- Bernice Sandler, a leader in efforts to support women's equality in education and the workforce, delivered the 2013 Woman of Achievement Lecture at Meredith on February 20, 2013. She played a major role in the development and passage of Title IX and other laws prohibiting sex discrimination in education, and has been called the "godmother of Title IX" by The New York Times. Title IX is the federal legislation that prohibits educational institutions from discriminating against students or employees on the basis of sex.
- Jeannette Walls, journalist and best-selling author of “The Glass Castle,” spoke at Meredith on August 27, 2012. Meredith’s 2012 Summer Reading Program selection, “The Glass Castle” has been on the New York Times best-sellers list for more than four years. As a journalist, her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Esquire, USA Today, and on MSNBC. Lecture presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
- Randi Zuckerberg ran marketing at Facebook for six years, where her team led the company's U.S. election and international politics strategy, launched the live streaming industry with her media partnerships around the U.S. Presidential Inauguration, and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2011 for her innovative TV/online coverage of the 2010 mid-term elections. In August 2011, Zuckerberg left Facebook to start R to Z Media, a new type of media platform that will be launching in 2012. Lecture presented by Wells Fargo.
- Sonia Nazario
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Sonia Nazario spoke on Meredith's campus on August 29, 2011, when she discussed "Enrique's Journey," Meredith's Summer Reading Program selection for 2011. In a career spanning 20 years, Nazario has reported on social issues for such publications as the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. Her stories have tackled some of this country's most intractable problems: hunger, drug addiction, immigration.
Twyla Tharp presented the 2011 Woman of Achievement Lecture titled "The Creative Habit." Tharp shared practical lessons and exercises for stimulating ideas creation, getting out of a rut, and finding inspiration in the everyday.
Tharp has choreographed more than 125 dances, five Hollywood movies, directed and choreographed two Broadway shows and written two books. In addition to two Emmys and one Tony Award, she is the recipient of the 2004 National Medal of the Arts.
- Maureen Hartford, Meredith College President, lectured as part of the College's 2011 Founders' Day observance. Hartford, Meredith's first female president, discussed "Critical Thinking in Women's Education." She holds a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas, where her dissertation topic was "Profiles of Women Chief Executive Officers." Hartford, whose career spans three decades of leadership in higher education administration and 12 years as Meredith's president, retired in June 2011.
- Nicholas Kristof is a New York Times columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of Meredith's 2010 Summer Reading Program selection, "Half the Sky: From Oppression to Opportunity for Women Worldwide." Kristof has been a columnist for The New York Times since 2001. He earned a Pulitzer in 1990 with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, for their coverage of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement, and another in 2006 for commentary on genocide in Darfur and other parts of the world.
- Frank Warren, founder and curator of the PostSecret Project, 2009, “Forbes” magazine “web celeb,” author of four books. Appeared on Today Show, Good Morning America, 20/20, CNN, MSNBC, CBC, NPR and Fox News. B.A. from UC Berkeley.
- Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, the most syndicated columnist in the United States. Cum laude graduate of Radcliffe College, 1973-74. Harvard University Nieman Fellow, 2007 Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Professional Journalism at Stanford.
- Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Former chief of protocol and former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary (Bush Administration).One of Time's “100 Most Influential People,” recipient of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. World Health Organization's Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control, co-author of four books.
- John Passacantando, former executive director of Greenpeace, co-founder of Ozone Action. Holds a B.A. in economics from Wake Forest University and an M.A. in economics from New York University. Commentator on environmental issues for Fox News programs. Former Executive Director of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation.
- Jeff Corwin, Emmy winner, global conservationist of endangered species and ecosystems. Documentary producer and host for programs on Animal Planet, Discovery, Travel Channel and Food Network. B.S. degrees in biology and anthropology from Bridgewater State College, and M.S. in wildlife and fisheries conservation from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
- Celine Cousteau, international project coordinator of Ocean Futures Society Educational ambassador and oceanaut, daughter of ocean explorer and filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau and granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau. Masters in International and Intercultural Management from the School for International Training. Worked for the University for Peace of United Nations and the Earth Council's Earth Charter Project.
- Anne Fadiman, author, essayist, editor and teacher, author of "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” the 2007-08 Meredith College Summer Reading Program selection. B.A., Harvard University. 1991-92 recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford. Founding editor of the Library of Congress magazine Civilization. Editor of the Phi Beta Kappa quarterly The American Scholar. Yale University's first Francis Writer in Residence.
- Michael Beschloss, award-winning presidential historian and author of nine books. Emmy-award winning NBC News Presidential Historian, and appears on “Meet the Press” and “Today.” Educated at Andover, Williams College and Harvard University. Historian at the Smithsonian Institution, Senior Associate Member at Oxford. Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Russian Research Center and a Senior Fellow of the Annenberg Foundation. Awarded the State of Illinois's Order of Lincoln, the Harry S. Truman Public Service Award, the Ambassador Book Prize and the New York State Archives History Award.
- Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, represented California’s Eighth District in the House of Representatives since 1987. On January 4, 2007, Pelosi was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the first woman to serve in this position and is the first woman in American history to lead a major party in the U.S. Congress. B.A., Trinity College. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics), the Banking and Financial Services Committee, chaired the Congressional Working Group on China, served on the Executive Committee of the Democratic Study Group.
- Judy Woodruff, broadcast journalist for more than three decades at CNN, NBC and PBS. Senior correspondent for PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and attended Meredith College from 1964-66 before earning her bachelor’s degree at Duke University. Chief White House correspondent for NBC from 1977 to 1982. Host of Inside Politics on CNN. Visiting fellow at Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. Taught "Media and Politics" at Duke University's Sanford Institute for Public Policy. Founding Co-Chair of the International Women's Media Foundation
- Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian, commentator and author of "No Ordinary Time," the 2006-07 Meredith College Summer Reading Program selection. Assistant and biographer to President Lyndon Johnson. B.A. Colby College, Phi Beta Kappa. Magna cum laude. Ph.D in Government at Harvard University, Woodrow Wilson Fellow. Author of five bestsellers.
- Sarah Weddington, attorney, women's rights activist, lead attorney in Roe V. Wade. J.D. degree from The University of Texas School of Law. First woman elected to represent Austin for three terms in the Texas House of Representatives. First woman General Counsel for the United States Department of Agriculture. Special White House advisor to President Jimmy Carter.
- Phyllis Trible, Meredith College alumna and internationally known Biblical scholar and author. B.A., Meredith College, Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary/Columbia University, D.D., Franklin College, Lehigh University, Wake Forest University. Professor of biblical studies at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
- Rory Kennedy, documentary filmmaker, founder of Moxie Firecracker Inc., a documentary production company. Producer of numerous social issue documentaries including “Pandemic: Facing AIDS.” Brown University graduate. Documentaries have won the 2007 Primetime Emmy Award for Best Documentary, Best Documentary prize at the Woodstock Film Festival, and Academy Award and Emmy nominations.
- Nicolas de Torrente, U.S. Executive Director, Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics, degrees from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Switzerland and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston. Author of numerous articles on humanitarian and development issues between humanitarian action and political and military strategies. Columbia University Adjunct Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs
- William McDonough, sustainable design leader, author, founder and principal of William McDonough & Partners and of Architecture and Community Design. Educated at Dartmouth and Yale. 1999 Time "Hero for the Planet." Winner of three U.S. presidential awards: the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996), the National Design Award (2004); and the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003). 2004 National Design Award for environmental design from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Commission for twenty-year, $2 billion environmental re-engineering of the Ford Motor Company's legendary River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan.