Digital Invitation-01-1


*Subject to change

*All events will be in person with an option to stream.

* Bob Woodward will be appearing virtually. 

Registration and Coffee

8:30 - 9:00 AM

Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:00 - 9:10 AM


Katherine Baicker, a leading scholar in the economic analysis of health care policy, commenced as Provost of The University of Chicago in March 2023. Prior to her appointment as provost, she was named Dean and the Emmett Dedmon Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy on August 15, 2017.

Baicker’s research focuses primarily on the factors that drive the distribution, generosity, and effectiveness of public and private health insurance, with a particular focus on health insurance finance and the effect of reforms on the distribution and quality of care.  She is currently one of the leaders of a research program investigating the many effects of expanding health insurance coverage in the context of a randomized Medicaid expansion in Oregon. Her research has been published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Health Affairs, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Before coming to the University of Chicago, Baicker was the C. Boyden Gray Professor of Health Economics in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She holds appointments as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research; as an affiliate of the Abdul Latif Poverty Action Lab; and serves on the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisers; on the Board of Directors of Eli Lilly; and on the editorial boards of Health Affairs and the Journal of Health Economics. Baicker is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (IOM) and the National Academy of Social Insurance. 

Baicker has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Public Policy in the School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles; the Economics Department at Dartmouth College; and the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences and the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. She has served as Chair of the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission; Chair of the Board of Directors of AcademyHealth; Commissioner on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and a nonresident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. From 2005-2007, she served as a Senate-confirmed Member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, where she played a leading role in the development of health policy. Baicker earned her B.A. in economics from Yale and her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard.

Thomas Brennan is the founder of The War Horse, Thomas Brennan is the founder of The War Horse, an award-winning nonprofit newsroom exploring the human impact of military service. He served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan before studying investigative reporting at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. His reporting has appeared in Vanity Fair, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and on the front page of The New York Times.

Thomas has received two Fourth Estate Awards, three Edward R. Murrow Awards, and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Award.

Introductory Remarks: The Importance of a Robust Fourth Estate

9:15 - 9:30 AM


Bob Woodward is a legendary investigative journalist, an associate editor at The Washington Post, and a veteran of the U.S. Navy who has authored 21 bestselling books. Bob is the most famous political investigative reporter in America and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who provides a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of government, politics, and the role of leadership.

A Call To Serve: Military Reporting As A Public Service

9:30 - 10:00 AM


Ron Nixon is Vice President, News and Head of Investigations, Enterprise, Partnerships and Grants at the Associated Press. Nixon received the inaugural 2021 News Leader of the Year award from the News Leaders Association.

He has overseen investigations that have won a number of national and international awards including: A Pulitzer finalist in investigative reporting, the Worth Bingham Award for Investigative reporting, the Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, the 2021 Joe and Laurie Dine Award from the Overseas Press Club and the Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics, a Robert F Kennedy Journalism Award, the Society of Publishers in Asia award, and the Human Rights Press Award, to name a few.

He oversaw a 2019 investigation in collaboration with PBS Frontline that won a national News and Documentary Emmy for an in-depth look into the record-breaking numbers of migrant children in detention under President Trump. A collaboration with Frontline in 2020 won an IRE award for an investigation into the impact of Covid-19 on the global medical supply chain.

Nixon joined the AP in 2019 from The New York Times Washington bureau, where he was homeland security correspondent, covering border and aviation security, immigration, cybercrime and cyber security, transnational crime, and violent extremism.

He has reported from Rwanda, Uganda, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Senegal, Mozambique, Burundi, Kenya, El Salvador, the United Kingdom, Peru, Brazil, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is the author of the book Selling Apartheid: Apartheid South Africa’s Global Propaganda War.

Nixon is also co-founder of the Ida b Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a news trade organization with a mission of increasing the ranks, retention, and profile of reporters and editors of color in the field of investigative reporting.

In 2015, Ron co-founded, a non-profit, non-partisan fact-checking website and digital network, run and edited from Howard University’s Department of Media, Journalism, and Film in the School of Communication.

