Past Speakers

John Avlon


John Avlon

Author, columnist, commentator

John Avlon is an author, columnist and commentator. He is a senior political analyst and anchor at CNN, appearing on New Day every morning.

From 2013 to 2018, he was the editor-in-chief and managing director of The Daily Beast. He is the author of the books Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American PoliticsWingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America, and Washington’s Farewell: the Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations. He is also the co-editor of the acclaimed Deadline Artists journalism anthologies. Avlon served as chief speechwriter to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and, in 2012, won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists award for best online column. Avlon is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln.

John Avlon spoke at The Common Good in 2018: Defending Democracy: John Avlon, Philip Bobbitt, Ian Kahn, Garry Kasparov, and Bret Stephens - November 29th, 2018, and moderated the panel “Rule of Law, Corruption, and Abuse of Power” featuring Bill Browder and Preet Bharara at The Common Good Forum & American Spirit Awards - May 10, 2019. Avlon was also a co-speaker at our The Rise of Lincoln & U.S. Division with author Sidney Blumenthal on September 24, 2019.

Twitter: @JohnAvlon

Felix Rohatyn


Felix Rohatyn

Banker, diplomat

Felix George Rohatyn is an American investment banker known for his role in preventing the bankruptcy of New York City in the 1970’s and for serving as United States Ambassador to France. He was also a long term advisor to the U.S. Democratic Party.

Rohatyn became widely known in the 1970’s for successfully restructuring New York City’s debt and resolving the city’s fiscal crisis. While running MAC for the city of New York, Rohatyn continued his deal making at Lazard, and he completed such deals as Sony’s acquisition of Columbia. Rohatyn was United States Ambassador to France 1997-2000 during the second Clinton Administration and is a Commander in the French Legion of Honor.

In 1990, he received The Hundred Year Association of New York’s Gold Medal Award “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York.” Rohatyn is also the recipient of The International Center in New York’s Award of Excellence. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Trustee for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Bill Richardson


Bill Richardson

American politician

For more than 30 years, Bill Richardson has led a distinguished public-service career as a U.S. Congressman (1982-1996), U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1997-1998), Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton (1998-2000), and Governor of New Mexico (2003-2011).

In 2008, he sought the Democratic nomination for President, dropping out after Iowa and New Hampshire. As a diplomat and Special Envoy, Richardson has received four Nobel Peace Prize nominations, and has successfully won the release of hostages and American servicemen in North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, and Sudan. He has authored three books including How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator. He is active on the national and international speech circuit, and appears frequently on numerous television news programs, including CNN, FOX, Univision, Meet the Press, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Before being elected Governor of New Mexico, Richardson was Chairman of Freedom House, a private nonpartisan organization that promotes democracy and human rights worldwide, and served on the boards of the National Resource Defense Council and United Way International. He was also given the National Hispanic Hero Award by the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute. Richardson has started two foundations: The Richardson Center for Global Engagement, focusing on conflict resolution and prisoner release, and the Foundation to Preserve New Mexico Wildlife with actor and conservationist Robert Redford, which has led the charge to protect wild horses and provide alternatives to horse slaughter. Recently, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement played an instrumental role in the successful release of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi from prison in Tijuana, Mexico.

Richardson spoke at The Common Good as part of the 2008 Democratic National Convention Panel.

Twitter: @GovRichardson

Christopher Ruddy


Christopher Ruddy

Businessman, journalist

Christopher Ruddy is the CEO of Newsmax Media, which publishes and broadcasts the Newsmax TV network. Following Ruddy's work at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 1998, he started Newsmax with Richard Mellon Scaife, who owned the Tribune-Review. In April 2010, media-industry magazine Folio named Ruddy to its "FOLIO 40," an "annual list of magazine industry influencers and innovators".

A prominent conservative, Ruddy was an early donor to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The Washington Post has referred to him as "the Trump Whisperer".

Ruddy spoke at The Common Good in 2017: The Press, Fake News and Politics: Chris Ruddy.

Twitter: @ChrisRuddyNMX

Scott Reich


Scott Reich

Author, attorney

Scott Reich is the author of the acclaimed book, The Power of Citizenship: Why JFK Matters, and is in-house counsel at American Express, where he supports the company’s digital and mobile payments strategy and helps the business develop innovative ways to provide value to card members. He’s also an adjunct lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches a course on the American presidency. Prior to working at American Express, Reich practiced law at the international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and co-founded an online grocery business that aims to combat hunger while creating a healthier, more sustainable food system.

Reich serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and in 2010, he was appointed by the governor of New York to serve on the College Council of SUNY-Old Westbury. Reich has appeared on NBC, CBS, Fox, MSNBC, Bloomberg, WPIX, Larry King Now, and several national and local radio shows. He has also written for the Huffington Post.

Reich spoke at The Common Good in 2013: Exploring the Legacy of JFK: Citizenship and Public Service with Scott Reich.

Twitter: @ScottDReich

Steve Rattner


Steve Rattner


Steve Rattner is the Chairman and CEO of Willet Advisors LLC, which invests former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s personal and philanthropic assets. He is the Economic Analyst for MSNBC’s Morning Joe and is a Contributing Writer for the Op-Ed page of The New York Times.

Rattner wrote the book Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry about his time as Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury leading the Obama Administration’s successful restructure of the automobile industry. Before this, in 2000, Rattner formed Quadrangle Group LLC, a private investment firm that had more than $6 billion of assets under management. He was Managing Principal there until February 2009.

Before the start of his investment banking career, Mr. Rattner worked as a journalist for The New York Times for nine years, mostly as an economic correspondent in New York, London and Washington. In 1982, he joined Lehman Brothers and was then a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley before leaving to become a General Partner at Lazard Frères in 1989. While at Lazard Frères & Co., he served as Deputy Chairman and Deputy Chief Executive Officer.

Twitter: @SteveRattner

Mark Ruffalo


Mark Ruffalo

Actor, activist

Mark Ruffalo is an environmental activist and actor known for his portrayal of Bruce Banner/the Hulk in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with The Avengers.

He starred in and was an executive producer of the 2014 television drama film The Normal Heart, for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie (as a producer) and he won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor in a TV Movie. The same year, he portrayed Dave Schultz in Foxcatcher, for which he was nominated for several awards, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2015, he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Infinitely Polar Bear and also received BAFTA and Academy Award nominations for his role in the drama Spotlight.

As an environmental activist, Ruffalo has focused his efforts on combating fracking in New York state. Receiving an environmental award at Dickinson College in early 2015, Ruffalo notably told graduates, "I'm here to tell you that 'activist' is not a dirty word." Living that message, Ruffalo founded the Solutions Project, which pushes for 100 percent renewable energy, and is active with Water Defense, a group dedicated to clean water initiatives.

Ruffalo spoke at The Common Good on the Clean Energy and the Water Defense Fund in 2012.

Twitter: @MarkRuffalo

Jeffrey Sachs


Jeffrey Sachs

Economist, policy analyst

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 100 countries. He is the co-recipient of the 2015 Blue Planet Prize, the leading global prize for environmental leadership, and has twice been named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders.

Professor Sachs served as the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University from 2002 to 2016. He was appointed University Professor at Columbia University in 2016 and also serves as Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Sustainable Development Goals, and previously advised both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria.

Professor Sachs is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on economic development, global macroeconomics, and the fight against poverty. His work on ending poverty, overcoming macroeconomic instability, promoting economic growth, fighting hunger and disease, and promoting sustainable environmental practices has taken him to more than 125 countries. Over the past thirty years, he has advised dozens of heads of state and governments on economic strategy in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He was among the outside advisors to Pope John Paul II on the encyclical Centesimus Annus and currently works closely with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on issues of sustainable development.

Dylan Ratigan


Dylan Ratigan

Businessman, political commentator

Dylan Jason Ratigan is an American businessman, author, film producer, former host of MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, former contributor to The Huffington Post, and political commentator for The Young Turks. He was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in New York's 21st Congressional District.

