Named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in both 2012 and 2018, and awarded “Outstanding Chef” and “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation, José Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, New York Times bestselling author, educator, television personality, humanitarian, and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup. A pioneer of Spanish tapas in the United States, he is also known for his groundbreaking avant-garde cuisine and his award-winning group of 31 restaurants located throughout the country and beyond, ranging in a variety of culinary experiences from a food truck to his multi-location vegetable-focused fast casual Beefsteak, to world-class tasting menus like the Michelin-starred minibar by José Andrés. Andrés is the only chef globally that has both a two-star Michelin restaurant and four Bib Gourmands.
As a naturalized citizen originally from Spain, Andrés has been a tireless advocate for immigration reform. In 2010, Andrés formed World Central Kitchen, a non-profit that provides smart solutions to end hunger and poverty by using the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies. Notably, his team served over 3.6 million meals to the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Andrés’ work has earned awards and distinctions including the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the 2015 National Humanities Medal, one of twelve distinguished recipients of the award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Andrés was also named EY Master Entrepreneur of the Year in Greater Washington for his leadership and impact on the global business community and was awarded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Chair’s Medallion Award.
Vijay Gupta is a violinist and educator whose efforts to merge music with mental health are changing the world, note by note. Named a 2018 MacArthur Fellow for “providing musical enrichment and valuable human connection to the homeless, incarcerated, and other under-resourced communities in Los Angeles,” Gupta is the founder of Street Symphony—a musical advocacy program that empowers citizen-musicians by engaging with communities experiencing extreme poverty, incarceration, and homelessness. The results have been extraordinary.
Called “a riveting speaker” by The New Yorker, “at once jovial and intense,” Vijay Gupta is a violinist and passionate advocate for artistic voices at the center of social justice. Gupta joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007 at age 19, after having completed an undergraduate degree in biology from Marist College and a Master’s degree in violin performance from the Yale School of Music. As a TED Senior Fellow, Gupta founded and began directing Street Symphony, a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging underserved communities experiencing homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles through musical performance and dialogue.
Jesse Israel is the founder of the mass meditation movement The Big Quiet and the social meditation community Medi Club. He teaches meditation to modern people, speaks about mindfulness and community building at Fortune 500 companies, trains purpose-driven leaders and rides with the Cyclones Bike Club.
Prior to The Big Quiet, Jesse co-founded Cantora — a record label turned venture fund where he signed Grammy-nominated bands like MGMT, advised the Wu Tang Clan’s GZA and oversaw entertainment-startup tech investments. Jesse’s sweet spot is the intersection of human connection and popular culture.
Pulitzer Prize winner and National Humanities Medalist Isabel Wilkerson is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
A gifted storyteller, Wilkerson captivates audiences with the universal story of migration and the enduring search for the American dream, the origins of our shared commonality. She draws a direct link between the leaderless revolution known as the Great Migration and the protest movements for social justice today, both of them responses to unacknowledged and unaddressed history.
Her major work, The Warmth of Other Suns, tells the true story of three people among the six million who made the decision of their lives during the Great Migration, a watershed in American history. Wilkerson spent 15 years working on Warmth, interviewing more than 1,200 people to tell what she calls one of the greatest under reported stories of the 20th Century. In addition to the National Book Critics Circle Award, the book won the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, and the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize and was shortlisted for both the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting in the history of American journalism.