Ron is currently the visiting associate for Journalism and Media Studies at The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Nixon is a Marine Corps infantry veteran who saw combat in the 1990 Persian Gulf War. He was part of the U.S. Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion at Norfolk, the security and counterterrorism unit of the Corps.

Panel 1: Military Reporting is a National Security Issue

10:00  - 11:00 AM

Without a broader public awareness of what veterans and military families are experiencing, citizens and elected officials are unlikely to make informed decisions about national policies at home and abroad. Join a conversation about the importance of examining the United States military through a lens of human experience, the place where its impact on our nation is most deeply felt.


Ethan Bueno de Mesquita is the Sydney Stein Professor and Interim Dean at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on applications of game theoretic models to a variety of political phenomena including conflict, political violence, national security, and electoral accountability. He has also written extensively on methodological issues in the social sciences. He both writes and advises on issues at the intersection of tech and society.

He is the author or co-author of Political Economy for Public Policy, Theory and Credibility, and Thinking Clearly with Data (all from Princeton University Press) as well as many articles in both political science and economics. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the United States Institute of Peace.

Before coming to the University of Chicago, Ethan taught in the political science department at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1996 and his MA and PhD from Harvard University in 2003.


Michèle Flournoy is co-founder and managing partner of WestExec Advisors, and former Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where she currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors. Michèle served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from February 2009 to February 2012 where she was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense in formulating national security and defense policy, oversight of military plans and operations, and in National Security Council deliberations. Michèle earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University and a master’s degree in international relations from Balliol College, Oxford University, where she was a Newton-Tatum scholar. She is a founding board member of The War Horse.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author that served as a senior correspondent and associate editor of The Washington Post. During his newspaper career, he reported from more than three dozen countries and was bureau chief in Baghdad, Cairo and Southeast Asia. His bestselling book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone," was named one of the 10 best books of 2007 by The New York Times and inspired the movie Green Zone. He has twice served as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and as a journalist in residence at the International Reporting Project at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. He is a graduate of Stanford University, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award for non-fiction, and the recipient of 2007 Samuel Johnson Prize.

Thomas Brennan is the founder of The War Horse, an award-winning nonprofit newsroom exploring the human impact of military service. He served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan before studying investigative reporting at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. His reporting has appeared in Vanity Fair, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and on the front page of The New York Times.

Thomas has received two Fourth Estate Awards, three Edward R. Murrow Awards, and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Award.


11:00 AM - 11:10 AM

An Uphill Battle: Turning The PACT Act into Law with U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois

11:10 AM - 11:15 AM

As a combat-wounded veteran of the Army, Sen. Tammy Duckworth deeply understands the human impact of military service. Join her as she explains how a combination of investigative reporting, advocacy, and political willpower helped the PACT Act become law.


U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2014. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 after representing Illinois’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms.

In 2004, Duckworth was deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard. On November 12, 2004, her helicopter was hit by an RPG and she lost her legs and partial use of her right arm. Senator Duckworth spent the next year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she quickly became an advocate for her fellow Soldiers. After she recovered, she became Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, where she helped create a tax credit for employers that hire Veterans, established a first-in-the-nation 24/7 Veterans crisis hotline and developed innovative programs to improve Veterans’ access to housing and health care.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Duckworth as an Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs, where she coordinated a joint initiative with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help end Veteran homelessness, worked to address the unique challenges faced by female as well as Native American Veterans and created the Office of Online Communications to improve the VA’s accessibility, especially among young Veterans.

In the U.S. House, Duckworth served on the Armed Services Committee and was an advocate for working families and job creation, introducing bills like her bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act to ensure new mothers have access to safe, clean and accessible lactation rooms when traveling through airports, which is now law. She helped lead passage of the bipartisan Clay Hunt SAV Act, which enhanced efforts to track and reduce Veteran suicides. She also passed the Troop Talent Act to help returning Veterans find jobs in the private sector and worked to cut waste and fraud at the Pentagon and throughout government, including passing a common-sense provision that was projected to save taxpayers $4 billion by reducing redundancy in military uniforms.  