The former Global Managing Editor for Corporate Finance at Bloomberg L.P., Ratigan has developed and launched more than six broadcast and new media properties.

Ratigan was hosted by The Common Good in 2012: Dylan Ratigan “Greedy Bastards”.

Twitter: @DylanRatigan

Karim Sadjadpour


Karim Sadjadpour

Policy analyst

Karim Sadjadpour is an Iranian-American policy analyst at the Carnegie Endowment. He has been "chief Iran analyst" at the International Crisis Group, a contributor to BBC TV and radio, CNN, National Public Radio, PBS NewsHour and Al-Jazeera, and has also appeared on the Today Show, Charlie Rose, Fox News Sunday and the Colbert Report. He contributes regularly to publications such as the Economist, Washington Post, New York Times, International Herald Tribune and Foreign Policy.

Sadjadpour spoke at The Common Good Forum & American Spirit Awards 2018.

Twitter: @ksadjadpour

Bobby Sager


Bobby Sager


Bobby Sager has spent the last decade of his life traveling around the globe giving away his money to make whatever difference he can.

In 2000, Bobby founded the Sager Family Traveling Foundation and Roadshow. He and his family traveled to some of the poorest nations on earth, living in villages and cities in developing countries. Always looking for the most efficient and sustainable way to solve any issue, Bobby believed the best way to solve pressing issues was through catalyzing the efforts of other leaders, no matter where or who they were. The family traveled the globe, meeting those leaders and setting up projects to assist their efforts, whether in a mountain tent or jungle prison. Additionally, he began recruiting other high-powered business leaders to use their considerable skills in the service of something larger, through his involvement with the Young Presidents Organization, which counts among its members over 20,000 leaders in 100 countries.

Sager was hosted by The Common Good in 2010 for a Meet & Greet,

Andrew Rasiej


Andrew Rasiej

Founder of the Personal Democracy Forum

Andrew Rasiej is a serial social entrepreneur and founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, an annual conference and website about the intersection of technology, politics, government and advocacy. He is also the co-founder of, an award winning blog that covers how the White House, the federal government, and Congress are using the web, and how technology is empowering new levels of citizen engagement throughout the United States. He is also the founder of, a not-for-profit focused on 21st century public education, co-founder of, which translates Arabic and Farsi news and opinion pieces into English. Rasiej serves as Chairman of the NY Tech Meetup, a 20,000 member organization of technologists, venture funders, marketers, etc. representing the start up, technology, and innovation industry in New York City.

Twitter: @Rasiej

Anthony Scaramucci


Anthony Scaramucci

Journalist, businessman

Anthony Scaramucci is the founder of SkyBridge Capital. Mr. Scaramucci was the co-host of Wall Street Week, the iconic financial television show revived in 2015 and currently airing on the Fox Business Network. He is the author of three books: The Little Book of Hedge FundsGoodbye Gordon Gekko and Hopping Over the Rabbit Hole, a 2016 Wall Street Journal best-seller in the business category. Prior to founding SkyBridge in 2005, Scaramucci co-founded investment partnership Oscar Capital Management, which was sold to Neuberger Berman, LLC in 2001. Earlier, Mr. Scaramucci was a vice president in Private Wealth Management at Goldman Sachs & Co.

In 2016, Scaramucci was ranked #85 in Worth Magazine’s Power 100: The 100 Most Powerful People in Global Finance. In 2011, he received Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® – New York Award in the Financial Services category. Mr. Scaramucci is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), vice chair of the Kennedy Center Corporate Fund Board, and a board member of the Business Executives for National Security (BENS). He was a member of the New York City Financial Services Advisory Committee from 2007 to 2012. In November 2016 he was named to President-elect Trump’s 16-person Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee.

Scaramucci briefly served as the White House Director of Communications in July, 2017. Trump fired him ten days after he began the job at the advice of his Chief of Staff, possibly in response to controversial statements made by Scaramucci within the first week of his work.

Scaramucci was spoke on “Growing the Economy and Jobs – Comments on the Trump Agenda”, moderated by Omeed Malik, at The Common Good Forum & American Spirit Awards 2017.

Twitter: @Scaramucci

Jed Rakoff


Jed Rakoff

U.S. Judge

Jed Rakoff served as law clerk to the late Honorable Abraham Freedman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He then spent two years in private practice at Debevoise & Plimpton before spending seven years as a federal prosecutor with the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. For the last two of those years, he was Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Prosecutions Unit. He then returned to private practice where he was a partner first with Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander & Ferdon, and then with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. He headed both firms’ criminal defense and civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) sections.

On October 11, 1995, Rakoff was nominated by President Bill Clinton to fill a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He was confirmed by the Senate on December 29, 1995, appointed on January 4, 1996, and entered on duty on March 1, 1996. On December 31, 2010, he assumed senior status.

On April 13, 2013, Rakoff was on a list released by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) of Americans banned from entering the Russian Federation over their alleged human rights violations. The list was a direct response to the so-called Magnitsky list revealed by the United States the day before. On March 20, 2014, Rakoff was listed by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

Rakoff received the American Spirit Award for Public Service from Richard Farley at The Common Good’s American Spirit Awards 2015.

Kori Schake


Kori Schake

Foreign policy expert

Kori Schake has held several high positions in the U.S. Defense and State Departments and on the National Security Council, and was a foreign-policy adviser to the McCain-Palin 2008 presidential campaign. Schake is currently the Deputy-Director General of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Schake's first government job was with the U.S. Department of Defense as a NATO Desk Officer in the Joint Staff's Strategic Plans and Policy Division from 1990 to 1994. She also spent 2 years (1994–1996) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as the special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Strategy and Requirements.

During President George W. Bush's first term, she was the director for Defense Strategy and Requirements on the National Security Council. Projects she contributed to include conceptualizing and budgeting for continued transformation of defense practices, the most significant realignment of U.S. military forces and bases around the world since 1950, creating NATO's Allied Command Transformation and the NATO Response Force, and recruiting and retaining coalition partners for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Schake spoke at The Common Good Forum & American Spirit Awards 2018.

Twitter: @KoriSchake

Emily Rafferty


Emily Rafferty

President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Emily Rafferty is president of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive art museum, which she has served since 1976. Ms. Rafferty has also served since 2008 as chairwoman of NYC & Company, the City’s official tourism and marketing agency. In addition, Ms. Rafferty is a member of the board of directors of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. In 2012, she received the New York University Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City, and was named one of New York’s 100 most influential women by Crain’s New York Business between 2009 and 2013.

Rafferty provided an update on the Smithsonian Women’s Museum in Washington D.C. at The Common Good Forum & American Spirit Awards, 2019 and spoke about constructing the Women’s History Museum at The Common Good Forum & American Spirit Awards 2017.

Amir Peretz


Amir Peretz

Israeli Politician

Amir Peretz was the former defense minister of Israel and former leader of the Labor Party. He left both posts in 2007 after failing to win reelection as Chairman of the Labor Party. Peretz also served as Defense Minister when the second Lebanon War broke out between Israel and Lebanon.

In 1988, Peretz was elected a member of the Knesset, where he continues to be a member. In 1994, he was the head of the powerful Histadrut union federation. During this time, Peretz was cooperative with the government in a series of structural and financial reforms that moved Israel towards a more market-oriented economy. In 1999, Peretz resigned from the Labor Party and formed his own party, One Nation. The party was successful, winning two seats in the Knesset in the 1999 elections and three in 2003. As Israel’s social programs became dismantled by market-oriented reforms, Peretz became popular with Israel’s working class, leading to the merger of One Nation and Labor.

Peretz was hosted by The Common Good in 2011: Middle East Briefing with Amir Peretz.

Twitter: @amirperetz

Chemi Peres


Chemi Peres

Managing General Partner and Co-Founder of Pitango

Chemi Peres is a Managing General Partner and Co-Founder of Pitango. In 1992, he founded the Mofet Israel Technology Fund, an Israeli venture capital fund publicly traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Prior to Mofet, Chemi held managerial positions at Decision Systems Israel (DSI). Chemi also served as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force for 10 years.

