September 22. 2023

The Closing Keynote Address is the capstone event of new student orientation experience for the Harris School.

The address brings conversations on timely policy issues and challenges through a dynamic lecture exclusively for the Harris community. The address will challenge students to contemplate their role in complex global and social issues and craft a vision for the future of policy leadership and social change. Incoming students can also expect to hear more about Harris’ commitment to providing students with the resources and experience to drive effective social change and policy leadership, how they can enact smarter policy solutions, and personal and professional examples of commitment to rigor, fearlessness, and impact.  The 2023 keynote speaker will be selected during summer 2023.

2022 Keynote Speaker: Brea Baker

Brea Baker is a queer Black millennial woman working at the intersections of race, gender identity, public safety, and community. Currently working as Chief Equity Officer at Inspire Justice, Brea understands that we need a multi-pronged approach to the complex problems facing society. Working across fields and industries from activism to the entertainment industry to electoral work and politics, she believes in the need for progressive policy along with a culture that reflects and affirms everyone’s right to thrive.

Brea is a skilled communications strategist, influencer engagement professional, and activist/organizer with a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University. She has contributed to dozens of electoral and advocacy campaigns including the 2017 Women’s March (where she served as the youngest national organizer), the campaign to #FreeMeekMill, the 2018 student walkouts against gun violence, Jumaane Williams’ successful bid for NYC Public Advocate, and more.

For her work in coalition with other activists and organizers, Brea has been recognized as a 2017 Glamour Women of the Year, 2019 i-D Up and Rising, and has spoken on her work globally. In addition to her full-time work with Inspire Justice, Brea is an active member of Justice League NYC (a rapid-response criminal justice task-force), a co-chair for the Board of Activists for COMMUNITYx (a revolutionary tech-startup by and for activists), and the Grassroots & Community Liaison for Justice For Black Girls (a non-profit addressing the criminalization and adultification of femme Black youth).

Previous speakers include:

Jamira Burley

Head of Youth Engagement and Skills for the Global Business Coalition for Education (2020)

Samuel Sinyangwe

An activist and data scientist focused on ending racism and police violence in America (2019)

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi 

8th District of Illinois (2018)

Valerie Jarrett

Former Senior Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama (2017)

David Axelrod

Harris Distinguished Senior Fellow, Director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics & Former Senior Strategist to U.S. President Barack Obama (2016)