In the U.S. Senate, Duckworth advocates for practical, common-sense solutions needed to move our state and country forward like rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, protecting Illinoisans from lead poisoning, growing manufacturing jobs while supporting minority-owned small businesses, investing in communities that have been ignored for too long and making college more affordable for all Americans. She co-founded the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus and also continues her lifelong mission of supporting, protecting and keeping the promises we’ve made to our Veterans as well as ensuring that we stand fully behind the troops our nation sends into danger overseas. In 2018, after Duckworth became the first Senator to give birth while serving in office, she sent a message to working families across the country about the value of family-friendly policies by securing a historic rules change that allows Senators to bring their infant children onto the Senate floor.

Senator Duckworth serves on several influential committees that give her an important platform to advocate for Illinois’s working families and entrepreneurs: the Armed Services Committee; the Environment & Public Works Committee; the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee; and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee. The first Senate bill she introduced—which supports Illinois jobs by helping prevent bureaucratic delays in infrastructure projects—became law in record time. As a result of her achievements, Duckworth was ranked as a "highly effective lawmaker" and as the most effective freshman Democratic Senator in the 115th Congress by the Center for Effective Lawmaking.

Duckworth is fluent in Thai and Indonesian. She attended college at the University of Hawaii and earned a Master of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University. Following graduation, Duckworth moved to Illinois and began pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science at Northern Illinois University and later worked for Rotary International. To this day, the Senator volunteers at local food pantries and participates in community service projects in her free time.

Senator Duckworth and her husband Bryan are the proud parents of two daughters, Abigail and Maile. 

Clearing the Air: The Origins of The PACT Act

11:15 AM - 11:30 AM

In 2008, Dan Clare was a public affairs officer serving in the Air Force when he contacted a reporter about how service members were being poisoned abroad by burn pits. Hear the origin story of the largest presumptive benefits increase in the history of VA healthcare.


Dan Clare is the chief communications and outreach officer for the DAV, a veteran service organization with more than a million members. Clare is a Marine Corps and Air Force veteran who served during the Persian Gulf era and in Iraq. In 2001, he deployed to Balad Air Base, where he was on the crisis communications team for the largest post-9/11 burn pit. Clare is credited with providing critical evidence that was used to bring the subject of burn pit exposure to the public’s attention, and was named the Air National Guard Print Journalist of the Year for 2007 for his coverage of the hospital and combat in Iraq. He is a past president and board member for the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association and a member of DAV Chapter 19 in Erlanger, Kentucky.

Fireside Chat: Toxic Exposure and the Future of VA Healthcare

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

In 2008, Kelly Kennedy was a reporter for Military Times who broke the first story about how burn pits poisoned service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the next 15 years, her dogged reporting galvanized reporters, advocates, and elected officials alike, which led to the largest policy change in the history of VA healthcare. Join Kelly Kennedy, now the managing editor of The War Horse, for a discussion about the future of veterans' healthcare with VA Secretary Denis McDonough.


Kelly Kennedy is the managing editor for The War Horse, a bestselling author, and an award-winning journalist whose work spans USA Today to The New York Times. In 2008, she published the original reporting about burn pit exposures and has embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kelly was the first female president of Military Reporters and Editors and is the only U.S. female journalist to have both served in combat as a soldier and covered it as a civilian journalist.

In Conversation With:

The Honorable Denis Richard McDonough was nominated by President Biden to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. McDonough’s nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 8th, 2021, and he was sworn in the following day as the 11th Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

On January 27, 2021, during his confirmation hearing, Secretary McDonough testified to Congress, “I will work tirelessly to build and restore VA's trust as the premier agency for ensuring the well-being of America’s Veterans. After all, there is no more sacred obligation nor noble undertaking than to uphold our promises to our Veterans, whether they came home decades ago or days ago.”

Secretary McDonough served in the Obama Administration as the 26th White House Chief of Staff from February 2013 to January 2017. In that role, Mr. McDonough managed the White House staff and worked across the cabinet to advance the Obama-Biden agenda, confronted management issues facing the federal government, and devised and enforced goals, plans, and performance standards to preserve the Obama-Biden Administration’s reputation for effective, ethical operations.

