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Berkeley Forum announces spring 2023 lineup featuring influencers, trailblazers

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These events are in person and open to both students and the general public.


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FEBRUARY 09, 2023

The Berkeley Forum lineup for spring 2023 includes a diverse range of speakers and panelists who will cover various topics, including representation, mental health awareness and creative marketing.

Brandon Nunes, the Berkeley Forum’s vice president of communications, noted that this semester’s events will be held in person, with tickets open to students and general community members alike. He added that the first two events of February already took place, both of which sold out and had an impressive turnout.

The Berkeley Forum works to ensure that they host speakers and panels that represent a wide range of fields, perspectives and ideas, according to Nunes.

“We really try to focus on uplifting marginalized voices that in the past may have been shut down, and we try to find diverse people in the industry to bring,” Nunes said.

Andy Baraghani, author of cookbook and former Bon Appétit food editor

The first event of the spring semester took place Feb. 2, which featured chef and author of New York Times bestseller “The Cook You Want to Be” Andy Baraghani. He was raised in the Bay Area and trained at Chez Panisse, a Berkeley restaurant opened by Alice Waters, a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement.

Baraghani is also a former food editor at Bon Appétit and has contributed to many of its viral recipes.

His event took the form of a fireside chat, where Baraghani discussed his culinary experiences surrounding food and identity.

Ryan Murphy, American competitive swimmer and gold medalist

Ryan Murphy, a six-time Olympic medalist and world record holder, took over for the Berkeley Forum’s second event of the semester Feb. 7. During the chat, Murphy discussed competing under pressure, team dynamics and athletic burnout.

As a UC Berkeley alumnus, Murphy also touched on more lighthearted topics surrounding experiences from when he was a student. He currently trains in Berkeley and is hoping to return to the Olympics in 2024.

Aria Inthavong, Buzzfeed executive video producer

As a filmmaker and executive video producer for Buzzfeed, Aria Inthavong produces a wide range of original video content. During his event, Inthavong will discuss the experiences that led him to entertainment at Buzzfeed and quality video production, as well as his work in social media.

Inthavong will speak at Berkeley Forum on Feb. 16.

Katie Welch, Rare Beauty chief marketing officer

With more than 20 years of experience in marketing, Katie Welch has worked with beauty brands like Allure and Hourglass around the world. During her chat, Welch will discuss her experience as the chief marketing officer for Selena Gomez’s makeup brand Rare Beauty and its goals as a company.

Welch will speak at the Berkeley Forum on Feb. 21.

Alyssa Cole, NYT bestselling author

Published author Alyssa Cole has made achievements and won awards for her work. Cole is known for representing the Black community in the publishing industry.

Cole is the author of bestselling novel “When No One Is Watching,” among more.

Cole will speak Feb. 27.

James Freeman, Blue Bottle Coffee founder

Entrepreneur and founder of Blue Bottle Coffee James Freeman will come to speak about his personal experience founding Blue Bottle Coffee. Freeman will also talk about Blue Bottle’s mission.

Freeman will speak Mar. 2.

Panel on the future of mental health: Psychedelics and CBD treatments

Panelists will discuss the treatment of mental health issues through psychedelics and CBD. They will touch on emerging research surrounding these treatments and how they can be used.

Johns Hopkins University assistant professor Albert Garcia-Romeu is set to be one of the speakers for this event.

The panel is tentatively set to take place Mar. 14.

ThankGod4Cody, Grammy-winning music producer

Cody Jordan Fayne, also known as ThankGod4Cody, is a Grammy-winning musical producer. Fayne is known for producing many of the songs for R&B artist SZA, including the song “Broken Clocks.”

Berkeley Forum is excited to get an insider peek from Fayne on what it is like to be an artist.

Fayne will speak Mar. 20.

Jimmy Conrad, YouTube personality and professional soccer player

Former U.S. Men’s National Team player Jimmy Conrad is now a YouTube media personality. Conrad’s YouTube channel, with over 100k subscribers, focuses on the world of soccer. His channel discusses popular soccer topics, such as the World Cup series.

Conrad will speak about his personal experiences on the U.S. Men’s National Team as well as his views on soccer and state of sports today Apr. 5.

Grace Perry, pop culture, gender and sexuality writer/comedian

Freelance writer, journalist and published author Grace Perry covers topics like pop culture, gender, sexuality, the internet and the intersectionality of the topics. Perry’s book The 2000s Made Me Gay is a mixture of popular culture criticism and a memoir.

“I took the main pieces of pop culture that I consumed when I was an adolescent, and I reflected on the lessons that they told me and what kind of queer person I was supposed to be or allowed to be or should aspire to be,” Perry said. “Some of those lessons were good and some of them were not so good.”

The book focuses on her experience as a teenager in the 2000’s navigating her sexuality and queer characters that helped shape her experience. It explores pop culture texts like Harry Potter, Glee and The Best in Show.

Perry will speak Apr. 10.

Ashley Strong, YouTube beauty influencer and makeup artist

The final individual speaker of the year will be Ashley Strong, a beauty influencer and makeup artist. Strong has over 600,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel and has gained popularity collaborating with artists like James Charles. Strong is known for her incorporation of mental health awareness and affirmations in her beauty routine, and has talked about her process on Good Morning America.

Strong collaborated with Morphe to create her eyeshadow palette named Morphe X Ashley Strong Affirmation Magic Artistry Palette. Strong’s product is now sold nationally and can be found in stores like Ulta. Strong has applied makeup on celebrities like Rico Nasty.

Strong will be speaking Apr. 25.

Panel on the impacts of COVID-19 on K-5 education 

A group of four panelists from the education industry and a nonprofit children’s education organization will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on elementary schools. Panelists will address the inequities that the pandemic has brought to K-5 education and disparities regarding educational resources during the pandemic.

Panelists will also discuss how students have been set back due to school closures and the educational standards set by the government and state. They will also discuss the inequities in different geographical differences such as the school districts that were not forced to close due to their state government regulations.

Panelists will speak in April.

Contact Isabelle Nunes at 


FEBRUARY 09, 2023