The best and brightest.

Since 1834, Wake Forest University has been proud to host countless prominent voices. Currently, the Face to Face Speaker Forum continues this long legacy of bringing thought leaders to Winston-Salem for the benefit of our campus and community. In addition, campus groups and academic units consistently invite world-class thinkers and doers to share their insights.

In almost all cases, students have chances to interact with these leaders outside the actual speech. The result is that Wake Forest is able to provide unparalleled access and experiences for its students.

Our Speaker Series

Face To Face

Bringing world-class individuals into our community.

Voices of our Time: This series ran from 2006-2014. See videos of past events here »

Commencement: Past speakers are listed here »

Presidents of the United States

  • George H.W. Bush
  • George W. Bush
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Bill Clinton
  • Gerald Ford

Vice Presidents of the United States

  • Joe Biden
  • Al Gore

First Ladies/Daughters of the United States

  • Barbara Bush
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Chelsea Clinton
  • Michelle Obama

Supreme Court Justices of the United States

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • John Roberts
  • Sandra Day O’Connor
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a host sit in wingback chairs on the stage of Wait Chapel in front of a seated crowd

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg talked about her career during ‘A Conversation with Justice Ginsburg’ in 2005 in Wait Chapel. Law professor Suzanne Reynolds hosted the event.

Presidential Cabinet Members, Presidential Advisors, and White House Officials

  • John Bolton
  • Erskine Bowles
  • Elizabeth Dole
  • David Gergen
  • Jack Kemp
  • Ray Marshall
  • Mel Martinez
  • Bill Moyers
  • Peggy Noonan
  • William Perry
  • Gen. Colin Powell
  • Condoleezza Rice
  • Robert Rubin
  • Madeline Albright
  • Chuck Hagel

Members of the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives

  • Richard Burr
  • Donna Edwards
  • John Edwards
  • Barbara Jordan
  • Jack Kemp
  • Mel Martinez
  • John McCain
  • George J. Mitchell
  • Sam Nunn
  • Ben Sasse
  • Alan Simpson
  • Frank Thompson
  • John V. Tunney
  • Mark Warner

Governors of U.S. States

  • Michael Dukakis
  • James G. Martin
  • Mark Warner
  • Christine Todd Whitman
  • Doug Wilder

Leaders of Foreign Countries

  • Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan
  • Mary Robinson
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Harry Woolf
Mary Robinson stands at a podium on the stage of Wait Chapel in front of a seat crowd

Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, presented her Voices of Our Time speech in Wait Chapel on March 26, 2015. The speech was the keynote for the Human Face of Environmental Inequality conference on campus.

Prominent Civil Rights Leaders and Advocates of Social Justice

  • Michelle Alexander
  • Tarana Burke
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Bernice King
  • Helen Prejean
  • Vernon Jordan
  • Muhammad Yunus

Executives of Notable Non-Profit Organizations

  • Charles Best
  • Millard Fuller
  • Jessica Jackley
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
  • Bonnie McElveen-Hunter
  • Eboo Patel
  • Jonathan Reckford
  • Van Jones

CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies

  • Duane Ackerman
  • Ursula Burns
  • Wayne Calloway
  • Susan Cameron
  • John T. Chambers
  • Kenneth Chenault
  • Daan Delen
  • Michael Dell
  • Mike Duke
  • Charlie Ergen
  • David Farr
  • Christopher Galvin
  • Lou Gerstner
  • Jeff Immelt
  • Robert Ingram
  • William R. Johnson
  • Hugh L. McColl, Jr.
  • Bob McDonald
  • Indra Nooyi
  • David Novak
  • Walter Robb
  • Fred Ryan
  • G. Kennedy Thompson
  • Daniel Vasella

Notable and Award-Winning Artists, Athletes, and Entertainers

  • Patch Adams
  • Maya Angelou
  • Stephen Colbert
  • Teju Cole
  • Renée Goldsberry
  • James Earl Jones
  • Tony Kushner
  • Common/Lonnie Rashid Lynn
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Chris Paul
  • Ron Stallworth
  • Garry Trudeau
  • Michelle Williams [singer]
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Michael Schur

Notable and Award-Winning Authors and Journalists

  • Jill Abramson
  • Benjamin Bradlee
  • David Brooks
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Tom Clancy
  • E.J. Dionne
  • Michael Eric Dyson
  • Bob Edwards
  • Daniel Ellsberg
  • Thomas Friedman
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Cynthia Gorney
  • John Grisham
  • Al Hunt
  • Gwen Ifill
  • Carl Kasell
  • Joe Klein
  • Ted Koppel
  • Jay Matthews
  • Jon Meacham
  • Peter Sagal
  • George Saunders
  • Bob Schieffer
  • Margot Lee Shetterly
  • Krista Tippett
  • Judy Woodruff
  • Dr. Sanjay Gupta
  • Malcolm Gladwell
  • Isabel Wilkerson
  • Peggy Noonan
  • Eugene Robinson
  • Thomas Friedman
  • Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
  • Jeffrey Brown
  • Nick Schifrin
  • Cornel West
Dr. Sanja Gupta sits with two other men on the stage of Wait Chapel in front of a seat crowd

The Wake Forest Face to Face Speaker Series hosted an event for students with neurosurgeon and journalist Sanjay Gupta in Wait Chapel on April 12, 2022. Juniors Akshey Suresh and Austin Torain held a conversation with Gupta.