Berkeley Forum fall 2020 lineup includes scientists, media experts

Photo of Anthony Fauci
Fogarty International Center /Creative Commons
Among the Berkeley Forum's lineup of speakers for fall 2020 is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading epidemiologist in the United States. He is slated to speak Aug. 27 at the Berkeley Forum's first event of the semester. Photo by Fogarty International Center under Public Domain

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In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming election and national conversations about racism and justice, the Berkeley Forum has organized a lineup of a diverse range of professionals and experts to speak in fall 2020.

The Berkeley Forum is a student-run, nonpartisan organization that hosts debates, panels and talks every semester to provide a variety of viewpoints on timely issues. Speakers are invited through the forum’s Programming Committee, which prioritized the diversity of the speakers and the impact of the topics this year, according to Berkeley Forum Vice President of Events Aparna Iyer. 

“We are so excited to announce the lineup of virtual events for Fall 2020,” Iyer said in an email. “Under unprecedented circumstances, we had the unique opportunity to access speakers from a wider variety of fields than ever before.”

Because of the pandemic, the events will be held virtually instead of in person, according to Berkeley Forum President Cindy Tang. All events are free.

More information about the events and how to attend can be found on the Berkeley Forum’s Facebook page.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Dr. Anthony Fauci is the leading epidemiologist in the United States and has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than 35 years.  

U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have all been advised by Fauci on HIV/AIDS, among other global diseases. Most recently, Fauci has been a subject of national conversation because of his role as Trump’s top adviser on COVID-19.

Fauci will be speaking at the Berkeley Forum’s event Aug. 27 — its first event of the semester.

Immigration panel

The Berkeley Forum’s fall 2020 immigration panel will focus specifically on the H-1B visa program, which offers highly specialized workers opportunities to work in the United States. As of September 2019, more than 580,000 immigrants have been authorized to work in the United States on an H-1B visa, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

On June 22, Trump issued a proclamation suspending the entry of H-1B visa holders, among other types of visa holders, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and high rates of U.S. unemployment. The moratorium on the entry of immigrants on H-1B visas is in effect through Dec. 31. 

Four experts will discuss Trump’s order and the H-1B program as a whole at the Berkeley Forum’s fall 2020 immigration panel, which is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 3.

Ken Klippenstein, correspondent for The Nation

Journalist Ken Klippenstein covers Washington politics for The Nation, a weekly magazine on progressive politics that focuses on the “fight for justice and equality for all,” according to its website.

Before working for The Nation, Klippenstein worked at several other publications, including The Young Turks Network and The Daily Beast. In his career, Klippenstein has uncovered and broken stories about domestic counterinsurgency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. military’s monitoring of protests and more, in part by encouraging federal employees to “leak” confidential documents and information to him.

Klippenstein will speak at the Berkeley Forum on Sept. 10.

Joanna Calo, writer for “BoJack Horseman” and “Girlboss” 

A co-executive producer for popular cartoon television show “BoJack Horseman,” Joanna Calo has been nominated for two Emmy Awards, produced four television series and written episodes for four others. 

Calo has worked in comedy with “BoJack Horseman” and Netflix show “Girlboss,” in drama with the Amazon Prime show “Undone” and in sitcoms with Netflix show “Tuca & Bertie,” among other genres.

She will speak at the Berkeley Forum on Sept. 17.

Emergency response panel 

The past few years have been marked by disruptions to campus operations — with major protests, poor air quality, power outages and a pandemic — and the Berkeley Forum’s fall 2020 emergency response panel will focus on the campus response to these emergencies. 

The panel will also cover the responses of institutions across the United States. UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher and University Health Services Assistant Vice Chancellor Guy Nicolette will be joined by a representative from the Alameda County Public Health Department on the panel.  

The Berkeley Forum’s fall 2020 emergency response panel is tentatively confirmed for Sept. 21.

Ramtin Arablouei, NPR co-host and co-producer

Ramtin Arablouei is the co-host and co-producer of “Throughline,” an NPR podcast that discusses history through storytelling. 

On top of “Throughline,” Arablouei is a professional audio engineer and writes music for “TED Radio Hour,” “Hidden Brain,” “Invisibilia” and “Code Switch,” among other podcasts. He has also worked on sound design for commercials and films, including for Imax productions.

