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The Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series presented by The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation

The Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series presented by The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation is an integral part of Elon Law’s commitment to learning, lawyering and leadership. Endowed through a generous gift from The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation of Greensboro, N.C., the Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series brings accomplished leaders from a variety of disciplines to Elon to share their experiences and perspectives with students and faculty.

2018-2019 Speakers: Alan Dershowitz & Loretta Lynch

Previous Speakers 


Kay Bailey Hutchison, NATO, U.S. SenateKay Bailey Hutchison

Retired U.S. Senator from Texas, NATO Ambassador

April 13, 2017

“What impressed me about Elon Law is that it’s trying to be something different and is giving students an experience.” Read the full story.

Related videos:

Kay Bailey Hutchison on reestablishing trust in America’s institutions


Ronan Farrow, NBC

Ronan Farrow

NBC Correspondent and Yale Law graduate

November 15, 2016

“You may be a young community, but you are formidable. You have your gaze fixed exactly on where we all need it to be - on the real world and its problems. The students here have been empowered.” Read the full story.

Related videos:

Ronan Farrow on the need for lawyers to help others

Ronan Farrow on the value of Elon Law’s approach to experiential education


Jay Bilas, ESPNJay Bilas

ESPN commentator, author and attorney

April 18, 2016

“You’ve got to be an expert in your field. You have to be credible with the people you’re dealing with in every context. And you’ve got to allow for the people around you to be good at what they do, too.” Read the full story.

Related videos:

Jay Bilas on qualities of leadership, luck, and Elon Law students


Adam Liptak, New York TimesAdam Liptak

The New York Times Supreme Court Correspondent

February 9, 2016

“Presidents seem to have unlocked the secret to making sure that their nominees vote as the president might like them to vote. There’s never been a five to four split like this before. It is for the first time in American history, closely divided along partisan lines. Every one of the Court’s five more conservative members was appointed by Republican presidents and every one of its more liberal members was appointed by a Democratic president. It wasn’t long ago that party affiliation did not predict voting on the Supreme Court.” Read the full story.

Related videos:

Adam Liptak on bi-partisanship in the Supreme Court

Adam Liptak on the 24-hour news cycle


Gov. Jennifer Granholm at Elon Law Sept. 14, 2015

Jennifer Granholm

Two-term Michigan Governor

September 14, 2015

“If you’re not serving as a public lawyer, if you’re not stepping forward to infuse state legislatures and Congressional seats with the knowledge that you gain here, we just lose that benefit and it is a shame for the world. You have to step up and remember that it is not about you, it is about the changes that you want to make. By the power vested in me as a former governor, I hereby declare all you young people invited to lead.” Read the full story

Related videos:


Charlotte Mayor Anthony Fox

Anthony Foxx

Mayor, Charlotte, N.C.

November 13, 2012

“The same system of laws that made it possible for my great-great grandmother to be sold into slavery later made it possible for me to gain a strong education and five generations later to be the mayor of the largest city in North Carolina. As a profession, we cannot take that legacy for granted. I wish for you that you will accept not only the privilege of being a lawyer but the responsibility to help our nation and world grapple with the challenges of the moment.” Read the full story

Related videos:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx spoke with Elon Law students for a second time on Aug. 5, 2015. Learn more.


Scott Turow

Scott Turow

Acclaimed writer and attorney

October 13, 2010

“[Americans] see positive potential in the law and they see in the law something that the market does not give them. I think the reason people are interested in the law has to do with the pivotal role it plays in society in determining questions of value.” Read the full story


Nina Totenberg delivers Elon Law Bryan Leadership Lecture, Spring 2010

Nina Totenberg

National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent

March 16, 2010

“Republicans are stalling on [judicial] nominees whether they are controversial or not... And the Democrats haven’t pushed it...and the people who are paying the price for this are litigants and the judicial system. For all the judges I know of both parties, the behavior of both parties in this is frankly confounding.” Read the full story


Harold Ford, Jr.

Harold Ford, Jr.

Chairman, Democratic Leadership Council, and Member of Congress, 1997-2007

November 5, 2009

“The willingness to recognize when you’re right, and the courage to say when you’re wrong and correct it, in so many ways that’s the true test of leadership. If there was ever a time in which the kind of leadership that has defined America’s greatness since our inception was needed, that time is now.” Read the full story


Cory Booker

Cory Booker

Mayor, Newark, N.J.

February 3, 2009

“Will we take ownership of our nation? Will we not look for blame but accept responsibility? This is our challenge - this is the test of this fledgling democracy still in its youth. Can it be bold enough, rich enough and inclusive enough to fulfill the dreams of our ancestors?” Read the full story


David McCullough

David McCullough

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian

October 22, 2008

“You can’t just be an idle spectator... you can’t just sit back and watch.” Read the full story


Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin

CNN legal analyst, journalist, author

September 22, 2008

“What was it that changed about the Court after 2000? Justice O’Connor changed. She moved to the left because she saw that George W. Bush, the president that she put in office with her vote in Bush v. Gore, was not the kind of president she thought he was going to be.” Read the full story


Gov. Jim Hunt

Jim Hunt

North Carolina Governor, 1977-1985, 1993-2001

April 29, 2008

“Leadership is about moving ahead and improving other people’s lives.” Read the full story


Jim Melvin

Jim Melvin

Bryan Foundation President
Former Mayor of Greensboro

March 7, 2008

“If you have a good idea, people want to be part of something exciting. They want to make a difference.” Read the full story


Bonnie McElveen-Hunter

Bonnie McElveen-Hunter

Former United States Ambassador to Finland

February 20, 2008

“An organization’s success, or lack thereof, has everything to do with leadership. Leadership filters down a lot faster than it filters up.” Read the full story


Aldona Wos

Aldona Wos

Former United States Ambassador to Estonia

November 5, 2007

“You have to be driven in a direction of seeking excellence and driven in a direction of helping other people.” Read the full story


Henry E. Frye

Henry E. Frye

Former Chief Justice, N.C. Supreme Court

October 8, 2007

“You've got to tell the truth. If you're going to lead, you’ve got to be worthy of leadership. You’ve got to be a person of your word.” Read the full story


David R. Gergen

David R. Gergen

Presidential adviser, scholar, author

September 27, 2007

“More and more people are beginning to understand that leadership is not a top-down kind of ‘do this, do this, do this.’ Leadership today is much more about drawing the best out of people who are in your group.” Read the full story