He currently serves on the boards of numerous Pitango portfolio companies. Chemi also serves as a board member in several non-for-profit organizations. He is chairman of the Peres center for Peace, board member at Social Finance Israel and serves on the board of Governors of The Jewish Diaspora Museum.

Peres spoke at The Common Good in 2017: "No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination and the Making of Modern Israel".

Twitter: @chemiperes

Speaker Nancy Pelosi


Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. Speaker of the House

Nancy Pelosi was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in 1987, winning a special election of California’s 8th district. As a member of the House of Representatives, she has served on the Appropriations Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In 2002, Pelosi was selected to be the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, making her the first woman in history earn the honor. Four years later, she again broke new ground for women in U.S. politics. After the Democrats won majorities in both the House and the Senate in the 2006 midterm elections, Pelosi was chosen to become the first woman to take the post of speaker of the House.

As the leader of the Democratic Party in the House under a Republican president, Pelosi was a vocal critic of President George W. Bush’s stance on the war in Iraq and advocated for the withdrawal of troops from the region. Pelosi remained House speaker until November 2010, when Republicans gained control of the House and elected John Boehner to the role, relegating Pelosi to minority leader. After Democrats reclaimed control of the House in the 2018 midterms, Pelosi was once again elected House speaker at the beginning of 2019, placing her on the front line in the battle with President Donald Trump over his demand for $5.7 billion for a wall spanning the U.S.-Mexico border. The stalemate turned into a contentious 35-day government shutdown, with the speaker drawing most of the president’s ire for her control over congressional funding. However, shortly after Pelosi effectively canceled the traditional State of the Union address, scheduled for January 29, President Trump agreed to temporarily reopen the government.

Speaker Pelosi was hosted by The Common Good in 2012: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Twitter: @NancyPelosi

Alan Patricof


Alan Patricof

Founder and Managing Director of Greycroft, LLC

Alan Patricof is the Founder and Managing Director of Greycroft, LLC. A longtime innovator and advocate for venture capital, Alan entered the industry in its formative days with the creation of Patricof & Co. Ventures Inc., a predecessor to Apax Partners – today, one of the world’s leading private equity firms with $41 billion under management. He stepped back from the daily administration and operational aspects of Apax Partners, LP in 2004 to concentrate on a group of small venture deals on its behalf. In 2006, he founded Greycroft Partners, a venture capital firm, to invest in leading early and expansion stage investments in digital media. With offices in New York and Los Angeles, Greycroft is currently investing from its third Fund as well as its Growth Fund, and has $600MM under management.

With a 40-plus year career in venture capital, Alan has been instrumental in growing the venture capital field from a base of high net-worth individuals to its position today with broad institutional backing, as well as playing a key role in the essential legislative initiatives that have guided its evolution. He has helped build and foster the growth of numerous major global companies, including, among others, America Online, Office Depot, Cadence Systems, Cellular Communications, Inc., Apple Computer, FORE Systems,NTL, IntraLinks, and Audible. He was also a founder and chairman of the board of New York magazine, which later acquired the Village Voice and New West magazine.

Alan is active in the New York and Washington communities. He is a board member of the Finance Committee of Northside Children for Child Development in Harlem and the Board of Overseers of Columbia School of Business. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In October 2013, he was appointed as a Member of the President’s Global Development Council by Barack Obama. From 2007 to 2012, he served two terms on the board of Millennium Challenge Corporation, having been appointed by Presidents Bush and Obama respectively. From 1993 to 1995, he served as Chairman of the White House Conference on Small Business Commission in The Clinton Administration. In addition, he is a former board member of TechnoServe, Trickle Up Program, Global Advisory Board of Endeavor, Applied Sciences NYC Advisory Board, and the Initiative for Global Development (IGD) Leadership Council. He is currently an adviser to Disney’s Accelerator Program.

Twitter: @alanjpatricof