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Nicholas Kristof

Pulitzer Prize-Winning New York Times Columnist
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Biography

How good do you really have to be, to be christened the reporter’s reporter…by other reporters? You have to be Nicholas Kristof – good. After working in France, Kristof began backpacking in Africa and Asia, writing articles to cover his expenses. He’s lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to more than 150 countries. During his travels, he has caught malaria, experienced wars, confronted warlords, encountered an Indonesian mob carrying heads on pikes, and survived an African airplane crash. Kristof not only managed to survive and press on, he’s also won two Pulitzers in the process – advocating human rights and giving a voice, to the voiceless.

In 1990 Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, then also a New York Times journalist, became the first husband-wife team to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, for their coverage of China’s Tiananmen Square democracy movement. Kristof won his second Pulitzer in 2006 for what the judges called “his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur and that gave voice to the voiceless in other parts of the world.” Kristof and WuDunn have written four best-selling books: Half the Sky, A Path Appears, China Wakes, and Thunder from the East. Oprah Winfrey devoted two full programs to their work, and they have been on countless other television programs. In fact, Half the Sky and A Path Appears each inspired a prime-time PBS documentary series. Archbishop Desmond Tutu dubbed Kristof as “an honorary African” for his reporting on conflicts there, and President Bill Clinton said: “There is no one in journalism, anywhere in the United States at least, who has done anything like the work he has done to figure out how poor people are actually living around the world, and what their potential is.”

After joining The New York Times in 1984, Kristof served as a correspondent in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo. He has covered presidential politics, interviewed everyone from President Obama to Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and was the first blogger on The New York Times website. A documentary about him, Reporter, executive-produced by Ben Affleck, aired on HBO, and he has more than 3 million fans combined on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. He has won innumerable awards including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Anne Frank Award and the Fred Cuny Award for Prevention of Armed Conflict. He also serves on the board of Harvard University and the Association of American Rhodes Scholars.

Jeffrey Toobin of CNN, his Harvard classmate, said of Kristof: "I’m not surprised to see him emerge as the moral conscience of our generation of journalists. I am surprised to see him as the Indiana Jones of our generation of journalists.” George Clooney, said himself, that he became engaged in Sudan after reading Kristof columns, and traveled with Kristof to the fringes of Darfur – rooming with him on the floor of a cheap hotel – motivating Clooney to make this video of Kristof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agLP0hTUC9k

Nicholas Kristof always keeps audiences on the edge of their seat in enthralling presentations that catapult many into action themselves. As a master story teller with an unmatched reputation and peerless perspective on the events that shape our world, listeners find themselves glued to their seats and captivated by moving, first-hand global stories until, of course, the inevitable, emotive standing ovation at every engagement’s end.

RESUME

  • Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn have written four best-selling books: Half the Sky, A Path Appears, China Wakes, and Thunder from the East.
  • 2013: Named an International Freedom Conductor by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
  • 2011: Named one of seven "Top American Leaders" by the Harvard Kennedy School and The Washington Post
  • 2010: Award for Media Contributions to the Field of Trauma Psychology, Nicholas Kristof and Sheyl WuDunn — Half the Sky
  • 2009: Won Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement award with WuDunn
  • 2006: Won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary
  • 2001-Present: Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times
  • 1994: Co-wrote China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power
  • 1990: Won Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting with Sheryl WuDunn
  • 1984: Joined The New York Times
  • Education: Kristof graduated from Harvard College, Phi Beta Kappa, and won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he studied law and graduated with first class honors. He later studied Arabic in Cairo, Chinese in Taipei, and Japanese in Tokyo.

Topics

A Path Appears: How an Individual Can Change the World

Kristof argues that the greatest moral challenge of the 21st century, akin to fighting slavery in the 19th century or totalitarianism in the 20th century, is gender inequity around the world. Drawing from his No. 1 best-selling book, A Path Appears he explores some of the kinds of repression women face, from sexual violence to early marriage to female genital mutilation. But above all, he notes that there is a huge gain to be had if a society educates girls and ushers those educated women into the labor force. Kristof also explores areas in which the West has more to do at home to create gender equity, including domestic violence and sex trafficking.

The Film: Coming October 1 and 2 to PBS stations nationwide. Filmed in 10 countries, the series follows Nicholas Kristof and other celebrity activists on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals. Across the globe oppression is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. The linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality — which needlessly claim one woman every 90 seconds — present to us the single most vital opportunity of our time: the opportunity to make a change.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Kristof explores a revolution now underway in philanthropy, giving individuals much greater chance to have impact at home and abroad. Drawing from his best-selling book and PBS documentary, he looks at donations, volunteering and advocacy, as well as hybrids between non-profits and for-profits. He cites the revolution in evidence-based interventions, such as early childhood education – and even introduces rats that have been trained to sniff out land mines as an example of innovation.

Reporting Sex Trafficking, Genocide & Other Truths of the World

Ever year in America, some 100,000 underage girls are trafficked into the sex trade. These are mostly home-grown American girls, and they are victims of a crime – yet too often, they are the ones arrested even as the pimps and johns go free. Kristof has spent decades covering sex trafficking at home and abroad and offers some extraordinary stories and lessons from his work.

Why Students Should Care About the World – & Change It

This generation of students is full of passion to change the world, but they need tools to do so more effectively. Kristof offers specific advice, drawn on his years of reporting at home and abroad, about whether to start a new organization or join an existing one, about how to tell stories and build empathy, about whether to focus on needs at home or those abroad. He'll argue that although students sometimes perceive the problems of the world as too vast to affect, in fact it's entirely possible for students to have an impact on the world. And as they help others, they'll also enrich themselves.

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