Prior to his role as Chief of Staff, Mr. McDonough was Principal Deputy National Security Advisor from October 2010 to January 2013. He also served as the Chief of Staff of the National Security Staff and as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. He chaired the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, leading the multiagency team to address complex challenges including crisis management and national security policymaking. And throughout his service in the White House, Secretary McDonough helped lead the Obama-Biden administration’s work on behalf of military families and Veterans.

Before his eight-year tenure in the White House, Secretary McDonough served in senior leadership and policymaking positions in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Professional Staff Member on the International Relations Committee and in the U.S. Senate for Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Senator Ken Salazar.

Since his White House tenure, Secretary McDonough was Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, Senior Advisor and Senior Principal at the Markle Foundation, and on the board of directors of the National Democratic Institute, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, and the SAFE Project, a national nonprofit working to end the nation’s catastrophic addiction epidemic.

Secretary McDonough grew up in Minnesota in a family of 11 children, graduated from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and earned his master's degree from Georgetown University. Secretary McDonough and his wife, Kari, have three children.

Lunch Break

12:30  - 2:00 PM

A special lunch program featuring Michèle Flournoy in conversation with David Axelrod on the lingering impacts of service on military families. 

A special lunch program featuring a panel comprised of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, Major General John Borling, and Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Jim McCloughan, moderated by Harris School senior lecturer, John Burrows. 

Virtual attendance is open to the public.

Register Here

Afternoon Keynote: The Importance of Bridging the Military and Civilian Divide

2:00 - 2:30 PM

Medal of Honor recipient and retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg will explore the importance of discussing military life and its impact on families, bridging the military and civilian divide, and combating the stigma of mental health treatment. 


Florent “Flo” Groberg leads the Azure Global Government M360 Mission Solution Team at Microsoft. He previously led multidisciplinary teams at Boeing, LinkedIn, and the Department of Defense, where he served as a special advisor for strategic defense projects and provided expertise to defense policymakers and military planners. Groberg’s military career began in July 2008 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. After completing officer training and both U.S. Army Airborne and U.S. Army Ranger Schools, he rose to the rank of captain. Groberg is a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military honor, for his extraordinary gallantry, intrepidity and heroism while serving in combat operations in Afghanistan in 2012. Groberg currently serves as a commissioner to the American Battle Monuments Commission and holds a master’s degree in management from the University of Maryland University College in College Park, MD.


2:30 - 2:40 PM

The Role of Journalism in American Democracy

2:40 PM - 2:50 PM

Across the United States, local and national newsrooms are being decimated by closures and sweeping cuts to staff, all at a time when underrepresented communities need a voice in our democracy more than ever. Learn about the importance of trustworthy news and the value of reporting about veterans and military families.


Panel 2: Untold Stories: The Intersection of News Deserts and Military Communities

2:50 PM - 3:50PM

Whether it’s food insecurity or the impacts of deployments on service members and their families, reporting about the military community is declining alongside local newsrooms. Learn about the research findings and a first-of-its-kind white paper by The Harris School during a conversation showcasing boots-on-the-ground perspectives.


David Chrisinger is the executive director of the Harris Writing Workshop at the University of Chicago and the lead author of the Harris white paper on the media and the military and civilian divide. He is also the director of writing seminars at The War Horse. To date, he has led five cohorts of veterans and military spouses to share their stories of service and resilience. Before joining Harris, David worked at the U.S. Government Accountability Office as a senior communications specialist. He is an award-winning author of many books, including The Soldier’s Truth, a forthcoming definitive biography of Ernie Pyle, America’s most famed combat correspondent. David is a graduate of the University of Chicago’s MA Program in the Social Sciences and the recipient of the 2022 George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language.


