Prior to founding Tysvar, Quam was Head of Strategic Investments, Green Economy & Health at Piper Jaffray, a leading international Minneapolis-based investment bank.

In 2006 Quam was named by Fortune magazine as one of America’s “50 Most Powerful Women.”  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Macalester College. As a Rhodes Scholar she went on to complete her master’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford in England.

David Orr, Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, and special assistant to the president of Oberlin College

Commencement Speaker & Honorary Degree Recipient, Sunday May 4

David Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, and special assistant to the president of Oberlin College. He is also the executive director of the Oberlin Project: an all-encompassing joint venture by the town and College to create a thriving, sustainable and environmentally friendly community in Oberlin.

Orr has been involved in environmental issues for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of six honorary degrees and other awards, including The Millennium Leadership Award from Global Green, the Bioneers Award, the National Wildlife Federation Leadership Award, and a Lyndhurst Prize acknowledging “persons of exceptional moral character, vision, and energy.” He has been a scholar in residence at Ball State University, the University of Washington, and other universities, and has served as a trustee for many organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Aldo Leopold Foundation, and the Bioneers.