Berkeley Forum announces fall 2021 lineup of diverse speakers, panels

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William Webster/Staff
The Berkeley Forum announced its list of diverse speakers and panels for the fall 2021 lineup.

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The Berkeley Forum announced its fall 2021 lineup of 12 events featuring panels and speakers from a variety of different fields and disciplines.

From star athletes, researchers, business owners to activists, the speakers and panelists will provide diverse stories and perspectives on timely topics. This semester, some events will be held in person, while others will be virtual.

“This semester’s lineup is a testament to our team’s dexterity and adaptability, as well as our campus’s wide range of thought-provoking interests,” said Berkeley Forum Vice President of Programming Raisah Khan in the lineup’s announcement. “Transitioning to a hybrid semester has been one curveball after another, but our members have been able to accrue an impressive lineup to offer to the Berkeley campus.”

All events are free and open to the public. The fall 2021 lineup is tentative and subject to change, the announcement added.

Ki Hong Lee, Korean-American actor, writer and UC Berkeley alumnus 

Lee, a Korean-American actor and UC Berkeley alumnus, is known for playing in a variety of films and television shows.

Most notably, he is known for playing Minho in the “Maze Runner” film series and has been recognized for his YouTube presence, including collaborations with Wong Fu Productions

The Berkeley Forum hosted a virtual event featuring Lee on Sept. 8. He discussed navigating the entertainment industry as an Asian American and emphasized the importance of promoting diversity in Hollywood. 

Jaylen Brown, NBA all-star basketball player and UC Berkeley alumnus 

Before Brown made headlines as a star NBA basketball player for the Boston Celtics, he was a UC Berkeley student and member of the Cal Men’s Basketball team during the 2015-16 season. While on the team, he earned All Pac-12 honors and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year title.

Brown was the third overall selection in the 2016 NBA draft and was eventually selected in the 2021 NBA All-Star team as a reserve. In 2019, he was elected as the NBA Players Association’s youngest vice president.

Off the court, Brown advocates for education reform and technology. He has spoken at Harvard University and MIT about institutionalized sports and social stratification in the education system.

Brown spoke at an in-person Berkeley Forum event Sept. 16.

Andrew Kortina, co-founder of Venmo 

As the co-founder of, Kortina leads one of the most popular money-sharing applications in the world. He also co-founded, an operations analytics service that uses machine learning and large data.

Kortina explores the intersection of technology, politics, culture, philosophy and consciousness, regularly posting on artificial intelligence and universal dividends on   

He spoke at a virtual event hosted by the Berkeley Forum on Sept. 27.

Leila Steinberg, entertainment manager for Earl Sweatshirt and formerly 2Pac 

From Tupac “2Pac” Shakur to Earl Sweatshirt, Steinberg has managed and mentored legendary American hip-hop artists for over 30 years.

Steinberg first became an American music manager in 1989 after Shakur attended one of her poetry classes in Oakland.

Her passion for literary arts led her to found AIM4TheHeART, a non-profit organization that aims to develop emotional literacy for incarcerated and at-risk youth through music, spoken word and poetry. Steinberg also co-taught a class at the University of Southern California that brought together law students and inmates from San Quentin State Prison to discuss mass incarceration of people of color and the prison-industrial complex.

The Berkeley Forum will host Steinberg at an in person event Oct. 7.

Emily Winston, founder of Boichik Bagels

Winston is the founder of Boichik Bagels, a Berkeley-based company that boomed in popularity after its bagels were deemed some of the best by The New York Times in March 2021.

The idea for Boichik Bagels was born out of Winston experimenting in her home kitchen in Alameda in 2012.

The company first opened its doors in November 2019 and is set to open up a new location in North Berkeley to mass-produce and sell its kosher bagels.

Winston will speak at an in-person Berkeley Forum event Oct. 11.

Brittany Kaiser, data rights activist and Cambridge Analytica whistleblower

Kaiser, a data rights activist, is predominantly known as a key whistleblower for the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook data scandal.

As a former business development director for the political consulting firm, Kaiser raised public awareness about their misuse of Facebook’s data, which had broad implications in the U.K. Brexit referendum and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

After testifying before the British Parliament about privacy threats, Kaiser became an advocate for data privacy rights and digital literacy education. She also sits on several Congressional subcommittees on Digital Innovation, Fintech and Blockchain.

While an exact date has not been determined yet, Kaiser will speak at an in-person Berkeley Forum event in October.

SCOTUS panel

The Berkeley Forum will hold a panel discussing whether the Supreme Court should be expanded.

While the panelists have yet to be determined, the panel is tentatively scheduled to take place virtually Oct. 27.

Sarah Ramos, filmmaker and actress

Ramos will address Berkeley Forum audiences virtually Oct. 28.

Barbara Liskov, computer science professor at MIT and Turing Award winner

The first woman in the United States to earn a doctoral degree in computer science, Liskov is widely recognized for her work in system design and programming languages as well as for developing the Liskov substitution principle.

In recognition of her contributions to the field, Liskov has won the prestigious Turing Award and the John von Neumann Medal. Discover magazine also named her as one of the 50 most important women in the sciences.

Before earning her doctorate at Stanford University, Liskov received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in mathematics and physics in 1961 — only seeing one other female classmate.

Liskov will speak at the Berkeley Forum virtually Nov. 1.

Adam Cheyer, Pioneer in AI and computer-human interfaces

Having authored over 38 patents and 60 publications, Cheyer has taken on multiple roles, from executive to pioneer to inventor. Most notably, however, Cheyer has conducted pioneering work in AI and computer-human interfaces.

Over the years, he has worked to launch four prominent companies — co-founding Siri, Viv Labs and Sentient as well as serving as a founding member of Cheyer also worked as the Chief Architect of Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes, the largest AI project to have been funded by the federal government.

He received his B.A. from ​​Brandeis University and earned his master’s from UCLA’s School of Engineering.

Cheyer will address Berkeley Forum audiences in person Nov. 10.

Dr. Hoby Wedler, chemist and advocate for disability accessibility

Both a chemist and an advocate for people with disabilities, Wedler has worked extensively to make his field more widely accessible to everyone.

In addition to publishing widely in the field of computational organic chemistry, Wedler has written several pieces calling for increased accessibility within the chemical sciences and has organized camps for high school students who are visually impaired.

Former President Barack Obama recognized Wedler for his work in 2012, naming him a “Champion of Change. The Royal Society of Chemistry also awarded Wedler 2017’s ​​Diversity and Inclusion Prize, while Forbes recognized him in their “30 Under 30” for his expertise in blind wine-tasting. Wedler received his doctorate in organic chemistry from UC Davis.

Berkeley Forum audiences can hear from Wedler on Nov. 18 in person.

Erik Singer, dialect coach and linguistics expert for TV and film actors

Singer has worked on a variety of film and television sets as a linguistics expert and dialect coach. His recent credits include working on Disney’s live-action version of “Mulan,” “Terminator: Dark Fate,” Sia’s debut feature “Music” and “The Survivor”, which will be released later this fall.

He has also discussed accent work in film for Wired videos, some of which have more than 70 million views.

Singer will address Berkeley Forum audiences virtually Dec. 1.

Contact Mallika Seshadri and Annika Kim Constantino at[email protected]