Masha Gessen, a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of 10 books, will be the school’s 14th commencement speaker on Dec. 13, 2019 at TheTimesCenter in New York.
Gessen, a Russian-American, is one of the keenest reporters and observers of Russian politics and culture, as well as the current political climate in the U.S. In addition to The New Yorker, Gessen’s writings – on Trump, Putin, L.G.B.T.Q. rights, and authoritarianism – have appeared in the New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and many other publications.
Their book, “The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” received the National Book Award in 2017. They have been honored with numerous awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Carnegie Fellowship, and the Hitchens Prize.
In bestowing the 2018 Hitchens Prize, the judges said Gessen’s work “testifies to the power of the written and spoken word as a force for justice and human rights, and as a bulwark against those who would constrain them.”
Asked about this year’s speaker choice, Dean Sarah Bartlett said: “Gessen exemplifies all that our school hopes to inspire in its students: work that is deeply reported, passionate, well-written, and challenging to those in power.”