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Be Our Guest: Fall 2023

Quips and quotes from AU's changemaking speakers 


Representative Jamie Raskin

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD)

September 14

The former constitutional law professor may have failed to convict former president Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection in 2021, but the trial itself saved Raskin, who lost his 25-year-old son, Tommy, just one week before the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

“I never felt like there was any choice,” he said. “Speaker Pelosi asked me to lead the impeachment trial—she threw me a lifeline, because I could have sunk down myself very quickly. I wasn’t sure if I would ever really be able to do anything else again in my life, but . . . she basically said, ‘We need you, and you’ve got to rise to the occasion.’ 

“I had Tommy with me the whole time in my heart. I felt him in there every day, and I still do,” Raskin said, placing his hand on his chest.

The American Forum event—sponsored by the School of Communication and the Kennedy Political Union and hosted by Professor Jane Hall—was a homecoming for Raskin, who taught at AU’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years. Voters in Maryland’s 8th District, concentrated entirely in Montgomery County, elected him to a fourth term in 2022.

Despite his criticism of their ideologies during the hourlong conversation, Raskin—prompted by a question from Tamara Quinlan, SIS-SOC/BA ’25, about humanity and empathy in politics—admitted that he is friends with many of those on the other side of the aisle.

“It’s an awesome question that I wrestle with all the time,” he told Quinlan. “I want my workplace to be a warm, empathetic environment [because] we’re modeling our behavior and our conduct for other people.

“I try to be friends with everybody—that’s just my nature. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) is my friend. Her son had a baby [and] she showed me pictures. I’m a big baby person—because, you know, politicians love babies—and I told my wife, ‘Let’s get Lauren a baby present for her grandson.’ So I found a [onesie] online, which said, I take a lot of naps, but I’m still woke,” Raskin said as the audience laughed. “She thought it was funny.”

Raskin, who had a recent bout with lymphoma, said Boebert gave him a high five after he finished treatment in April. “A lot of people were attacking me like, ‘Why would you give a high five to a right-wing extremist?’ I’m going to call her out when she’s a right-wing extremist, but if she’s going to give me a high five because I survived cancer and chemo, I’m going to accept it. I’m not going to leave her hanging like that.”

Aboulela, Rozanski, Brazile

Leila Aboulela 

October 16

“I went to Durham University [in England] and there in the Sudan Archive, I found a bill of sale for this woman named Zum Zum. It had the man who sold, the man who bought, and the amount of money that was exchanged. I had known that slavery existed in Sudan, but just to come across it like that was startling. I started to think about her: She must have had a [real] name, a background, a village, a childhood.”

The Sudanese novelist—the inaugural winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing—discussed the inspiration for Akuany, the main character in her sixth and latest novel, River Spirit, as part of the creative writing program’s Visiting Writers Series. 

Horacio Rozanski

September 11

“We can no longer afford to launch a tech and hope for the best because somebody’s going to figure out how to weaponize that tech on day one. This is an all-hands-on-deck issue for our nation.” 

The CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton—which made headlines in February when it helped the US government track a Chinese spy balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina—joined Kogod dean David Marchick for a conversation about harnessing the power of artificial intelligence for national security. Rozanski is a 2023 distinguished lecturer with AU’s Sine Institute of Policy and Politics.

Donna Brazile

September 26 

“I’ve been in Washington, DC, for 42 years, and one thing I can tell you about Washington, DC, is that it changes—not every two years, not every four years, but every season. This is your season, and I hope you seize the moment.”

The chair of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board addressed WCL’s 12 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows—representing 11 countries—during the organization’s quarterly board meeting, held at AU. WCL is the only law school in country that hosts the fellowship program, sponsored by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 

Williams, Klobuchar, Miller

Doug Williams

September 19

“Don’t count yourself out. I never saw myself as the backup. I prepared [to become] the starter, and those opportunities will come if you just keep working.”

The NFL Hall of Famer started the 1987 season with the now Washington Commanders on the bench and ended it by hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl MVP. The first Black quarterback to win a championship, Williams received the 2023 Icons of DC award from SOC’s Public Relations Student Society of America. He was interviewed by Julia Mouketo, SOC/MA ’24, a multilingual journalist from the Republic of the Congo and AU’s second-ever ESPN Investigative Journalism Fellow. 

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

September 6 

“Bernie kept coming up to me on the floor and saying, ‘Where’s the joy? Where’s the joy?’ Part of what I’m doing with this book is answering that question.”

The 2020 presidential candidate shared how Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) inspired the title of her new memoir, The Joy of Politics: Surviving Cancer, a Campaign, a Pandemic, and an Insurrection, and Life’s Other Unexpected Curveballs, during the Women and Politics Institute’s long-running Women on Wednesdays program. 

Katherine Miller

October 11

“Food is the most central thing to our lives. If you don’t have it, you will starve. If you eat the wrong food for you, or you eat too much of it, you might die. It impacts your health [and] our local economies. It’s our flavor memories and a lot of our personal memories.”

The 2020 Sine Institute of Policy and Politics fellow, former vice president of impact at the James Beard Foundation, and author of At the Table: The Chef’s Guide to Advocacy talked with Sine’s executive director Amy Dacey, SPA/MA ’95, about why chefs are powerful catalysts for change.