Sam Kille is the interim vice president of communications for The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit dedicated to rebuilding journalism through its flagship programs, Report for America and Report for the World. A Marine Corps veteran, Kille began his professional career as an award-winning military journalist and has since established himself as a nonprofit communications leader in prior roles at the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Team Rubicon, and the American Red Cross. He has a bachelor's degree in public affairs from the State University of New York Empire State College; a certificate in nonprofit development and management from Molloy College; an associate degree in media from Nassau Community College; and studied journalism at the Defense Information School.

Capt. Derek Moore serves in the Ohio Army National Guard as the Aide to Camp for the Ohio Assistant Adjutant General. He began his career as an enlisted soldier and was commissioned through the State of Ohio’s Officer Candidate School. Capt. Moore has held a variety of leadership positions at the platoon, company, and battalion level, and in 2020, led a company of soldiers in support of the Southwest Border Mission. He holds a bachelors degree in marketing from Franklin University and a masters degree in business administration and strategic leadership from Trident University. In 2021, Capt. Moore was a scholar at the George W. Bush Institute, and last year, was recognized with the Theodore Roosevelt Award for Leadership from the National Guard Bureau. He resides in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife Nicole and son Ronin.

Valerie Suttee is a librarian, writer, and 35-year Marine Corps spouse. She has experience as an enlisted and officer wife, where she navigated the complexities of 16 relocations and 5 deployments, the employment challenges as a military spouse, and the realities of raising children during 20 years of war. Suttee is passionate about sharing stories that help to bridge the military and civilian divide by showcasing the daily lives of military spouses and families. Suttee has a master's degree in library science from Texas Woman's University and was a 2022 War Horse Fellow. She is the author of the essays Resilient Is a Label for Military Kids That Absolves a Nation of Further Reflection.

She is the author of the essays Resilient Is a Label for Military Kids That Absolves a Nation of Further Reflection.


4:00 - 6:00PM

Meet with guest speakers and panelists exploring the most important issues impacting veterans and military families. Special remarks by Richard Logan, the president of the Reva and David Logan Foundation.


A select group of students will join Stewart in conversation about speaking truth to power and the important role of reporting and journalism in holding government and institutions accountable. 

Evening Keynote: The Human Impact of Military Service – a Conversation With Jon Stewart and Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks

6:00 - 7:30 PM

Military service reflects the people, power, and values of our nation, and the public must understand the human impact of that service on the lives of those who serve and those who benefit from that service. Join Jon Stewart and Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks for a conversation about ongoing recruiting and retention challenges, the implications of the military and civilian divide, and the issues impacting military families. 


Jon Stewart is considered one of America’s top social and comedic voices. Over his 16-year run as host and executive producer of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Stewart redefined political satire in American culture. Since leaving The Daily Show, Stewart has used his voice in a sustained advocacy for 9/11 first responders and war veterans’ health benefits. In 2019, he received the New York City Bronze Medallion for his “tireless advocacy, inspiration, and leadership [helping to] pass the permanent authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.” He continued using his platform as an advocate for veterans by being instrumental in helping pass the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022, which expands health care access and funding to veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service, including burn pits.

Stewart currently hosts and executive produces the EMMY nominated The Problem with Jon Stewart on AppleTV+ and he is an executive producer on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Stewart is also a New York Times best-selling author and an accomplished film director and producer.

In Conversation With:

Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks serves as the 35th Deputy Secretary of Defense; she was sworn into that office on Feb. 9, 2021.

Prior to becoming Deputy Secretary, Dr. Hicks held the position of senior vice president, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and Director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From 2009 to 2013, she served as a senior civilian official in the Department of Defense. Confirmed by the United States Senate in 2012 as principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, she was responsible for advising the secretary of defense on global and regional defense policy and strategy. She also served as deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans, and forces, leading the development of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and crafting guidance for future force capabilities, overseas military posture, and contingency and theater campaign plans.

Prior to becoming the DUSD for SPF, from 2006 to 2009 Deputy Secretary Hicks was a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Deputy Secretary Hicks launched her career as a civil servant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, serving from 1993 to 2006 in a variety of capacities and rising from Presidential Management Intern to the Senior Executive Service.

Dr. Hicks holds a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.A. from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Affairs, and an A.B. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Mount Holyoke College.

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