May 2019 Lecture Series


All lectures will be held in the Spring Valley Building, 4801 Massachusetts Ave. NW, in Room A on the First Floor. **Please note that the May 16 lecture is at 1:00 PM. The other lectures are at 10:00 AM.

Reservations Required

Due to limited seating, reservations through Eventbrite are required to attend lectures.

Member Reservations: We e-mail the registration link to current members at 8:30 AM on the Tuesday preceding the next week’s lectures.

Non-Member Reservations: We e-mail the registration link to non-members at 8:30 AM on the Wednesday preceding the next week’s lectures. The registration link is also placed at that time on the website (below).

Each registrant may reserve one seat. Your name must be on the list of registrants to enter the lecture and you must be in your seat five minutes before the lecture starts to guarantee your seat.


TUESDAY May 14, 2019—10:00 AM—Ron Elving

How Are American Elections Changing?

New realities are redefining the way we choose our public officials, from the lowest local office to the White House.  We have to adjust how we think about candidates, campaigns, political parties, and even the means by which we vote.  Most of all, we have to evolve our thinking about American voters.

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for National Public Radio and Executive in Residence for the Department of Government in the School of Public Affairs at American University. He received the AU Outstanding Teacher Award for adjunct faculty in 2016. He also has taught at George Mason, Georgetown, and Marquette Universities. Before coming to NPR in 1999, Ron was the political editor for USA Today and for The Congressional Quarterly.


THURSDAY May 16, 2019—1:00 PM—Mike Tidwell  **This lecture starts at 1:00 PM

The Shocking Impacts of Climate Change in DC

Chronic flooding on a daily basis around the tidal basin as a result of rising sea levels is putting the iconic cherry blossoms at risk and requiring new infrastructure and sea walls. This is only one sign of fundamental changes under way in the city and suburbs. Old species no longer flourish, new invasives move in. Beaches disappear, Chesapeake Islands are threatened. What can we do? Turns out: A lot. 

Mike Tidwell is founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington. He is a filmmaker and the author of the 2003 book, Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast, which predicted the Katrina hurricane disaster. His documentary film, We Are All Smith Islanders, vividly depicts the dangers of global warming in our area. Tidwell has been featured on NBC’s Meet the Press, NPR, as well as  in The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, Politico, and The Washington Post.


TUESDAY May 21, 2019—10:00 AM—Charles A. Ray

Ethical Diplomacy

What is ethical diplomacy, and why is it so important? Is ethical diplomacy even possible in the current political environment? How does this atmosphere impact our ability to carry out effective diplomacy? What is happening in the State Department and how will this affect the nation in 2020 and beyond?

Charles A. Ray served as ambassador to Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2012 and to Cambodia from 2002 to 2005. He has been Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs and is the author of more than 100 fiction and non-fiction books. Ambassador Ray retired from the military with the rank of major in 1982, after serving two tours in Vietnam, and serving in Germany, Okinawa, and South Korea. He holds two Bronze Stars and the Armed Forces Humanitarian Service Medal.


THURSDAY May 23, 2019—10:00 AM—Mark Furstenberg

Bringing Bread to Washington

How did he pull it off, this outstanding baker of the United States, so honored with a James Beard medal? Mark Furstenberg has been a White House aide, a manufacturer of copper tubing, a criminal justice consultant, an anti-poverty worker, TV assistant, Washington Post writer and bankrupt merchant. He’s gone from macro to micro. 

Mark Furstenberg is the owner of Bread Furst, a neighborhood bakery in DC. When he opened Marvelous Market in 1990, he introduced European-style baking to a Wonder Bread city. Customers waited in line to buy the maximum two loaves each was allowed. He expanded, then he failed. He soon opened a sandwich shop near the White House. Then it became too hard. Now his bakery is just right. He was honored with the James Beard award as America’s Outstanding Baker in 2017.


TUESDAY May 28, 2019—10:00 AM—Jason Rezaian

Prisoner: 544 Days in Evin Prison

When Washington Post Tehran Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Selehi, were picked up by Iranian police, he thought it must be a mistake. Then he was locked up in Iran’s notorious Evin prison.  Rezaian’s guards told him nobody had asked about him. Nobody was trying get him get out. He was a spy for the CIA, they said, and he had been abandoned. Rezaian was accused of espionage, put on trial, convicted and-after 544 days-released out of the blue at the same time as the Iran nuclear deal was announced. Rezaian’s story is one-part farce to nine-parts terror.

Jason Rezaian grew up in California, the son of Iranian immigrants. He is the author of Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison-Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out. After spending a year at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow, he is now a Global Opinions writer for The Washington Post.  



THURSDAY May 30, 2019—10:00 AM—Mary Fitch

The Golden Age of Washington—Is Right Now

The typical television view of Washington includes monumental buildings and imposing Georgetown mansions. But DC is much more than just a federal city. It is coming into its own as a global capital. Join Mary Fitch for a virtual tour of the city to discover the neighborhoods and developments that are helping to create Washington’s Golden Age.

Mary Fitch is Executive Director of the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Washington Architectural Foundation. She has founded and developed the award-winning Architecture DC magazine, National Architecture Week, Design DC Conference, and built the District Architecture Center. Previous to AIA|DC, Mary was the deputy director of Long-Range Planning at the National Capital Planning Commission. She holds a BA in History from the University of California at Berkeley and an MA in Urban Planning from George Washington University.


OLLI does not endorse any of the viewpoints expressed by the speakers in its series.

We thank the Lecture Committee and all those who suggested and contacted speakers:
Paul Brown, Martha Cutts, Lesley Diaz (Staff Liaison), Chuck Edson,
Judith Havemann (Chair), Lynne Heneson, Jeanne Kent, Mary Moore, Stan Newman, Diane Renfroe,
Richard Ringell, Steve Sherman, Delbert Spurlock, and Ray Squitieri.