Arablouei will speak at the Berkeley Forum on Sept. 30.

Aileen Xu, founder of lifestyle company Lavendaire

Aileen Xu, who describes herself as an “artist of life,” is a video producer, a podcast host and the founder of Lavendaire, a company focused on promoting lifestyle design and personal growth.

Uncertain about plans after college, Xu decided to pursue her passions, creating music and working for an Asian food festival. It was this “beautiful journey” that prompted her to create Lavendaire and encourage others to do the same, according to her website.

Xu’s exact date to speak is not yet confirmed, but the Berkeley Forum plans to have her speak in September.

Gig economy debate 

Whether gig economy workers, such as those who work for Lyft, Uber or DoorDash, should be classified as independent contractors or employees has become a controversial topic in California and will be discussed in the Berkeley Forum’s fall 2020 gig economy debate.

On Sept. 18, 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 5 into California law, requiring companies that hire large numbers of gig workers to classify them as employees, which comes with benefits for the workers and obligations to the state. California voters will have the opportunity to redetermine this issue with Proposition 22 in November. 

The tentatively confirmed date for the gig economy debate is Oct. 1.

Majo Molfino, author

Majo Molfino, a leadership coach and the author of the book “Break the Good Girl Myth,” has dedicated her career to empowering women. She hosts a podcast called “Heroine,” in which she has conversations with successful women, such as famous Chilean author Isabel Allende.

Molfino also has a blog and offers girls free meditations, guides and online workshops to help them become “more badass,” according to her website. 

Molfino will speak at the Berkeley Forum on Oct. 15.

Sarah Natochenny, voice actress on “Pokémon”

Those who watch “Pokémon” know Sarah Natochenny’s voice as that of Ash Ketchum, the main human character of the popular video games, television show and movies.

Outside of voice acting, Natochenny performs sketch comedy, edits films and is a trained ballerina. She has worked on more than 30 productions, including podcasts, video games, movies and television series.

Natochenny will speak at the Berkeley Forum on Oct. 28.

Mike Schubert, creator of the “Potterless” podcast

After studying and working as a mechanical engineer, 28-year-old Mike Schubert found his claim to fame through having never read the “Harry Potter” books, something more than 500,000 people have subscribed to hear him change. 

Schubert is the full-time host of the “Potterless” podcast, during which he reads the “Harry Potter” books for the first time, tries to predict what will come next, gives commentary and discusses the plot with “Harry Potter” fans. In the “Harry Potter” fandom, Schubert identifies with the Gryffindor house, and his podcast has been downloaded more than 35 million times. 

Schubert will speak at the Berkeley Forum on Nov. 12.

Shaunelle Curry, founder of Media Done Responsibly

Shaunelle Curry founded Media Done Responsibly, an organization committed to empowering future media professionals to create more diverse and socially responsible content.

On top of Media Done Responsibly, which matches college student mentors with middle and high school students in Los Angeles County, Curry is an adjunct media studies professor at Cal State Los Angeles and is a producer on a multimedia show called “Shattered Glass,” which addresses sexual assault and domestic violence. 

Curry is tentatively confirmed to speak at the Berkeley Forum on Nov. 17.

Stephanie Espy, founder of MathSP

Stephanie Espy is a UC Berkeley alumna and the founder of Atlanta-based MathSP, a teaching and mentoring program for middle and high school students interested in science, technology, engineering and math. 

Espy began her career as an engineer for oil company BP and has conducted research for several Fortune 500 companies. She earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering with a certificate in management of technology from UC Berkeley. During her time at UC Berkeley, she coached students and taught test preparation courses, which is how she discovered her passion for coaching and educating.

The Berkeley Forum has tentatively confirmed Espy to speak Nov. 19.

MiMi Aung, project manager for NASA

MiMi Aung is a project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is working on developing a Mars helicopter technology demonstration. Aung grew up in Myanmar until age 16 and was inspired by her mother — the first woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics in Myanmar — to pursue a STEM field. 

Aung has been part of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1990, working on various projects to advance the ability of autonomous aircrafts to explore deep space. She is currently working on developing a new type of space flight, which will be tested in April 2021. If the test helicopter, named Ingenuity, is successful, it could allow future missions to explore space from an aerial perspective.

Aung is tentatively confirmed to speak at the Berkeley Forum on Dec. 3.

Kate Finman is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.