The World Leaders Forum | Judson University

The World Leaders Forum


2019 Event Recap

Caroline Kennedy Shares Leadership Journey and Family’s Legacy of Service

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Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy shared insights into political courage, service and her family’s legacy as keynote speaker for Judson University’s eighth World Leaders Forum. The interview, part of an acclaimed series of conversations hosted by bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio host Eric Metaxas, drew more than 500 attendees to Schaumburg this evening.

The interview was recorded as part of Socrates in the City, a conversation series hosted by Metaxas featuring notable thinkers. During the interview, Kennedy discussed topics such as leadership, faith, family, role models, what America means to her, women’s empowerment, what it means to be an Ambassador, and being the only surviving child of John F. Kennedy.

“When I was the Ambassador to Japan, Americans often approached me and recited my father’s presidential inaugural address from 1961,” said Kennedy. “This always made me proud because the quote – ask what you can do for your country – is emblematic of the service and generosity that makes America special.”

“The World Leaders Forum is an ideal partner for Socrates in the City because both of these events are focused on diving deeper,” said Metaxas. “Even though Ambassador Kennedy has spent much of her life and career in the public eye, this was a rare opportunity for people to hear her perspective on the bigger questions in life.”

For the first time, the World Leaders Forum community event was held off campus to accommodate growing interest from the surrounding community.

“The World Leaders Forum is always an inspiring conversation. Hosting it in Schaumburg and partnering with Socrates in the City helped us broaden our reach and invite more members of our community to be inspired by these thought leaders,” said Judson University President Dr. Gene Crume.

Previous World Leaders Forum keynote speakers include former President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mexican President Felipe Calderón, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Vermont Governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean. The goal of the World Leaders Forum is to offer Judson students and the Chicagoland community an opportunity to be inspired by significant thought leaders.

Proceeds from the event continually fund the Judson Leadership Scholars program, innovative entrepreneurial activities, and ongoing operations of the World Leaders Forum, as well as benefit the higher education of youth in foster care by providing programs and educational opportunities at Judson University.

2019 Keynote Speaker

Caroline Kennedy


Author, Diplomat, and First Female Ambassador to Japan

Bestselling Author, Attorney, and Diplomat Caroline Kennedy was the 29th United States Ambassador to Japan. Nominated by President Barack Obama, she was the first female Ambassador to Japan. During her tenure she helped realize the United States military's return of land on Okinawa to the Japanese government, the largest land transfer since 1972, became an advocate for Japanese women in business and politics, and played a pivotal role in President Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima.

The eldest child of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline is President and Director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and a member of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 1989, she established the Profile in Courage Award which honors elected officials who have shown political courage.

From law and politics to education reform and charitable work, Ambassador Kennedy has committed her life to public works, serving as a member and founder of numerous non-profits, boards, and foundations. She publicly endorsed Barack Obama for president by penning the essay A President Like My Father for The New York Times and later became the co-chair of his vice-presidential search committee.

From 2002-2011, Kennedy was Vice Chair of the Fund for Public Schools, dedicated to engaging the private sector in school reform. She was also the director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the New York City Department of Education from 2002 to 2004. There, she helped to raise over $60 million for the city’s public schools.

Kennedy has authored, co-authored, or edited more than a dozen books on American history, politics, constitutional law and poetry. Among her 10 New York Times bestsellers are She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems; A Family of Poems, and The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Fascinated with constitutional law, Caroline co-wrote In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action with fellow law graduate Ellen Alderman in honor of the two-hundredth anniversary of the Bill of Rights.

She is an Honorary Chair of the Senior Advisory Committee of the Harvard University Institute of Politics and a member of the national board of directors for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Kennedy holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from Harvard University and a J.D. from Columbia University.


2019 Interviewer

Eric Metaxas


Author and Radio Host

Eric Metaxas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Martin Luther, If You Can Keep It, Bonhoeffer, Amazing Grace, and Miracles. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the New Yorker, and Metaxas has appeared as a cultural commentator on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. He is the host of The Eric Metaxas Show, a nationally syndicated daily radio show. Metaxas is also the founder and host of Socrates in the City, the acclaimed series of conversations on “life, God, and other small topics,” featuring Malcolm Gladwell, Dick Cavett, and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, among many others. He is a senior fellow and lecturer at large at the King’s College in New York City, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


About the World Leaders Forum

Igniting a Flame of Leadership

The World Leaders Forum brings recognized world leaders to the Judson University campus each year with the intent to inspire and ignite a flame of leadership for all who attend. The World Leaders Forum is the signature fundraising event for Judson University. Please join us as we endeavor to educate tomorrow’s business leaders and build greatness in the lives of Judson students! Proceeds fund Judson leadership scholarships and innovative entrepreneurial activities as well as support ongoing operational purposes of the World Leaders Forum. Proceeds will also benefit the higher education of youth in foster care by providing programs and educational opportunities at Judson University. One of our partners that is expressly devoted to helping with this mission is Foster Progress.

Past Keynote Speakers

George W. Bush
George W. Bush
43rd President of
the United States
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Former President of
the Soviet Union
Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Former British
Prime Minister
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Former United States
Secretary of State
Felipe Calderon
Felipe Calderón
56th President
of Mexico
Queen Noor
Queen Noor
Queen Noor Al-Hussein
of Jordan
Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich
Former Speaker
of the House
Howard Dean
Howard Dean
Former Vermont


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Julie Schmidt
Julie Schmidt
Director of World Leaders Forum

Judson University, Shaping Lives that Shape the World